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!
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!
With such a short trip and lots of meetings and activities jammed in, I didn't have time for any of the big museums. But I did stop in the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, which was on the Prinsengracht a few minute's walk from my hotel.
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."
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.
It is simply not possible to edit in a place like this!
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you, Mirthe, for such a nice way to start my adventure in the Netherlands!
…and I was in Amsterdam! Even though it felt like 3am, I was out and about exploring Amsterdam for the afternoon. Here are some shots from the Albert Cuyp Market. I always love photographing outdoor markets when travelling since we don't have such things in Calgary (a city that I left under a blanket of snow.)