Dispatch from London: Anne Smith

This morning I took the tube to Anne Smith's studio on the South side of the Thames. Anne did the perfect pigeon illustration on the cover of issue #12, so I couldn't come all this way and not meet her!

We had some tea and a nice chat about books, the realms of online and offline community, the creative drive and inspiration... so nice. Her studio had lots of books—I saw many that are common to my shelves at home. With nice light diffusing in from windows on two sides, it was a really fresh and inspiring studio.

See a few more images in the flickr set. Thanks, Anne!

w.i.p.s: EG Forge Studio

Eric is busy getting ready for the launch of his Spring/Summer Collection tomorrow.My neighbour Eric Goodwin is launching his Spring/Summer collection of bags, belts and watches at tomorrow's First Thursday celebrations in Art Central. He let me snap a few details of the preparations. Eric was including issue #12 (which is nearly sold out, by the way!); I'll share his article below.

EG Forge: Canvas Bags Made by Hand
by Eric Goodwin

Nestled into one of the studio spaces in downtown Calgary’s Art Central building (and a neighbour to UPPERCASE!) is EG Forge Cases and Baggage. Every day, proprietor Eric Goodwin is busy in his studio, designing and sewing.

“When I design a bag, I always like to think that it will be taken on adventures like glacier crossings, safaris and expeditions through the rainforest. Even though in all likelihood they will never be taken to places like these, I still design every bag so that it could. I design every bag to be as durable and functional as possible, and I don't consider the form and style of a bag very much when I design it. I think that the style and form of a bag will come naturally if it's designed well. This is what sets EG Forge bags apart. I don't put fake buckles on a bag for style, I don't use plastic in any of my bags and I add things like finger loops for snaps so you don't crush whatever is inside the pocket.

Apart from the actual design of the bag, I use materials that are durable and strong, yet classic and stylish. I use waxed canvas, which is waterproof yet supple and develops an amazing patina over time; oil tanned leather, which is soft and flexible to the touch and waterproof as well; and I use antiqued brass hardware that will never rust, chip or lose its finish. I really design every bag to be as sturdy and durable as possible so it will never fail when you need it.”

— — — — —

Come on out to Art Central tomorrow from 5-9pm for this and other fun and creative events. (UPPERCASE is having a party! Try your luck at games of change, indulge in Crave cupcakes and marvel at the sparkling new issue #13.)

Guest Post: Crafter-noons and a suitcase full of paper

Skye writes:

"I began scouring the internet for anything ‘paper’. And immediately felt totally intimidated! If you look at the back of PAPER BLISS there are a wealth of ‘inspiring sites and people’ to look up. And these, among many more, have been my inspiration. But you know, you do what you do. We each have our own abilities and aesthetic, and what made me feel confident was that I was just like so many other people: unsure of my skills, uncertain of how projects might work out once I’d thrown myself full throttle into them. So, I have no idea how to construct paper couture, or minutely fanned and intricately folded origami sculptures. But, I consoled myself, I have my own, somewhat ‘shabby’ aesthetic, and that, my friends, would have to do! There was no turning back.

Skye's friend Mimi waving the tissue petals dry after painting their rims pink.

And I did what I always do: had madcap ‘crafter-noons’ with friends where we sat around my outdoor table and ate nice food and drank tea (and maybe some wine) and got to making something from the stuff that was in front of us. It was amazing to see people’s skills revealed in this way! It taught me much, which I was keen to pass on as tips throughout the book.

 Skye during a crafter-noon.

I also went on holidays with my paper! Much to my boyfriends bemusement, I took suitcases full of paper bits away with me. Clothes would come a very poor second or third, after inspiring books and yards of interesting papers to construct things from. At the airport, I scurried through the people scanner, wondering how I might explain it all should I be asked to open my bulging bags."


Next up: A paper baby.


Guest Post: Using technology to mock up a book about paper.

Skye's early mock up of Paper Bliss.

Skye writes:

"Not surprising, perhaps, for someone so visually orientated, I started with a visual representation of my idea. I gathered images from the net and from things I’d made over the year and plonked them all in a desktop folder called ‘Paper Book’. I then did a rather bad mock-up I now realise (though I am a designer in many senses of the word, I am no book designer!), scattering a myriad of images that took my fancy around square pages in INDESIGN, which I use despite not really knowing an awful lot about it, technically speaking!

I had this 20-odd page document printed onto lovely heavy-weight paper, spiral bound it and wrote an introduction and a few sample projects, plus a contents page. I pretty much made that up, as I wasn’t sure yet which projects would make the cut or not. The ideas I had for things to make were really rather a ‘wish list’…I’d find out if I could do them afterwards (I’m a cart-before-the-horse kind of person!)."


