Clever and well-designed

As one can see from UPPERCASE magazine and the books that I publish, I'm a very visual person. I love colour and typography and enjoy creating an experience with these elements. I was a freelance graphic designer for a dozen years before I transitioned into using those skills into my own products.

I’m definitely someone who judges a book by its cover—but also what’s inside! How content is presented, designed and arranged is also very important.

If you’ve been mulling over the possibility of taking B-School, I thought it might be helpful to know that the actual course environment is top notch with excellent navigation, nice typography and clear communication. There is a lot of information packed into the site, through videos, instruction, downloads and bonuses. It’s really clever how the course is sequenced. Through the interface, copy writing and fun little surprises, the B-School site excels at engaging the student—which is great, because you’ll be spending a lot of time there!


There is a lot of content on the site, but the B-School designers manage to keep it well-organized through tabs, navigation and visual cues that show you where you are within a module and within the course overall.

In addition to the modules, there are more resources available on specific areas of building your business. After 9 years and 40,000 students, the Answer Vault really will have the most common questions answered handily.

As you can see from their launch website graphics and materials (plus check out Marie Forleo’s Stories on Instagram) B-School is very well-designed. The learning environment is unique to B-School and that is certainly one of its strengths. 

What's all this stuff about B-School? I took the course and it changed my business for the better so this year I'm an affiliate. Read my B-School story on this page.

3 things that helped me to decide about B-School

Looking back to my own decision-making process 4 years ago, here are the 3 things that helped me decide:

1. Testimonials from other B-Schoolers Reading the personal stories of other B-Schoolers was how I first was introduced to Marie Forleo and B-School. I heard about it via an email from Beth Kempton from Do What You Love, whom I had featured in a previous issue of the magazine. Once I got onto the B-School site, I went down the rabbit hole of testimonials, videos and reviews. I spent hours pouring through everything. I'd never taken such a course before and was a little wary so I read everything thoroughly and searched the web for other reviews.

2. Free Training Videos Once I was signed up to Marie's email list, the quality of information of the free training videos was really convincing. There was actionable good advice that I found really inspiring and motivating.

3. The Expense B-School is expensive ($1999 USD). This is likely the biggest obstacle to taking the course. For me, I signed up precisely when money was super tight and used my Visa to pay in full (you save a bit this way, rather than the monthly payment option). I had a new office space with big rent to pay plus employees to support. I really didn't have any extra money to spare, but I was also feeling so stressed about my business that I needed some sort of lifeline. In my mind, the investment into the course was equivalent to the seriousness in which I viewed my business. By spending that sort of money, I demonstrated my faith in the quality of what I would be taught but also that I would follow through on making it worthwhile.

So those are the things that were weighing on my mind as I was trying to decide. I'm really glad that I took that leap. I'm sure you have lots to consider, too. It's a big decision!

B-School registration is open... but just for a short time! The cart closes on March 1. After that date, you'll have to wait another calendar year before the chance to take B-School comes around again.

(IMPORTANT: if you've been looking at other affiliates' offers, please note that referrals are tracked by last click. So if you want to receive my bonus offers and for me to be credited for the referral, use my link to the registration page. Thanks!)

Something extra when you sign up for B-School through me...


When you use my affiliate link to register, you'll also receive these UPPERCASE B-School Bonuses:

  • A complimentary one-year subscription/renewal to UPPERCASE magazine.
  • A pair of Everyday notebooks to jot down your B-School a-ha moments.
  • Access to a private UPPERCASE + B-School community and discussion board.
  • Online conference call with Janine to ask questions and share your progress with the encouraging UPPERCASE B-School community.
  • The opportunity to pitch your ideas or business concept to be published in issue 40 of UPPERCASE magazine (3 profiles available)
  • Access to creative entrepreneur productivity e-course to be released by Janine Vangool / UPPERCASE

If you'd like access to these perks, make sure that you click on my link to sign up for B-School (they track on the "last click" and attribute the sale to whichever site or link referred the sale.) Thank you, I appreciate it!

Entrepreneurship Q+A with Janine Vangool

Earlier this month, I was contacted by Catrina Auger, a fourth-year student at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. She's working on her Bachelor of Design and is taking a class called Creative Practice and Change. Catrina writes, "We are learning about how to better our selves for our possible future entrepreneurship. For the assignment that I am currently working on, our task is to interview entrepreneurs that we believe are great role models. UPPERCASE has been a large source of inspiration for myself during the past four years—my mother and I share a subscription and just adore all of the work you create."

