Featured Stockist: Athenaeum, Amsterdam

Athenaeum—my best stockist in the world—has posted a video flip-through of issue #22. What makes them the best stockist? They're a great store in a bustling part of Amsterdam with exciting titles with friendly and knowledgeable staff who care about magazines. They support independent magazines and do excellent marketing, like making videos and hosting events like when I was in Amsterdam two years ago. They consistently sell more copies of UPPERCASE than any other single location!

If you're in Europe, purchase UPPERCASE through Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum here. And, they have back issues!

let's be tourists: Hotel Pulitzer

The Prinsengracht canal with Hotel Pulitzer on the right.

The Prinsengracht canal with Hotel Pulitzer on the right.

My own version of room service—salad, berries, bread and chocolate—brought home from the grocery store around the corner.

My own version of room service—salad, berries, bread and chocolate—brought home from the grocery store around the corner.

The packaging looks better than the taste!

The packaging looks better than the taste!

The hotel is made up of 25 canal houses connected through atriums and passageways.

The hotel is made up of 25 canal houses connected through atriums and passageways.

No view of the canals from my room, but inside it was very comfortable.

No view of the canals from my room, but inside it was very comfortable.

Exploring the halls and connections of the hotel led to some buildings with more ornamentation such as this on a ceiling overhead.

Exploring the halls and connections of the hotel led to some buildings with more ornamentation such as this on a ceiling overhead.

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All my print bills get put on my credit card and so the associated loyalty points add up to quite a bit. So that I wouldn't have to outlay any cash for my accommodations in Amsterdam, I stayed at the only (swanky) hotel available through the credit card points system. In a great location, Hotel Pulitzer was a nice splurge (though their wifi was very expensive and they had an annoying mini bar that wouldn't allow me to store my fruit without it charging me.) I suspect that you have to pay some "real" money instead of points to stay in one of the grander houses!

A view into the hotel's courtyard.

A view into the hotel's courtyard.

featured stockist: options

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Options Contemporary Department Store is located on Damrak in central Amsterdam. Full of trendy things, they also have a selection of books and magazines furnished by Athenaeum.

"OPTIONS! is a contemporary department store located in central Amsterdam for lovers of beautiful things, fun, handmade, good design and interesting stories. Each item is lovingly selected and curated in collaboration with creatives, students and friends in Tokyo, London, Helsinki, Berlin and beyond. The store stocks an extensive range, from design gifts, stationery, ceramics, furniture, clothing and magazines to bespoke products from upcoming and established international interior and fashion designers. OPTIONS! offers accommodation at Hotel The Exchange where rooms are designed in collaboration with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute."  

the new label project

The New Label Project store at 75 Rozengracht, Amsterdam.

The New Label Project store at 75 Rozengracht, Amsterdam.

A view of the spacious store.

A view of the spacious store.

After an amazing appointment on Tuesday morning (a visit to the home and studio of Leslie Oschmann from Swarm Home!), I had some time to meander, walking along the Rozengracht street. 

This shop prompting me to cross the street. The New Label Project is a unique concept in that it presents the work from emerging artisans. Each booth is a selection from an individual artist or maker... quite like browsing through Etsy in person! By having each artist's work within the white box, it helps to frame and focus work that would otherwise perhaps be too eclectic to have side-by-side.

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Seller Anna Treurniet and proprietor Giulia of The New Label Project

Seller Anna Treurniet and proprietor Giulia of The New Label Project

Just as I was finishing up taking photos of the space, Anna Treurniet stopped by to freshen up her display booth. Anna recognized me from Hello Etsy—she had attended in Eindhoven! Below are Anna's collars, cuffs and key chains, available in the store as well as in her Etsy shop and website.

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Some jewellery that I quite liked was by An Stevens, below.

vlieger paper

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I love looking at paper. Oh, the possibilities! Caroline recommended that I would enjoy a visit to Vlieger Papier and she was right. I spent some money on both levels: on the main floor was a never-ending assortment of sheets of paper, wrapping paper, tapes... I can't get enough of these patterned boxes (I miss stocking such things from a few years back when UPPERCASE was also a retail store for papergoods.) I purchased an assortment of "manly" tapes for Glen—a fluorescent duct tape, an orange plastic tape and a yellow- and red-hashed washi tape. (I have more than enough washi tape, so I thought Glen might like some for his projects and use in the garage.)

