It's the next cover!

It is my great pleasure to unveil the cover of the next issue! Featuring a collage by Andrea D'Aquino, I am overjoyed with this design for an issue that will explore the modern quilt movement plus the creation and modification of surface through tattoos, weaving and more.

See that swatch of patterned fabric on the right? That's going to be an actual piece of vintage feedsack fabric hand applied to each subscriber cover. Be still my beating heart!

I can't wait to see how the collage changes a bit with each different piece of fabric. It will be delightfully random. Thanks to the many wonderful readers who have sent in feedsack swatches! If you're planning on sending some, the details are here. If you could also please send me an email with the quantity of squares you're sending so that I can keep a tally that would be helpful. We're pretty close to the goal of 10,000!

Oh, and another happy thing? Tattly is generously providing some temporary tattoo goodies in each subscriber copy of issue 24. Subscribe or renew today to get all these special touches!


#uppercasereader on Instagram

Here are some of the things that UPPERCASE readers are sharing on Instagram recently. Please click on the image to be taken to its owner. To share your work, Instagram it to @uppercasemag #uppercasereader and it will be easy for me to find. thanks!


Calling Card: Canoe Wedding

If you've ever dreamed of a romantic destination for your wedding, then nothing comes close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains for scenery and drama. Kirstie Tweed is an outstanding wedding photographer (she photographed my wedding nearly 10 years ago) who lives in a National Park — Banff, to be precise. Close to Lake Louise, Canmore and other mountain destinations, Kirstie and her husband Kevin have built the website Canoe Wedding as the ultimate resource for couples planning on tying the knot in the region. From venues to activities to restaurants, Canoe Wedding offers great information whether you're a tourist planning a visit, organizing a romantic anniversary getaway to the mountains or just indulging in a fantasy of the perfect wedding.

For a dramatic winter wedding, don't let the temperatures below zero give you cold feet — Kirstie and Kevin are the most thoughtful and warm people you could want to document your special day. They've also compiled Tips for a Winter Wedding so you'll be well prepared (not to mention stylish!)

Thank you, Kirstie and Kevin, for being such champions of what I do at UPPERCASE.

Thanks, Sabine!


Illustrator Sabine Wisman sent this to me on Twitter! I'm so lucky to have such amazing readers. Thanks, Sabine!

Frankie's Spaces

It looks like a trip to Australia will be in my diary early next year! I look forward to sharing those details when I can (I'll be speaking at a conference). I won't have time to visit or explore much—and I certainly wouldn't have been able to snoop inside the homes and studios that are featured in Frankie magazine' Spaces book. I blogged about the book when it was first released, and now it is back on its second printing.

Spaces is a collection of homes and homes-away-from-home around Australia: from the east coast capitals to the Adelaide Hills, the wilds of Tasmania and the southernmost tip of Western Australia. The designers, photographers, foodies, musicians and artists you’ll meet inside might have cleaned up a bit for their photos, but their homes aren’t fancy. These are the kind of places that take time and energy to put together, with some of the most precious things in them passed down through families, collected on travels or picked up from the side of the road. With a focus on resourcefulness and individual style, Spaces celebrates the importance of home to a creative bunch of Australians. 

Below is an extract from Spaces volume two featuring the co-work studio Little Gold. Sass Cocker is interviewed by Chris Harrigan with photos by Hilary Walker.

Design Thinkers, part 2

Christopher Rouleau shares more of his conference notes from Design Thinkers.

Richard Turley

Senior VP of Storytelling, MTV (previously: Bloomberg Businessweek)

"Let's Talk About Me"

  • "Typography can change the world!"
  • on bad clients: "the worse I made it, the more they liked it…"

Steve Vranakis

Executive Creative Director, Creative Lab, Google

"Making Technology Matter, and Using Technology to Drive Creativity"


  • the description "must be brave & kind" was listed in a Google Creative Labs job posting
  • make design matter
  • coding = a creative discipline
  • developers = artists
  • code / poetry = right words in the right order
  • break the conventions / structures

Annette Diefenthaler, Ellen Lupton & Lawrence Zeegen

"The Future of Design Education"

What is the most important trait(s) for students leaving college / entering the workforce?

AD: one core skill is more important than multiple skills. A single skill permeates through a portfolio. Don't pretend you can do everything.

LZ: not skill sets, but mindsets / must be able to embrace new thinking – we're looking for innovators who will push the industry forward

EL: don't copy others / "nobody's going to be everything"

What is more important: critical thinking or technical skills?