Here's our conversation:


How did you know that you were ready to take on and start your own business? 

After graduating from the Alberta College of Art in 1995, I had a “real” job working for a design company in Calgary for about 9 months. Just long enough to realize that that particular firm was not a good fit for me! I had a few freelance opportunities and left that day job to pursue my own path. I wasn’t particularly ready to start my own business, but I was ready to leave an environment where I wasn’t valued or treated respectfully. I’ve been my own boss ever since.

Do you feel that freelancing gave you enough experience to create your own business?

I was fortunate that my first freelance contract was a long-term one, and one that introduced me to lots of really nice people who continued to hire me for other projects. So my first business, Vangool Design + Typography, started off immediately with my first freelance gig.

Did you have any prior knowledge of business before starting? Such as taking a course in business and or finance.

Zero training! It was learn by doing, trial and error.

When did you realize and or discover what type of business you wanted to create?

I had always thought I’d have my own design firm—I just didn’t imagine it would happen so soon. I was only 22 or 23 when I started my company. I thought I’d work for someone else (my dream job was to work for a publisher like Chronicle Books) for a few years to gain experience before setting off on my own. I loved having my own design firm (company of one!) and I had excellent clients in the arts, culture and publishing fields. I was fortunate to work with nice people and good companies.

I did freelance for a dozen years before starting to yearn for different challenges. In 2005, I opened a space downtown called UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods in Art Central. It was a 3-storey complex with artist studios, galleries and creative companies. I continued to do freelance design from that space, but the front-facing and public aspect was that of a gallery and bookstore. It was a fun and exciting challenge to fill the retail aspect and I began to design and make products to sell. I dabbled in greeting card designs that were available wholesale across Canada, handmade notebooks, sewn objects, vintage type packages, workshops… I tried lots of things.

In 2007, I organized a funny gallery show about William Shatner featuring 76 illustrations of him. To accompany the show, I published my first book. A hardcover tome featuring the artwork plus commentary. Through that project, I realized my dream of becoming a publisher. From then, I experimented with other ways to publish books and, eventually, UPPERCASE magazine.

By 2010, UPPERCASE magazine was a year old and I had a baby, too. So I decided to close up the gallery and retail, officially retire from design for clients, and focus solely on publishing. (And being a mom, too!)

What are some key points that you believe a future entrepreneur should make sure to complete before starting their own business?

I don’t know if there’s anything that you need to “complete” necessarily, but creative entrepreneurs should have organizations skills, be good with scheduling and have a disciplined work ethic. You can be creative with the work that you do, but having structure to how you do the work is important.

Having your husband help and support you and your business, do you feel that it would be better for a new entrepreneur to have family and or friends to help them start off?

My husband has always been encouraging of my many ventures and helped out a great deal back in the gallery days, but it hasn’t been until just a couple years ago that he officially began working within UPPERCASE, handling customer support. In the earlier days of the magazine, his contribution was looking after our son during the day so that I could go to the studio to concentrate on getting things done. It is definitely nice to have a support system and encouragement, but not a requirement. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Through all of the projects that you have worked on, how do you find time for all of them? Are there any time management strategies that you use?

In publishing a quarterly magazine, I have to be very disciplined when it comes to timelines and schedules. My readers expect each issue to arrive at a certain time. Being committed to that schedule is one of the reasons I think UPPERCASE magazine is still around 9 years later. My readers can trust that I will deliver.

Over time—and 36 issues in—I have developed systems of organization that help me through the cycle of publishing. I don’t need to reinvent things time and again, I do things a certain way that works for me. I’ve also become a better editor and curator. So as I’ve honed my skills, I’ve create more time to explore additional projects like publishing more books in addition to the magazine.

With running your own business, is it hard to juggle your work and your personal life?

I don’t see it as a juggle. My business is part of my life, it is very personal to me. My family sees how UPPERCASE supports us and benefits us. My schedule is flexible in some of the day-to-day aspects, so I can spend time at home with my child or we can go on trips together. It’s integrated with our lives. There’s balance.

After having a period of time where the popularity of the magazine was low, and having to make the hard decision to lay off a team member; how did you accomplish to recover and grow your brand to where it is today?