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On the upper level, one could find any art supply that one fancies. There I selected some wax/watercolour chunky crayons for Finley's Christmas stocking.

Amsterdam-brand paints.

Amsterdam-brand paints.

It was a grey day, but this bright orange was a common colour in the city.

It was a grey day, but this bright orange was a common colour in the city.

Workers in the street, dressed for visibility.

Workers in the street, dressed for visibility.

Pickup brand stickers and letters.

Pickup brand stickers and letters.

Flow magazine

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What is Flow? It is a popular Dutch magazine, mainly aimed at women seeking to "simplify their lives, feel connected and to live mindfully." Growing in popularity in the Netherlands since its launch nearly five years ago, Flow is now able to reach an international English-speaking audience with the launch of their international edition and English blog and website.

The editors of Flow, Astrid van der Hulst and Irene Smit, have always been very supportive of UPPERCASE: they have featured many of my books, mentioned the magazine in articles and have also generously given UPPERCASE complimentary ad space. They also like many of the same artists that I do; you will notice Camilla Engman, Lisa Congdon, Tif Fussell and Fiona Richards/Cartolina gracing their pages from time to time.

Though Flow (especially in English now) and UPPERCASE have similar audiences, I don't see the magazine as competition. Personally, I welcome a magazine to read with content I enjoy—that I didn't have to create myself! If you love one magazine, often you love more than one. Though both of our magazines aim to inspire creative lives, Flow is often more about mindfulness and the emotional and even spiritual path to creative fulfillment, whereas UPPERCASE is much more the practical and factual steps to a creative lifestyle. So the two together go quite well.

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Me, Astrid, Irene and Jocelyn in the Flow office in Sanoma Media.

Me, Astrid, Irene and Jocelyn in the Flow office in Sanoma Media.

Flow, like UPPERCASE, appreciates the importance of a nice spine design!

Flow, like UPPERCASE, appreciates the importance of a nice spine design!

Flow also produces greeting cards and other paper goods.

Flow also produces greeting cards and other paper goods.

I have to admit that I am envious of their print production budget!

I have to admit that I am envious of their print production budget!

A proof of the first international (English) edition of Flow.

A proof of the first international (English) edition of Flow.

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A view of the team at work.

A view of the team at work.

In addition to the folks in the main office, the design of Flow is accomplished offsite by Studio 100%.

In addition to the folks in the main office, the design of Flow is accomplished offsite by Studio 100%.

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A collection ready for tea in the board room.

A collection ready for tea in the board room.

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The planning wall... I've always wanted to implement something similar in my office. This a preview of a special holiday issue (in Dutch) inspired by snail mail.

The planning wall... I've always wanted to implement something similar in my office. This a preview of a special holiday issue (in Dutch) inspired by snail mail.

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One of the interesting things about Flow, at least to me as a publisher, is that despite it being part of a huge company, the editors do their best to appear smaller. Not only is this the way they prefer to work, it is also a benefit to the community of Flow. They cultivate a loyal following in the Netherlands and are very much in touch with their readership. The personal relationship is important to the ethos of the magazine. (In contrast, people often mistake UPPERCASE for something larger when in fact I am the only full time person and there isn't the financial support of a large media company behind UPPERCASE.)

Reception area showing the selection of magazines published by Sanoma in the Netherlands.

Reception area showing the selection of magazines published by Sanoma in the Netherlands.

A view of the Sanoma headquarters, listing some of the other titles published there such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and dozens of others.

A view of the Sanoma headquarters, listing some of the other titles published there such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and dozens of others.

a nice lunch with Caroline Buijs

Freelance journalist Caroline Buijs.

Freelance journalist Caroline Buijs.

