UPPE RCASE for the creative and curious
THE CALLIGRAPHY & LETTERING ISSUE
This is a print magazine. Yes, I realize you’re looking at a digital version, but the print run for this issue, originally published in October 2014, has been sold out for some time. This calligraphy and lettering-themed issue was particularly popular and it’s a shame that it is out of print. Since I can’t afford to reprint old issues (I have to spend on producing the next one), I thought I’d try an experiment and offer this issue as a digital version. Please note that the page design was designed for print, so if anything looks too small you can simply zoom in. You can also click on the links to learn more about the profiled artists and their work. Future issues of the magazine will continue to be exclusively print. I will only consider making back issues available as a digital versions once the print version is sold out in my shop and at stockists worldwide. I hope you enjoy the terrific content featured in this digital issue. And if you’re knew to UPPERCASE, I encourage you to subscribe to the ink-on-paper version! Thank you.
THOUGHTS OR SUGGESTIONS?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WELCOME A message from Janine Vangool
Dear Reader, There’s nothing quite so intimate as a personal message expressed in calligraphy. It’s dramatic, tactile, sensuous... one can imagine the sound of the nib scratching across the tooth of the paper.
UPPERCASE a magazine for the creative and curious
Even removed from its writer, the message is embued with its creator’s personality. The art of calligraphy encompasses everything that we love about the handmade: despite there being distinct styles and techniques for writing, there is always a trace of the person who penned the message. For this special calligraphy and lettering issue of U P P E R CA S E , I set out to contrast the colourful spectrum we explored an issue prior in #22 with a palette that is more restricted—but no less exciting! Black and white and its appealing contrast is a timeless palette in design. Also in this issue, we look to the visual language of heraldry (crests, shields, emblems) and discover how contemporary identity is influenced by this tradition—and how modern artists and designers are inspired by heraldry to create new stories today. Yours in creativity,
JA N I N E VA N G O O L publisher, editor, designer
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UPPERCASE publishes books and magazines for the creative and curious: products that spark the imagination and inspire creativity. The magazine was founded in 2009 by publisher, editor and designer Janine Vangool who continues to wear pretty much every hat imaginable. The quarterly print magazine is loved by over 5,000 subscribers around the world. Truly an independent magazine, UPPERCASE is supported by its readers through subscriptions and by a roster of stockists.
Joi n our new slette r for free con ten t, bon us art icles and beh ind -th e-s cen es peeks at the ma gaz ine :
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UPPERCASE / 3
23 COLLAGE BY S H E L L E Y DAV I E S shelleysdavies.com
OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014
W E LCO M E
6 Masthead Contributors 7
S N I P P E TS
10 Trend Black and White
30 A RT & DESIGN 30
Art Eyes Wide Open Anna Church by Christina Crook
36 Ephemera Victorian Crests
12 Blog Beautiful So Shall Work
38 Collection Souvenir Spoons by Holly Hutchinson
14 Abecedary A Heraldic Abecedary by Jonathan Shipley
40 Discover Heraldry by Jonathan Shipley
16 Beginnings David Salinas by Adrienne Breaux
Illustration Depth to the Flatness Raymond Biesinger by Correy Baldwin
Dynamic Duo Tag Team Tompkins by Christina Crook photos by Ana Reinert
Library Black and White (and Read All Over) by Nikki Sheppy
CA L L I G RA P H Y & LETTERING S P EC I A L
Intro words by Joy Deneen photo Maybelle ImasaStukuls and Brooke Holm
Talent Master Penman Jake Weidmann by Joy Deneen photos by Jennifer Little and Jake Weidmann
56 Cover Artist Seb Lester 58 Joy Deneen 60 Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls
P L AC E S/ S PAC E S
Field Trip The signmakers at Honest Ed’s by Christopher Rouleau photos by Becca Gilgan
Studio Painter Leslie Lewis Sigler by Vinciane de Pape photos by Cara Robbins
C RA F T
102 Stitch Bookhou text and photos by Arounna Khounnoraj
62 Erica McPhee 64 Pietro Piscitelli
ST Y L E
66 Barbara Calzolari
Stylist The House of Cardboard story by Jane Audas photos by Dosshaus
70 Molly Jacques
24 Business Herald Your Brand by Courtney Eliseo
72 Lesson Calligraphy Tips from the experts
26 Type Letraset by Carolyn Fraser
110 Hobby Capturing Shadows by Brendan Harrison
73 Reader Submissions Calligraphy Auditions: The Talent of Our Readers
68 Neil Tasker
Visit Paris has Calligraphy at its Heart by Canan Marasligil photos by Erinç Salor
88 Sketchbook Claire Coullon
M I SC .
112 Subscriber Profiles 113 Feed Sacks 114 Covet Letter Love by Andrea Jenkins
CHRISTINA LUO VA N C O U V E R , B C , CA N A DA
Christina Luo is a freelance calligraphy and lettering artist. She currently lives in a cozy apartment by False Creek with her partner, Michael, and spends her days drinking tea, eating seafood and gathering inspiration from the everyday.
