Strike a pose

Designer: Kelsey McRaeIn issue #8 we featured a collection of matchbooks by Margaret Van Sicklen. We also asked our UPPERCASE community to participate and send in their own modern take on traditional European matchbox labels. Karin Jager of Capilano University and her student Mustaali Raj sent in images from class project along a similar vein.Designer: Mustaali RajKaren explains:
"My survey of design course begins with the industrial revolution and the Victorian era—a time of dramatic economic and social change—and eclectic ornamentation. As a way for students to experience the Victorian aesthetic and to gain some understanding about the social, economic and cultural impact of the industrial revolution, I assigned a 'matchbox' packaging project."Designer: Brayden EshuisMy curiosity was piqued by the information Karin sent along with the images so I did a little research of my own.

Early matches ignited with the slightest friction and their manufacture involved the toxic chemical white phosphorus. Consequently for the match maker, 'phossy jaw' was an occupational hazzard. In the later stages of this condition, where phosphorus accumulates in the jawbone and brain, the patient's jaw would start to glow in the dark, due to a chemical reaction between phosphorus and air. (Note to reader: Do not google phossy jaw.)

Some of the earliest known commercial advertising on matchbooks was created by guerilla arts marketers. In 1895 the cast of the Mendelson Opera Company created ads with photos, glue, and some mighty fine wordsmithing. The only surviving example of these creative evenings reads:

A cyclone of fun - powerful caste - pretty girls - handsome ward-robe - get seats early.


Cocktail Party Fact: Matches were invented in 1827 by John Walker but were first marketed by Samuel Jones as 'Lucifers'.

Dollhouse revisited

Heather Benning: The Dollhouse: Dusk #3, (2007) printed 2011, Kodak Endura Digital C-print, 20 x 30" ed. 10My husband's grandmother lives in a small town in Saskatchewan. So small, in fact, that she doesn't have a street address—sending her a letter requires her name only. On my first visit I was struck by the emptiness of a summer night on the prairies. We watched as storms rolled across the fields and heard the occasional train whistle echo in the distance. Although I knew we were still connected by wires to the outside world the sense of isolation was, for me, overwhelming.

The images of Heather Benning's installation The Dollhouse we featured in issue #8 rouse the same feelings for me.

In celebration of the fifth anniversary of Heather's work, Toronto's Telephone Booth Gallery will be hosting an exhibition during the month of May. The show includes never before exhibited images that document the creation of the project.

Letterpress Sampler + Subscription starting with #12

Do you remember when issue #8 came out earlier this year? Each issue had an actual letterpress sample randomly inserted into the magazine. Provided by 50 amazing letterpress printers, these special inserts were a bonus for subscribers. I squirrelled away some of the samples to use for photographs and promotions and I have made seven Letterpress Sampler Packs and listed them in the shop. They each include a random assortment of 40-50 different samples plus a copy of issue #8. The price includes a subscription mailed in North America. Available here while they last!

New in the shop: Christmas Gift Pack + Subscription

It's really cold outside today and now it is snowing. The malls have their Christmas decorations up. Next week is American Thanksgiving. So I guess all signs point to Christmas! So in preparations for gift-giving season, I've uploaded a special item to the shop: an UPPERCASE Christmas Gift Pack + Subscription. This includes all available back issues (#7-#11) plus a subscription mailed to the USA or Canada for $150 (you save $20). I have VERY LIMITED QUANTITIES and once these are gone, that's it for issue #7; it will be sold out. (Issue #7 is only available as part of this pack. You might try the workroom for single copies of #7.) Please order your Gift Pack here.

Letterpress Love - win a sampler!

Let's celebrate the love of ink on paper! I'm giving away the 10 UPPERCASE letterpress samplers. The samplers contain 50+ posters, cards and other goodies donated by some very fine printers. (see photos of a portion of the samples.) Congrats to Haley who won the first sampler on First Thursday.

Here's how you can win:

1. leave a comment below about what you would do with 50 letterpress samples. The best comment received on February 14 will win a sampler. (update: comments are now closed, thank you!)

2. twitter @uppercasemag with #letterpresslove (I'll do a random draw from the tweets at the end of the day)

3. subscribe to the magazine (I'll draw from all new subscribers in the month of February.)

4. renew your subscription (I'll draw from all renewals at the end of the month. Renew for two years and you'll get two entries.)

5. if you're already a subscriber, you are also automatically entered into a draw for 5 remaining samplers.

Heartfish Press

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.

First Thursday this week!

Snap + Tumble

In celebration of the release of the latest issue of the magazine for the creative and curious, UPPERCASE presents "The Touchy Feely Letterpress Exhibition" and "The Perfect Match Miniature Label Montage".
The current issue features a Letterpress Sampler in which an actual letterpress item like a card, art print or other goodie is inserted randomly into each magazine. You can see (and feel) all the submissions at the exhibition in the gallery, read about all the letterpress printers in the magazine, and view their work in our online gallery.
We're giving away a dozen complete samplers, each containing over 50 amazing items. Stay tuned to the blog through the month of February for details. Come down to Art Central this Thursday to win one in person!
Also on display are vintage matchbox labels; have your own free label that comes with a purchase of the magazine or a subscription.
A must-see show for lovers of letterpress and those enamored with ephemera! Join us this Thursday, February 3 from 5-9pm for a warm reception.

A look at Issue 8, now with dog and baby

This weekend, I photographed Issue #8 so that you can see what's inside. These days, putting anything on the floor invites a lot of attention.

Finley quickly crawled over to investigate and I asked him to help hold the magazine while I took pictures.

Nice job, Finley!

Our dog Percy wasn't interested.

Finley, on the other hand, really liked the magazine and crawled away with it. bye bye!

To see more images of Issue 8 (dog and baby-free versions) please visit my flickr set.

Vintage matchbox label extravaganza!

A few years ago, I purchased a binder of old matchbox labels at a local flea market. There were around 80 labels—enough to ignite an interest in searching for more to add to my collection. Ebay was the logical option, but I did not expect to find an amazing haul of literally hundreds of labels! I placed a low bid, certain that I would have lots of competition... but it went unnoticed and I was victorious. When the stash arrived, there were so very many labels that I didn't know what to do with it all and have been saving these piles for a special project.

Inspired by these small labels, I put an open call for submissions for readers to reinterpret the messages and aesthetics of the old labels but with a modern twist. The response was terrific a there are four pages of reader submissions published in the new Issue #8. (I'll be creating a flickr pool so that you can see all the submisions.) In tandem with the reader artwork, I thought it would be fun to include an actual authentic label in each subscriber's magazine. So I decided to part with the collection of labels and disperse them among my readers as a thank you for your fine support of UPPERCASE magazine.

Thank you to the people at Printcrafters for manually inserting each label on the first page of the magazine! We had a nice surprise, too—there were actually hundreds more labels that the ebay listing had advertised and therefore many more copies of the magazine have the special inclusion than I initially anticipated. (But if you're not a subscriber yet, I recommend starting yours quickly to ensure you get a label.)

I've commemorated my former collection by scanning some of the best examples and posting them to a flickr set. I've saved a few for an exhibition that opens this Thursday, but the majority of the labels that you see on flickr are off to subscribers around the world!

And if an authentic label isn't enough of a goodie, each magazine has a letterpress insert as well! (see my previous post.)


And then there were 8...

Just some quick iPhone evidence of issue #8! Each subscriber copy has an authentic vintage matchbox label included! (There are matchbox labels in single copies and wholesale copies, too, while supplies last.) PLUS each copy has one randomly inserted letterpress print, card or other promotion as part of the UPPERCASE Letterpress Sampler!

(Front cover illustration by Lab Partners)

A Swedish moment…

At my dining room table, proofing the inkjet printouts of issue #8.Proofing requires post-it notes and these Lotta Jansdotter ones are the prettiest around.Glen gave me this lovely teapot by a Swedish designer for Christmas, as seen at Rare Device.Since visiting Camilla, we've been coveting white floors. In the past few months we've transformed our home with white walls and floors and we love it!

Some snapshots from the first day of 2011 during a quiet moment at home alone. My visiting parents were at the mall and Glen and the baby were out and about. Even Percy was being still for a few minutes so that I could concentrate on proofing the magazine.

Issue 8 at a glance

Happy New Year!

As we're all easing back into our routines (or still working like a crazy woman, in my case), I'm back on the blog to share with you a glimpse at issue 8. Behold all 116 pages:

I'm doing the last proofread before it goes to the printer tomorrow. hooray! I'll keep you posted about when it is mailed to subscribers, but it will likely be near the end of the month.

Thanks for renewing your subscriptions or starting new ones! It is very much appreciated and makes all this hard work worthwhile, knowing that so many like the magazine.

A look at the next cover

And there she is, a cover design-in-progress for issue 8, out in early February! Thanks to Sarah and Ryan at Lab Partners for the illustration. I love the simple concept and the play on the notion of a type slug (a strip of metal used to space lines of type).

(Lab Partners were previously featured in the magazine, as part of our dynamic duo column. Below is the illustration that they made for that article.) Quite the dapper pair!

In addition to the usual topics, the issue explores themes of small and miniature, as well as articles about letterpress. Each issue will have an actual letterpress sample inserted within its pages and subscriber copies will include an authentic vintage european matchbox label.

Issue 8 teaser

The number 8, part of Bethany Heck's favourite woodtype letters

Image by Snap + Tumble of part of their letterpress submission

Issue 8 will feature an interview with Studio on Fire

Oh, issue #8. So much great stuff to look forward to!

In addition to our usual topics, we have two themes that are explored in the forthcoming issue:  

1) Letterpress! We love ink on paper and this issue includes an interview with Studio on Fire, a collection of wood type and the ABCs of letterpress printing. And to explore the tactile quality of letterpress printing, 50 amazing designers and printers are sharing samples of their work with UPPERCASE readers. Each copy of the magazine will have an actual letterpress sample, be it a greeting card, small art print or other treat dreamed up by one of the participants. (Above is a preview of Snap + Tumble's submission... Tanya printed these little bags within which she includes a marvelous card showing the virtues of print. Each bag is numbered... her details are impeccable!) There will be a few lovely sampler sets containing all 50 letterpress samples which will be given away in a draw of our subscriber list.