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On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting freelance journalist Caroline Buijs for lunch. Caroline writes for Flow as well as other Dutch publications. And when issue 16 comes out in January, we will be able to count her as an UPPERCASE contributor as well! In a previous career, Caroline was a flight attendent. On her various journeys, she collected the Do Not Disturb signs at hotels worldwide. Since issue 16 explores the notions of home and of feeling cozy, we play on the theme with the convention of a sign on a hotel door to create your a private sanctuary.

Droog is a world-famous design company focused on home accessories, lighting and furniture. Based in Amsterdam, they also have a hotel (with only one room!) and café.

Droog is a world-famous design company focused on home accessories, lighting and furniture. Based in Amsterdam, they also have a hotel (with only one room!) and café.

A view of the Droog café in which we both enjoyed some pumpkin soup for lunch.

A view of the Droog café in which we both enjoyed some pumpkin soup for lunch.

An exhibition of Brazilian stools.

An exhibition of Brazilian stools.

The garden looked quite magical.

The garden looked quite magical.

meet and greet at Athenaeum

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It was a slightly soggy Monday evening when fans of UPPERCASE gathered at Athenaeum for a meet and greet, but that was ok—I had time to have very nice conversations with new friends. Thank you to Anneke and Reny for organizing and promoting the event—and for the excellent front window display shown below. Thank you to Maarten Asscher, the director of Athenaeum, for cultivating such an inspiring bookstore which supports quality publishing both big and small.

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UPPERCASE next to fellow Canadian magazine,  Inventory . And we're always happy to be in proximity to the sophisticated  Kinfolk .

UPPERCASE next to fellow Canadian magazine, Inventory. And we're always happy to be in proximity to the sophisticated Kinfolk.

(I don't think we've ever been stacked next to Vanity Fair or James Bond before!)

(I don't think we've ever been stacked next to Vanity Fair or James Bond before!)

A wonderfully colourful selection of nibbles included blueberries and pink marshmallows.

A wonderfully colourful selection of nibbles included blueberries and pink marshmallows.

Nice presentation of sprouts by Reny. (If you have time, you could roll up an old newspaper or phone book like this, soak it and plant seeds along the top, letting the sprouts anchor into the paper roll.)

Nice presentation of sprouts by Reny. (If you have time, you could roll up an old newspaper or phone book like this, soak it and plant seeds along the top, letting the sprouts anchor into the paper roll.)

I brought some paper garlands, as well as the little mini pencil crayon sets I posted about earlier.

I brought some paper garlands, as well as the little mini pencil crayon sets I posted about earlier.

Athenaeum also stocks UPPERCASE's books such as The Suitcase Series Volume 1: Camilla Engman, The Elegant Cockroach by Deidre Martin / Stefanie Augustine and Lisa Congdon's Collection a Day.

Athenaeum also stocks UPPERCASE's books such as The Suitcase Series Volume 1: Camilla Engman, The Elegant Cockroach by Deidre Martin / Stefanie Augustine and Lisa Congdon's Collection a Day.

And such an incredible selection of magazines in a very small space. If I lived in Amsterdam, I would be a frequent visitor. In fact, I remember visiting Athenaeum back in 1996, the last time I was in Amsterdam. I was just out of college on a two-month trip to Europe. Despite being on a tight budget and backpacking, I remember splurging on some magazines in Athenaeum.

And such an incredible selection of magazines in a very small space. If I lived in Amsterdam, I would be a frequent visitor. In fact, I remember visiting Athenaeum back in 1996, the last time I was in Amsterdam. I was just out of college on a two-month trip to Europe. Despite being on a tight budget and backpacking, I remember splurging on some magazines in Athenaeum.

This time, I purchased the launch issue of  The Alpine Review , a hefty 280+ page tome published in Montreal and printed in Barcelona.

This time, I purchased the launch issue of The Alpine Review, a hefty 280+ page tome published in Montreal and printed in Barcelona.

In particular I'd like to thank the gals from Flow magazine for coming to the meet and greet (post about Flow coming up), to Hagar for gifting me with a wonderful artwork (this one!), to Giovannella (below, left) who was also at Hello Etsy and made me a lovely embroidered sign (I still have to photograph it) and to Ping (below right) for her creative enthusiasm. Also to Canan, it was nice to meet you (and thank you for all your tweets!) I also look forward to seeing what Naomi of Pretty Unexpected does next and reading through her blog.