Next up: Crafter-noons and a suitcase full of paper



Monday Guest Post: Inspiraton for Skye

Skye writes:

"I got the idea for Paper Bliss from having so much paper around me all the time! I was on the lookout for things to do with paper and card samples that I would otherwise put in the recycle bin. It was this, but also a strong desire to ‘go deep’ into something…and to find an excuse to spend time physically making things rather than on the computer so much. A book allows an immersion into a subject that not many other things do: it’s kind of like doing a Uni (college) degree (I never did one, so it’s my kind of University degree!)…or a thesis of some kind.There were also a plethora of cool, how-to crafty type books being published in Australia and I wanted to join the fray!"


Next up: Skye talks about the process she used to create Paper Bliss


Guest Post Monday: Skye Rogers

While you are waiting for your favourite postal person to deliver issue #13, we thought we would share recent work from one of our previous contributors. Skye Rogers shared stories of her life with paper in issue #12.

Skye has been an illustrator for a good part of her adult life. But the long apprenticeship to her career was her childhood passion: she has been drawing on, cutting up, stamping on and pasting bits of paper together since she was very young.  

Her book, Paper Bliss was released on April 1st.

From the publisher:

PAPER BLISS has fantastic paper craft projects for all levels: from those at ′infants school′ and only at paper-aeroplane level to more advanced projects for ′paperians′ to get their teeth into, to those at paper high school who want to advance their skills with some more complex and elaborate projects. With some easily sourced items: scissors, cutting blade and mat, glue, fancy fasteners, paper punches, needle and thread and some found, pre-loved, new, hand-decorated, plain or recycled paper, there are hours of fun to be had with these projects. Whether it′s the simple completion of something that inspires you, a gift for a special friend or spending part of a day with the kids away from more pressing demands, you might be surprised by what you find.

Next up: Sky shares her inspiration for the project.

Monday is guest post day on UPPERCASE. If you are interested in participating, please contact Erin.

Weekend Reading: issue 13


Issue 13 is making its way around the world to subscribers, stockists and our distribution warehouses. Start your subscription today and issue 13 will be sent out asap.



Issue 12
is nearly sold out! I have fewer than 200 copies available, also on their way to the warehouse. Issue 12 is available here along with other back issues and will ship once it gets to the distribution warehouse next week.

Creative Adventure with Camilla Engman

illustration by Camilla EngmanAngela Ritchie's Ace Camp is heading back to visit Camilla Engman (Gothenburg, Sweden) for the third time!

"The group will be staying at Hotel Flora and will have time to explore Gothenburg together and on their own. Camilla will lead a 4 day workshop and take us to her inspirational places in Gothenburg. This Ace Camp will include an excursion to the west coast archipelago and the town of Marstand where you will collect your imagery in sketchbooks and transform them into a painting in the studio. Artists of all levels, from beginner to experienced are encouraged to participate. May 13-20, 2012" For full details and registration, click here.


(Please note that the 2-colour art print is sold out.)



If you can't make the trip, the The Suitcase Series: Camilla Engman that Camilla and I made a few years ago will immerse you in her art, craft and culture. The book is available for purchase here.

w.i.p.s wednesday: Andrea D'Aquino

final illustration by Andrea D'Aquino

When you work with illustrator Andrea D'Aquino, be prepared for her enthusiasm, generosity and amazing talent! Andrea illustrated the cover of issue #9 (which is one of my favourite covers) and so I asked her to illustrate an article in the current issue about quilting and community. She outdid herself with so many great images to choose from. She called these "roughs" but they're all publishable quality, that's for sure! Look at this abundance of riches:

Thank you, Andrea. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

You can read more about Andrea in Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of illustration, international edition.

Blog Beautiful

photo by Elisabeth DunkerThe Blog Beautiful column in the magazine is one that is somewhat out of my control when it comes to editorial content. You see, it is the currently profiled Blog Beautiful blogger who picks their favourite blog and writes about it in the next issue. Much like clicking on one link and then another and another, each is somehow related but also offers interesting surprises and new content. The pairing depicted above is about Lena Sjöberg profiled by Elisabeth Dunker of Fine Little Day, two very talented Swedes!

illustration by Lena Sjöberg

Lena is a successful illustrator and popular in Sweden. Her recent self-published book has been selected by the Swedish National Library as one of 25 notable publications.

Weekend Reading

photo by Kristin TheissKristin has fit her vintage cameras into a suitcase. How very UPPERCASE. {You will find an owl t shirt design from Kristin's company KLTworks in issue #11.}

Andrea Jenkins' vintage camera collection

Would you like to start your own collection of vintage photo gear? Hula Seventy's Andrea Jenkins has an excellent article in the current issue #12. These three photos above show a portion of her amazing selection.

