Start Where You Are: Meera Lee Patel

Since we first profiled illustrator Meera Lee Patel in Work/Life 3: the UPPERCASE directory of Illustration, this talented artist has authored and illustrated two books.

“My work has evolved in what feels like a very natural, steady progression, and my career has as well. I published my first book, Daily Zen, in the fall of 2014, and began working on Start Where You Are in the fall of 2014. I've also expanded my line of stationery and textile goods and began selling to retailers around the world. I feel incredibly lucky to be writing and illustrating books, which has always been my dream, and am grateful to be where I am on this path.”

The most recent book is a motivational journal with illustrated quotations. “I wanted to make a book that helped people navigate through the chaos and confusion of everyday life. Start Where You Are guides readers through the practice of introspection by using a series of prompts (writing exercises, questions, charts, and graphics), and helps them feel more connected to themselves, the people around them, and the world itself.”

Meera has always been interested in the publishing industry. Four years ago, she graduated from college and secured a job with a publishing company. “I edited papers and put my knowledge of the Oxford Style Manual to good use. I enjoy writing and literature to a very intense degree—it's what fuels most of my illustration and propels me to tell stories with my work.”

However, the desk job wasn’t for her. “It was only a few months before I knew I'd slowly go insane if I didn't make a drastic change. With a slew of pent-up creative energy and strong desire for self-sustenance, I opened up an Etsy shop, started to take commissioned illustration jobs and began, once again, to let my imagination guide me.”

The transition from words to pictures was natural. “I grew up telling stories with my words; eventually I learned to tell them silently, with scribbles, colour and feeling. I'd always been a creative soul, writing and illustrating my own short stories and novels from a young age, using my imagination as fuel to create my own happiness.”

Creating inspirational books is an organic fit for this artist and her bright and spirited work. “Growth and evolution, as a person, is a natural and necessary process, and self-reflection plays such an important role in facilitating both. Reading so many life lessons from so many inspirational people reminded me (again and again) that anything is possible, both personally and creatively. I may not always currently be where I hope to go, but writing this book has helped me appreciate exactly where I am.”

Robot Blue

Finley and I downloaded a new app recently that we'd like to share with you. Robot Blue from Planet 22 is the story about a tired robot who has lost his "off" switch and cannot fall asleep. As the story is narrated, you can help the robot look for the switch, put together some puzzles, push robot buttons and feed the robot a bedtime snack. A bonus for us is that one of Robot Blue's companions is a fish named Finn.

Robot Blue from Planet 22 was written and illustrated by Jayson Fuerstenberg who is one of the illustrators profiled in Work/Life 2.


Download it today on iTunes!

And take a look at this:

Underneath Robot Blue in the New Books section of iTunes is the app companion to our book Work/Life 2, deemed #1 of What's Hot! Cool. Download the FREE Work/Life 2 app here and purchase the book here.

Work/Life 2: Communication Arts coverage

The Communication Illustration annual has quite a nice representation of Work/Life 2 participants. First up is Michael Byers, who is profiled in the fresh talent column:

(The illustration in the middle of a man fishing is Michael's Work/Life 2 contribution.)

Thom Sevalrud's Work/Life 2 illustration is included as well! And Renata Liwska's book projects are nicely featured:

Julia Breckenreid has a black and white illustration chosen:

Also included in the annual is Calgary-based illustrator Karen Klassen (Work/Life first edition, UPPERCASE magazine) for some of her unpublished personal portraiture work.

There are also many other talented illustrators included in the annual who have graced the pages of UPPERCASE and other past books such as Byron Eggenschwiler, Jody Hewgill, Sam Weber, Jesse Lefkowitz, The Heads of State, Ty Mattson, Joe Morse, Christopher Silas Neal, . It is an honour to work with so many talented people, thank you!

Work/Life 2: Jason Neil (Don't forget to VOTE!)