U P P E R C A S E M AG A Z I N E “ F O R T H E C R E AT I V E A N D C U R I O U S ” J A N I N E VA N G O O L
publisher, editor, designer email@example.com C U S TO M E R S E R V I C E
subscriptions, wholesale, online shop firstname.lastname@example.org GLEN DRESSER
writer, development email@example.com CORREY BALDWIN
CANAN MARASLIGIL is a writer, literary translator, editor and curator living in Amsterdam. She explores the worlds of literature and comics, especially looking for their link with other art forms and developing activities for festivals, schools and online. She is generally curious, travels a lot and loves working with paper and textiles. cananmarasligil.com
JONATHAN SHIPLEY is a freelance writer living in Seattle. His family crest is of Scottish descent— the Duncan Clan—whose motto is “We Suffer.” Jonathan suffers from bouts of writer’s block from time to time, but mostly writes happily about history, arts and culture. thefatherroad.com
A R T I C L E PAT R O N S
Thank you for your generosity in supporting original content! E VA S C H R O E D E R RONNIE CHEE C O N T R I B U TO R S J A N E A U DA S CORREY BALDWIN ADRIENNE BREAUX CHRISTINA CROOK V I N C I A N E D E PA P E GLEN DRESSER B R E N DA N H A R R I S O N ANDREA JENKINS TA R A O ’ B R A DY NIKKI SHEPPY A D D I T I O N A L C O N T R I B U TO R S Seb Lester, Shelley Davies, Jonathan Shipley, Courtney Eliseo, Holly Hutchinson, Ana Reinert, Joy Deneen, Emilie Iggiotti, Lisa Renault, Michael Deneen, Brooke Holm, Jennifer Little, Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, Mariana Garcia-Katz, Erica McPhee, Pietro Piscitelli, Barbara Calzolari, Neil Tasker, Molly Jacques, Canan Marasligil, Erinç Salor, Christopher Rouleau, Becca Gilgan, Arounna Khounnoraj. Thank you to everyone who submitted their beautiful work to the Calligraphy Auditions—I wish I had more pages!
Printed in Canada by The Prolific Group. The interior paper is made from 100% post-consumer recycled stock.
UPPERCASE 201B – 908, 17TH AVE SW CALGARY, ALBERTA CANADA T2T 0A3
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CHRISTOPHER ROULEAU is a graphic designer and letterer in Toronto. When he’s not planning an event for Ligatures (his local typography club), Christopher is out looking for antique lettering samples around the city or hanging out with his two cats. He’s got a thing for simple, geometric typefaces of the 1940s-1950s, as well as old-fashioned lettering guides, eye charts, maps and more. christopherrouleau.com CHRISTINA CROOK is a sister to seven and a mother of three young children. Her experiment of unplugging from the Internet for a month led to some deep insight, a TEDx talk and a forthcoming book, Digital Detox: Rethinking Our Lives Online — Cultivating a rich inner and outer existence in the 21st century, which will be released this fall. christinacrook.com
JANE AUDAS is a London-based freelance creative digital producer—essentially producing digital things that work and look good. Her blog is a compilation of mostly vintage and always curious selection objects and musings about them. shelfappeal.com
CORREY BALDWIN is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in Montreal, where he plays the banjo, bakes sourdough bread, blogs about politics and explores the outdoors whenever he can. He is the copyeditor for UPPERCASE magazine and an editor-at-large with the Media Co-op. correybaldwin.com
ADRIENNE BREAUX is a writer and photographer and regular contributor to UPPERCASE magazine. She is also the weekend editor of Apartment Therapy. While you’re reading this, there’s at least an 80% chance that she’s watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. “I have it on so often, if you closed your eyes, you’d think you were on the bridge of the Enterprise instead of in my studio.” adriennebreaux.com
Subscribe! Each issue of this magazine is a labour of love: love for print as a medium and love of creativity as a way life. If you love what you see in this issue, please subscribe online today. We’re reader-supported by kindred spirits like you. G ET I N VO LV E D W I T H U P P E R CAS E
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UPPERCASE collaborated with They Draw & Travel on a contest. The challenge: “Draw a map of the creative and curious places and sights in the vicinity of where you live or where you grew up. What are the quirky or unusual things that make it so inspiring?” Natalie Bochenska’s winning entry is shown above. Let’s get to know her:
was born and raised in Poland. When I was 17, life took me across the ocean all the way to Canada. Toronto is the place I call home now, the place where I live, love, learn, work and create, with a little help from my black kitty cat, Yoszi, who is often featured in my illustrations. I am going into my third year at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. Before attending university I received fine arts diplomas at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design as well as the Toronto School of Art. I have two more years before graduation, as it is a 8 / UPPERCASE
four-year Bachelor of Design program, and I am thrilled to start working on my thesis project. I would like to continue working as a freelancer, however I plan to apply to graduate school and complete a master’s in children’s book illustration in London, England. I believe that childhood is the most important part of a person’s life, and I would like to help the little ones see the world a little differently. Besides, I am a child at heart, surrounded by cute, stuffed animals and full of a sweet naivety and delight.
