Guest Post: Creativity to-go

You may remember Sarah G. Stevenson from her series of posts about finding creativity. As the days get longer and summer holidays approach, Sarah's back to share her thoughts on creativity while travelling.

Her website has many more resources to help you make the space to play when you don't know how to find the time. Of particular note is the art retreat she is organizing for this Fall in Lake Tahoe. Create. Explore. Discover 2 is a place for an intimate group of women to tap back into their creativity, dig deep into their hearts and get messy and play. Lisa Congdon of UPPERCASE's Collection a Day will be one of the retreat leaders.

Sarah starts before leaving home with packing for creativity.

"Vacations can be an incredible source of creativity and a beautiful starting point to create something magical if you know how to travel with creativity in mind. Right now I am traveling in Australia with my family. It is their first time visiting the country that I call home, so it is really important to me to capture the trip in a special way that they will remember and also for me to gather some creative inspiration so that when I get home I have a jumping off point for some new projects.

For me this begins before I leave with packing for creativity. What does this mean? In addition to packing the normal things you would take on a long trip or vacation, I also pack a few things so that I can still create while I am away. Today, I am going to share my packing list and ideas to jumpstart your creativity while on vacation."

UP NEXT: A packing list


The Sunday Collection: my tins

Even before I designed the tin package for Lisa Congdon's A Collection a Day, I had a fondness for old tins. Here are some of my favourites: top left floral tin is one I found at the Hillhurst Sunnyside flea market (which is a small Sunday market near my house—I should head out there today!) The orange tin I borrowed from my mother-in-law Iris. The blue tabacco tin is from Glen's collection. Though a Polish tin for jam, I purchased the turquoise round tin in Estonia. The yellow tin is one of my dozens of typewriter tins.

I have these on my shelf at work for some daily eye candy.

The intricate motifs and details on these old tins inspired the book and package design for A Collection a Day

Jumpstart your creativity

image by Sara StevensonSarah at Redlinedesign has relaunched her site with a focus on creative exploration. She recommends starting a collection as a jumpstart to creativity and I couldn't agree more. It is invigorating to find something that inspires you—whether it is a beautiful retro button that starts a lifelong love of sewing, or a vintage package that leads to a deeper appreciation of lettering, or a simple bread tag that reminds you to appreciate the little things. Read more at Redlinedesign.

(Purchase A Collection a Day here.)

365 Days of Hand Lettering by Lisa Congdon

Day 1 of Lisa's new project

I really admire people who can dedicate themselves to a 365 (or 366 this year!) project. Lisa Congdon's 2010 A Collection a Day was certainly a wonderful example of how fulfilling and inspiring such an endeavour can be. I'm so proud of our book and will forever be grateful that Lisa allowed UPPERCASE to publish the project.

Lisa has just launched a new project: 365 Days of Hand Lettering:

Each day for 365 days for the year 2012 I will post an image of something I have hand-lettered: a letter of the alphabet, a word, a phrase, a quote, a name. Some of the lettering will be based on traditional forms of calligraphy or vintage lettering and some will be of my own design. I am taking a calligraphy class right now and will certainly incorporate much of what I learn and practice there. I will be mostly working with ink, nibs and brushes, but will occasionally use pens. Some of the designs will be quite simple and some more elaborate.

I'm sure Lisa's blog posts will be added inspiration to all of us working on improving our handwriting this year. 

A Collection a Day is available in the online shop. And it's on sale this week, you can save $10!

The Limner + Lisa Congdon + A Collection a Day

Just spotted some great photos of Lisa Congdon's studio on The Limner, a photography project profiling creatives (who are seeking Kickstarter backing).

(Lisa' book, A Collection a Day, that I designed and published would be an excellent gift! just sayin'!)


The book comes packaged in a special collector's tin!




To order your copy visit our online shop.

This book is also available in our UPPERCASE Book Bundle: all four of our recent publications including The Elegant Cockroach (October 2010), Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of international illustration (February 2011), A Collection a Day (March 2011) and The Suitcase Series Volume 2: Dottie Angel (August 2011). Save on the overall price as well as shipping when you order the bundle!


Light cube, I love you.

I wish I had made this purchase sooner! A table top lighting system for product photography. I'm still working on proper exposures and best compositions, but off to a nice start. The images still need photoshopping for removal of the background, but so much easier than waiting for decent light to filter in through the window...

(Purchase these books here. Or get all four of the most recent books as part of a bundle and save off the cover price and on shipping.)