EL: there should be no division—skill set and mindset should be integrated

AD: students must be adaptable and be able to teach themselves, or know how to acquire the skills they need

LZ: importance of learning both high tech and low tech (analog techniques), as well as learn from each other

How do you teach less-skilled students (the 90% "non-stars")?

LZ: educators are responsible for teaching the entire gamut of students, from all skill levels and backgrounds. strive for better, not best

AD: must question metrics – not just about graphic design "hard skills"
things to consider:

how is the student inspiring / challenging the discipline / industry?
how the student having an impact on his / her community?
how is the student able to communicate / inspire / teach others?
ultimately, educators must embrace diversity of skills and help break down barriers

Should software / technical skills be the core of design programs?

EL: critical thinking is more important that software knowledge
"teach spelling AND poetry in tandem" — always with an element of FUN

How important is coding fluency in a world where students are expected to be multi-disciplinary?

AD: students must have "digital fluency": able to use but not necessarily produce
ability to tell stories with existing apps, platforms, tools of visual distribution

How do you teach students to be "resourceful"?

EL: make students work within constraints, units, specific parameters, this teaches problem solving / resilience creates systems that can change / design is the most basic form of literacy for both designers and non-designers / empower students to do good: either at industry/agency level, or within their community

AD: time = money; make students execute projects in time constraints
find ways to "get to amazing" within 24 hours

What are your thoughts on design departments who are changing the course descriptions from "Graphic Design" to "Communication Design"?

EL: "I will go to my grave as a graphic designer!"
"graphic design" connotes discipline, long standing traditions
"communication design" connotes business, marketing, PR (yuck)

LZ: "graphic design" doesn't adequately describe the tasks any more

What are the constraints of a 3-year design degree? What would you add/change?

LZ: too insular
gap between real money / real time
need to connect graphic design with everything else

EL: too much focus on self, homework, etc. / add communal spaces to create a studio experience, encourage peer-to-peer learning, which is invaluable / also, make all classes electives…

AD: most classroom spaces are terrible – feel too "school-like"
learning / working environments affect how we think, act, and the quality of our work

Visit Christopher's blog for more, including his notes on Jessica Walsh and Erik Spiekermann. Our thanks to Design Thinkers for the press pass to this annual event.

Design Thinkers, part 1

DAY 1, November 6

Christopher Rouleau was our reporter on the scene of the recent Design Thinkers conference in Toronto and conducted an interview with Ellen Lupton that will appear in a future issue of the magazine. Below, he shares his conference notes — those fleeting gems and snippets of ideas that one takes away from such a conference. Visit his blog for more.

Andrew Deitchmann

CEO & Co-founder, Mother NYC

"A Well-Designed Idea"

  • "have fun and make a living – in that order"
    novelty is NOT sustainable
  • always work with good people
  • big ideas vs. rich ideas (rich is better)
  • don't be intimidated by the big players
  • Make the complex simple & joyous!

Todd Waterbury

Executive Creative Director & Senior VP of Marketing, Target

"Belief to Behaviour"

  • language is what you believe
  • 21st century literacy = coding
  • diversity – best when one field of interest informs the other (and vice versa)
  • discipline fuels the best creative thinking
  • de-familiarize the ordinary
  • best ideas & experiences = the inevitable + the unexpected
  • Choice is abundant, attention is scarce

Aaron Draplin

Founder, Draplin Design Co.

"Tall Tales from a Large Man"

  • was told "you're not going to make a living in design"

  • "defy the f*cking odds"
  • interested in "creating things for regular people"
  • still surprised he "got away with it..."
  • "don't forget the power of your mouse finger" to help the community organizations
  • on success Field Notes: "You can do this."
  • design as trade, not trend
  • go junking – inspiration waits in a world of "dead things"
  • on worrying: "Get cosmic." – think about the bigger picture and what's really important. At a universal scale, "we have no idea what's going on." Chill out.

Debbie Millman

President, Design Division, Sterling Brands
Design Matters podcast

"On Rejection, or How the Worst Moments of Your Life Can Turn Out to Be the Best"

  • get past your fears and work through the discomfort
  • one closed door opens another – opportunity is everywhere
  • every time designers get together, there is opportunity to grow

Paula Scher

Partner, Pentagram

"All Design is Social"

  • P L A Y ! ! !