My medium of choice is ink and watercolour, or graphite and coloured pencils. Digital technology is also crucial in perfecting my work. My colour palette, which consists of black and white with dominant reds, is something I’ve developed slowly over the years. When I first started painting it was an intuitive choice, but later on I discovered that I could use it to give my work an emotional impact. I am a minimalist by choice. My lifestyle directly inspires my work. Red brightens my soft greys and adds life to each piece. To me, poppy red represents perseverance, strength, freedom and the power of human love to bring meaning to our often grey and over-complicated lives. Simplicity and freedom are what I strive for every day. I carefully plan my outfits just like how I prepare when I am about to paint: black skirts and shoes, and red shirts and decorative accents. Such an aesthetic creates a professional and edgy look but also feels familiar and safe.
the typewriter A richly illustrated book full of never-before published typewriter memorabilia and intriguing historical documents, The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine is a beautiful ode to an all-but-obsolete creative companion. This book is a labour of love that UPPERCASE editor Janine Vangool has been obsessing over for two years. Thank you to everyone who crowdfunded the printing and have ordered books. Flip through the book at: uppercasetypewriter.com shop.uppercasemagazine.com
London-based designer and illustrator Andrew Fox is living proof that when inspiration strikes, creativity is key. While living in Barcelona, Andrew found himself wanting to draw but without anything at hand. He borrowed a calligraphy pen and, constrained by a lack of colour, created minimalist drawings of animals using only a few strokes each. The drawings soon became a success and the collection grew to include robots, beetles and even sex positions. be.net/afox ANDREA MARVAN
Printmaker Linda Farquharson draws on motifs and inspiration distilled from a childhood growing up on an Aberdeenshire farm. Her work reflects a time when rural life was marked by tradition, such as the farming and church calendars punctuated by festivals and picnics, ponies and local seaside holidays. Her linocut work combines precision and individuality with the graphic appeal. The Lino Bird special edition book shown here is presented in a hand-made box.
STUDENT ELOISE ADLER EXPLORES DESIGN POSSIBILITIES INSPIRED BY 175 YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHY. After a week of work experience at Black+White Photography magazine in January 2013, and with aspirations of a career in editorial design and a strong interest in photography, I created a special edition issue of Black+White Photography for my final year project: B+W 175. The special edition celebrates the 175th anniversary of the invention of photography through exploring the work of contemporary photographers using historical photographic processes. The content of the magazine is a mixture of past articles from the magazine as well as several of my own first-hand interviews with photographers. I wanted to explore the possibilities of the printed medium: the cover, for example, features one of Fox Talbot’s “photogenic drawings” and is screen printed using gold photochromic ink—when exposed to sunlight, the image develops on the page. I also used different paper stocks and red reveal printing to give readers a sense of the tactility of the images (being analogue images, they all have a physicality that digital images do not have), as well as to create interest and intrigue. ELOISE ADLER
eloiseadler.co.uk UPPERCASE / 9
From the bold to the delicate, the high contrast appeal of black and white never goes out of style.
Using a variety of mediums, from oil to acrylic to watercolour to ink, designer and illustrator Kim Johnson makes graphic marks with her ongoing series of abstract paintings. Kim’s prints are available from Minted. minted.com/storefront/kimjohnson
MARION LANE Marion Lane’s paintings have a visually kinetic effect and dimensional interest. Her skilful technique of pouring liquid paint on panel creates a nice tension between order and the unpredictable.
marionlane.com MORE B+W For more black-andwhite inspiration, follow our Pinterest board.
pinterest.com/ uppercasemag/ black-and-white
MELANIE LOUISE ADAMS “My inspiration comes from the unusual and sometimes very ordinary things. I am constantly inspired by my love for geometric shapes, proportion, form and colour, and hope to successfully express these inspirations through my surface pattern designs.”
