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UPPERCASE magazine

The Suitcase Series Volume 2: dottie angel, now shipping!A Collection a Day by Lisa Congdon, packaged in a collector's tin! Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of international illustratorsDownload the FREE iphone app!An illustrated storybook for sophisticated children and whimsical adults.

NEW! Shoegazing Notecards curated by Janine Vangool and published by Chronicle Books.

Click here to purchase Shoegazing Notecards 




current inspiration


The Case for Off-Line Creative: Textiles and Trampolines

This post is the second in a series written by Christina Crook. Christina Crook has been a regular contributor in the pages of UPPERCASE magazine and we're happy to welcome her to the blog this week with a special guest post series on the case for being creative offline. 


Samantha Cotterill:

Textile Design

After a five-year break from a painting career to have children, Samantha Cotterill (also known as mummysam,) returned to the art world as a self-taught fiber artist, creating one of a kind sculptures using all natural fibers. Today her energies are focused on creating a line of fabric designed exclusively for her Etsy shop.  

“My current work is quite digital, with this past year seeing a big move from fiber drawings and sculptures to digitally coloured illustrations and textile designs. Many of my illustrations are based on raising a child with spectrum, and the textile design are a fun and playful outlet to explore my love of colour and pattern.”

Samantha’s relationship with the Web is something she’s given a lot of thought. Online she’s found Validation, a space to Experiment and an opportunity to Avoid. She’s recently implemented a specialized tool to curb her wayward online ways...A trampoline.

Describe your relationship with the Web. I have a love/hate relationship with the Web, and will probably continue to do so for as long as I allow the internet to be around me. The types of relationships I have struck with the internet are quite diverse, with each one occupying my life at varying degrees. Validation, avoidance, dependence, healing, experimental, past-time, and survival are but a few examples of the types of relationships I can have with the Web. I look to the internet for validation when posting new work and waiting for feedback, and avoid it when the time spent creating is being squashed by the endless hours of searching and looking at meaningless things. I depend on the internet to keep me creatively connected to others and help my business grow, and experiment with it when posting new work that is unlike anything I have done before. 

What advice would you share with others regarding the interplay between the physical work of making and the online demands of the Internet? Make sure you are the devoting the time you need physically and emotionally to create a good body of work, and set up a structured routine that will eliminate any wasteful "let me just check this quickly" moments on the internet.

Do you try and restrict your time online? Why or why not? As a means of necessity, absolutely. While going on the internet can offer a wonderful source of inspiration, it's accessibility to all things creative can allow oneself to easily get lost in it and lose sight of how much physical work time is being neglected. I would mistakenly tell myself "just 20 more minutes and then I'll start work", and find myself still saying that 3 hours later.  It takes time for me to get into a good work rhythm, and if I spend much of that time browsing the internet, then another day will have gone by without any real work being accomplished.

Do you have a structured approach to your use of the Internet such as set times you check email, do updates, etc? This is something I have only just implemented, after noticing the amount of wasteful time that was being spent from jumping back and forth between my work and the Web. With the recent implementation of a daily schedule and clock that sits right in front of me, I am trying to bring back a balance that stops my ADD brain from wanting to quickly check something on the internet just 5 seconds after opening up Photoshop.

I have forced myself to only check e-mails two times a day, which has been much more difficult than I thought. I didn't realize how much I was going to my e-mail, and even worse yet, checking my flickr account to see how many new views I had since my last check 3 minutes prior.

With the suggestion of a trampoline from a friend of mine, I now go and jump madly for a few seconds when I start noticing my little fingers starting to twitch as the "need" to check things on the internet gets stronger. (I know it sounds silly, but it works. Trust me).

There is a set time where update are made, and another set time for any networking that needs to be done for the growth of my business.  I have even incorporated a set time for "free time", where I can spend some good guilt-free moments to have fun and just tinker about...

Up Next: Tugboats & Woodcuts


The Case for Off-Line Creative by Christina Crook

Christina Crook has been a regular contributor in the pages of UPPERCASE magazine and we're happy to welcome her to the blog this week with a special guest post series on the case for being creative offline. Christina recently unplugged from the internet for 31 days, typing a daily letter rather than posting to her blog, surfing the net or turning to the computer for distraction, entertainment and affirmation.

Please join us every morning this week as Christina introduces us to other creatives and their off-line habits.

Christina's documentation of her off-line experiment, Letters from a Luddite: What I Learned in 31 Days Off-line, is available through Blurb

Space to Create:

The Case for the Off-line Creative

by Christina Crook

In January, after half a year’s consideration, I stepped off-line for an entire month. The time was filled with a flurry of inspiration. Books were read. Projects were completed. The cobwebs were swept from the inner recesses of my busy head. I chronicled the project with a letter a day, sharing the thoughts, ‘aha’s, and frustrations of my off-line existence.

