Issue #12 cover reveal

Here's the cover for Issue #12 (out in January) illustrated by Anne Smith!

In tribute to Morran

Camilla shared the sad news of her dog Morran's passing. This little dog has entertained and amused so many people over the years, and most recently Camilla started a book project with illustrators from around the world contributing portraits inspired by the pup.

Morran has been such a large part of Camilla's life and career; so much so that when we created The Suitcase Series Volume 1: Camilla Engman, we had to recognize Morran in some way. So I wrote a little storybook about Morran, illustrated with Camilla's photos and drawings. It is a separate little booklet, inserted into the larger book. I decided to share the booklet story with you here, in tribute to the little Swedish dog with a big imagination. The story seems fitting, a metaphor for life.

Thank you, Morran, we will miss you.

Featured on Mom Inc Daily

I am happy to be featured on today's Mom Inc Daily, Cat Seto's blog. "Mom Inc Daily is a creative and business sanctuary for moms. Cat and her community of “Designing Moms” share their daily posts about their love for motherhood, design and the intricacies of running a creative business." Thanks, Cat and Annie, for asking me to be part of it.

I decided to provide a true-to-life snapshot of our living room. Although it is fun escapism to see perfectly presented homes, wouldn't you rather see what things are really like? I know I get frustrated by seeing "family" homes with nothing out of place, no clutter, no books, no mess. We certainly don't live like that!

Sign up for the e-newsletter for specials...

I send out an email newsletter every so often... (like right now!) it contains specials and discounts not shown here on the website or on twitter. I invite you to sign up and see what is happening behind the scenes...

I usually preview the next cover to the e-newsletter list first! I should have a new cover, illustrated by Anne Smith, ready to show you soon!

Letterpress Sampler + Subscription starting with #12

Do you remember when issue #8 came out earlier this year? Each issue had an actual letterpress sample randomly inserted into the magazine. Provided by 50 amazing letterpress printers, these special inserts were a bonus for subscribers. I squirrelled away some of the samples to use for photographs and promotions and I have made seven Letterpress Sampler Packs and listed them in the shop. They each include a random assortment of 40-50 different samples plus a copy of issue #8. The price includes a subscription mailed in North America. Available here while they last!


Cartolina Postale

Fiona Richards at Cartolina has done it again! Another beautiful iPhone app... but this time it combines print: you download the free app and the include your photography on Cartolina-designed postcard templates... a few days later and, voila! your postcard arrives by mail to its destination (you just pay per use). Check out Cartolina Postale and send your friends and family a photo postcard.

Look for an article about Fiona and her creative business, written by Erin Loechner, in the next issue of UPPERCASE! (#12, January)

The Limner + Lisa Congdon + A Collection a Day

Just spotted some great photos of Lisa Congdon's studio on The Limner, a photography project profiling creatives (who are seeking Kickstarter backing).

(Lisa' book, A Collection a Day, that I designed and published would be an excellent gift! just sayin'!)


The book comes packaged in a special collector's tin!




To order your copy visit our online shop.

This book is also available in our UPPERCASE Book Bundle: all four of our recent publications including The Elegant Cockroach (October 2010), Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of international illustration (February 2011), A Collection a Day (March 2011) and The Suitcase Series Volume 2: Dottie Angel (August 2011). Save on the overall price as well as shipping when you order the bundle!


Robot Blue

Finley and I downloaded a new app recently that we'd like to share with you. Robot Blue from Planet 22 is the story about a tired robot who has lost his "off" switch and cannot fall asleep. As the story is narrated, you can help the robot look for the switch, put together some puzzles, push robot buttons and feed the robot a bedtime snack. A bonus for us is that one of Robot Blue's companions is a fish named Finn.

Robot Blue from Planet 22 was written and illustrated by Jayson Fuerstenberg who is one of the illustrators profiled in Work/Life 2.


Download it today on iTunes!

And take a look at this:

Underneath Robot Blue in the New Books section of iTunes is the app companion to our book Work/Life 2, deemed #1 of What's Hot! Cool. Download the FREE Work/Life 2 app here and purchase the book here.

Laura Barnard 30x30

UK-based illustrator Laura Barnard was getting bored with selling the usual digital prints, so she conceived of a new way of both motivating her creativity and skills while producing something for sale online. 30x30 is the just-released result. "There are 30 copies of each edition, and each one costs £30 shipped anywhere in the world. Once they're gone, they're gone." The first edition is a series of painted wooden blocks.

"The blocks are individually painted/drawn on — I wanted them to all be unique so thought that was the most sensible way to do it. Although that's a fairly hefty number of bricks to draw on (!) it's a small enough run to still be able to do by hand. I may not entirely hand draw Issue Two depending on what it is, but there's definitely some scope for some hand-finishing.

I've really enjoyed selling prints for the last couple of years, but I think illustration can be particularly exciting when it's applied to objects or surfaces, so the shop will be based more around that from now on. Keeping it fresh is important too, so that's why I'm only doing 30 of each. A fixed price of £30 keeps it interesting too — for me as much as anything!"

