Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair will be happening in Manchester this week, from October 9 through 12th. I was introduced to the Fair by an UPPERCASE reader, Cherry Chung, who will also be exhibiting her work at the Fair. Cherry is a basket weaver who incorporates ceramics into her basket-making process. She also creates amazing willow outdoor sculptures that I look forward to learning more about... I'll be featuring her work in the winter issue of UPPERCASE. (You never know where one simple email with lead!)

Cherry Chung

Cherry Chung

The event website presents images and links to all the exhibiting artists, which is a benefit for us unable to attend. I'm bookmarking a lot into my idea files! I'm sure the Fair would be amazing to see in person, so if you're in the UK, please go enjoy it on my behalf.

Katherine Lees

Katherine Lees

Jill Shaddock

Jill Shaddock

Stuart Jenkins

Stuart Jenkins

Lucentia

Lucentia

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ReWorks Monthly Recycling Challenge

I’m pleased to introduce a new face and new monthly feature to the UPPERCASE blog. Solita Work is the proprietor of ReWorks Upcycle Shop in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood. Solita uses the skills she honed during years in graphic and exhibit design to curate and style the spacious and eclectic shop. Everything in the shop is made with some form of recycled, upcycled, repurposed or reclaimed material. You’ll find coat racks made from old rails spikes, purses from vintage license plates or a cast iron tub transformed into a cozy sofa. The business reduces waste, but also inspires people to redefine their understanding of waste. 

"It is so exciting to see how far artists, designers and crafts people have come in finding ways to reuse materials originally destined for our landfills,” says Solita. "Not only does the shop bring in talent from around North America but also gives me the opportunity to continue to be creative through in-house product development, graphic design, retail displays and community connections.”

In its third year, Solita has big plans for her shop, hoping to rearrange the configuration to make way for a "making area” which will allow her to do sewing and make objects for the store. The new studio area will also be available for makers-in-residence to create their own work or be inspired by the treasure trove of interesting objects and textiles that she as amassed in her back-room storage. Word has gotten out that Solita likes to find uses for discarded things, so she has often been the recipient of good quality items that need some TLC before they become new products. Last week when I visited the shop, Solita showed me some opaque glass bottles that were previously emblazoned with branding. She’s experimenting with sandblasting new designs and illustrations to upcycle them into new products that will be available for sale in the shop. Solita thrives on the challenge.

This brings us to the ReWorks Monthly Recycling Challenge. Every month, Solita will post an old item to be recreated into something new. She will pick her favourite entries and share them here along with the following month’s challenge. If she likes the idea enough, she may even offer to help you develop it into a viable, new product for sale in Reworks Upcycle Shop. 

ReWorks Monthly Recycling Challenge: Blue Jeans

This month’s challenge is to create something wonderful from an old pairs of blue jeans. Blue jeans are a durable staple item in just about everyone's closet. Inevitably, blue jeans will rip or tear at the knee or a pocket but that doesn't mean that there isn't still lots of good fabric left over for repurposing. Show us what you can do with that leftover fabric!

I have included a few examples to help get your inspiration flowing. Blue jeans have already been made into comfy pillows, a wildly creative bear rug and a colourful hand bag. I look forward to seeing what you make.

To enter the challenge, please email good quality digital photographs of your creation (800 pixels wide at 72 dpi) to info@shopreworks.ca. Entries must be submitted on or before the last day of the month to qualify for the challenge. Entries must also include your name, contact information and a brief description of your creation. If you have any questions about this challenge, please direct them to Solita at the email listed above. UPPERCASE is not involved in the administration or adjudication of this challenge.

Denim bag made by UPPERCASE reader Jane Bernstein. 

Denim bag made by UPPERCASE reader Jane Bernstein. 

Denim whale by Mevrouw Walvis

Denim whale by Mevrouw Walvis

First look at issue 23.

What's the very first thing modern independent publishers do when a new issue arrives? That's right: share it on Instagram and Twitter! 

Get the current issue in the shop now

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Hervé Tullet's new book, Mix it Up

If you haven't experienced a book by Hervé Tullet, seek one out. His books offer fun experiences that use the format of the book to play with creative concepts. His latest book, Mix it Up! demonstrates how colours combine to form new colours and tints. It's a great book about mixing paint... and you won't get your fingers dirty!

Hervé is in Toronto next week, leading a hands-on art event for children on Wednesday, October 8. On October 9 at 2 pm he will be drop by Type (883 Queen St W, an UPPERCASE stockist) to sign copies of his new book.