We are little gods on the Internet, often presenting only the best of ourselves online. That’s what makes the Work-In-Progress-Society such a unusual and refreshing affair. Here makers from across the world celebrate their unfinishedness and champion one another on to completeness.

We all need space, physically and mentally, to create. A desk. A corner. For the lucky ones: bright, airy studios where we can set our hands to work. Increasingly though, our space is mediated, and often cluttered, by the online space of the Internet.

I thought would be interesting to consider the on- and off-line habits of a few members of the UPPERCASE Work-in-Progress Society, uncovering our counterparts' web habits in order to discover how we each can carve out the space we need to create.

Up Next: Textiles and Trampolines


Testing a shop widget

Here's a little widget that embeds a pop-up store into my blog.

View my Store

What do you think?


Featured Stockist: Paper Umbrella

photos by Danielle Tocker

Teresa and Brad were excited when we asked them to send along some information for a profile. Really excited. Really REALLY excited. Like dancing around the kitchen excited.

They explained how they came to be stockists.

"A fortuitous event occurred for us in 2006 when our flight home was diverted to Calgary. That grey winter day offered us the unforgettable opportunity to step into UPPERCASE gallery and meet Janine Vangool. She sold us some of her personally designed Valentine's day cards which we brought home to our then four-month-old store."

Paper Umbrella can be found amidst the creative ambiance of the vibrant Cathedral Village in Regina Saskatchewan. They offer a selection of sophisticated cards, fine writing utensils, beautiful papers, and unique gifts. 

"We have long benefited from the ongoing relationship with UPPERCASE and have engaged in countless conversations about this inventive, clever and beautiful publication. What our customers have also valued beyond the content of this magazine has been their chance to contribute to it. As an independent retailer in an art district, creatives abound. We are often heard telling customers looking for inspiration and encouragement that there's nothing better than a hit of UPPERCASE."


For Mom

I'm gonna let you in on a mom-of-more-than-one secret. Some days...we have favourites. Sure, sure—there's room in our hearts to love all our kids equally. But, sometimes one might just be liked a bit more than the others. Why not give your mom the gift that keeps on giving... An UPPERCASE subscription will ensure that (at least four times a year) you are the favourite child.

Get 10% off in our shop with the discount code 'mom' until May 14.


Subscriber Profile: Emeli Eva Reiart

Available in Emeli's Etsy shop. How are you creative in your daily life? I am creative in everything I do during the day. I was a high school art teacher in my old life but now I am a stay-at-home mom with two cool kids and a giant art studio. I knit, cook, quilt, build, repair, adopt, teach art, sew and create. When I was home with my first child ten years ago I started a silk screening business and now home again I love making wacky art pieces for my etsy shop. I am presently renovating my old barn into a studio to begin a small art school.

What are you most curious about? What is exactly going on in the minds of my children, how personality develops and how create acceptance and tolerance. No biggies.

What is your most prized possession? My photographs. Also, my daughter's big, grungy teddy bear that was mine when I was little. He comes to life at night to protect against monsters & boogymen. He is very important around here.

What is your favorite letter? M. I love the softness of "M" and I love the way it sounds. MMMMM. It is also the first letter of my daughter's name-Maggie. It feels good to write it too. There was a wonderful Sesame Street segment about Me and my "M" that I still hum daily.  
What is your favourite colour? Oatmeal. But I couldn't live without orangy red or industrial yellow.
What is your preferred creative tool? I love Sharpies. I was diagnosed with focal dystonia in my hands while in university to become a medical illustrator so that dream was squashed. While I tried to reconcile myself with the fact that I could no longer use my hands for fine motor skills such as detailed drawing or writing I found that I could still use large pens and large sketchbook to sketch and draw so the Sharpie became my tug boat and my work became large and messy and so much better! Also, the computer. I collect images and ideas and have a major addiction to my Pintrest account!
What is your favourite food? Baked Oysters. The best is with blue cheese and hot sauce baked till the the cheese bubbles. Or with fresh ginger and lime. Oh my gosh. So good.


Mentions: Raindrop dolls

The creator of one of the plush dolls from issue #13 recently dropped a little internet love on UPPERCASE. Mon, of Weiwabo created the raindrop doll above. An etsy shop is planned where you will be able to pick up these amazing creations.


Unique LA this weekend

The Unique LA show is this weekend:

The largest independent design show in the USA, attendees get the rare chance to meet and shop directly from over 325 hand-selected designers and artists. The exciting two-day shopping event makes it easy for you to buy local and support LA’s economy, discover great design and deals, join in community, and have a blast. 

I'd love to attend one day... oh, to see and do it all...


UPPERCASE + Anthropologie Calgary: special event!

Click on the image to see full size.