Secretary of War

On the occasion of Remembrance Day, as we think about the heartbreak and sacrifice of war, these typewriter ads from the 1940s offer an interesting perspective on how even typical business was affected—and the significant impact the war had on women in the workplace.

Uncle Sam wants every typewriter you can spare.

Uncle Sam wants every typewriter you can spare.

Limited wartime typewriter production.

Limited wartime typewriter production.

Twice-welcome is the girl who brings with her not only the will to serve, but the skill to save precious hours of working time.

Twice-welcome is the girl who brings with her not only the will to serve, but the skill to save precious hours of working time.

Any job a woman takes which releases a man is a war job.

Any job a woman takes which releases a man is a war job.

Here's to the girl doing one grand job... your own private "secretary of war."

Here's to the girl doing one grand job... your own private "secretary of war."

To the Girl he left behind him... these are lonesome, waiting days for you. The telephone is strangely silent. No door bell rings. Across a thousand, thousand miles of straining heartstrings, his hand rests on your shoulder. "Keep your chin up," he seems to say. "I'll be back for you."

To the Girl he left behind him... these are lonesome, waiting days for you. The telephone is strangely silent. No door bell rings. Across a thousand, thousand miles of straining heartstrings, his hand rests on your shoulder.

"Keep your chin up," he seems to say. "I'll be back for you."

These ads are from my personal collection and are part of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine.

Step away from the computer

Looks like a fun time can be had at Grafisch Werkcentrum Amsterdam.

snow day

It's a snowy day here in Calgary... likely the first of many more to come through the long winter ahead! If you're curled up on your couch and browsing the UPPERCASE shop, use the code "snow day" for $10 off orders over $50 today. Stay cozy!


Calling Card: Thomas-Printers

There's nothing like being up close and personal with a letterpress card; they're such beautiful, tactile objects. Kseniya Thomas is the founder of Thomas-Printers and also a co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress.

Kseniya writes on her side, "Letterpress and love are often said in the same breath. It’s easy to understand why: there are few things in life where we can be involved, from start to finish, in making a beautiful, useful product; meet committed, interesting people with each new project; and use triumphantly antique tools every day as well."


If you have some holiday card designs, you're planning a wedding or need some business stationery, Kseniya would be happy to hear from you! She has generously extended a 25% discount to UPPERCASE readers who place orders before December 31.

My thanks to Thomas-Printers for supporting UPPERCASE and its fine content by being a Calling Card advertiser. If you'd like to have your Calling Card appear on the blog, sidebar, social media and in print, they cost just $400 Canadian ($352 USD depending on the exchange rate). Select an image that best represents you, your product or service (squarish image 3 inches wide at 300dpi ), then click here to upload it and get your Calling Card ad designed by me and shared with the UPPERCASE community. You'll be supporting UPPERCASE content creation, boosting your profile, be immortalized in print and be serving the community with your creative offerings. Deadline for the winter issue is November 15.

Calling Card: Tempest Studios

Artist Erika Schulz believes in keeping busy. "I have a few series of artworks ongoing at the moment. I don't believe in tackling one subject at a time, so I switch between spaceships and robots, medieval gargoyles, birds, nature, and fantasy/macabre illustration. I try to challenge myself to grow as an artist."

"My inspirations are as diverse as my subjects, although if you knew me well, nothing I do would seem such a stretch. I grew up in a house surrounded by Asian artwork, collected by both my mother and grandmother. Summers were spent near the ocean or a mountain lake. My father introduced me to The Lord of the Rings, and Dune at an early age, which lead me to Star Trek. Fantasy novels were always my prefered escape, and throughout my life I have been fascinated by ancient history. What a strange melting pot, but perhaps not that uncommon. Nature, fantasy, fiction, and history, what a wonderful world for creativity and imagination."

She has a busy month ahead: Her Alberta Aviary series will be on display from November 15 to December 4 at the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta. (Bluerock Gallery is also a fine stockist of UPPERCASE magazine.)

Then, she'll be showcasing her work at Red Deer's "All Things Pretty Market" on November 22 and 23rd. 

Prints, cards and zines are available on her Etsy shop.

Thank you to Erika Schulz for supporting the content in UPPERCASE issue 23 by purchasing a Calling Card ad. If you'd like to have your Calling Card appear on the blog, sidebar, social media and in print, please visit our advertising for the details.

The making of a Japanese Kokeshi doll

Discovered thanks to a tweet from Brent Wilson.

Naftali Beder: I am Obsidian

By illustrator Naftali Beder.