It wasn’t that the popularity of the magazine was low, actually, but that having numerous employees was costing a lot of money. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to harness the time and investment of the team to grow the company large enough to keep up with their salaries. I thought more people would equal more productivity would equal more growth. It turns out that equation was wrong. 

It was an excruciating decision to lay people off, but it had reached a point where I wouldn’t be able to pay all the bills. During that time, I had invested in the first business training I’d ever had—I enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School. It’s an 8-week course that teaches marketing and connects you to your ideal customers and business model. The course gave me some practical and applicable skills while validating a lot of things I had been feeling I should be doing in my business but hadn’t been due to the burden of employee management and salaries. Because of that course, I had the courage to reboot my company, lay people off (which was unfortunate but necessary) and start with a fresh approach. Within months, I was out of the financial hole and my business was profitable again.

Full disclosure: this year I applied to be a B-School affiliate and was accepted! It was such a life and business-changing course that I want to help promote it. This year’s course starts in March and I’m sharing my experiences about it in my newsletter and on my blog.

Living in the digital age, did you find it necessary to market yourself and your brand through social media and the internet?

Yes, it is necessary to market oneself through social media. That’s just how it is. But having solid products and skills are the first order of business! I concentrate on making nice things and keeping my customers happy—and then positive testimonials from my readers is the best, natural form of promotion.

When starting your business, were there any goals that you set for yourself and your brand to achieve? Was there a point in the last nine years where you felt that UPPERCASE met and or surpassed your creative goals? 

I’ve set measurable goals over the years. When I launched the magazine, it was to reach 1,000 subscribers. Then it was to get to 3,000… 4,000. My subscriber base is at around 5,000 now, so I’m aiming for 6,000! I don’t necessarily have to reach that next milestone, but it is motivating to have a destination in mind. And I’ve always got multiple projects on the go. In the last two years, in addition to the magazine, I’ve published 3 books as part of the UPPERCASE Encylopedia of Inspiration. The reception for that project was great and I loved putting those books together. So I’m doing it again! The next 4 volumes of the Encyclopedia are in the works.

I’m also launching another magazine this year. Little U is the offspring of UPPERCASE, a smaller and cuter version for the young at heart. It will be published in April.

With having nearly 500 new subscriptions after partnering with Tree Era, do you find that it is necessary to keep up with public issues in order to keep growing and updating your business?

One of the benefits of having a financially stable business is that I can invest some funds into things that matter to me. So in addition to monthly donations to Unicef and Doctors without Borders, I am partnering with Calgary-based TreeEra. For every new subscription or renewal this year, a tree will be planted. So far, the equivalent of 477 trees have been purchased since the start of the year! I’m also factoring a donation to Unicef as part of my planning for Little U. Being a socially conscious human—and by extension business owner—is important to me. And I think it is important to my customers, too.

Catrina  sent me this lovely thank you note in the mail, a customized drawing of a vintage sign! Thanks, Catrina!

Catrina sent me this lovely thank you note in the mail, a customized drawing of a vintage sign! Thanks, Catrina!

Why I needed B-School—and how it helped me keep and grow my business.


When I enrolled in B-School in 2014, I was having the toughest time I'd ever had in business. I had employees and big print bills, but I never seemed to be able to get out of barely getting by—a line of credit was the only thing that kept things going, issue after issue. I was searching for a mentor, someone to help me figure out what to do next. I couldn't find that sort of guidance locally and so I began looking for it online.

Before I signed up for B-School, I had a gut feeling that I'd need to make some big changes to my business. I wasn't sure what they would be, but as I went through the course, it become more clear that I would have to take back the control of EVERY aspect of my business. Including, in particular, the marketing and voice of my company.

Thanks to Marie Forleo's amazing course and excellent advice, I was able to "reboot" my company. Even though it meant facing some painful realities such as letting go of employees and returning to a company of one.

Read more about my B-School story...

Spring Sale at Make Art That Sells

I'm so excited to be part of Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells as part of a special ‘live review’ for MATS (Make Art That Sells) Part A and Part B. These self-paced courses are on sale NOW until Friday, April 8.

Lilla and I will be getting together (virtually) to offer comments and reviews of some of the assignments created for her course. The best assignments will be featured in future issues of UPPERCASE magazine!

