Reader profile: Kristin Loffer Theiss

"I live in the Skagit Valley—about an hour south of Vancouver, BC," writes Kristin. "The tulip fields are one this areas biggest agricultural features. My husband and I took my son out to the fields for pictures last night—right after the new mag came in the mail. So, it made an appearance."

Kristin makes children's toys and clothes (you may have seen her ad in the UPPERCASE marketplace pages). Visit her Etsy shop for more cuteness...

She has a lovely workspace! Irene at Bloesem has an extensive interview posted where you can see more of Kristin's home. Visit the KLT blog for more inspiration and insight into Kristin's creative process.

Thanks, Kristin. I'm so happy to have a reader like you.


Giveaway: Shift Calculator for the iPad

My husband and I tend to be fairly early adopters when it comes to new Apple products. We're certainly loyal Apple users! I'm thinking back to my first computer that I purchased while in college, the Power Macintosh 7100 circa 1994. I think we'd already own an iPad (for magazine "research and development purposes") if hadn't had to replace a studio computer a few weeks ago.

Shift sent out an email today offering a giveaway of their new calculator for the iPad. The large numbers and simply elegant design immediately caught my eye. If you have an iPad and would like this app, please leave a comment and on Monday I'll draw three names and email you a promo code which will allow you to download a free copy of Digits Calculator for iPad from the iTunes App Store. 

Carolyn Fraser at agIdeas, Melbourne

UPPERCASE's Melbourne Correspondent at agIdeas

agIdeas is celebrating its twentieth year as an international design conference in Melbourne this week. I was happy to attend a few sessions at Janine's invitation – UPPERCASE is a supporting partner, and MagNation are featuring the magazine prominently at both the conference location and at their Elizabeth Street store.

In a former life, I was an anthropologist – an ideal qualification for attendance at a design conference. In their natural habitat, designers talk to other designers, and strategise about ways to talk to non-designers. The "ideas" part of design can dominate the conversation or be completely obscured. Some presenters forget that they are not simply pitching potential clients; others betray their fawning deification of celebrity. Some talk down to students (who largely constitute the audience.) But others are so refreshingly committed that it both made me want 1. to move to Amsterdam and 2. to "save good women from bad design."

I attended a session called agIdeas In Conversation on which the panelists didn't talk to each other nor were the audience invited to ask questions. I did learn however about the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, an amazing-sounding industry-based school in Los Angeles, and about Smart Design, the venerable industrial design firm responsible for the design of everything from breakfast to cars, often on the same day. Asked what they imagined they'd grow up to be, visual merchandiser Amanda Henderson answered, origami expert, and Alex Alvarez answered, astrophysicist. Dan Formosa, from Smart Design, told a story about seeing a poster for the BMW Isetta, an innovative 1960's-era bubblecar, and his sudden realisation that things didn't have to be the way they always were.

At agIdeas Advantage, a business breakfast session focussed on showing how businesses can employ design to reach women, my hackles rose as soon as I heard talk about "using" design in purely marketing terms. The presentation by Jane Waterhouse, communications expert, about the "unbiased, factual science" that guides her marketing to the "world's biggest niche market" incensed me. Waterhouse suggested to the room of business executives that women like "unusual fonts", fonts that are "informal and fun, particularly those that are hand-scripted." I'm not sure if I was cringing more as a woman or as a typographer.

But Agnete Enga, from Smart Design, gave a wonderful presentation about her company's focus on the unique perspective women provide as both industrial designers and consumers. She insists that being female is not niche. Her company opposes the "shrink it or pink it" school of gendered design, and showed slides of an amazing early example of this kind of marketing – the Dodge La Femme, a pink car that came complete with matching make-up case, umbrella and rainboots. Agnete's goal is to "save good women from bad design." Smart Design work toward socially responsible design: surgical tools that fit female surgeons hands and air-bags that are safe for pregnant drivers fit this mandate.