Jason Neil's illustration portfolio is defined by its amount of Canadian content. "I have always been involved in current affairs and things of a political nature, which along with my love for travel have been a great influence in my work. I'm fascinated with Canada, it's history and you will see aspects of this patriotism in my work as well." If you need any illustrations of the current federal election in Canada, then Jason's your man!

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I'm not a very political person, but with Canada having its fourth federal election in seven years, it is time to elect a government that will last—and make some lasting changes. Jack Layton has had my vote from the beginning of the campaign and his positive conduct throughout has only reinforced that decision. I hope the current momentum for the NDP continues over the next few days and we see some exciting results on Monday. I'm not one to post a sign on my front lawn, but I think social media can really have a positive effect, at the very least to encourage people who would normally ignore elections to become engaged.

Allow me to indulge in posting this sign on my virtual lawn:

Whatever your political leanings, fellow Canadians, please don't forget to vote on Monday, May 2!

There's an app for that!

We are pleased to announce that the Work/Life 2 iPhone app is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD in iTunes!

The Work/Life 2 app is a companion to Work/Life 2: The UPPERCASE Directory of Illustration, a 224-page book featuring the art of 100 illustrators from around the globe. The app allows for some features that go beyond the book: search the participants by region and style, contact the artists directly, and follow news from the UPPERCASE blog.

Both the book and app include a range of talents, some fresh from school, some returning back into the work groove after raising families, and some hardworking creatives whose career already span a few decades. The common trait with each participant is their enthusiasm for their craft and their sincerity in presenting their best work.

Everyone's illustrations look stellar on the iPhone... here are some samples below. Download your free Work/Life app today and discover your new favourite illustrator.

Big thank you to Glen for creating the app!

We hope that you will enjoy perusing the app! If you want to learn about the artists in greater detail, each person is profiled in the book with images of their studios, sketchbooks and creative inspirations.

Work/Life 2: Julia Minimata

Julia Minimata is featured in both Work/Life (2008) and Work/Life 2 (2011). It speaks to the success of the first edition that many participants wanted to be part of Work/Life 2 as well. Julia's illustrations are of particular interest, especially when you realize that she uses silkscreen as her medium! She talks about the time management involved in using silkscreened prints for illustration in the latest book.

Julia is a graduate of Sheridan College and currently lives in Toronto. On her blog, Julia shares an anecdote about the illustration published in Work/Life 2 (involving fellow Work/Life 2 participant — and one of my former ACAD instructors — Rick Sealock).

"I was so excited to be given the opportunity to participate in this project for the second time," Julia writes. "I wanted to create a dreamy feeling, that dazed feeling of lying out in a field in the late summertime, staring at the sky."

The original silkscreen prints of this image and others are available on the Jullia Minamata Etsy Shop.

Work/Life 2: Sean Alzetta

Sean Alzetta
is a hybrid designer, illustrator and photographer. As he states on his website, "Sean Alzetta Does Everything". The image above is Sean's contribution to Work/Life 2. (Perhaps we are turning into zombie computer brains searching for an authentic brain experience?)

The images below are from a student assignment. "The goal was to use visual metaphor to create three illustrations for a corporate brochure. I selected Toyota as my company. At the time, the company had to recall many vehicles because of brake problems. I developed metaphors based on regaining the trust and confidence of the consumer."

Visit Sean's website to see more of his design and photography work.

Work/Life 2: Jacqui Lee

Last Thursday's ACAD portfolio show presented some really top-notch work by soon-to-be grads. This week I'd like to introduce you to some of the fresh talent who are also featured in Work/Lfe 2.

First up is Jacqui Lee, whose work has a lovely balance of child-like wonder with a very sophisticated execution.

For a class project, she illustrated the story of the Bombardier family (some images below, see more on her site):

She also has a lovely lettering style and playful/retro colour palettes:

Here is the illustration included in Work/Life 2:

Jacqui is certainly poised for an excellent career in illustration. To commission Jacqui, please visit her site. To see her current projects, follow along on her blog.