Lilla and me!

I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be part of Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells as part of a special ‘live review’ for MATS (Make Art That Sells) Part A and Part B self-paced courses in April. Lilla and I will be getting together (virtually) to offer comments and reviews of some of the assignments created for her course.

Here's more info from Lilla's announcement:

Who is eligible to participate?

This bonus live review is exclusively for participants of the self-paced MATS A and MATS B classes — but don't worry, you can still register if you aren't in yet! 

In order to participate you must be registered for MATS A and/or MATS B by Monday 11 April. There will be two reviews, one in each classroom, so if you are registered for both A and B you will get access to TWO brand new assignments and TWO chances to get your work in front of Lilla and Janine!

So what do I have to do to get my work in front of Lilla and Janine?

You will need to complete one or both assignments by the deadline given in class, and upload it to a dedicated online gallery. Lilla and Janine will view every single piece in the gallery, and then choose a selection of pieces to include in the review based on what they think will be most valuable for everyone in class to learn from. A video recording of the review will then be shared in class a few days later. It is an incredible opportunity to hear from both a top magazine editor and a top agent. Whether they are talking about your submission or someone else’s piece, there will be a ton of takeaways that you can drink up to feed your own work. 

What markets will be covered?

That's hush-hush right now. All will be revealed shortly…

When will the assignment be released and due?

The assignments will be released on Monday April 11, 2016 and will be due by Monday April 25, 2016. The review will take place shortly after that. 

For more info, see the announcement.

Lilla and I are very excited about this and look forward to seeing your work!

Congratulations to Aga Kobylinska

I had the pleasure of sending some good news today to Aga Kobylinska, the winner of the Make It In Design Module 3 Giveaway! Aga is a surface pattern designer based in Warsaw, Poland.

"It’s wonderful, vibrant city, full of fantastic opportunities," she writes. "I love to live and work here. But I’m also addicted to travels! I’m constantly fascinated by the beauty of nature, cultural diversity and human creativity."

When I asked her how she felt about being the recipient of the free class, in which she'll learn how to monetize her surface pattern designs, Aga replied, "I've never felt ready enough to send you my portfolio for review so I'm amazed by your email even more." I think that's a very common feeling... we never think our portfolio is good enough or ready or finished. I'm glad that Aga and the dozens of other artists took the leap to share their work with all of us. Having the confidence to share your work is the first step in building a successful career.

Follow Aga on Instagram and see more from her portfolio.

If you're wondering how Aga was selected, I read all 77 comments and clicked over to the participants' links. (Remember to read contest directions carefully! It is stated clearly in italics that to enter you must include a link to your website or instagram. If you don't have a portfolio yet, then you're not quite ready for this class.) From reviewing the links, I narrowed it down to 12 of the best portfolios and then the team at Make it in Design selected the winner.

How to Get an Agent (and Do I Really Need One?)

Jennifer Nelson, contributor to the October/November/December issue #27, is offering an intensive 3-day online workshop hosted by Modern Thrive entitled "How to Get an Agent (and Do I Really Need One?)." This live online workshop will take place March 16th-18th at 2pm EST. From assessing your career to making a plan to understanding how artist representation works, Jennifer will present real-world knowledge about a career in illustration.

Jennifer is a professional artist's agent and the founder of a Boston-based illustration agency Jennifer Nelson Artists. She has spent more than twenty-five years working in the art world as an art director, designer and agent.

Save $20 on your registration with discount code "UppercaseVIP." Sign up here. Hurry, the course starts March 16!

Make it in Design: Course Giveaway!

Together with our friends at Make it in Design, we are offering a very special prize to ONE very lucky reader - one free place on the next Module 3 class of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design worth $CAD680 (£359)!

Module 3 – ‘Monetising your designs’, is a five-week online course where you will learn everything you need to know to monetise your designs! The classroom can be accessed around the clock so you can join from anywhere in the world, and fit the course into your busy life. 

The course details the major money-making opportunities available to you as a designer, including; freelancing, licensing, selling outright, manufacturing and more! Module 3 also includes free access to leading trend forecasting site WGSN for a limited period AND the Make it in Design little black book of industry contacts!

Course alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios, win national awards, be featured in design books, on leading blogs and more. Fancy a bit of this action too? Read on to find out how to enter.

