About: The Elegant Cockroach

The Elegant Cockroach is a just-back-from-the-printer book that I had the pleasure of art directing and publishing. I fondly describe it as "a storybook for whimsical adults and sophisticated children." Written and co-art directed by Deidre Anne Martin, the book tells the tale of an elegant cockroach living on his own in the big city. Although there's always lots to keep him occupied — learning Spanish guitar, sitting in coffeeshops, going for walks and reading fine literature — the cockroach is out of place and out of sorts. He seems to be the only one of his kind and longs for love.

With collage illustrations by New York-based artist Stefanie Augustine, the Elegant Cockroach is a dapper and charming fellow living in a grey metropolis. Designing such a character and setting the scene was a challenge: how do you make an insect an appealing and sympathetic creature? How do you make what is perceived as a pest into the romantic lead? Deidre set the tone with this description: "It’s Charlotte’s Web meets The Elephant Man; Aesop’s Fables crossed with The Magnificent Ambersons; one part Tim Burton, two parts Leonard Cohen." Stefanie deftly used scraps of paper to piece together a cockroach with heart and style.

Further inspired by black and white cinema, New York in the 1940s, newspapers and classic literature, the book design is simple yet dramatic. The typography is set to enhance the nuances of the text and subtly shape the reader's experience of the written word.

The process of creating this book was very collaborative, with each of us bringing our sensibilities and talents into the mix. "Writing the story was only the beginning," says Deidre. "I had to walk around with it in my back pocket for what seemed an eternity until I came across just the right people to help me turn it into a real book."

(The book is available in our online shop and is also part of the Book Bundle that includes A Collection a Day by Lisa Congdon, The Suitcase Series Volume 2: Dottie Angel, and Work/Life 2.)

Boxing day

This is what it is like these days.

But, victory! 1250lbs out the door! Plus assembling more of Camilla Engman's The Suitcase Series to send to Sweden. It will soon be back in stock in Camilla's store, so European customers can order there.

A simple seed...

Awe-inspiring art

"Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds challenges our first impressions: what you see is not what you see, and what you see is not what it means. The sculptural installation is made up of what appear to be millions of sunflower seed husks, apparently identical but actually unique. Although they look realistic, each seed is made out of porcelain. And far from being industrially produced, 'readymade' or found objects, they have been intricately hand-crafted by hundreds of skilled artisans."

Watch another video here and read about the exhibition on the Tate website. {discovered via Magpie and Cake, lots to see over there!}

A SIDE NOTE: I have been back from the Mossy Shed (such an amazing experience, will post more soon. Tif and her clan were such amazing hosts.) for a few days but taken over by boxes. Shipping boxes in and out, boxing orders, receiving the shipment of The Elegant Cockroach from China, notecard box designs, email inboxes... plus we're painting the walls and laying new floor in our house, so everything is in a state of chaos. Once the dust settles, I'll be back for a more regular posting schedule.

Packing my suitcase...

I am off with my family to stay in the Mossy Shed for a few days. I am so looking forward to spending time with Tif as we work on her forthcoming book, Volume 2 in The Suitcase Series. I'm going to unplug from the blog and webshop for a week... thrifting, crocheting, book imagining and exploring Seattle are appealing passtimes that await. Of course it will all be happily documented; taking pictures away from home is always fun.

See you soon.

- - - -

For more details and to pre-order your copy visit our online shop. This book is also available in our UPPERCASE Book Bundle: get all four of our forthcoming publications as they are published, with special features, goodies and packaging and save! 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 (June 2011).

Shop orders will ship the week of October 25.


Best Made Axes

It has been a whole year (already!) since issue 3 featured the fine axes by Best Made Co. The quality of their axes impeccable, and just look at the attention to detail as shown in the film above! They make an astounding gift for the right person.

LAST CALL FOR ISSUE 3! We have just one box left of issue 3, so that means that soon the back issue bundle containing issue 3-4-5-6 won't be available. So if you've had your eye on having as complete a set of magazines as possible, this is the last chance! Once an issue is out of print, they will not be reprinted.

CHOP is a series of short films celebrating the collision between a Best Made axe and wood. Featuring a 30" Best Made felling axe with 3.5lb head. Directed by Finn O'Hara with music by Nico Muhly.