3D Roadtrip!

Over recent weeks, I've enjoyed reading about the adventures of Bilal Ghalib and Alex Hornstein who's Pocket Factory project I first learned about on the Make blog; two makers who are taking 3D printing on the road, travelling around the US as they run their 3D printers in the back of their Prius, selling the wears that they create. 

For anyone not familiar with the 3D printing movement, it is about relatively inexpensive machines that print extruded plastics from computer-designed models. It essentially allows an individual to create plastic parts that, even a decade ago, could be made only on machines that cost tens of thousands of dollars. 3D printing enthusiasts tend to be very excited about the possibilities of this technology, but at the same time the community tends to be a bit insular. The Pocket Factory project takes the technology out to flea markets and public spaces, to people who often have no idea that such a technology is possible. Bilal and Alex started out not knowing exactly what the reception would be (it's been everywhere from wildy excited to apathetic to a little hostile), or what ideas and business models would actually allow them to make money. It's been fascinating to follow their blog and read about their adventures.

Road trips on film

Pop culture has had a impact on the concept of the roadtrip. Road trip movies are a genre unto themselves; not only do they share themes of travel, but many follow a common pattern: that originally, an end destination or goal is important, but through the course of the journey, discovers lessons or relationships more important than the original destination. This transformative narrative is arguably more important to the road trip movie than the presence of any roads. And often, the mode of transportation itself becomes a character in the story as well, its health and wellbeing is as important as that of any family-member. Any list of road movies is going to be incomplete, so rather than attempt any sort inclusive or 'best-of' list, I'll simply tell you some of my favorites: 

Hard Core Logo

If you're not a Canuck, you might not be familiar with the work of Bruce MacDonald, who made a trio of rock-and-roll road-trip movies in the 1990s: Roadkill, about a record-label employee dispatched into northern ontario to find a band that has gone missing on tour; Highway 61, about a naive blues enthusiast and pop-historian who gets conscripted (or seduced) by a roadie to transport a drug-stuffed corpse down to Louisiana; and Hard Core Logo. It's a dark and ruthless story of an aging punk band trying to hold together a reunion tour across the Canadian prairies.

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

While it's almost entirely set at sea, it's uses every wonderful device of the road trip comedy. Zissou starts out as a modern-day Captain Ahab, a man who takes a crew on his own mission of revenge, but unlike Ahab, finds that the relationships with those who travel with him are more important than his own anger. The soundtrack of Seu Jorge's samba covers of Bowie classics are an unusual and brilliant fit with the film. While Owen Wilson and Bill Murray are front and center, the colourful supporting characters (Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum) are the most memorable in the movie.


The Straight Story

This is the story of Alvin Straight—played by the incomparable Richard Farnsworth—who makes a journey to see his dying, estranged brother. Because Alvin's fading faculties have left in unable to obtain a driver's license, he makes the journey on his garden tractor. All of this is based on a true story, and David Lynch guides the film along with an unusually understated hand. On the surface it's similar to the more will known 'About Schmidt', as both are about a reflective journey toward the end of one's life, but there's a slow, beautiful pace to the journeys (both personal and physical) in The Straight Story that the best road films have.

Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Here's the other end of spectrum: a madcap story of manic, flawed characters all motivated only by greed, unleashed upon on America's highways like rats running through a crowded diner. The comedy is often little more than letting dozens of comic actors interact with one another, yet it captures another side of driving. It always seems like there's a tremendous number of jerks out there on the highway; in some ways, this movie is their story. When I'm tailgated or cut-off by someone who seems to have no regard for other drivers, I can be calmed a little by envisioning them as Ethel Merman, Buddy Hacket, Jonathan Winters, or one of the other incredibly self-centered personalities from this movie. 

O Brother Where Art Thou

I love this Coen brothers retelling of the Odyssey myth set in the depression-era Deep South. George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson form a trio of escaped convicts trying to get to buried treasure before the land is flooded. The bluegrass music of Ralph Stanley perfectly matches the landscape of this film: cornfields, dusty, deserted crossroads, beautiful slow rivers, and glorious old forests. 

Planes Trains and Automobiles

Its not the only 1980s movie that focuses on the madness of modern travel (see National Lampoon's Vacation), but the combination of Steve Martin, John Candy, and the direction of John Hughes make this an absolute classic with so many unforgettable scenes. It perfectly frames those classic roadtrip themes (of realizing that our rush for the end destination has caused us to lose sight of what's important) around the holiday season. 