The class includes the following:

• How to identify multiple streams of income for your designs
• How to sell and license your designs (what they don’t teach you at art school!)
• The ins and outs of freelancing
• How to get into manufacturing your own product
• How to choose the right distribution channel for you
• How to negotiate a contract that is right for you
• How not to get ripped off
• How to manage your time and money
• How to manage stock levels
• How to get a job in design
• How to stay motivated


• How to create a pattern portfolio to show to potential clients
• How to apply patterns to mock-up product templates and room sets
• How to turn a placement print into a technical repeat for wallpaper or fabric
• How to design a Trade Show Brochure in Adobe Illustrator

Invaluable industry information such as colour print specifications for both paper goods and textiles.

You will do this by actually creating a mini portfolio for potential licensing clients; a trade show plan and a business development plan.

PLUS you will learn everything you need to know about trade shows (getting in, getting ready and getting customers!)

AND the Make it in Design money-can’t-buy bonus little black book of industry contacts!

And if that wasn’t enough, you also get full access to leading trend forecasting site WGSN for 90 days (this alone is worth more than the entire cost of the course!


One place on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – Module 3 ‘Monetising Your Designs’ runs for 5 weeks from April 4, 2016, delivered online) 

How to enter: 

Check out the course website to find out more about it, then head back here and leave a comment at the bottom of the post in 50 words telling us why this course would benefit you right now and how it could transform your career. You must include a link to your website or Instagram to be considered.

Deadline: March 14 Any comments left after this time will not be counted. The winner will be jointly selected by UPPERCASE editor Janine Vangool and The Make it in Design team and announced on March 17.

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

This competition is to win a place on Module 3: Monetising your designs starting April 4, 2016. One entry allowed per person. The winning place is not transferrable – either by date or to another individual and must not be sold on and no cash alternative will be offered in the event that the winner is unable to use the prize for any reason. By entering this competition you agree for your entry to be promoted on the Make it in Design and Uppercase website and their associated social networks. If you have already signed up for the April Module 3 class and are selected as the winner you will be offered a refund. 

Sewing my first garment since Grade 9 Home Ec!

Photo by Crystal Reynolds /  Crystal Ink

Photo by Crystal Reynolds / Crystal Ink

With rolls and rolls of fabric, it seemed like at least one of the projects I needed to tackle for my Windham Look Book was to sew a garment! I was daunted... I haven't sewn any clothes for myself since high school. Rather than leave it for last—what I thought might be the most complicated thing to sew—I decided I should start with making a shirt first! I figured if it failed miserably, I would still have time for a plan B.

Luckily, I had help... in the form of a very thorough video tutorial "Sew a Sailor Top" hosted by Fancy Tiger on Creativebug. After downloading the pdf pattern (comes with the class!), I was able to follow along step-by-step. It was so helpful to watch the video before as preparation and then during the project for guidance... If you've never sewn a shirt before, I highly recommend starting with this one.  

It turned out great!

Photo by Kirstie Tweed /  Orange Girl

Photo by Kirstie Tweed / Orange Girl

I used two fabrics with the same turquoise and black, to add some interest at the collar... and a little surprise as a lining in the sleeve hem.

photo by Kirstie Tweed /  Orange Girl

photo by Kirstie Tweed / Orange Girl

Once I got started, the project went quite quickly. With my pattern cut out and prepared, I could easily sew another top (or two!) with some other colours.

Win a $100 gift card from Etsy Canada

Etsy Canada has reached out to offer a gift card valued at $100 Canadian to one of my readers! To enter to win, please click on the shops above discover some of the Canadian Etsy talent profiled in the UPPERCASE Compendium of Craft & Creativity. Leave a comment below (make sure you include a contact method or link) to enter to win. Contest closes on Friday.

Make Art That Sells with Lilla Rogers

When it comes to illustration and licensing, I return to Lilla Rogers time and time again. She is the expert! I've featured her in issue 13, 17 and 21.... and the graduates of her program have been published many times, particularly in issue 21's Surface Pattern Design Guide.

Lilla's latest course, Make Art That Sells Part A is starting October 19. The course will guide students in building a professional portfolio while learning all about the most lucrative markets for art: bolt fabric, home décor, children’s books, wall art and the gift market.