But the highlight of my brief time at agIdeas was Theo Jansen. Jansen is a self-described kinetic sculptor. As a child, he wanted to fly. Imperfect eyes kept him from becoming a pilot; instead, he trained as a physicist. Sometime in the 1980's, he began exploring algorithms generated by an early Atari computer. He used the electrical piping he'd played with as a child to build moving appendages following his algorithmic patterns. In combination, these appendages form moving sculptures he calls Strandbeest, or beach animals. On stage, he set a small beach animal in motion down an inclined table: a collective awwww..... reverberated throughout the auditorium. This work, which he described as his life's work, has engaged him for more than twenty years. At no point did he discuss their purpose, other than vague hopes they might be employed to avert erosion along the Dutch coast. He did not discuss them as art objects or prototypes for products. He talked of his beach animals with all the affection and care one has toward a beloved living creature. He rejects the idea that his is an unusual creativity; he has simply immersed himself in a minute examination of function. In doing so, he has brought into being objects so beautiful, so alive, that it's almost as if design had nothing to do with it.

Many thanks to Carolyn Fraser for her fine contributions to UPPERCASE magazine each issue and for her thoughts on the agIdeas conference.


Pedal to the metal!

Cleaned up images from this site.

Vintage tin toy cars

Image from here.

60 years of Hot Rod Magazine

From this simple and effective design of the late 1940s and early 1950s to the horrors of today. {via Monoscope}

Ken Carbone's Journals

And visit his company's website, Carbone Smolan Agency, for another promotional video highlighting a digital printer from Canon that can print with glossy toner. I want one! {via Pica n Pixel}

The Selby

The Selby gets his share of coverage in the blog world, but this is no surprise. Todd Selby's a prolific photographer who documents interior spaces like The Sartorialist documents street style.

I purchased his new book, The Selby is in your place. His photographs of the unstyled and intimate details of the interior home spaces of eclectic people along with his naive watercolour portraits and doodle commentary is a combination full of personality and voyeuristic appeal.

Type Tuesday: Rob Roy Kelly American Woodtype Collection

Spend some quality time at the Rob Roy Kelly American Wooktype Collection.

"The Rob Roy Kelly Wood Type Collection is a comprehensive collection of wood type manufactured and used for printing in America during the nineteenth century. It is comprised of nearly 150 faces of various sizes and styles, including examples of the most popular printing types in use between 1828 and 1900, and represents a period of history marked by a rapid transition to new printing technologies."

"The noted design educator, collector, and historian Rob Roy Kelly (1925–2004) collected wood type from local printers for use by his students at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. He began gathering the types in the late 1950s and continued adding to the collection over the next decade."

The site design is excellent with the content being scholarly but also interesting. Bookmark this resource!

Type Tuesday: Swept

You Work For Them has a new lettering set, called Swept, which was drawn by Peter Bekke.

"Best used as a display font, Swept is a hand painted font that is rough around the edges for all the right reasons. Taking inspiration from classic brush script fonts, it has an element of timelessness to it without falling away from modern trends. Swept was created with love, just for you. "

I like that this design is released as eps files rather than a font — it encourages a bit more play and randomness to the text settings. So when you can't letter it yourself or the budget doesn't allow for commissioned work, this could be a nice solution.

Type Tuesday: More Alphabeasties

I've previously posted about Sharon Werner's Alphabeasties book, a fun book of animals and letters for kids (and designerly adults!) Since then, some new product designs have been released, based on the illustrations created for the book. These flash cards and puzzle look quite engaging (Chronicle Books). Sharon sent over this photo of pillow prototypes (below) which will hopefully be in production soon. Cuddly typography upon which you can rest your head!

Reader profile: Blackbird Letterpress

I recently received this nice image from Kathryn Hunter, proprietor of Blackbird Letterpress. She writes, "It is such a rewarding wait 4 times a year for the next issue. I have attached a pic of where like to read the latest issue. I live in Louisiana and we like to go out in the salt marsh way south, not quite to the actual gulf but almost. (Louisiana is bordered to the south by marsh before the gulf of mexico, though it is decreasing every minute) So I like to take Uppercase and sit outside, watch the birds fly overhead while I read cover to cover. Maybe with a cup of coffee, maybe a beer if it seems late enough to be proper. ;)"

Blackbird Letterpress will be debuting at the National Stationery Show this May. You can preview some of their cards, like this clever bear hug design, in their Etsy shop.

