the start of something

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If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen these shots on Friday. I finally signed the lease document for the new home of UPPERCASE. It is a relief to have those legalities done and now I can start sharing updates and images. The space is currently a real diamond in the rough. My new landlord sees the potential as well and I am really happy that I've been able to select finishes so that it will suit our aesthetics. It's going to be beautiful.

The obligatory BEFORE shot. The space is being used as a catchall for other renovations.

The obligatory BEFORE shot. The space is being used as a catchall for other renovations.

More about the new building soon! First I have to finish sorting everything for our big studio sale this Saturday from 11-4 at Art Central.  (Thanks for the amazing response to our Inventory Clearout Sale in our online shop!)

featured stockist: Type books, Toronto

Type Book's Queen Street West location.

Type Book's Queen Street West location.

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Another stop in Toronto last week was to Type Books. Wow, what a great independent neighbourhood bookstore. They were out of stock of the current issue (which I guess is a good thing! They'll just have to stock up next time, hint hint.) We featured Type on the blog previous—remember this amazing time-lapse animation of the shop being rearranged?

Bee Kingdom Glass

Vinciane in the Bee Kingdom gallery/house for the interview.

Vinciane in the Bee Kingdom gallery/house for the interview.

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Vinciane pulls some molten glass.

Vinciane pulls some molten glass.

It is always enjoyable to spend time in artists' studios and peek in on their process. In our current issue, our Work-in-Progress Society article took a new direction in that we decided to focus on an in-person interview rather than curating from the Flickr pool. Bee Kingdom Glass is an exciting 4-person studio hidden in an unassuming house in a Calgary residential neighbourhood. At one point, some of the members of Bee Kingdom were also roommates living in the house; now the living room is a small gallery, bedrooms are office studios—and the glass studio is out back in a converted garage. This close-knit group is aptly named; as glassblowers they are dependent on one another to see their individual creative visions come into form.

Vinciane de Pape, regular UPPERCASE contributor, interviewed Phillip, Kai, Ryan and Tim while I took photos for the article. When the Bees started a demo, I took an impromptu video of the process. You'll find more of my photos and full article about Bee Kingdom in our current issue.

Join Bee Kingdom this weekend for an open house from 1-5pm Saturday and Sunday. More details on their site right here.

my studio as seen by Tracey Ayton

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Vancouver-based photographer Tracey Ayton was recently in Calgary on some shoots and she stopped by to visit the UPPERCASE studio. Here are some images of my workspace that she captured; there are more on Tracey's blog. We have published Tracey's work in the current issue (#17) where you can see a photo essay about Granville Eyeland Framemakers.

I was happy that Tracey was here to capture some images of the space "au naturel" (no tidying!), though I am also planning on a final photographic study of the studio to feature in the fall issue of UPPERCASE. By the time the fall issue is out, this space will be a memory and UPPERCASE will be nestled into our new office. It is hard to believe that I'll have to move it all in a few short months.

guy friday: typewriter show and tell with Smokeproof Press

Brad's collection of typewriters are housed in their cases on a shelving system he devised.

Brad's collection of typewriters are housed in their cases on a shelving system he devised.

During my last few hours in Boulder, I was happily surprised with an invitation to visit Brad O'Sullivan's letterpress studio. (We featured Smokeproof Press back in issue #8's Letterpress Sampler. Copies are still available for sale in our shop.)

Thank you to Allison of Bird Dog Press for making this happen and for my Crafting Content partner-in-crime Heide Murray of All Good Wishes who also drove me to the airport after our visit. (Check out Heide's amazing felt creatures.)

Brad shows us one of his many machines. 

Brad shows us one of his many machines. 

A gorgeous "Floating Shift" key.

A gorgeous "Floating Shift" key.

Allison and Heide admire the details.

Allison and Heide admire the details.

An Italian Olivetti art deco-era in mint condition.

An Italian Olivetti art deco-era in mint condition.

An Hermes Rocket in hot orange.

An Hermes Rocket in hot orange.

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A later model Hermes Rocket is workhorse grey.

A later model Hermes Rocket is workhorse grey.