So what are your favourites? Again, use the comments section to share with us and with other readers. 

Rights of passage

There are two types of roadtrips: the purposeful roadtrip, and the roadtrip for its own sake. The purposeful roadtrip has been around for as long as there have been roads. But the roadtrip for its own sake is a relatively recent phenomenon. Some link it to the idea of the Grand Tour—a renaissance idea that young men of wealth should, at a certain age, travel throughout the continent, absorbing all of the cultural offerings available. As transit opportunities diversified, class ceased to be such a barrier and touring the continent grew in popularity.

The North American roadtrip his a very different history, as the earliest travel was rarely about cultural enrichment but instead about industry. The development of Route 66 in 1926 combined with the rise of the automobile around the same time cemented the roadtrip as part of American culture. An Oklahoma businessman chose the route number, because he thought it would be easy to remember and had a pleasing sound to the number; the R&B standard—covered by musicians from Nat King Cole to Depeche Mode—has proved him right on that account. The anthem has become the unofficial anthem of the American roadtrip. In recent years, increasingly wide and busy freeways occupy a major role in American travel and transportation, but a true road-trip requires at least some time spent getting off the freeways and enjoying the smaller highways that connect one town to the next, and the song perfectly captures the spirit of this. 

The quintessential Canadian roadtrip is the Trans-Canada highway, which wasn't officially completed until 1971. In contrast to Route 66, the unofficial anthem of the Canadian roadtrip is the austere and haunting Northwest Passage by the late Stan Rogers. Rogers focuses on the wilderness and a link between modern travellers and the early explorers of the country; it's about the spaces between the towns, just as Route 66 is as much about the towns themselves, and it helped the relatively new highway become a source of national identity. 

Road trips

In Issue 12, we look at different types of creative adventure, including the roadtrip. Particularly, Hillary Webb of the Gold Fools tells us about their roadtrip from Halifax, Nova Scotia, across North America to exhibit at Renegade Craft Fairs. Today, we're going to look at the roadtrip in more detail. One of the great aspects of a roadtrip, for creative types, is that it provides both time with little to do but think, as well as constantly changing (or sometimes not so changing) backdrops. There may also be some adversity and some random encounters with people or creatures or roadside artifacts. 

When we drove from Calgary down to San Francisco two summers ago, one of my favorite memories is an early morning drive across the border from Nevada into California. We took a lonely little highway from Hawthorne, Nevada to the east side of Yosemite (#359 in Nevada, #167 in California); we didn't see another car along the entire stretch, infact the only other traffic we saw were the road crews who were just finishing resurfacing the Nevada stretch. The dark, virgin pavement and perfect yellow markings contrasted beautifully with the surprising green and purple and gold colours of this scrubland, and then we rounded a corner and the road turned suddenly straight, a wide basin opening before us and beyond that, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada batholith towering up. While there were many more notable sights and events on that trip, that is the stretch of road that sticks in my mind the most.

photos by Janine Vangool


So what's your favourite roadtrip memory? Tell us in the comments.

Love Letters

I had a cold and was feeling run down, so I hadn't been downtown to my studio for a few days. When I opened my mailbox, it was overflowing with an amazing assortment of envelopes and small parcels. I instantly felt better!

Inside this beautifully addressed envelope with Australian postage was an actual love letter from Lee of bluebirdmill.blogspot.com. In addition to a gushing letter, Lee included some ephemera, an old map, and a photo of herself. I'm blushing!

Laura Schwammann decorated her envelope which contained a Valentine (which made me think of issue 11 with its themes of linocut/sharp and labour-intensive art-making and owl motif).

Christina Crook, one of our writers (most recently she wrote the feature about Angela Ritchie Ace Camps and Creative Retreats in the current issue #12) sent one of her simple and lovely greeting cards. Each contains a vintage embroidered patch. (They're available on her Etsy shop here. Please visit her shop to see better quality images—it's a great concept for a unique card.)

Mister Edwards sent a fun bag of candy and stickers. (Check out this Crap Book - that's right, no S on scrap!)

Janae Easton of Platypusfile sent a soft owl paperweight/beanbag and some prints of her artwork. Finley is enjoying playing with the little owl, but our dog Percy is awfully tempted, too!

And that's not all that was in this incredible mailbox haul! There's a new book by Gemma Correll, an activity journal to document What I Wore Today, a postcard from Eight Hour Day, and a letter from Carolee Wheeler with some tiny stamps and beautiful handwriting that needs further investigation. A publication from Grow Books entitled Pushie, Jr. And a postcard from Stephanie Levy.

Really, you've all spoiled me. I don't remember a February 14th when I had better Valentines than these. Thank you!!!