Time un-management

October starts the mad dash to the end of the year. For those of us in the business of making physical things for sale, so begins the marathon season of craft fairs, ramped-up marketing, 24-hour online selling and the retail frenzy of Christmas. It’s an important time of year—when a year can turn from loss to profit—but it’s also an exhausting one when the joy of creating and making is overshadowed by the reality of selling.

I’m not a good saleswoman. When UPPERCASE was a physical store from 2005-2009, I’d just let people wander in and do their thing. I’m not one to initiate small talk or sales talk, preferring to let the products sell themselves on their own merits. Sure, I’d be pleasant and answer questions and have conversations, but it was always an effort on my part. It felt unnatural to me, as nice as a customer was. When I closed my retail shop at the end of 2009, it was a relief. Not just from the financial strain of carrying the cost inventory and paying the magazine’s print bills, but that I could turn “off” for a while. I took a year of maternity leave before I returned to the shop and opened the doors, but this time solely as a publishing office.

That year at home with my new baby and running my magazine was one of tremendous growth. Maternity leave was profitable, even with shouldering the cost of rent on a space that I didn’t use for those months working from my basement with my baby at my side. It was proof that an online business of selling magazines, subscriptions and books could be viable enough to support my family. I’m so grateful that, a few years on, this remains true. 

My intent is always for the magazine to stand on its own merits and not need me to “sell” it overtly. Sure, I have to ask for subscriptions and support here in the newsletter and on social media—it’s vital to do so—but really I want the magazine to sell itself. Right now, Issue 23 is being packed up and prepped for shipping today, all set for its October 1 release. I hope you’ll see for yourself how lovely it is.

I’m looking ahead to 2015 and issue 24, to be released in January. I’ll have to have content finished up next month for design in November, printing in December. This will mark 6 full years of UPPERCASE magazine. If my time developing UPPERCASE magazine were a college education, I’d have a Master’s degree by now! 

I’m often asked how I get so much done in a day, as a one-person magazine company. Honestly, it depends on the day and where we are in the magazine’s cycle. My day is always a juggle of what is imperative and what I want to be doing, with the must-do always winning out. What I have learned, though, is that time cannot be controlled. It is basically unmanageable. Time is disobedient—it won’t stay put when you ask. So the way around this is that you have to be everything that time is not: you have to have discipline and set deadlines. You have to control how much time you spend on a task. You have to create a checklist of goals and dates. You have to stay strong in the current lest you be swept away.

Musing on the number 24 and the passage of time, I’m curious about your 24-hour day. What do you have to do in order to make time for being creative? What’s your day like? Submit your day in creativity here.

 

This message was originally published in my weekly e-newsletter—view the full graphical and extended version here. To receive the newsletter every Tuesday, sign up and I'll send you a free download of the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide. Oh, and if you're brand new to the newsletter, there's a welcome discount code for you, too. Thanks!

The Distance Between Two Points

Art in the Age has a show of Scotty Albrecht's work opening later this week in Philadelphia.

"In The Distance Between Two Points, Albrecht explores themes of time, perception and interconnectivity. The artist took a holistic approach toward this exhibition, inspired by the concept that consciousness is informed by multiple factors, shaped by personal histories and past experiences. His goal was to create a body of work with layers of meaning, each piece functions individually yet many convey a larger message collectively, in relation to the others."

Etsy Made in Canada

The Etsy Made in Canada event was held at Symons Valley Ranch, at the city's northern outskirts.

The Etsy Made in Canada event was held at Symons Valley Ranch, at the city's northern outskirts.

Amy from Quadrophonic Image.
Heather from Cosmikgoo.

Heather from Cosmikgoo.

Sleepy Holow Leather and Beading.

Sleepy Holow Leather and Beading.

Carly of Folly a Tet.

Carly of Folly a Tet.

Sassy ladies of Bubblegum Sass.

Sassy ladies of Bubblegum Sass.

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Doors Open YYC: Traffic Operations Sign Shop

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It's a fun weekend in the city of Calgary with lots of great events happening simultaneously. Today, my family and I went to Doors Open YYC to take a tour of the traffic operations sign shop. For the second year in a row, a news crew captured footage of Finley and his friend on a tour. You can see Glen and me in the background as well, I'm easy to spot in my yellow coat. Tours continue tomorrow at various sites across the city, but we'll be at Heritage Park's Railway Days!