thursdayschild79.tumblr.com 10 / U P P E R C A S E
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TA F U I
SO SHALL WORK soshallwork.com
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so shall work T E X T A N D A R T W O R K B Y TA F U I PHOTOS BY JO REID
My name is Tafui—pronounced Taf-Wii, like the video game console if you’re English or Japanese, or Taf-oui, like the word “yes” if you’re French. I am from Kingston, Jamaica, and I pretty much decided at the age of 10 that I was going to be an artist and have locks when I grew up. I took art all throughout high school and I loved it so much that I would occasionally draw my friends’ homework for them. After high school, I moved to Montreal thinking I would study fine art and become a painter, but Montreal had more in store for me. In my final year of college I took a graphic design class and discovered Photoshop on a Mac. It was just like painting, but with a mouse instead of a brush—I was hooked. Around the same time I heard about the Design Art program at Concordia and thought that I would apply, without knowing that they only accepted 23 out of 2,000 applicants each year. Studying design as an art form took me into another world that I had never thought about. The program didn’t put any limitations on what you could do because you were exposed to almost every area of design. They introduced us to all the disciplines of design: interior, furniture, product, print, web and a whole lot of studio art. Because of that, I never really saw the division between art and design, and to some degree I still don’t. I took advantage of as many studio classes as I possibly could and really fell in love with fibre arts and printmaking—I felt they really complimented my other projects. In my final year I began to merge all the disciplines. Somewhere between the silk and computer screen and being covered with sparks from the arc welder or wood dust from a table saw stood me—Tafui. I had finally found myself and all the joy that comes with that. Shortly after university my grandmother passed away, and I went back to Jamaica to say goodbye to her. There’s something about that place that makes you fall in love every
time. I figured I would stay a while and I handed out a few copies of my CD-ROM portfolio (remember those?), which I had spent thousands of hours building in Macromedia Director. I soon got hired as the art director of one of Jamaica’s top advertising agencies and was in charge of rebranding huge brands like American Airlines, British Airways, Nestlé and Scotiabank. I started painting again to get my mind off the stresses of the job. I found solace with every brush stroke—so much so that I quickly found myself with enough work for an exhibition. The first show I took part in was a success—I sold all of my work, and almost every show I did after that was the same! During this time I received an offer to lecture at the University of the West Indies in their media department. I quickly jumped at this opportunity because teaching was uncharted territory for me and I thought it would give me more time to spend on my art and personal projects. I was humbled by how well my work was received. I had regular patrons who would purchase my work for their private and public collections. I represented Jamaica in various international art exhibitions. In 2005, I moved back to Canada and settled in Ottawa, where I worked as a freelance art director and lectured in design and branding at a local college. I had no time to do personal work and soon stopped painting altogether. I was going through a creative drought and I would often go to the Internet for inspiration. As a former educator, I’d ask my second-year design students who their favourite Canadian designer was—and would only get silence. So I set out on a year-long process of collecting and documenting creative Canadians. We just passed that year-long process and now I showcase designers and artists that I love on the So Shall Work blog. It’s also a means of communicating with other creatives, because everyone needs a little encouragement now and then, especially artists, as we have to deal
K AT R I N A WA L C O T T with a lot of rejection of our work. We all have our bad days when we doubt ourselves, and if my blog makes one person’s day a bit brighter, then my job is done. Occasionally the blog is a group effort. Joslyn, aka Jo, my hubby, is a photographer and takes photos while I do artist interviews and scope out local shops for our Ottawa city guide. We often collaborate with still-life photography for the blog, too. My niece, Kat, contributes, too. I wanted to use the blog as a way to bond with her because I was away for most of her tween life. Now that she is busy writing for various publications, she mainly transcribes my artist interviews and edits blog copy. For the longest while I didn’t share my work online because I didn’t really like the interface of a lot of the available mediums, which was a mistake. Now I share my work online because it’s really the new cinema, gallery and magazine, and it’s the best way of getting my work across to like-minded people. I really learned a lot from blogging on a daily basis. Even though I mainly blog about other creatives, the process has allowed me to see my own progress. I started So Shall Work at a low point in my creative life and it has helped me more that I ever thought it would. tafui.is tafui.com instagram.com/tafui U P P E R C A S E / 13
A H E R A L D I C A B E C E DA R Y B Y J O N AT H A N S H I P L E Y
ARMS The heraldic bearings of an individual, family or corporate entity.
A Chief B Dexter C Sinister D Base E
A band or stripe that runs horizontally across a shield.
A basic division of a shield, shaped like a rafter.
G Sinister Chief
H Honour Point
ESCUTCHEON A shield or shield-like figure.
M Middle Base
The use of birds with outstretched wings.
A broad, horizontal band across the centre of a shield.
The heraldic term for the colour red.
The science of coat armour and allied heraldic trappings.
KNOT The bearing or figure of a knot represented on a shield. JESSANT-DE-LIS
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A method of conjoining two separate coats of arms on one shield.
With a fleur-de-lis issuing from the mouth and head.
LOZENGE A diamond shape on a shield.
Two metallic colours are used in heraldry: gold (or) or silver (argent).
A form of waves.
QUARTER One quarter of the face of a shield, produced by dividing the shield vertically and horizontally through the centre. The first quarter is the most important.
PALE A vertical stripe running through the centre of a shield.
SEJANT A seated four-footed beast.
Generic term for a simple geometrical figure, bounded by straight lines and running from side to side or top to bottom on the shield.
TINCTURE The general designation for colours, metals and furs.
UNGULED Hooved beasts such as horses (and unicorns).
VOLANT Heraldic term for flying. DEXTER The right-hand side of a shield. YEUX The heraldic term for eyes in a crest or shield.
WYVERN A two-legged dragon.