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For me, the ephemera of typewriters are part of the appeal.

For me, the ephemera of typewriters are part of the appeal.

An Odell Typewriter wooden box.

An Odell Typewriter wooden box.

Thanks, Brad, for climbing up and retrieving one amazing machine after another.

Thanks, Brad, for climbing up and retrieving one amazing machine after another.

A cursive model.

A cursive model.

Brad saves ink samples in old film cannisters, with typewritten labels of course.

Brad saves ink samples in old film cannisters, with typewritten labels of course.

In addition to the typewriter collection, there were plenty of things to keep an eye happy at Smokeproof Press.

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Note the collection of UPPERCASE magazines on the upper shelves!

Note the collection of UPPERCASE magazines on the upper shelves!

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Thanks again, Brad, Allison and Heide for your hospitality.

featured stockist: Two Hands Paperie

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Sophia prepares the event signage.

Sophia prepares the event signage.

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Proprietor Mia Semingson unpacks some new inventory.

Proprietor Mia Semingson unpacks some new inventory.

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Two Hands Paperie on Pearl Street was the beautiful bookend to my Boulder experience. Proprietor Mia Semingson was my assistant throughout the bookmaking class; she even picked me up at the airport! It was great to start the trip at this gorgeous store. Upon the conclusion of the Makerie on Sunday morning, Mia hosted me at Two Hands to introduce our freshly printed spring issue. Thank you to everyone for such a fine reception—and a big thank you to Mia for her help in keeping our two-day bookmaking project on track.

{ Two Hands Paperie has an online shop with free shipping on orders over $100 to the lower 48 US States. Take it from me, it is easy to spend at least $100 on such a great selection of paper goodies. }

moving forward

(a brief history of UPPERCASE)

Today, Calgary's Metro News published an article entitled, "Calgary's Art Central Facing Closure."

As my Calgary friends know, Art Central has been UPPERCASE's home since the beginning. Suite #204 was just an empty shell without shelving or lights when I first saw the space in late 2004. By early 2005, I was a happy tenant in a building concept with a lot of potential. With gloriously large windows, an old brick wall and a white slate of a gallery office, the space was endlessly inspiring and motivating.

Initially, freelance graphic design was my main occupation and UPPERCASE-related projects were side projects and creative experiments. "UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods" sold greeting cards of my own designs, handmade notebooks, hosted illustration shows, had a small selection of books on design and a nice supply of pretty paper goods for a growing number of walk-in customers. In tandem with the physical store, I began to sell my offerings online and to dedicate time to growing an online community through the UPPERCASE blog.

In 2007, UPPERCASE hosted an unusual gallery exhibition and launched its first book. The Shatner Show was an illustrated homage to William Shatner (of Captain Kirk fame) featuring 76 illustrations of his life and career. Endorsed by the man itself, the show was a great success and was featured on international newscasts and garnered a lot of positive press. But more importantly, it showed me my true calling: publishing.

In short succession, I released a few more books and decided to launch a magazine modelled after my own creative interests. My blog readership had grown modestly and I hoped that if even a small portion of those readers would support a print endeavour, publishing a magazine on a regular basis could be feasible. The inaugural issue was released in April 2009. (And I officially "retired" from freelancing; there was simply not enough time in the day to do it all.)

Fortunately, the magazine was well-received but I quickly discovered that it was far more work than I could ever have guessed. At the end of 2009, I closed the retail aspect of UPPERCASE. Growing a retail business in Art Central seemed to be an uphill battle—especially when compared to the success of online sales. When comparing the results from a bit of foot traffic with the potential of online traffic, the decision to close physical retail was obvious. (I also had the costs of inventory as well as print bills to consider.) Expecting a baby as well, I knew that though I can juggle a lot at once, new motherhood plus publishing plus retail was just too big of an equation.

I have no regrets about closing my retail store, though I do miss all those lovely stationery goodies and the joy people expressed when stopping by for a visit. I was also aware that closing my shop, a regular destination for many Calgarians, could impact my neighbours in Art Central. I remained committed to Art Central and our doors were open to curious walkers-by and we were active in First Thursdays and hosted occasional shows in our gallery.