I also went to Etsy Made in Canada this afternoon... photos to come after "bedtime routine".

Envy Camera Accessories

The highlight of the Creative Stitches show this afternoon was meeting Lisa Griffiths from Envy Camera Accessories. I was immediately drawn to her booth—her display of the colourful strap designs caught my eye and I had my (heavy!) Canon 5dmkii slung around my neck. I've coveted a more stylish camera strap and thought someday I'd make my own, but that's so far down on my to-do list, I might as well forget about it. Lisa to the rescue!

Made with pretty jacquard ribbon, each strap is reversible with contrasting or complementary designs. She has various kinds of straps and harnesses and wristlets for a variety of cameras and uses. The patterned part of the straps can easily be clipped on and off, so if you want to change straps to suit your mood or outfit, that's easy to do.

Lisa's a mom of three and also runs a day home, so she gets her sewing done in the evenings. Her straps were inspired by the need a photographer friend and she likes that she's able to make them fairly quickly—important since she has limited time but wanted to launch a creative sewing-based business.

Envy Camera Accessories is local (based in Okotoks) but if you want to be the envy of your friends, Lisa has an online shop (free shipping in Canada.) She'll be at the Creative Stitches show on Saturday and then some holiday fairs as the season approaches.

Here's the lovely camera strap that came home with me! Thank you, Lisa!

Here's the lovely camera strap that came home with me! Thank you, Lisa!

Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive Show

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Some details of things that caught my eye at the Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive show continuing tomorrow at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. The scrapbooking Carnival is part of this larger fair, so you can satisfy paper and fabric needs.

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The Great Canadian Scrapbooker Carnival

Katharina Doyle, co-founder and publisher of Canadian Scrapbooker is dressed to preside over the Carnival!

Katharina Doyle, co-founder and publisher of Canadian Scrapbooker is dressed to preside over the Carnival!

Letters always catch my eye... particularly here when they're glittered stickers.

Letters always catch my eye... particularly here when they're glittered stickers.

Jackie Ludlage, Canadian Scrapbooker co-founder and editor-in-chief strikes a pose with Katharina.

Jackie Ludlage, Canadian Scrapbooker co-founder and editor-in-chief strikes a pose with Katharina.

Crystal Reynolds, the art director of the magazine, is new to scrapbooking but has all the design experience. Here's a page in progress.

Crystal Reynolds, the art director of the magazine, is new to scrapbooking but has all the design experience. Here's a page in progress.

More type. What can I say? My eyes are always drawn to letters.

More type. What can I say? My eyes are always drawn to letters.

Carnival participants bring their own supplies to work on their books, but lots of vendors are close at hand to inspire ideas and tempt wallets.

Carnival participants bring their own supplies to work on their books, but lots of vendors are close at hand to inspire ideas and tempt wallets.

It's interesting to see surface pattern designs in the scrapbooking industry and see how those trends relate to quilt fabrics (a hobby that I'm more familiar with.)

It's interesting to see surface pattern designs in the scrapbooking industry and see how those trends relate to quilt fabrics (a hobby that I'm more familiar with.)

The Great Canadian Scrapbooker Carnival is organized by Canadian Scrapbooker magazine and runs through Saturday at 5pm.

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Maker's Retreat

Jessika Hepburn of Oh My Handmade is organizing a Maker's Retreat, happening a month from now on the beautiful Cortes Island in British Columbia.

"As makers we create something from nothing every day whether it is logos or lunches, business plans, communities, new creative adventures, or positive change. Our hands make dreams into reality and have built an entire maker movement but we don’t make time to gather and share enough. This October we’re crafting a new kind of gathering for the creative community together."

Christina Platt of the doll company Bamboletta and Arianne Foulks of website design firm Aeolidia will both be at the retreat. Read Arianne's interview with Christina here.

Christina Platt of the doll company Bamboletta and Arianne Foulks of website design firm Aeolidia will both be at the retreat. Read Arianne's interview with Christina here.

To discover more and register for the retreat, visit the registration page.

Postmark Canmore

Collage and book artist Dea Fischer and the Canmore Public Library are hosting a fun activity for Alberta Culture Days in Canmore this weekend. At Postmark Canmore, you can make good old-fashioned mail. Make your own envelopes, create some mail art, or type a letter on an antique typewriter.

Canmore Public Library
Sunday, 28 September 2014
drop in between 
1-4pm

All materials will be provided at this free family-friendly event.