Laura is already looking forward to the next edition. "I've got a few ideas brewing for Issue Two — it won't be blocks but will be something similarly quirky and, er, objecty and interesting. Part of the fun of this is seeing how it'll evolve and the limited runs mean I can see what people are excited by and adjust accordingly."

I've signed up!

New in the shop: Christmas Gift Pack + Subscription

It's really cold outside today and now it is snowing. The malls have their Christmas decorations up. Next week is American Thanksgiving. So I guess all signs point to Christmas! So in preparations for gift-giving season, I've uploaded a special item to the shop: an UPPERCASE Christmas Gift Pack + Subscription. This includes all available back issues (#7-#11) plus a subscription mailed to the USA or Canada for $150 (you save $20). I have VERY LIMITED QUANTITIES and once these are gone, that's it for issue #7; it will be sold out. (Issue #7 is only available as part of this pack. You might try the workroom for single copies of #7.) Please order your Gift Pack here.

#11: Sharp things

One of the themes in issue #11 are sharp things and labour-intensive art-making. Here's a video that exemplifies that theme! {via SwissMiss}

#11: Grateful for all the connections

photo: Jacqueline Jaszka

Photographer Jacqueline Jaszka has a great photography project called The Local Creators in which she documents the artisans and makers in her San Francisco community. When planning a feature about 3Fish Studios, also in San Francisco, I discovered that Jacqueline had already shot everything I would want in a feature about this printmaking and illustration studio. Her images capture great detail as well as broader studio shots—and her portraits of this husband and wife creative duo are warm and endearing.

Thank you Jacqueline, Annie and Eric!

Read about 3Fish Studios in the current issue #11 of UPPERCASE.

Sweet Tweet

Thank you, Missmountshaft! Nice use of a hashtag.


DesignThinkers: Jessica Hische

And yet another reason to attend DesignThinkers this year? Jessica Hische! Jessica created this lettering spread back in the early days of UPPERCASE magazine: issue #2. It feels like such a long time ago... I'm working on issue #12 today!

Jessica was a natural presenter, at-ease, entertaining—and very knowledgeable and opinionated. (With a sense of humour, too.)

DesignThinkers: Christian Schwartz

One of the reasons I wanted to attend Design Thinkers was to hear Christian Schwartz. You might be familiar with his type foundry, Commercial Type, which advertises regularly in UPPERCASE magazine (thank you!). And for you eagle-eyed type afficianados, you will have spotted a new typeface introduced in issue #11: Neutraface, which Christian designed in 2002 and was released through House Industries.

DesignThinkers: Chip Kidd (!!!!)

Photo from RGD Ontario

I've been a fan of Chip Kidd's book cover design for a long time. But I must say that Mr. Chip Kidd, presenter, is also entertaining and amusing and complex—and more flamboyant! The first half of his presentation was funny, affected and full of ATTITUDE.

Case in point, on design for printed books:

photo by Allison Toohey"Creative people should have a mantra, something to provide peace and solace in times of stress..." he advised. Expecting some wise words, the audience listened attentively. Kidd shared his mantra: "Oh my god! this is an F*ing nightmare!" We all laughed, realizing that we all have our own version of this exclamation that we utter to ourselves during the frustrating times.

Photo from RGD OntarioHe then elaborated with a detailed story involving a long line for KFC, a greasy cashier and a man ordering three buckets of chicken and how it resulted in a new mantra...

Photo from RGD OntarioKidd dotted his presentation with words like "rapidograph", "photostat" and "Quark", playing up his persona as an old school designer. His hairstyle, glasses and cardigan were also suitably old school (or at least mid-nineties). The second half of his presentation chronicled the development of his dream project: to write an original Batman comic which is slated for release sometime next year.

Chip Kidd was a tough act to follow, especially for the gentlemen of Chermayeff and Geismar who appeared quite tired for their keynote address which closed day one of presentations.

DesignThinkers: Rei Inamoto

Photo from RDG Ontario

Keynote speaker Rei Inamoto is chief creative officer at AKQA, a firm that creates campaigns for big media spenders Nike, Visa, Xbox and others. His presentation was broadly on fostering an innovative creative culture. "Innovation is what keeps you relevant in the business and creative landscape of the 21st century," he contends. "It is the culture, not process, of a company that makes innovation happen."

With the digital and social options provided by today's media, advertising (or the delivery of any creative or commercial or community message) can be enhanced by 'story doing' rather than the traditional 'story telling'. Involving the reader yields greater results.

Inamoto's five points in designing a culture of innovation:

  1. Do what wasn't possible 5 years ago.
  2. Solve an obvious problem in an unexpected way or solve an unexpected problem in an obvious way.
  3. Specialization is the enemy of innovation.
  4. If you can't find a way, make one.
  5. You need three types of people on your team: a hacker (builder/coder), a hustler (business/sales person) and a hipster (creative)

Fun quote that Inamoto left on the screen at the end of his presentation was from Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys: "Lick the lollipop of mediocrity once and you'll such forever."