Type Tuesday: Finished Felt

Sometimes getting the smaller things done is a bigger accomplishment. I finished sewing Finley's felt blocks this weekend.

Reader Survey

Issue 7 is out in the world now, it has arrived to our Canadian subscribers, USA should be following this week. Europe and Australia: it will take more time; thanks for your patience while it works its way across oceans and continents. It is hard to fathom that this is the seventh issue already! Time sure flies when you're working on a quarterly magazine and raising a baby.

I thought it was about time to put together a reader survey; to know a bit more about what you like about the magazine, topic areas you'd like to see more or less of as well as the demographics of our readership. I hope you can take a few minutes to answer some questions. You can also enter for a draw for a complimentary subscription or renewal. The survey is open to casual readers of the magazine as well as subscribers. Click here to take survey.

The Elegant Book Launch

We had a fine launch to The Elegant Cockroach! Thank you to all who attended or sending best wishes from afar. To see more pictures of the event, please see the set on flickr.

Thank you to Deidre's family for the great food and beverages. Thank you for your preorders via the online shop: the big shipment from the printer is en route via freight, so it is having an adventure from port to port to truck.

Original collages from the book are for sale, ranging from $100-$225. Drop me a line if you're interested in purchasing.

Book Launch tonight!

Tonight we celebrate the publication of The Elegant Cockroach by Deidre Anne Martin with illustrations by Stefanie Augustine. Friends and family are welcome to join us from 5-7pm and then it is open to the public from 7-9pm. Deidre would be happy to sign your book and Stefanie's original collages are for sale. Please come by!

We're in downtown Calgary, upper level of Art Central which is at the corner of 7th ave SW and Centre Street. Conveniently located along the c-train route and kitty corner from the Hyatt Hotel.

Above are images of Stefanie's illustration work in progress.

The book is hardcover with black fabric and a copper foil beneath the illustrated slipjacket. Matte black endpapers with silky cream paper. Very elegant!

Ink Love

The Printing Ink Company is a Canadian company, via Best Made Projects. Thanks, Chris!

Type Tuesday: Parul Arora

Illustrator Parul Arora is a London-based illustrator and one of our participants in Work/Life 2. She has a line of alphabet plates available on etsy and I'm also quite fond of these ceramic polaroid coasters.

Type Tuesday: Papier Valise

Some eye candy from Janice of Papier Valise and Scissor Variations.

Stack of Seven

And then there were seven.

Cover illustration by Greg Morgan
I've just one box of issue 3 left, so if you want to start your collection with as many issue as possible, now it the time to order our back issues. (issues 1 and 2 are completely sold out).

Work for UPPERCASE: Advertising Manager


Advertising Manager

UPPERCASE magazine is a quality publication with a growing international audience. In past issues, we have had a small number of ads but not the time or resources to really explore this potential. Generating some additional revenue through ad pages would be of great assistance in covering the substantial costs of production.

The Advertising Manager would develop a successful and consistent base of advertisers which would include our past partners but, in particular, new contacts appreciative of our niche audience and design aesthetic. The ratio of content to ads will stay the same; more pages will be added as required.


• generate new advertising relationships

• communicate with current advertising clients

• coordinate ad artwork

• invoice advertisers


Independent: must be able to work remotely. You must reside either in Canada or the USA, but be readily available by email and phone. Local Calgary candidates are welcome to apply as well.

Communicator: courteous with good email and writing skills.

Organized: must meet deadlines, handle various contacts and projects simultaneously.

Knowledgeable: must be very familiar with UPPERCASE magazine and blog, its readership and its mandate.

Connected: should have experience with advertising sales in print or online.

Smart: must be able to develop strategies to identify and attract potential UPPERCASE advertisers

Confident: must be able to cold call/email potential advertisers and do follow up.

Savvy: should have an eye for design: all incoming ads should be well-designed and in keeping with the magazine’s look and feel. Basic knowledge of artwork files and print requirements are an asset.


This position will be paid on a commission basis.

To apply, please email a letter of introduction to janine at uppercasemagazine dot com explaining who you are and how you are suited to this position. Please attach a resume and include any links to your websites, flickr, blog, references, etc if applicable.