BEZANT A gold circle. U P P E R C A S E / 15
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TYPOGRAPHY AND COFFEE
DAVID SALINAS The six things illustrator David Salinas does that lets him follow his passions (and make a living at it).
escribing 36-year-old David Salinas’ career succinctly is no easy task. A freelance illustrator specializing in product design and branding, his talent for typography is apparent when scrolling through his popular Instagram account @flatteryleadstoruin , which is full of images of intricately detailed, hand-drawn words. But typography makes up only part of his passions. He’s also a coffee enthusiast and the creative director of Coffer, the world’s first naturally carbonated cold brew coffee. He keeps his brewing skills sharp as a barista at a coffee pub in South Austin, Texas. His love of typography and coffee intersect in The Department of Brewology, an ongoing series of art prints exploring the art and science of brewing. He even runs an online clothing line called Enthos. If you’re wondering when he rests, he jokes that he sleeps at red lights. Though his job description may seem complicated, his secrets to crafting a career that matches his passions are simple . . .
STORY AND PHOTOS BY ADRIENNE BREAUX
U P P E R C A S E / 17
1 He pays attention to detail. His childhood bedroom’s walls were covered in baseball team posters, but not because he loved the game. “I was enamoured by their branding, logos and cohesive colour palettes. In reality I thoroughly loathed sports and couldn’t sit through a single baseball game if you’d paid me,” David admits.
2 He follows what he loves. His parents, both missionaries raising a family on a tight budget, supported their budding artist by gifting 12-yearold David tools to help him chase his inspiration. “We were always on a shoestring budget, so when my parents bought me a drafting table and T-square it blew my mind,” he says. “At that point I knew what I wanted to do. It was a defining moment in my life.” Fast forward to college at the University of Texas–Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, where David was an art major at a school that didn’t have a very involved graphic design program. Still, he noticed the school’s resources and took full advantage of his access to their printing press, often staying past midnight experimenting and creating. “Most of my classmates were really into clubbing; I was really into printing,” says David.
3 He’s not afraid to follow another path or passion if something does not, at first, pan out. He didn’t immediately land a job in the design field when he graduated, so he turned from the printing press to the coffee press, working as a barista for nearly eight years. But David’s passion for precision and pursuit of perfection never wavered. “The meticulous craft of brewing coffee is met by the fluctuating and often elusive nature of coffee itself,” he says. “After all we’re not dealing with plastic, we’re dealing with produce. It’s seasonal, it ebbs and flows. It’s definitely an active pursuit, much like bird watching—it requires a good investment of time and patience but every once in a while you’ll spot that proverbial saffron-crowned tanager and it will change you for months.” David continued to pursue freelance design work (mostly with bands) while brewing, and started the Enthos clothing line as well. As his freelance clients piled up and the online clothing line took off, he was able to hang up the barista apron, be his own boss and focus on brand development and product design. For a while anyway. 18 / U P P E R C A S E
“For a good five years, things were steady. I was finally making a decent living,” David says. “Then the recession hit. Bands toured less and didn’t require merchandise designs as frequently. Businesses put less into marketing materials and advertising. My workload thinned out substantially. It was a bewildering milestone—all of a sudden I had a lot of time on my hands. So I returned to my drafting table, so to speak.”
4 He’s not afraid to study— and practice—the skills of talented people. Once back on the drafting table, David found typographic inspiration in designers like Herb Lubalin, Dana Tanamachi and Drew Melton, enthusiastically diving into the hand-drawn world. “I momentarily set aside my MacBook for a season and drew and drew and drew,” he says. “I wasn’t designing much for clients, so most of it was personal. I began documenting my progress on Instagram, and people have been very kind and supportive.” “Very kind and supportive” is an understatement. Click on any image of David’s hand-drawn, impossibly detailed words and you’ll see incredulous comments from admirers, like “insane,” “unreal” and “I quit.” Studying good design is one thing, but David actually puts his pen to paper. He estimates he spends around eight to ten hours a day working on hand-drawn typography, as well as about one hour a day “honing in on an optimum extraction yield” (brewing coffee).
5 He can take inspiration from anywhere. David doesn’t limit himself to only finding inspiration in other typographers. Artists, quilters, fly fishermen, taxidermists, culinary knife masters and others who have thrown themselves completely into their creative passions have all inspired David. It’s not just the beauty of a craft that inspires, it’s the discipline, attention to detail and precision. But then of course there are the more specific, typography-related things that directly influence his work. “The first time I saw an old insurance map illustrated by the Sanborn Maps company, it filled me with despair,” says David. “It took about a month to recover from the woe, inadequacy and self-loathing induced by that piece of art. I was smitten by the stunning amount of detail that they honed with profound precision, unencumbered by the use of modern technology, just a pen and ruler. I was enamoured, and since then have made my own humble attempts at such feats.”