We wish Kathryn much success at the big show!

Very smart pets

It seems that pets rather like UPPERCASE. Thanks, Melissa!


Lilla Rogers Studio

In our current issue, Aaron Leighton interviews artist rep Lilla Rogers. Lilla has an amazing roster of talent and I was thrilled to be able to include images by a few of the artists. Matte Stephens created an original illustration for the fox cover, and above is a photo of Sarajo Frieden's work (left, with embroidery by Marci Boudreau) and Amy Blay (right).

Thanks, Sarajo, for sending me the picture of the magazine in your studio. Looks like your cat is quite fond of it. And thank you, Lilla, for graciously lending your time for the interview — and for the lovely bouquet this week!

Congratulations to Sarajo on the release of Noonie's Masterpiece, a children's book she illustrated. Find out more about the book on Chronicle Books' website.

Call for Submissions: Draw your workspace

For the subscriber profiles in the upcoming issue, we'd love to see where you are creative — and how creative you are! Please draw, collage or otherwise illustrate your studio or workspace. Submit it along with a brief 150 word bio about yourself — include your full name, location and website url. Please note that this call is open to subscribers only.

Files should be at least 5" wide at 300dpi and labelled with your last name. Please upload them here. Submit the bio as a text file via the dropbox or send it as an email to janine [at] uppercasemagazine [dot] com.

Submissions are due by May 17.

Space is limited, so we'll publish the best ones in print. We'll put together an online gallery to show all the submissions.

Featured Stockist: Emeline & Annabelle

Congratulations to Emeline Villedary and Annabelle Agnew who just opened a new sewing workspace and shop in Montreal. Named after the owners, it's a place where you can drop in a sew, take workshops, buy fabrics and supplies and find community and inspiration with other crafters. You can also pick up a copy of UPPERCASE magazine! Click here for their website to find out more about the concept as well as the location and hours.

Crush: Jason Schwartzman

I suspect that this celebrity endorsement is probably just a fan impersonating Jason Schwartzman, but I like to think that if he did pick up a copy of UPPERCASE that he'd rather enjoy it! We certainly think he's a creative and curious fellow.

Coconut Records

For the release of one his records, Schwartzman sent original polaroid pictures to those who ordered the cd.

ACAD Portfolio Show 2010

The annual ACAD Portfolio Show is this Thursday evening. Although I've attended almost every year since I graduated from ACAD long ago, this year I will be staying at home with my cute little Finley (he's one month old already!) But that doesn't mean YOU shouldn't go and check out the latest talent in visual communications and photography!

Best wishes to my students from last semester — you created some fine work.

Thursday, April 22ndNexen Tower Garden Courtyard801 - 7th Ave SW Calgary6:00 to 9:00 pm (one night only)

No RSVP necessary, no admission fee

Up There


Type Tuesday: Wordplay

From In late 2005, The New York Times Magazine's On Language column, a weekly reflection on current usage of the English language (traditionally written, since 1979, by William Safire), took a new visual turn. Instead of simply typesetting the headline each week in standard fashion, then-Art Director Arem Duplessis (who is now the Design Director) saw an opportunity to create something more; a forum for typographic play. He proposed that a different artist, designer or illustrator interpret that headline every week instead.

Five years and well over two hundred contributors later, the On Language column has become a showcase for contemporary typography. The New York Times Magazine is proud to announce an exhibition of these works: Curated over the years by Kristina DiMatteo, Gail Bichler, Leo Jung, Hilary Greenbaum, Cathy Gilmore-Barnes, Aviva Michaelov and Robert Vargas, the show includes contributions from Ed Fella, Marian Bantjes, Tauba Auerbach, James Victore, Karel Martens, Alex Trochut, Kevin Lyons and many, many more.

{top image: Ed Nacional, bottom image via Sarah France}

"Wordplay: The lettering of 'On Language'" opens on Thursday, April 22, at The New York Times Building, 620 8th Avenue, 7th floor. RSVP is required to: