So. That was a week that will go down in history.

Although I often contemplate the subjects for days, I always write my weekly newsletter the night before or the morning of actually sending it. I want these emails to be conversational—my musings about what's happening behind the scenes, what I'm working on and what I'm thinking. I strive to make them uplifting, encouraging, inspiring.

I'm drawing a blank on how to do that this week.

The last time I wrote anything political in my newsletter was at the end of June and although the majority of people who responded to that message chimed in with sympathetic feelings, I had some pushback from a small number of newsletter readers. "Keep politics out of your posts," someone wrote.

Perhaps that's wise advice for a business to follow.

But that's not staying true to my values.

I believe in equality and acceptance of others. I believe in the rights of the LGBTQ community. I support immigration. I'm concerned about the environment. I am against racism, sexism, misogyny and the spreading of hatred.

These are the values you will see reflected in my magazine.

As you look through the current issue #31, you'll see that this has been on my mind. I strive to include a diversity of perspectives—and often these stories are coming directly from you, my readers. If you're a reader of this newsletter or magazine and feel under-represented, I encourage you to submit your art and your stories. I'd love to hear from you. 

Earlier this year, I gave away 100 subscriptions to individuals who couldn't afford them otherwise. Today, I'm pledging to do that again, but this time to non-profit community-minded organizations within Canada and the United States. If you work for a non-profit or know of one that would benefit from receiving some quarterly bursts of colour, art and inspiration, please make your suggestions here.

(If you'd like to sponsor a subscription for a fellow reader, that option remains in the online shop.)

Actually, now that I've written this message I'm starting to feel a bit better. There's always something you can do!

(This message was originally emailed to recipients of my weekly newsletter on November 15.)

Taking a breather

    This card was included in a nice gift sent to me from  Kate Marsden , one of the artists featured in  The Compendium . It is from Ink Collective and available on  Etsy .


This card was included in a nice gift sent to me from Kate Marsden, one of the artists featured in The Compendium. It is from Ink Collective and available on Etsy.

All the things I thought I'd have done by the end of January... not even a dent in that list! When I think about it, a lot of the pressure is self-imposed. Just because I have all these ideas and plans doesn't mean that they have to happen all at once. But it's hard to slow down and just relax my own expectations.

But despite the to-do lists, the tasks, the projects, the inbox... I am taking the next week off... no matter what!

It's a big week! Glen, Finley and I (and our dog Percy) are moving back home! In the summer of 2013, Calgary had quite the flood and our basement was ruined. This prompted us to evaluate the house and what we could do to repair it, protect against future flood damage and make it suitable for our family in the long term. We decided to build up—and add a second level. It was a big overhaul. After 16 months of renovations—now there's a lesson in everything takes longer that you think it will!—we can finally move in this weekend. It's exciting and beautiful and exhausting and we are very lucky.

I'm dreaming about all the nice things I want to make for the house; curtains, pillows, quilts, rugs, baskets... but before I can make anything at all, I have to make time. So I'm declaring it here and now—I'm going to nest, to craft, to relax and enjoy being home at last.

Thank you!


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type tuesday: Museum of Childhood

When I return to London (for now that I've been once, I'll have to go back again and again) with Finley and Glen, we'll go to the V & A Museum of Childhood together. This free museum had excellent displays of traditional and historical childhood toys, but also areas for play and a nice place to have a lunch as a family.

This spelling cabinet from 1790 caught my eye. What an amazing specimen!

If it has letters on it, I'm automatically drawn to it.

This 1890s Victorian party programme outlined the activities for a wealthy child's party.

Some more modern-day items. (It's funny to see the Fisher Price village as "museum quality" — the one I played with some 30+ years ago is now Finley's.)

The boy mannequins look unhappy and worried about getting their clothes dirty. If anyone knows where you can get these Left and Right alphabet shoes today, I think Finley and I would both be happy.