UPPERCASE magazine is very pleased to be part of Anthropologie's roster of quarterly magazines. (They've even done a nice feature about UPPERCASE and other fine publications on their website.) As a small publisher, their support is very much appreciated.
We've organized a creative event in Calgary's Anthropologie store on Thursday, May 24: a few hours of crafting with UPPERCASE and the visual display team from the store! Space is limited, so please RSVP to secure your spot or get on the wait list (please note that the attendee list is managed by Anthropologie).
It's going to be pretty and fun! I hope to see you there.


Sharp evidence

Our officially-sharpened pencil.


Stili acumen salus mundi

In issue #11 we mentioned David Rees' Artisanal Pencil Sharpening service. To celebrate his second anniversary, he has partnered with Mike Houston of Cannonball Press to create this print.

David is also currently on a book tour in support of his book, How to Sharpen Pencils.

Stili acumen salus mundi* indeed.

*A sharp pencil is the salvation of the world.


w.i.p.s wednesday: woven labels

In the current issue (#13), Carolyn Fraser has an excellent article about Cash's Labels—the last woven label manufacturer in Australia. While visiting the plant, Carolyn shot some footage on her phone. I'm learning Final Cut Pro X, so here's something I've edited together.

Subscribe to UPPERCASE magazine right here!


w.i.p.s wednesday: mechanical muscle

Creative work-in-progress can also be the more mechanical or industrial process of getting your product made. An industrial designer might need molds to be made; a jewellery designer might have to cast some forms; a furniture-maker might need some welding or spray-coating done to complete a piece. You are welcome to post images of these in our Work-in-Progress Society pool of images... submissions right now are quite feminine; it would be good to get some grit and muscle in there!


w.i.p.s wednesday: Alice Yun

Painting and sketch by Alice Yun

The Work-in-Progress Society is a Flickr pool where you can submit images of your creative process and projects-in-the-works to be possibly featured in the magazine and/or on the blog. Here are some recent uploads by Alice Yun.


type tuesday: sign-painting exhibition at Land

Portland-based UPPERCASE stockist Land also has a show by sign painter Ira Coyne.


type tuesday: sign-painting exhibition at The Curiosity Shoppe

There are still a few weeks left for the current exhibition at San Francisco's The Curiosity Shoppe, featuring the sign-painting and food-inspired art of Heather Diane Hardison. (You can pick up a copy of UPPERCASE magazine there as well!)


type tuesday: Sergey Shapiro

I wish I could do this!

and this:

(The work of Moscow-based designer Sergey Shapiro.)


type tuesday: Tien-Min Liao

Tien-Min Liao has taken a popular idea (forming letters with configurations of a body or body parts) and executed it so flawlessly and completely that ownership is rightfully hers.

"In this experiment, I drew shapes with ink on one or both of my hands, manipulating my gestures into the corresponding shape to signify an upper-case letter. Then, using the same shape on my hands, I manipulated mygesture or changed the perspective through which the shape is viewed in order to transform the upper-case letter to a lower-case of the same letter. Removing or redrawing the darkened shape on my hands is not allowed in the experiment. The only way to make the model transform from an upper-case to a lower-case (orvice versa) is changing the gestures or the perspectives."

Another pretty project is a photographic portrait of found lettershapes in Grand Central Station:

And last, but not least, is a beautiful animation ode to Baskerville (the italic is always a favourite typeface of mine—you can't find a more beautiful ampersand).


Guest Post: Wrapping it up

Sarah's site has more information about this and other topics on inspiring and honoring your creativity. Her treasure trove of resources is worth the click.

She concludes:

"Starting a creative journey or daily creative ritual can be difficult at first. Like anything it requires discipline and consistency. Finding a friend or family member to join you can help and seeking out a group of like-minded creatives can also make the experience a beautiful one.

Just remember to always follow your heart and beautiful things will happen."


Guest Post: Appointments with creativity

Sarah writes:

"Now that you have defined some areas of interest, you need to schedule them into your daily calendar. If it helps, get a calendar that speaks to your creativity or mark an existing calendar in a way that it excites you when you look at it. You will be more likely to take the time if you are excited when you see it and it will give you something to look forward to each day.

Specifying the exact time is up to you. I actually started my own creative practice on Wednesdays with a project by Keri Smith called 100 Ideas. I began by picking one idea a day and allowed 10 minutes of time to create. When 10 minutes was up, I would leave it and move on to other activities. I then moved to my camera and began a creative journey that is as much a part of me today as it was when I began 3 years ago.

My own creative journey has now developed into a course called 100 Wednesdays, that I most recently taught to University of Georgia Fashion and Interiors Students as part of a creative course they were taking.

Some additional resources to see other creatives using daily practice in their own journeys are Marisa Anne of Creative Thursday and The Artists Way by Julia Cameron."

Up next: Wrapping it up