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It was nice to chat with Marieke, an editor at Jamie Oliver's magazine, Netherlands edition. She shared this Instagram. Great evening! Thanks everyone.

It was nice to chat with Marieke, an editor at Jamie Oliver's magazine, Netherlands edition. She shared this Instagram. Great evening! Thanks everyone.

the big adventure

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Proprietor Anna looks out towards the hustle and bustle of Haalemmerstraat.

Proprietor Anna looks out towards the hustle and bustle of Haalemmerstraat.

The shop, Het Grote Avontuur is named after Alain Fournier's novel.

The shop, Het Grote Avontuur is named after Alain Fournier's novel.

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Located on what is being called as the "best shopping street in Amsterdam", Het Grote Avontuur is a shop that sells papergoods, vintage home accessories and assorted treasures. (They are an occasional stockist of the magazine and our books, but inquire if what you would like is currently in stock.)

Proprietor Anna Massee showed me around her beautifully appointed shop.

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Het Grote Avontuur sells IJM paint, some beautifully curated colours of interior paint. There are even special colours selected by Anna.

Het Grote Avontuur sells IJM paint, some beautifully curated colours of interior paint. There are even special colours selected by Anna.

You can sample your colours in these very appealing small canisters.

You can sample your colours in these very appealing small canisters.

A special colour by Het Grote Avontuur.

A special colour by Het Grote Avontuur.

Lots of beautiful Rie Elise Larsen paper boxes that I would have loved to take home with me.

Lots of beautiful Rie Elise Larsen paper boxes that I would have loved to take home with me.

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Papers by UPPERCASE favourites Leah Duncan and Eloise Renouf.

Papers by UPPERCASE favourites Leah Duncan and Eloise Renouf.

The kitchen area within the shop.

The kitchen area within the shop.

So many papers, some even pasted to the walls.

So many papers, some even pasted to the walls.

all the luck in the world

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Jane Schouten is a wonderful artist and craftswoman... with an ability to style beautiful things that is beyond compare. I first came across Jane's work via Flickr and her website, All the Luck in the World. Later, Tif Fussell included Jane as one of her "fine folks" in our book, The Suitcase Series Volume 2: dottie angel. Recently, Victoria Smith wrote an article about Jane Schouten in issue #13 of UPPERCASE magazine. With all these connections I couldn't come all this way without meeting. Jane and her daughter Nina (a goldsmith) have just opened a storefront in Amsterdam. Though they're fighting some noisy construction just outside their door, in the long term the neighbourhood will be thriving with new residents... and they can all visit All the Luck in the World to furnish their homes with upholstered and embroidered stools, vintage typewriters and lots of pretty tins.

I covet the stool on the right in the picture at the top of this post. Instead, I purchased an exquisite pin cushion made by Jane. I have some old stools at home that I am inspired to make over when I get home.

meeting Mirthe Blussé

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My first destination once arriving in Schipol airport was  to visit illustrator Mirthe Blussé, who had cordially invited me to visit her studio. Her studio is on the the 6th floor of the Volkskrantgebouw building, formerly the headquarters of the newspaper Volkskrant. Now housing dozens of tenants of creative industry plus a nightclub restaurant on the top level, the Volkskrantgebouw was kind of gritty in a cool art college-meets-industry sort of way.

Mirthe's studio, shared with illustrator Puk, was light-filled and punctuated with colourful bits of paper and collage. Mirthe's work has a wonderful unconstrained freeness about it, with playful yet elegant sprawling handwriting, simple graphic collages and more conceptual ones. Mirthe started out with a degree in copyright law, but her lifelong passion for creating art was too strong to ignore.

Please visit Mirthe's portfolio and blog to see more of her work (we can also look forward to a magazine feature on Mirthe in an issue of UPPERCASE next year.)

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Thank you, Mirthe, for such a nice way to start my adventure in the Netherlands!