Little ol' me

Back in December, I was asked by Avenue, a local lifestyle magazine, to create a self portrait for a series that runs on the last page of each issue. People don't often realize that UPPERCASE was a one-woman operation for quite a long time and are surprised when they find out. "How do you manage to get it all done?" is a common question. Struggling to do all of the magazine workload on my own and was getting pretty tired out. So I decided to clone myself: 

Glen took my picture against a white wall (Finley wanted to be part of the fun) and then I printed and cut myself out and went to work:

The image and brief article appears in this month's Avenue. And as regular blog readers will know, I now have three talented people working for UPPERCASE: Glen is a regular contributor, Eleanor manages the online shop and subscription queries and Erin is our new online editor. (So much better than clones!)

Bird's eye view

I borrowed the ladder to set up the decor and repair a few lights. It is nice to see the bookcase with its orange glow once again.While I was up there, I took a few aerial shots of the studio since everything is freshly spring-cleaned.It feels quite spacious from up here with a wide angle lens!Ah, my orange couch and the huge coffee table book about Alexander Girard. Two things that I never have time to sit and enjoy. Better climb down from here and do more party prep!

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

Evernote was here!

It's odd for me to be on the other side of the camera.Kasey, Nick and a bit of meWe moved the couch so that you can see all the magazines behind me in the frame.Kasey asks the questions off-camera.Nick does the video and sound.Yesterday Kasey Fleisher Hickey and Nick Strayer of Evernote were visiting all the way from California to make a video about little ol' me and how I use Evernote as an integral part of UPPERCASE publishing.

I look forward to sharing the finished video with you, in which I explain in more detail how it is part of my creative and business life. If you're not familiar with Evernote, here's a little introduction:

I really can't recommend the service enough and my endorsement of the service comes very naturally. I've been using Evernote since issue #2, so it is an integral part of my creative and editorial process in the magazine development. It has been like an editorial assistant or second brain for me—I honestly couldn't get as much done and sorted without it and I have Evernote on my main computer, laptop and iphone. In addition to my ideas, inspirations and web links, all or your emailed suggestions, portfolio links and submissions get put directly into my Evernote database where I can easily access it and pull up content as I need it. 

Thank you to Kasey and Nick and the rest of the Evernote team for wanting to share my story.

Thank you to Eleanor for the excellent photos above!

My perspective, as an Instagram.

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.

my brother ROCKS!

My brother Marc is an amazing musician and guitar/amp genius. Yamaha has recognized his talents by asking him to demo their cool new amp, the THR10.

From the Yahama website

"The go-to guy for anything guitar-related in LA, Marc's credits include Daughtry (Marc's THR5 made it on to the latest record!), Kelly Clarkson, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of a Deadman, Creed, Adam Lambert, Papa Roach and 3 Doors Down and he's as likely to be found modding an amp or building a pedalboard as he is tracking an amazing guitar part or finding the perfect guitar sound for a hit record with his awesome collection of amps (a small part of which can be seen in the background of the video). Suffice to say, what he doesn't now about tone isn't really worth knowing...

And don't be fooled by the collection of incredible amps and outboard in the control room at Bay 7 Studios, everything you can hear was done using only what comes in the THR box (apart from the laptop and guitars)."

You can download the track that Marc recorded here. The product design is cool, too.

type tuesday: Bookmania

Prolific type designer (and UPPERCASE subscriber!) Mark Simonson has released a tour-de-force typographic family. A revival based on Bookman Oldstyle (1901), this Opentype release called Bookmania has a crazy number of alternates and swashes, as witnessed above, as well as weights from light to black plus italics.

Allow me to date myself: The very first "font" I ever purchased was Bookman: the Letraset version! My grandfather had commissioned me to design a logo for a cultural organization. Though desktop publishing was just becoming viable at this point, as a young highschool girl, I didn't have those skills and needed "professional-looking" (at least to my inexperienced eyes) letters for the design. The local art supply store had a wealth of amazing dry transfer letters from which I could choose. I remember standing there for quite some time before I settled upon Bookman. Drawn to its pretty capitals and classic looks, I paid a huge sum ($25?) for one sheet of letters. Next time I'm home visiting my parents I'll see if I can unearth the design. It would be good for a laugh! (And perhaps someday I'll share my typographic shame... Mistral.)