Collecting: Bottle Caps

The current issue, #10, has a fun collection by a very special contributor. The bottle caps have been lovingly collected by Gail Anderson, formerly the senior art director of Rolling Stone magazine (1987-2002) and SpotCo. Gail's editorial design at Rolling Stone was very influential on me; I was studying design in college during the early to mid-nineties, and had dreams of working at a big magazine or book publisher. Before the heydey of the internet, young and eager students such as myself devoured real and tangible examples of good design. Gail's layouts were exciting, intricate and innovative.

(Her design of the Type Director's Club Annual #22 from 2001 remains my favourite in that series.)

I'm honoured that Gail has contributed to UPPERCASE magazine and very excited to share with you that she's working on another article for a future issue!

{Visit Gail's website for more of her collections. And if you like collections, you'll love this book.}

- - -

I've been spending a fair bit of time watching Sesame Street online with Finley. It is amazing how much of the content, especially Bert & Ernie whom we watch most, relates to the magazine! Case in point: Bert's bottle cap collection...

A Collection a Day on ModCloth

I was very happy when ModCloth contacted me a while ago, with interest in stocking some UPPERCASE products. From initially selling vintage clothing, their offerings have grown and diversified considerably over the years, but the quality of their website, blog and creative offerings is still very impressive. Their product shots are great (I like the zoom feature) and they have started to create short videos as well.

Recently Lisa Congdon was featured in this video interview that presents A Collection a Day so very nicely. Thank you to everyone at ModCloth for highlighting Lisa and our book in this way! Well done!

"We all save, store, pile, and stash, but author Lisa Congdon makes her curated clutter look absolutely envious! For one year, she catalogued her collection of collections for all to see, photographing, sketching, and sometimes even painting the treasured tidbits that filled her home and studio. Now transformed into a petite paperback, Congdon’s calendar year of accumulated objects will captivate you with its simple charm. Pictured in situ or on a plain white background, her compositions of mushrooms, mugs, and matchbooks draw the viewer in, while they inspect every detail and difference. Moved to make your own anthology of adorable knickknacks? Use the reusable tin that holds this bitty book to begin your own inspired collection of vintage postcards or paperclips - and don’t forget to document every addition. Your shelves are about to look sweeter!" Click here to shop at ModCloth!

Join us on A Collection a Day summer blog tour:

July 6 Design for Mankind
July 13 Cafe Cartolina
July 20 DesignWorkLife
July 27 Poppytalk
August 3 sfgirlbybay

Getting personal (A Collection a Day summer blog tour)

I'm definitely a collector at heart, which is why Lisa Congdon's A Collection a Day blog in which she posted a special arrangement of one of her many collections throughout 2010 was such an inspiration. It was so inspiring that I asked Lisa if we could collaborate and turn the web project into a book!

What you might not know is that I procrastinated in contacting Lisa for quite a while. I was expecting a baby and just figured Lisa's idea was so good that surely a big-name publisher would just scoop it up! My entrepreneurial and design drive weren't yet dampened by late-night feedings, so I emailed Lisa with my book proposal. I was honoured that she preferred to work with me rather than any other publisher and that we shared a similar vision of what the book could be.

Since Lisa would be busy completing her online project until December 31, 2010, I figured that when the time came for me to design the book, I'd be accustomed to motherhood and it wouldn't be too difficult to get it all done. I'd design it late that year and just add the final pages in January and off it would go to the printer! Sounded simple enough.

What I didn't anticipate is that after the initial getting-to-know-you months of having a new baby, and the few months of exquisite babyness in which they lay happily on the ground and stay in one place, is that the growth and development rate is incredible! I would just get used to one stage, and Finley would quickly be on to the next one... rolling over, crawling, standing... walking!

Designing the quarterly magazine plus committing to publish four books (The Elegant Cockroach in October 2010, Work/Life 2 and A Collection a Day in Spring 2011, and The Suitcase Series Volume 2: dottie angel for later this summer) and being a new mom has been a challenge and then some. I'm still in awe that I'm getting the job done—and proud that everything that I've released is very high quality, unique to UPPERCASE and most definitely a labour of love.

A Collection a Day and its collectible tin are highlights in my career as a designer and publisher. I hope you'll decide to add them to your own collection of books. (Available in the online shop here.)