If you want to break into these areas, I urge you to take her course. Having seen the work created by her graduates, I can see the difference that Lilla makes in artists' confidence and know-how.

My only caution is to hold true to your own style, your own voice... it is often too easy to start emulating other successful illustrators who have gone through the course. The best thing you can do for long-term success is to trust your vision, hone your style and point of view and you'll find your place in the big world of commercial art-making. The guidance and professional insight you'll gain from Lilla combined with your drive and dedication will be a winning combination.

Speaking of winners, the finalists for the Global Talent Search have been announced! As one of the industry judges looking over 49 finalists, I'm pleased with the results. Congratulations to Katie Vernon who was both the judge's top choice as well as people's choice. The overall winner, selected by Lilla, will be announced next Tuesday following their final round assignment.

In revealing the finalists, Lilla has some great advice about such competitions, which I think also applies to when you're submitting work to one of my open calls, too. Lilla writes, "Entering a competition is a scary and exciting thing. A competition can elevate our industry by pushing artists to make their very best work. At the same time, it's hard when you don't get picked. Back when I was an illustrator, I would use the experience of not getting into a particularly coveted competition as a motivator to up my game. It worked. I sincerely hope those not chosen do the same." 

Sign up for Make Art That Sells and maybe we'll see you in the Global Talent Search finalists next year!

Learn with Molly Hatch

So many UPPERCASE contributors and featured artists are teaching online classes these days so I've rounded up learning opportunities that will enhance the content you've discovered in UPPERCASE magazine. Just go to the "classes" tab in the navigation above to see more.

Molly Hatch has a new online course that launches today! (But you can start anytime.) I'll let Molly tell you about it:

Are you taking ceramic classes for fun and looking for some new surface techniques? Are you an art teacher looking for good techniques to share with your students? Are you new to ceramics and looking for fun ways to create surfaces in clay? Do you own my New Ceramic Surface Design book and are looking for video tutorials that compliment the projects in the book? Then this is the right class for you!

This 5-week online workshop will begin September 29th, 2015 with an open ongoing enrolment. This online workshop uses Molly Hatch's book New Ceramic Surface Design as a text to cover a wide range of surface design techniques for ceramics. Working at your own pace, each week for 5 weeks, participants will have access to an online demonstration video for new techniques, downloads of worksheets, templates and recipes as well as a second video each week featuring an interview with artists featured in the book about their artwork and the techniques they use. This workshop is great for anyone who has clay basics and is ready to make some exciting surfaces! Once you have enrolled in this workshop, you will have continued access, (forever!) there is no end to the learning!

With a basic knowledge of ceramics, this class will help you push to the next level with ways to approach the ceramic surface!

HOW IT WORKS: Working at your own pace, each week for 5 weeks, participants will have access to an online demonstration video for new techniques. Each week there are downloads, artwork templates and recipes as well as a second video featuring an interview with artists such as Lisa Congdon and Ben Carter.  Most of the artists interviewed are featured in my book and will talk about their careers, what inspires them and how they use the techniques demonstrated each week in their own studio practice.

Visit Molly's website for more details. Sign up here.

Win a spot in The Ultimate Portfolio Builder! (Comments Closed)

See the winner here.

Together with our friends at Make it in Design, we are offering a very special prize to ONE very lucky reader - one free place on the next The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course worth $895 (£579).

Places on this course are strictly limited and are highly sought after, but one person from this competition will be guaranteed a place! 

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder is an advanced seven-week online professional surface pattern design course, consisting of an intense five-week class followed by two weeks of design reviews. The classroom is accessible 24/7 so you can join from anywhere in the world, and fit the course into your busy life.

This powerful course will give you all the tools and advice you need to grow, refine and strengthen your professional design portfolio, make your designs more sellable and give you the fast-track to trade show success.

Brought to you in association with Printsource, one of the top surface and textile design shows in the world, this course will provide you with exclusive insight to help you secure the right buyers for your work, deal effectively with clients, get trade show ready and discover the secrets to landing your dream work. Plus one lucky person on the course will win a free booth at Printsource Aug 2016 and $1,000 to get you to New York! 

Course alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios, win national awards, be featured in design books, on leading blogs and more. Fancy a bit of this action too? Read on to find out how to enter.