For locals who still visit Art Central, it has been hard to miss the steady increase in vacancies over the past number of years. In this post I'm not going to go into detail about why the Art Central concept has been so difficult to sustain. But I do think it would be useful to write a post-mortem about what happened (or didn't happen) here, particularly in comparison to the seemingly successful creative entrepreneurial centres such as Wychwood Barns, Konstepidemin and the American Can Factory profiled in issue #16 of UPPERCASE.

Over a year ago, the Art Central building was sold to a new owner; a property company that purchased this building along with many others in the downtown core. I stress that they purchased the building—they did not take on a stewardship of the Art Central concept, a concept that had been seriously malnourished for many years prior. Now the news is public that the building is going to be "redeveloped" ie demolished to "replace the current building with a taller structure that may incorporate commercial and residential spaces," tenants are left to determine what they're to do next.

The story about the impending closure of Art Central might be breaking to Metro News today, but tenants here have known about this since late January when were told in a meeting that the building was slated for redevelopment. Though I suspected that something significant might happen eventually (rumours were certainly afoot) I wasn't prepared for the immediacy conveyed in a statement by the VP recommending "look for your alternatives now while you can." 

In response to the media queries that I have received about Art Central's impending closure, I would like to state that the story here isn't about big vs little, corporate vs arts. The concept had failed long before these new developments. 

My work and my life have been intricately woven with Art Central for eight years. Now, facing its closure has been somewhat like having a loved one with a terminal illness. After the initial relief that it will soon have a resolution to its misery comes time to grieve for what is lost and what might have been. 

I've been quite depressed about the news; it has been hard not to picture my beautiful studio in a pile of rubble. At first there were days when I stood at my doorstep at home, unable to motivate myself for the walk to work. On one hand I didn't want to be reminded that Art Central could be demolished; on the other hand I didn't want to waste any time away... So I did what I usually do when faced with a problem: I set out to solve it. I am happy to say that I have found a contender that is somewhat different from my current studio, but it inspired me the moment I walked in. Now, rather than imagining endings, I am looking forward to new beginnings and the potential of this new location. I look forward to chronicling that adventure when the time comes.

It has been difficult not to share this news with you until now—my wonderful community of supporters here on the blog and Twitter. I know I have your support as UPPERCASE moves forward and continues to flourish.

Please also support the other tenants at Art Central. For those with galleries and retail, it has been difficult. They remain open for your business!

Publishing books and a quarterly magazine has been far more challenging and exhilarating and fulfilling than I could have dreamed. I am very lucky to be doing what I do.

Thank you.

Onward and upward!

-Janine

As I left for home yesterday, I paused to take this panoramic iPhone picture of UPPERCASE headquarters (mess and all!) Click to view it larger.

As I left for home yesterday, I paused to take this panoramic iPhone picture of UPPERCASE headquarters (mess and all!) Click to view it larger.

creative calgary: Esker Foundation

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Last week, Erin and I had the opportunity to meet with the folks at the Esker Foundation. I had heard good things about this new gallery in Calgary's Inglewood community, but hadn't yet had the chance to visit. We were in awe of the fantastic architecture as soon as we entered the building's atrium and not prepared at how spacious and dramatic the fourth-floor Esker Foundation Gallery truly is.

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From their website: "The Esker Foundation is the creation of local philanthropists and art patrons Jim and Susan Hill, and is the largest, privately funded, non-commercial gallery of its kind in Calgary. Esker is positioned as a cultural platform for innovative and exceptional temporary art exhibitions and educational events.

As the cornerstone of a new mixed use building in historic Inglewood, the Atlantic Avenue Art Block, the gallery features 15,000 square feet of environmentally controlled purpose built exhibition space designed by Kasian Architects and Interior Designers and operates within a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver accredited standards master plan created by Abugov Kaspar Architects."

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Our meeting was within the suspended nest which was perhaps the most architecturally interesting place I've ever attended a meeting. Throughout the space there were great views of Calgary and the Inglewood neighbourhood. We also enjoyed the excellent exhibition of Landon Mackenzie's large scale paintings and smaller drawings.