Albertine Press
Angela Liguori
Birddog Press
Blackbird Letterpress
Blush Publishing
Bon Vivant Press
Cleanwash Letterpress
Clementine Press
Cranky Pressman
Create Two
David Wolske
Delphine Press
Full Circle Press
Greenwich Letterpress
Hello Lucky
HYC Creative Letterpress
Ink Meets Paper Press
Inky Lips Press
Lucky Bee Press
May Day Studio
Mpress Studio
Nomadic Letterpress
Olive Route
On Paper Wings
Paisley Dog Press
Paper Parasol Press
Pomegranate Letterpress
Product Superior
Purgatory Pie Press
Rohner Letterpress
Ruby Victoria Letterpress & Printmaking
Sapling Press
Sarah Drake Design
Satsuma Press
Smock Paper
Smokeproof press
Snap And Tumble
Studio Olivine
Studio On Fire
Thomas Printers
Tiny Pine Press
Twig And Fig


2) Small things! A celebration of miniature and playful distortions of scale and proportion... Bonsai, buttons, dollhouses, things kawaii, children's books, and matchbox labels. Each subscriber's copy will include an authentic vintage matchbox label from my own personal collection! I've had an ebay score of labels waiting for the perfect opportunity... I'll post more about that soon. You have to see it to believe it.

And more:

An interview with Ed Emberley

Behind the scenes with Faythe Levine

Yarn design with Blue Sky Alpacas
From my perspective as a designer and publisher, I am always striving to grow and learn... and exceed my own expectations. The forthcoming issue marks a leap forward for the magazine, not only in content, but also in size (116 pages) and print run. Issue #8 is going to be great!

(Issue #8 will be distributed and mailed in early February.)

Matchbox labels call for submissions

Here's your chance to be published in the next issue of UPPERCASE!

Inspired by vintage matchbox labels, I'd love to see your design, typography and illustrations that pay homage to these small treasures of graphic design. Traditionally, the box label messages were public service announcements, recommending citizens "Eat Vegetables" or "Be Careful with Matches" or "Save For Happiness" or "Alcohol Will Sink Your Plans". Or they celebrate more decorative topics like animals, national sports or fables. What is your modern take in subject matter for a modern matchbox label? Printed inexpensively, specimens from the 50s and 60s have lovely misregistration, overprinting and dot patterns. Feel free to emulate these effects in your design. The best ones will be published in the winter edition of UPPERCASE magazine (Issue #8, out in Jan/Feb 2011).

Submissions should 3" x 2" either horizontal or vertical and 300dpi. Please label the file with your last name and include your name, address and contact details when uploading it here. DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 30.

ABOVE: an excellent submission by John Yates.

Calling letterpress printers!

UPDATE: thanks for the tremendous response! The call is now closed.

Issue 8 is a work-in-progress, but content is starting to flow in. I had one of those ideas... the kind that you just have to put out there and see if it works:


The UPPERCASE letterpress sampler

The forthcoming issue of UPPERCASE, a magazine for the creative and curious, celebrates letterpress with features written by Charlotte Rivers (The Little Book of Letterpress) and Bethany Heck as well as a studio tour and interview with Studio on Fire. We would love to have our readers experience the tactile qualities of letterpress while getting to know the talented spectrum of letterpress printers out there. We are looking for participating printers to donate samples of their work which will then be inserted into the magazine. All printers who donate work will be listed with their contact details. This issue will be distributed in January/February.

We are looking for 30 printers to each donate 100 items for insertion. Possible items could be greeting cards or small art prints, below 8"x10" in size. (They don't all have to be the same, either, since just one sample will be randomly inserted per magazine. Ideally, the item would have your company name on it, though.) Items should be sent to UPPERCASE before December 15. If you'd like to be involved, please confirm your participation as soon as possible to janine at uppercasemagazine dot com. thanks!

Call for submissions: Matchbox labels

The recent calls for submissions (Feeling Bookish, Foxes) have been really well-received, so I hope you like the next one... Inspired by vintage matchbox labels, I'd love to see your design, typography and illustrations that pay homage to these small treasures of graphic design. Traditionally, the box label messages were public service announcements, recommending citizens "Eat Vegetables" or "Be Careful with Matches" or "Save For Happiness" or "Alcohol Will Sink Your Plans". Or they celebrate more decorative topics like animals, national sports or fables. What is your modern take in subject matter for a modern matchbox label? Printed inexpensively, specimens from the 50s and 60s have lovely misregistration, overprinting and dot patterns. Feel free to emulate these effects in your design. The best ones will be published in the winter edition of UPPERCASE magazine (Issue #8, out in Jan/Feb 2011).

Submissions should 3" x 2" either horizontal or vertical and 300dpi. Please label the file with your last name and include your name, address and contact details when uploading it here. DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 30.

I didn't have time to scan my collection (yet - see it in the magazine, issue 8), but Maraid's photostream is full of thousands samples of inspiration.