DesignThinkers: Robert Wong

Robert Wong's presentation was my favourite presentation; his was mix of personal story and professional fulfillment. His keynote was "Crap I Think About At Google: 50 mins of random thoughts about life, love, work, happiness, HTML5, and a better world through creativity." To label anything Wong is doing at Google 'crap' is a completely inappropriate (but in keeping with the crass language that most of the keynote speakers enjoyed delivering). Executive Creator at Google Creative Labs, his job description seems quite open to whatever he wants to make of it. When Google came calling to hire him, he likened the experience to a spaceship landing in his backyard… he couldn't not go in and see where it took him.

He spoke of "highjacking the 7 trillion", a reference to the amount of money spent globally on marketing and advertising. At Google, Wong has the ability to harness a nice chunk of those funds and channel them to worthwhile endeavours—projects that promote art, community, awareness—while promoting the Google vision. The journey with Google has yielded some amazing work, which I will share here in links and video.

Some points from Wong's presentation:

  • job = necessary to feed your family
  • career = feeds your ego
  • calling = feeds your soul by giving job, meaning and delight
  • what does a better world look like? look at a 3 meter radius around yourself and start there
  • happy wife = happy life
  • 5:1 formula for a happy marriage (5 good things for every negative)
  • the element of surprise (S!) is the secret cheater formula, increasing the points in a positive action
  • S! = (empathy + creativity) divided by expectations
  • use the tools available to us as designers (photoshop, web, etc) to mockup the future
  • you will be happy in your work when you help someone or delight someone

Wong used the video spots to great emotional effect; when his talk ended one could hear the sounds of rustling kleenexes and sniffling noses.

Google Art Project

Chrome Experiments (requires Google's browser Chrome)

It Gets Better

Google Chrome ad

Google Chrome ad that aired during the Superbowl

A note to my Toronto friends

Sorry, I had started planning a meetup for our friends of UPPERCASE in Toronto, but we were all hit with the flu so we're going to take it easy until flying home tomorrow. So recaps of DesignThinkers will resume later. Oh well!

DesignThinkers: George Lois

The first full day of the DesignThinkers conference in Toronto's Metro Convention Centre has wrapped (though I'm certain that many attendees are living it up at the conference party—my style was sushi with Glen and Finley and now back at the hotel). I have heard such great things about the Design Thinkers conference over the years and the first day did not disappoint. Thank you so much to the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association for the bursary that has facilitated this trip out east.

To promote UPPERCASE magazine, I donated 500 magazines and copies of Work/Life 2 to the event. For a small indie publisher, to give away this quantity of merchandise is a very big deal so I was happy to see so many scoop them up—they were gone so quickly! I hope people will be inspired enough by experiencing the magazine in person that they will be inclined to support future issues and subscribe. Thank you to Hilary, Michelle and the helpers at the event for helping to coordinate this giveaway and for lugging boxes!

The day's keynote presentations were bookended by some "elder statesment" from design and advertising's wild teenage years of the sixties and punctuated with younger generations for whom social media marketing is the new currency.



image from Electrric Bloom

Much to his dislike, George Lois is often introduced as "the original mad man" in reference to the popular television program. Lois was indeed a driving creative force of Madison Avenue advertising and design in the sixties; his official bio calling him "a pioneer of the landmark Creative Revolution in American Advertising." His iconic Esquire covers set the benchmark for all art directors who followed him. His phrase "I want my MTV" helped launch a new era in broadcasting. The success of his professional output merits the accolades. Time (and ego) have bestowed a reverence towards him. And perhaps this also entitles him to be an opinionated curmudgeon—the persona makes for an entertaining presentation. When an old guy swears and calls people "schmucks", it gets laughs.

Some George Lois words of wisdom, paraphrased from my notes:

  • be a graphic communicator: create big ideas not just designs
  • if there is no meaning to your work there is no meaning to your life
  • treat words with reverence: equate words and design to the words and music in a song
  • using a computer does not equal a big idea
  • intuition can be more important than intellect
  • strive to defeat habit; originality should win
  • there's a big idea in everything you do

(Read his books for his own way with words.)

Lois' presentation ended with a rant about Mad Men that was originally published in an issue of Playboy:

[Mad Men] is nothing more than a soap opera set in a glamorous office where stylish fools hump their appreciative, coiffured secretaries, suck up martinis and smoke themselves to death as they produce dumb, lifeless advertising – oblivious to the inspiring civil rights movement, the burgeoning women’s lib movement, the evil Vietnam war and other seismic events of the turbulent, roller-coaster 1960s that altered America forever. The heroic movers and shakers of the Creative Revolution…bear no resemblance to the cast of characters on Mad Men. The more I think and write about Mad Men, the more I take the show as a personal insult. So f*ck you, Mad Men, you phony gray-flannel-suit, male-chauvinist, no-talent, WASP, white-shirted, racist, anti-Semitic Republican SOBs!

Lois relished delivering this rant (one would assume that he has had the opportunity to deliver it on many occasions) and it elicited much glee from the audience. He ended it with a photo composition of his younger self and Don Draper, proclaiming, "Besides, I was much better looking."