And then

This February marks my seventh year at Art Central. It has been a significant number of years, with some major life-changing events marking the way such as opening UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods, getting married (both in 2005), publishing my first book (The Shatner Show, 2007), launching UPPERCASE magazine (2009), retiring from client design work (2009), closing the retail aspect of my studio (end of 2009), having a baby (2010). The original name "UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods" and "Vangool Design & Typography" and their corresponding vinyl letters adorning my studio windows no longer apply to what my workspace is today. It is now primarily a creative office, my publishing headquarters. I still love the space and how it has transformed over the years. UPPERCASE has turned into something bigger and better than I could have imagined seven years ago.

And so, I peeled off my letters yesterday. The beautiful ampersand was the last to go. 

alt: winter whites

Because this entire conference is about blogging about various topics, here's my obligatory "what I wore today" post. Probably the one and only time you'll see me this way. The party this evening was a winter wonderland theme and guests were to wear shades of white. As a mom to a toddler, white is not something I had in my wardrobe. It was fun to go shop the post-christmas sales and get something light and sparkly. I scored some great soft corduroy jeans from Anthropologie (less than $60: marked down, then half price again!), a sequined shirt for $25 and a glittery clutch for $21. I was quite proud of my budget shopping results. The accessories and shoes are from my wedding outfit. (Actually my wedding dress was light green, so this was the first time I've worn all-white.) Anyway, it was fun to participate in a fashionable way and I'm glad I made the effort.

Speaking of parties, tomorrow night are the Mini Parties and for me, this is the MAIN EVENT. I have been planning the Squarespace + UPPERCASE mini party and tomorrow's the day to see it all come together. If you're at Alt, please do come to the party (I'm giving away complimentary copies of the latest issue of UPPERCASE magazine!) plus the activities planned are friendly, super fun and creative!

alt begins

Goodie box all tied with a bowIt was nice to have a day off with no particular schedule. Although I'm disappointed that I will miss all the design camp activities on Saturday (flying home), I think it was for the best to have some down time before Alt begins. If the "Dinner with" and Speakers' reception this evening are any indication, the next few days are going to be intense! 

When I first saw all the girls (yes, the women probably outnumber the guys 50 to 1!) congregating in the hotel lobby chatting in groups or waiting outside for taxis to their dinners, I was a bit overwhelmed with that old highschool feeling... you know the feeling: being shy, awkward, intimidated by the cool kids... But the "Dinner with" event was a nice way to ease into the very social aspect of this conference. There were various groups of 15-20 people at restaurants throughout downtown, each hosted by a particular sponsor. It was nice to meet Erin of Designformankind (at last! she has contributed to UPPERCASE magazine for quite along time now) and to visit with Kate of Chronicle Books (she initiated the Shoegazing Notecard set, see the sidebar for a picture).

Here's a partial list of the folks at the Squatter's Pub dinner, thanks to Christine and Bo.lt for hosting.

Erin M - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/ErinMcGovney
Jessie - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/StyleandPepper
Megan - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/NotMarthaBlog
Kate - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/ChronicleBooks
Amy - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/AmyWingDesigns
Janine - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/UppercaseMagazine
Jessica - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/ShimmerKai
Trina - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/LaLaLovelyThings
Erin L - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/DesignForMankind
Tyler & Wendy -  http://christineharmel.bo.lt/BlueLilyPhotography
Kathryn - http://christineharmel.bo.lt/SnippetandInk

See you tomorrow at the conference (and on Twitter and Instagram).

keeping it slow

upon arrival: a bit of an explosion of things in my suitcaseGood morning from Salt Lake!

I've enjoyed a leisurely morning, though I seem to have lost the ability to sleep in. (Guess that is part of being a mom—you're always first out of bed.) Since my husband and little guy aren't with me on this trip, I did something that I can't do at home: take my laptop to bed and catch up on all the shop orders and emails. I know this doesn't sound like a luxury, but to be able to concentrate on these tasks and get them accomplished in an hour or so is a nice way to start the day. Alt is a conference about blogging, so I suspect that everyone else starts their mornings on their blogs, emails and twitter accounts too. So, inbox cleared, I am off to explore the city.