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Make a visit to the Esker top on your list next time you're in Inglewood... they're open every day except Monday and admission is completely free.

warmer climes: Art Basel Miami!

Adam Adach: Gymnastes

Adam Adach: Gymnastes

Guest Post by Rose Zgodzinski

Over the past decade Art Basel Miami has evolved into a contemporary art extravaganza and It will launch its 11th season this year on Dec 6th to 9th in the Miami area.

Originally established in 1970 as a way to showcase contemporary art in Europe as Art Basel (Switzerland), Art Basel Miami Beach was set up in 2002 as a sister show to forge stronger geographic links with art enthusiasts in the Americas.

The art festivities during Art Basel week are a visual feast with the Art Basel Fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center the main course. 260 international galleries and over 2000 artists will be showing 20th and 21st century art.

But there is much more on the menu in Miami over the next few days—so far I have counted 23 additional Art Fairs, 16 in the city and 7 on the beach. Because so many art people are in town over the course of Art Basel, a profusion of Art Fairs have sprouted into existence in Miami’s nearby art districts.

If you’ve never visited this part of the world before, the art deco hotels on the beach, some of which will be hosting Art Fairs, are also tour-worthy

It’s not just the added boost of the Florida sun that makes this event so invigorating. It’s great to be able to recharge the creative batteries and all this non-stop art just makes you want to get back to the studio and dig in.

I’m happy to be offering a taste by sharing my impressions and photos of Art Basel Miami over the next few days.

Bon Appetite!

Alex Katz: Sharon

Alex Katz: Sharon

Alexander Ross: Summer III

Alexander Ross: Summer III

Alexandre da Cunha: 1623100812

Alexandre da Cunha: 1623100812

London: open studios at Cockpit Arts

Francisca Prieto emailed to let us know about her new work and open house at her studio in Cockpit Yard, London, November 30 – December 2 . I had the pleasure of meeting Francisca earlier this year on my trip to the London Book fair and Meet and Greet at Ray Stitch. Stay tuned for a post about Francisca coming up later today.

For details about the open house visit the Cockpit Arts website—it's a great site, nicely designed with plenty of information and links to discover.

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Another documentary photography project on Kickstarter now is Carlie Armstrong, based in Portland, Oregon. "Last year, I began a project detailing the work spaces of Portland-based artists and craftspeople, a project called work.place. The project is absolutely, 100% film and is currently on hiatus while I seek funding to continue onwards as a film-based work." Carlie's Kickstarter campaign needs a boost to secure funding.

The photos shown here are from Hinged Strung Stitched, a bookbindery.

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.

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.

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.

dutch design freak

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I am taking so many photos that I can't keep pace here on the blog! So although I'm back the hotel after a nice Meet and Greet and Athenaeum (thank you Reny and Anneke and everyone who came through the rain!), these photos are from Eindhoven. In the atrium adjacent to the Art Hotel was the Dutch Design Freak exhibition. Some highlights:

Envelope Book

Envelope Book

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Jurianne Matter

Jurianne Matter

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Label Aleph

Label Aleph

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.

Piet Hein Eek

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The repurposed industrial complex where Hello Etsy was held is the property of Dutch furniture designer Piet Hein Eek. Housing his design, manufacturing and showroom along with ample exhibition spaces as well as other artist ateliers, a shop and a restaurant, the Piet Hein Eek complex is a place one could spend considerable time observing and learning, let alone doing and making. I can't describe how amazing Piet Hein Eek's studio is, so I will let the pictures speak. (Click on the images to view them larger.)

The photos below are from the shop and showroom. The number of people going through and visiting the Dutch Design Week exhibition stops was impressive!

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Piet Hein Eek spoke about his process and approach to making and selling his furniture. I wanted to purchase his 500 page Boek but at 2kg, it was best not to have to carry it around.

Piet Hein Eek spoke about his process and approach to making and selling his furniture. I wanted to purchase his 500 page Boek but at 2kg, it was best not to have to carry it around.