Etsy Made in Canada: September 27

Canadian craft vendors are exhibiting in events across the country on Saturday, September 27 for Etsy's Made in Canada. In Calgary, the event will be held at Symons Valley Ranch. Here's a list of vendors. For event details, click here.

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Big event this week for scrapbooking fans!

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Celebrate paper crafts at the 7th Annual Great Canadian Carnival in Calgary this week: Friday and Saturday, September 26 & 27th! Join the Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine team and friends at the interactive market place with technique-rich make-and-takes, classes and, of course, shopping! (The Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive show is happening concurrently at the same venue, so lots to fuel your creative fire.)

Thank you to Katherina Doyle of Canadian Scrapbooker magazine, a fellow Calgary-based publication, for her support of UPPERCASE magazine through a purchase of a Calling Card. And shoutout to my friend Crystal Reynolds who is the designer for Canadian Scrapbooker magazine of the fall issue, pictured above.

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Anna Church: "Once the idea comes to me it's like a rush."

Here's a lovely video about Anna Church and her Insignia series. You can discover more about Anna in the forthcoming fall issue.

Let's reach this milestone together!

Dear Reader,

When I first started UPPERCASE magazine back in 2009, I had no experience in managing a quarterly publication. I certainly didn’t know anything about “circulation management”, renewals and such. My primary goal was to reach 400 subscribers by the time the first issue shipped, and, when that was met, to reach 1000 subscribers by the calendar year-end. This would be enough subscription income to break even on the first year’s production costs. At the time, it was hard to see past the first year and those first four issues. But we made it! And then, I was faced with the reality that most businesses face: customer retention.

Though new subscribers were coming, those inaugural 400 were up for renewal. Half of them never renewed. Ouch! When it comes to percentages, I can’t help but fall back into my grade-school measure of success: high percentages mean good grades. 50% certainly felt like a failing grade. And it’s hard not to take it personally and think, “Why don’t people like me?" I know now that typical renewal rates for magazines are low. There’s always something newer out there, more competition for readers’ attention and wallets. (Here’s a fact: UPPERCASE was launched before the iPad came out!)

It will always be two steps forward, one step back. The magazine’s renewal rate averages 33%. I’ve had to acclimatize to this fact, and temper my expectations and be mindful of this number and how it affects my business on a cyclical basis. Each quarter brings an attrition, but with new subscribers steadily discovering UPPERCASE, as long as the overall number of subscribers is growing, then it’ll be ok. I have a core group of extremely loyal subscribers who renew consistently and purchase gift subscriptions for others, and I am very grateful for your continued support! I hope that all the interesting articles from our contributors, great imagery and inspiration-filled issues will convince readers to keep subscribing. I hope that you also find value in these weekly newsletters, my blog and social media streams.

The magazine has grown surely and steadily over the years and as of this moment, there are 3,879 active subscribers who will be receiving issue #23 in a few weeks. It would be awesome to reach a milestone 4,000 subscribers! Please share this message with your friends and colleagues and on social media and let’s see if we can do it together.


So, how do you ensure that you’re bringing in both new customers while keeping the existing ones happy? 

After nearly six years and 23 issues, I’ve found that what works best for me is simply: do the work. First and foremost, create something of value. Pour your heart and soul into it. Invest yourself, invest your own money. Be open and honest. Be available and accessible. Put yourself on the line. If you prove every day that you’re committed, people will go all-in for you.

 

 

This message was originally published in my weekly newsletter. To see the newsletter, click here. Sign up for newsletters right here and you'll receive a free download of the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide.

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The wisdom of calligraphers.

Calligraphers are wise people. Get to know all of these fine folks in the forthcoming issue of UPPERCASE.

Lemonni.... yum!

Lemonni always has such nice things! Designer Annie Chen writes, "I love creating things with my hands. All the paper goods are designed and handmade by me. The whole production – from printing, cutting, folding, assembling, to packaging – happens in my studio. I handmade my textile products as well. The fabrics were printed with eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks. I'm a pattern fanatic. I'm always drawn to bold colours and interesting colour combinations. It's fascinating to me that the same colour can appear quite differently when paired with different colours."

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School House Craft Conference

School House Craft is an annual conference (September 27 & 28) in Seattle whose aim is to "school you in the business of craft." Check out the class schedule here. (bonus: registrants will receive a complimentary copy of UPPERCASE at the event.)

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