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MORE THINGS DAVID DOES RIGHT HE USES THE RIGHT TOOLS. “I use a Dietzgen drafting tool set, an array of Micron pens and 28-pound paper, and I recently acquired a Vemco drafting arm. Before the advent of AutoCAD, architects would use these mechanical arms mounted at a right angle with an articulated protractor head that allows angular rotation. This tool is immensely useful for the type of converging lines I’m able to accomplish in my shadowing effects.” HE ABSORBS GREAT WORK FROM GREAT PEOPLE. “I greatly enjoy the work of incredibly talented illustrators like Nathan Yoder, Drew Melton, Zachary Smith and Joshua Minnich. Kevin Cantrell also utilizes a motif similar to the Sanborn Maps company. He takes it to another level. That guy’s work blows me away.” HE APPRECIATES GOOD CLIENTS. “I’ve really come to value good clients: people who value an honest day’s work. Over the years I’ve really grown to enjoy and greatly appreciate them.”
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6 He recognizes he still has a lot to learn. Few are really willing to talk about the phenomenon of “making it” to a certain level of success but still not feeling successful. It can seem like there are too many talented people out there to count, and that there’s so much more you can learn. David can relate: “I could easily name a dozen other illustrators whose work is so awfully amazing it makes me want to burn all my sketch pads and stab my eyes out with my mechanical pencils.” We’ve probably all had similar thoughts. The trick to not stabbing your eyes out? Turning those burning feelings of insecurity and jealousy into motivation—to keep brewing the next cup of coffee, hand-drawing the next word, weaving the next rug, painting the next piece of art or whatever it is that gets your creativity flowing. It’s about following and practising what you love. Your job description (or career trajectory) doesn’t have to be so black and white. “Do what you love,” says David, “and it will lead you to where you want to be.” dribbble.com/anchorandbuffalo
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Pictures of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio, 980-1980 These books go to extraordinary lengths to push and twist what we think we know about sound, vision and language. RECOMMENDED READING BY NIKKI SHEPPY
Bee ROSE-LYNN FISHER PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS
It’s a truism that the closer you look, the more complex the view becomes. Rose-Lynn Fisher gets into mesmerizing proximity with her tiny subjects, taking photographs of bees dusted in gold under a scanning electron microscope. In 126 pages and some 60 black-and-white photographs, she examines in stunning detail the specialized anatomical design of the apian body. The bee is ideally made to encounter a world that is strategically baited with attractants by species intent on furthering their own procreation. Its structures are purposebuilt for its work: for gathering pollen; for transferring propolis; for discerning light, contrast and floral markings; and for licking royal pheromones from the queen bee, the better to understand her bidding. The drone’s eye contains thousands of extra lenses, so that he can more ably chase the queen during the mating flight. These images transform what we think we know of the humble bee, revealing its intricate design and alluring textures. Up close, it is horned, bristling, layered, feathery, fringed, hinged, segmented and “externally cactused.” It is bladed, faceted and notched. It wears pollen rakes and sports hexagonal compound eyes and a wiry glossa (tongue). Photos reveal the anchoring barbs of the stinger and the delicate folds of the propodeum. In the foreword, Verlyn Klinkenborg describes the queen as “cosseted, spoon-fed, but really a prisoner of her ovaries, closely guarded, held to her task, doomed to be the victim of a kind of reproductive regicide by laying herself to death over the years.” Yet she both creates and calls the tune. Among the images are portraits of Beatrice and Sabine, which showcase the intricate, fuzzy beauty of the two queens, wielding honed mandibles, sensing signals with antennae, looking with hairy eyes.
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PATRICK FEASTER DUST-TO-DIGITAL
In Pictures of Sound, ethnomusicologist Patrick Feaster plays images. He treats the inscription of music (graphical notations of sound waves and other eccentric visualizations) like the technology in which the sound is stored. Think of the picture of music as something more akin to a sound recording (like a vinyl record, wax cylinder or compact disc) than to a conventional score, because Feaster uses it not for interpretation by musicians, but for actual playback. From these pictures, he “educes” (draws out, elicits) the audio just as it was encrypted. Sources include spectrograms of human speech and bird calls, melographic inscriptions, oscillograms, tonotechic notage of musical cylinders and the like. Some of them are downright strange. Feaster plays back 19th-century manometric flame-sketches produced by precisely capturing changes in flames in response to sound, German speech-depicters inscribing microscopic waveforms, telegraphic dots and phonophotographic inscriptions. In each case, he devises a way to educe the sounds that each one has meticulously codified, reproducing vocal patterns and performance styles, musical attacks and decay times, and the sonic ornaments of long-dead performers. Some of the pieces he resurrects would otherwise be lost or predate modern recording technology. The oldest is in 10th-century Dasein, a seven-tone, equal-tempered choral scale. To give a sense of what this all sounds like, the book comes with a 28-track audio CD of music educed from the “scores” discussed in the chapters. These are haunting, even irritating, pieces that emit ghostly music, voices and hissing. But considering that one of them is a political speech educed not from a gramophone disc itself, but rather from the image of the now-lost disc, reproduced in an 1898 print advertisement, it is quite impressive.
