Back to Old School

This morning I am returning to the Alberta College of Art & Design as an instructor. Every Monday until Christmas, I'll be teaching a course in which 4th year students research a favourite topic and complete a publication design on the subject from start to finish. It's basically what I do on a daily basis, so I'm looking forward to the class. (Since I can't quite be two places at once, the store will be closed on Mondays.)

It has been a year since we presented Old School, the book and exhibition in which the shop was transformed into a classroom. It certainly was a fun show and the book was a success. There are just a few dozen copies left, so get yours while you can! The star is actually one of those metallic teacher stickers that we place by hand on each book. The book comes with an official Old School pencil, too.

To see more of the development of the book and the show, visit my flickr set.

Overflowing with love: Magma!

Magma is a trio of design bookshops on London's Clerkenwell Road, Covent Garden and an outlet in Manchester. They have an extensive library of books in their online shop; their selection is top notch. Four years ago, when I was conceptualizing UPPERCASE, I would look at pictures of Magma as inspiration for my own bookstore and design space. They are inspiring not only in shop design, but their philosophy of bookselling is also admirable.

The Magma approach to shopkeeping is to create and nurture an interactive community: "We think that there is something extremely rich and dynamic in the notion that people, all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, are walking through our doors on a daily basis, looking for something, not always sure as to what they are looking for. More often than not, these people are more knowledgeable with regards to their areas of interest than we are, or could ever hope to be. And this keeps us going. A shop feeds on feedback. It thrives on people's responses, on their enthusiasm and their frustration, on their ideas of what is good or bad, on what they buy and what they don't buy. A shop is unthinkable without that highly stimulating flow, individuals walking in with their ideas, with their more or less intense curiosity, their various personal concerns, their quirks, their calm or manic energy, their unique point of view."

Deidre and I are thrilled that Magma will be carrying UPPERCASE's publishing efforts. Old School, Work/Life, The Shatner Show as well as a selection of Eclectonotes have crossed the pond, arriving just in time for the final days of Christmas-shopping frenzy.

To have our books recognized by Magma is the best Christmas gift we could receive as an independent publisher. Thank you, Magma.

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Congratulations to our artists

I would like to congratulate all the artists we know and adore who have been accepted into the Society of Illustrators' 2009 annual. Their work will be part of the 51st Annual Exhibition Book and Editorial show in New York from January 28th to February 28th.

Work/Life contributors Luc Melanson (his piece from Work/Life was selected), Byron Eggenschwhiler (this is his winning piece, above), Douglas Fraser, Renata Liwska (her piece from Old School was selected), Jody Hewgill, Jillian Tamaki and Sam Weber are all being recognized.

Some of The Shatner Show illustrators are also featured in the annual: Marc Burckhardt, Marcos Chin, Eddie Guy, Paul Hoppe, Ronald Kurniawan, Jesse Lefkowitz, and Zina Saunders. Past exhibitors The Heads of State, Ryan Heshka and Christopher Silas Neal are also in! I am incredibly proud of the caliber of talent that has shown here in the gallery. Keep up the greatness everybody!

Weekend project

I was feeling crafty this weekend and have had this project in mind for a while. To advertise our recent Old School exhibition, I had designed a 14' laminated banner to appear in a display window in the convention centre. I knew that I wanted to upcycle the laminated paper into products, so I experimented with the material and this is what I developed: large pockets in which you can safely store letter-sized papers. The sides are sewn together and the pocket seals with a silver snap. I've got a lot of banner left (and one leftover from The Shatner Show), so more will be made. It's just a matter of finding time.

Beautiful Old School coincidence

I was feeling a bit wistful about this being the last weekend of the Old School show until I stumbled across my own beautiful coincidence, one of the literary/Old School variety. 

Old School

I haven't read the novel so I can't recommend that book, but I will urge everyone and anyone who is looking for an exceptional story, to read Wolff's exquisite "Firelight."  Also set on a campus, it is a spare and honest work of fiction. A prime example of why Wolff's writing has come to be recognized as part of the distinctive 'dirty realism' genre of literature. 

I think the simple, raw beauty of his prose and the heartfelt quality of his human observations are closely tied to the aesthetics of Old School art, all of which is lovingly collected in our Old School book

In keeping with the UPPERCASE Old School motto: 'Read Earnestly, Remember Longer, Feel More.'

A very happy weekend to all and I hope to see as many visitors as possible for the final weekend of Old School!  *All the artworks in this exhibition are now officially discounted at 20% off.


You'll notice that there is a message written on the blackboard in Beth's first photo (below): "School is almost over." Alas, this is true: Old School is coming down on October 10, so please come by tonight for First Thursday or visit us on the weekend. All Old School art and select items are 20% off. (Online: use the code oldschoolart at checkout to get 20% off art orders over $50.) Photo from Fred Free.

Baby blues

Although most of the artworks in Old School celebrate the joy of learning and the innocence of childhood, not everything is rosy when you're a child. Kim Scafuro, Kiersten Essenpreis and Jen Altman touch on the tougher side of growing up.

German photographer Loretta Lux (above) creates images of children captured in moments of forced stillness. Their big eyes in unusually large heads seeming to be on the verge of tears. Their proper clothes and poses are unsettling, perhaps masking darker secrets. Jill Greenberg (below) photographs children in the midst of raw emotion: "The honesty of a child's feelings is undeniable and draws you into the photograph. Perhaps because kids experience the kind of powerful emotions that we, as adults, have supressed in ourselves."

This weekend marks the last two days of the Principal's Office display, next door to UPPERCASE in One Blue Wall Gallery. Please visit us for a lingering look (art will be 20% off). On Saturday at 2pm, Deidre will be be presenting "Games of Wonder & Amusement." We promise not to make you cry.

Our he{art} on your walls

Here's a shot of Mike Kerr and Renata Liwska's art collection. Visit each of their blogs to find out more about about their artwork. Many of these are from UPPERCASE! Mike and Renata are regular contributors to our shows. We're looking forward to an exhibition of Renata's exquisite drawings for her upcoming children's book, Little Panda. That show opens the first Thursday in November. 

Old School is up for just a few more weeks and the artwork would LOVE to find a home on your walls. The artwork is very accessibly priced, ranging from $30-$100 for most handmade collages on paper and $100 - $600 for original paintings and sculpture. For those of you unfamiliar with how artwork is priced, in our gallery 60% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist and the remaining 40% contributes to the gallery rent, utilities, display costs and publicity.

The artwork is available for sale online if you're not able to see the show in person. In addition to our Canadian customers, Old School artwork has already been shipped and received by happy customers in San Francisco and New York City. Thank you for supporting the creative endeavours of our artists.