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder includes:

  • Five weeks of exceptional in-depth teaching on subject matter (objects, characters, nature, geometrics, typography and abstract), colour and media, the power of recolouring, designing for occasions, genre and style, audience and market and so much more

  • A series of advanced design challenges to help you grow as a designer and build a strong, rounded portfolio

  • An array of LIVE briefs from real companies looking to sign the next big talent – is it you?

  • A series of video based technical masterclasses from guest designers on typography, characters, photography, mixed media collages and more, to hone your professional design skills

  • Invaluable individual work reviews from Rachael Taylor, Janine Burrows and Khristian A. Howell

  • Insight into the practicalities of managing a growing design studio

  • Trade show planning advice direct from Printsource New York

  • Opportunity to put questions to Rachael Taylor

  • 90 days’ free access to the top trend forecasting site WGSN


  • One lucky person on the course will win a free booth at Printsource New York, August 2016 and $1,000 towards the cost of travel to the show

  • An incredible four-part creative brief from Printsource to help you attract the clients you want and the kind of work you dream of

  • Bonus material on managing your finances, how to be your own career strategist and thinking outside the box

  • Access to a huge library of textures to give your work depth and distinction

  • Access to exclusively styled room set images ready-made for you to render your designs on

  • A selection of colour palettes intended to help you push your colour choices

  • And a whole lot more – this course really is jam-packed full of goodness!


The prize: ONE place on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course starting September 21, 2015, delivered on-line.

How to enter: 

Check out the course website to find out more about it, then come back to this post and leave a comment with a link to your website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so that we can contact you and write in no more than 50 words why this course would benefit you right now and how it could transform your design career.

Deadline: 5pm GMT on Friday September 18, 2015. Any comments left after this time will not be counted. 

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: This competition is to win a place on The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course from Make it in Design starting September 21, 2015. One entry allowed per person. The winning place is not transferrable – either by date or to another individual and must not be sold on and no cash alternative will be offered in the event that the winner is unable to use the prize for any reason. By entering this competition you agree to your entry to be promoted on the Uppercase and Make it in Design website and their associated social networks. The winner will be jointly selected by Janine Vangool and Rachael Taylor and announced by Sunday September 20. The judges’ decision is final.

My picks on BRIKA

This silk scarf by Shana Frase pairs well with the  colour charts article  in this issue.

This silk scarf by Shana Frase pairs well with the colour charts article in this issue.

These bangles are made by artisans in Swaziland, but could be a good idea for older magazines (if you could bear to cut one up!)

These bangles are made by artisans in Swaziland, but could be a good idea for older magazines (if you could bear to cut one up!)

These earrings by Upper Metal Class remind me of the colour wheel motif on the current issue's spine pattern.

These earrings by Upper Metal Class remind me of the colour wheel motif on the current issue's spine pattern.


I've got a guest post up on BRIKA today! Here are some other picks that match up with the current issue. UPPERCASE readers can enjoy 15% off their purchases on BRIKA with the code UPPERCASE15 until September 1, 2014.

inspiring how-to videos by our friends at Creativebug

Earlier this year, I had the chance to visit the Creativebug headquarters in San Francisco. Kelly Wilkinson is the editorial director and a co-founder of this subscription-based online video workshop service. Over a lovely outdoor lunch on a (rare) sunny January afternoon, we had the chance to share our content wish lists and compare notes. Not surprisingly, we are fans of quite a few of the same people and things—and we thought that our respective customers might be, too.

There are many videos on Creativebug that relate to UPPERCASE in one way or another. Molly Hatch, for example is the cover artist of our current issue and through a Creativebug video you can learn how to apply your designs to ceramics and glassware.

I invite you to watch the beautifully produced free preview videos on the Creativebug affiliate page that I've curated specifically for UPPERCASE. If you enjoy learning new crafts or are inspired by watching others create, please click through the page links and sign up for a membership.

learn with Lisa Congdon

If you need a creative infusion, Lisa Congdon will be teaching a four-week class on the basics of line drawing over on Creativebug. Whether you already draw and want to deepen your practice — or want to overcome the intimidation of picking up a pen for the first time — this class offers something for everyone. Participants can benefit from weekly chats with Lisa, as well. Access the class with an monthly membership to Creativebug (now only $9.95 per month). I've been a paying member of Creativebug for many months—their videos are terrifically produced and the content is great. I'm still benefiting from the Brand course I took through Creativebug.