There have been some late nights (and some crying), but the first 16 months of managing a business and mothering a baby have gone pretty well. I think a lot of newcomers to UPPERCASE don't know that it is still essentially a one-woman operation. (But believe me, I'm exhausted.) Over the next months, I hope to get more help in managing the logistics side of publishing—distribution, circulation, subscriptions—since there really is way too much work for one person to handle, especially since I don't have as much time as I used to. UPPERCASE is my baby, but it's getting too heavy to hold on my own.

Anyway—back to A Collection a Day! We're having a summer blog tour! What better season to start a collection or two? With flea markets and garage sales (and more time for eBay?) now's the time to add to your collections or start a new one.

Thank you to the following blogs who are part of the tour so far (email me if you already have your copy and have posted about the book and you want to be part of the tour!):

July 6 Design for Mankind
July 13 Cafe Cartolina
July 20 DesignWorkLife
July 27 Poppytalk
August 3 sfgirlbybay

A Collection a Day can be purchased right here. thanks!

Lisa Congdon + A Collection a Day in Portland

This Friday at Land, Portland.

A note about A Collection a Day preorders: due to a situation beyond our control, the mass mailout of preordered books has been delayed. Things will be in the postal system as soon as possible. The situation has also affected the mailing of Issue 9, but that is now back on track as well. Thanks for your patience.

Some pictures from the event

Lisa's exhibition will be up for another month at The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco, and the book will be there too! Thanks to all who came out and made quite the crowd in the tiny shoppe.

Thank you to Lauren and Emily at The Curiosity Shoppe for their hard work and attention to details. Thank you to Derek and Lauren for opening their shop to us during a very exciting time (they had their baby boy earlier this week!) And the biggest thank you to Lisa for allowing me the pleasure of working with her and her Collection a Day imagery to create such a beautiful object and book.

San Francisco here we come!

This Friday is the reception for Lisa's A Collection a Day. It will be held at The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco, from 6-9pm. If you are nearby, I hope you will come and see the exhibition and celebrate Lisa's incredible project and book.

For those of you who preordered the book by March 13 and live in San Francisco, I'll reserve a copy for you in case you're able to attend. The rest of the preorders will ship in April as we just have a limited quantity of preview copies for this special event.

The book nestles securely into some foam which protects it during shipping.Here's a view of the inside back of the tin's cover. The embossing looks and feels great.

A little look...

A Collection a Day's book launch at The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco draws ever near! (March 18) The tins are still in China, but will be shipping soon. Just a few hundred will be arriving by air in time for the launch, with the bulk of them having to be shipped by ocean freight and then by truck across North America. Then the finished books need to be inserted into the tins, repacked and sent to the fulfillment warehouses. Complicated!

Thank you very much for your preorders! The finished book housed inside the beautiful tin will be shipping sometime in April. More details will be posted here as they are available. There's still time to get the preorder price of $25 (save $10).

Where the time goes...

Woah, things are busy around here! The past week has flown by, but not without a whole lot going on:

Last Thursday celebrated the release of issue #8 and the Letterpress Sampler — more pictures posted soon, I promise!

I'm reviewing the printer proofs of A Collection a Day, I got to see the printer proofs of the Shoegazing Notecard Set published by Chronicle Books later this year and Work/Life 2 is off to the printer in a matter of days.

The Elegant Cockroach by Deidre Martin and Stefanie Augustine made it to #3 on Calgary's Bestseller list! (hey locals, let's get it to #1!!! Check the book's page for local bookstores.)

Martha Stewart Living is hosting an amazing contest on their website, called Prized Collections, in collaboration with A Collection a Day: 

"In the February 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living, we celebrated the collections of some of our favorite tastemakers. We were especially taken with Lisa Congdon, whose assortment of midcentury kitchenware only scratches the surface of her passion for collecting. An artist and illustrator, Lisa spent 2010 blogging a new collection every day; in spring 2011, Uppercase will publish her book, "A Collection a Day." Now it's your chance to share your collecting artistry with us. Upload photos of your prized possessions by March 28 for a chance to win one of three line drawings from Lisa, plus a copy of her new book. The finalists will be featured on"

Tif Fussell's blog, dottie angel, got a nice mention in the current issue of the Australian magazine Inside Out. (Also exciting: the style director of the magazine will be featured in the next issue of UPPERCASE.) Tif has some really nice notebooks for sale in her shop. We also got some great news about the foreword to her book, but we'll save that reveal for later!

And on a personal note, at nearly 11 months old Finley is finally cutting his first tooth. Which means that I barely slept a wink last night, but at least he's feeling happy right now. He also began standing by himself this week.