The Institute for Species Systemization: An Experimental Archive PATRICIA ROSE RESCUE PRESS
Head Institute for Species Systemization (ISS) researcher Patricia Rose is a psycholinguist and the invented avatar of Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Danielle Rosen. Her book describes experiments in social and linguistic behaviour, pattern recognition and interspecies relationships. Can people understand other people? Can they understand other species? Just how adept are they as communicators? Rose’s psychological testing sites resemble both art galleries and Skinner Boxes: they are theatrical conditioning chambers that treat and exhibit people like lab animals in a pseudo-scientific performance space. Remember those experiments that deliberately deprived rhesus monkeys of maternal solace, then pitilessly watched them to see how they coped? Rose models her work on such precedents. In “Zoosemiotic Translation,” she tests her subjects’ ability to detect and decipher language patterns in other species, concluding that most human test subjects are woefully unable to decode the characteristic waggle dance of the honeybee unless also furnished with a descriptive label. She goes on to assess human linguistic associations, outlawing grammatical and spelling mistakes, while inviting jokes, puns, rhymes, flippancy and non-compliance. It’s delightfully bad science all around, rife with methodological error and math that doesn’t add up. You’d think she wasn’t a scientist at all. . . . Despite the evidence Rose presents—photographs, diagrams, surveys and data sets—her conclusions seem unjustified by the haphazard, hazily relevant data that precedes them. If anything, her work seems designed to inflate the subjective conclusions, biases and confusions of both the participants and the researcher, making the communication and relational barriers of the testing itself her true subject. This is interspecies psycholinguistics at its deadpan silliest.
Photobooth: A Biography MEAGS FITZGERALD CONUNDRUM PRESS
There is a special pleasure in a graphic novel that documents the history of photobooths, because it rejects the authoritative realism of the photographic medium, even as it celebrates and eulogizes it. Lighting, framing and other manipulations aside, photos do record in light what stands before them. Yet in this love letter to a nearly bygone technology, Meags Fitzgerald turns to the expressive medium of illustration. Fitzgerald imbues the narrative parts of the book with a gentle colloquialism, recounting her childhood discovery of the booths, gleeful teenaged posing, and art school burning and embroidery of the photo strips. Later she travels the world, discovering new machines and meeting fellow disciples in the booth movement. Interspersed are episodes in the history of photobooths, from their introduction in 1889 with the appareil de photographie automatique, through to their present-day endangerment. Readers tour booths from different eras, consider vintage photo strips and study the inner mechanisms that produced fully automated photographs, both before and after the advent of digital photography. The story is laced with the antics of many characters, among them inventors, fanatics, surrealists, Al Capone and Andy Warhol. The book brims with technical, cultural and personal history. Fitzgerald reports on the role of the booths in passport falsification, and notes that the character of Nino in the film Amélie is based on French writer and photostrip collector Michel Folco. She also explains how the inexpensive photos had a hand in chronicling African-American social history. Throughout, there’s a busy, excited energy, even as Fitzgerald recounts living in relative poverty, and forsaking romantic relationships in favour of her love affair with the photobooth, whose extinction she races to prevent.
Herald Your Brand BY COURTNEY ELISEO
If you’ve had any involvement in the world of graphic design over the last couple of years, there is no doubt you’ve observed the popular, and still-growing, trend of badgestyle logos. At first, they may seem easily dismissible as an oversimplified solution to an often challenging design problem—not to mention tired and overdone. But I would urge you to take another look. Despite its current ubiquity, and to some extent sameness, the badge logo trend owes its popularity to a practice rooted in a rich visual history worth considering and exploiting: heraldry.
he centuries-old practice of heraldry— which is still alive and well around the globe—originated in the need to quickly identify soldiers in combat. Though it differs from country to country, traditional heraldry obeys a strict set of guidelines to ensure that the visual language is widely understood. In modern logo design, of course, these same rules don’t apply. But when it comes to badge logos, the underlying principles are drawn directly from this historical art form.
EXAMPLES DESIGN CREDITS RUTHSTEAM ADVENTURE BUDDIES A badge created for an adventurous family who wanted many outdoor elements incorporated into their logo. Design by Brian Steely.
briansteely.com PDM HEATING, PLUMBING AND COOLING PDM is a plumbing, heating and air conditioning company near Chicago. Design by Jeffrey Devey, Graphic D-Signs.
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Badges for each of the Bonobos Guideshop locations. Published in the Bonobos fall 2013 catalogue. Designed by Ed Nacional.
Learnwise is a Chicagobased company focused on creating online educational courses based on their customers’ unique needs. Design by Jay Fletcher.
ednacional.com CROSS ART STUDIO Interior design workshop of Roman Dokukin, designed by Yana Klochihina at FLAT12 Studio.
jfletcherdesign.com BARNETT BREWING A Colorado microbrewery with a nod to the Art and Crafts Movement, designed by Jared Jacob.