Work/Life 2: with SPD at NYC

The primary goal of the Work/Life series is to promote the illustration talents profiled to potential clients. To that end, the book has been mailed out to a long list of designers, publishers and advertisers. Much of the list was compiled by participants listing their top ten dream clients; we researched their submissions and found contacts and addresses whenever possible. The book was also sent to major design firms and magazine / book art directors.

This Friday, Work/Life 2 will be available FREE to members of the Society of Publication Designers attending their Spring Fling in New York City. I hope that the book will make a positive impression and garner new contacts and commissions for the 100 amazing people featured in the book.

The book is designed and written to be entertaining, informative and inspiring—unique qualities when it comes to the usual illustration annual or compilation which are usually just images and contact info with not much heart and soul. Readers—whether art directors or aspiring illustrators or people interested in the creative spirit—will get to know our Work/Life illustrators on a more personal level.

Work/Life 2: book reception tonight!

Please join us tonight from 5-9pm in celebrating the release of Work/Life 2, the UPPERCASE directory of illustration.

This international edition features the creative lives of 100 illustrators. From as close to home as here in Calgary, across the nation and to our American neighbours south of the border and farther afield to Australia, Scandinavia, Israel, Western Europe and the UK, Work/Life 2 has a lovely and diverse mix. Local artists will be in attendance and available to sign your books.

ONE NIGHT ONLY: Local designers, art directors and media buyers as well as ACAD Visual Communications students are eligible for a free copy of the book—please bring your credentials or business card.
(Oh, and there'll be Crave cupcakes, too.)

Other First Thursday fun you'll enjoy:

Also in Art Central a few doors down from me, our friends from Burnt Toast Studio have a new exhibition up. You can also bring in a tshirt or hoodie and they will silkscreen designs on it or you can learn how to customize your own design.
The folks at Studio C in the lower level have an exhibition of sculpture made from found objects. Studio Todorovic has a show of prints from Vancouver Island artists as well as great art supplies and Nation is having a sale. Read more about First Thursday here.

Work/Life 2: Kate Endle

Kate Endle is a collage artist based in Seattle. In my household, we are particularly fond of her children's board book "Who Hoo are You?" (available online at Buy Olympia and at Land, Portland). It was one of Finley's first books and is definite favourite.

Kate's studio is full of amazing collections and inspirational bits of paper and textures.

You can see read more about Kate and her creative process in Work/Life 2 and see more in her portfolio.

Special note: I must admit an error in the book, we listed The Land of Nod, Real Simple, Chronicle Books, Galison/Mudpuppy and IKEA as existing clients in her roster when in fact these are her list of dream clients. However, her actual client list is just as impressive and includes Sesame Street Workshop, Scholastic, Macy's and McGraw Hill among many others. My apologies to Kate for the mixup. I'm sure these companies will be flattered to know they're considered dream clients.

Work/Life 2: Julien Chung

Julien Chung is a prolific illustrator from Quebec who specializes in licensing his artwork. His cute and graphic animal characters have appeared in surface designs, on products, packaging and in 3 dimensions. Julien shares a new commission with us:

"I'm happy to announce that Ritzenhoff has added this very Canadian scene to their Aqua line this month. The water glass features two of my polarbears taking a swim in icy Arctic waters. On the inside bottom of the glass, a happy polarbear smiles up at you. The design is printed with transparent inks, in blue and white. This is my 28th collaboration with this German glassware company. Available in giftshops online and around the world."


Julien classifies his animal character designs into categories such as baby modern, kid zoo, woodland friends and modern ark. The various styles and licensing information are available on his portfolio website. Visit his blog for images of his work applied to finished products as well as new works. Read more about Julien and peek into his studio in Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of illustration.

Here is Julien's fantastic illustration created for Work/Life 2, below. I sure wish I had a few extra arms or tentacles for multi-tasking!