One of the primary advantages of this style of logo design, and its historic counterpart, is its capacity for storytelling. By combining multiple visual elements into one cohesive graphic, badge logos have the power to tell a more complex tale than a traditional, conservative logo might. Not only do you have the power of the symbols themselves to work with, but also the added layer of interaction between each element. Heraldry enabled soldiers to be immediately recognized in the chaos of combat. Using that same line of thinking, we can employ badge logos to quickly communicate the stories of our brands. They present an excellent opportunity to add a sense of culture, history and location to the visual representation of your business. If you have a unique story to tell, and feel that this treatment is a good fit for your brand, the first step is to define your narrative. What are the essential thoughts, feelings and attributes that will tell your business’ story? How do they relate? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get the ideas flowing:
The culture of your brand can mean so many things, and take on different meanings for different people. How does it play a role in your business, both inwardly and outwardly? Does your ethnic heritage play a role in your business? Do you have a unique work culture? Do you have an important company motto? Is there a significant building or architectural detail that represents your values?
Explore the history of your brand and how it came to be. Has your brand been around for decades or is it new? Did the business grow organically over time or did you intentionally keep it small? Is there a significant or influential leader who represents the brand?
How does your geography play a role? Is the product you sell or the service you provide unique to your corner of the world? Are you a small, local business with a narrow audience, or a global presence with customers worldwide?
Keep asking questions and exploring until you feel that you’ve arrived at the most essential concepts your logo should express. Then it’s time to move into the visual realm. Here are three things to consider as you begin that process:
Look at each concept individually and think about how it can be represented visually. What symbols best represent each idea and most accurately reflect your company’s personality? How would they work together? Be conscious that even an intentionally complex badge logo can get too busy. Make sure to stay as narrow as possible, to stick to the most essential ideas and to not lose sight of the goal, which is to communicate above all else.
One key characteristic of badge logos is that they are are designed within a container. Those derived closely from heraldry follow some variation on a shield shape. However, the format is open, and modern badge logos employ shapes that include everything from circles to diamonds to hexagons, and everything in between.
Being creative with stylistic details is another way to add layers of meaning to your logo. If you can tell you’re on the verge of creating a badge logo that’s too complex, try to pull back on some of the illustrative elements and add layers of meaning with stylistic choices. For example, if you are designing a logo for a business with over 100 years of history, it could incorporate vintage-inspired, weathered textures as opposed to modern, sleek and shiny gradients.
By following the suggestions above, your logo will be rooted in the historic practice of heraldry yet feel at home in the modern world—a unique combination with the potential to provide a profound storytelling experience for both you and your audience.
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LETRASET The Great Rub-down, Paste-up Days of Graphic Design T E X T B Y C A R O LY N F R A S E R
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n 1963, Beatlemania was sweeping the world. Letraset, manufacturer of dry transfer type, was floated on the London Stock Exchange. The company, though perhaps not quite as big as the Beatles, was wildly successful only two years after its establishment. In 70 countries worldwide, Letraset users were lining up letters over their work, and using either a custom burnishing tool or, more usually, the tips of expired ballpoint pens or blunt lead pencils, rubbing them against the letters to release them from their carrier sheets and adhere the letters to the work. It is no exaggeration to say that Letraset democratised typography, making well-designed type available to professionals and amateurs alike. Letraset was housed in the former Wonderloaf Bakery in London’s SE1, and though it was physically separated by the Thames from Carnaby Street, the heart of swinging London, in spirit the company was at the centre of the ’60s cultural revolution: as important to typography as the mini-skirt was to fashion, the contraceptive pill to women and rock ’n roll to everyone. Letraset had many competitors—Prestype, Chartpak, Normatype, Formatt and Zipatone, among others—all of whom designed and manufactured dry transfer type. Letraset, however, dominated the market and its brand name became eponymous with the product. During the height of the dry transfer era, skilled stencil cutters were highly sought after and moved between employers in a manner not dissimilar to sports stars traded on the open market.1
The process of making dry transfer type began with letterform stencils cut perfectly from Rubylith masking film by stencil cutters. Using the stencils, a font of letters was screenprinted in reverse on the back of a polyethylene carrier sheet and overprinted with a low-tack adhesive. Though simple, every stage of the process of both manufacture and use required skill: lining up and kerning the letter to the one that preceded it, applying just enough pressure, but not too much; making sure to lift the carrier sheet off in such a way so not to damage the delicate letter left behind. The process was frequently frustrating, not least of all when halfway through a project the user discovered that there was not enough of a required letter or a particular punctuation mark. (The company relied on frequency charts to determine how many of each letter and mark to include on each sheet, but the balance definitely tilted in Letraset’s favour.) Truly skilled practitioners developed tricks for bastardising one letter to create another. The Letraset age was an era of handwork and craftsmanship in graphic design. Before computers, the commercial artist’s tools of trade included Rapidograph pens, pasteup boards, tint blocks, wax machines and toxic adhesive sprays2. When rendering type in comps (mock-ups) or finished art before the advent of dry transfer type, commercial artists relied on printed proofs pulled from hot metal type or hand lettering. Phototypesetting was beginning to enter the marketplace in the 1960s, but it was expensive and generally produced off-site. Letraset al
lowed commercial artists to experiment with typography in-house. At first, Letraset reproduced existing typefaces designed for hot metal, but the company quickly responded to customer demand for new, innovative typefaces. At first they licensed typefaces from New York phototypesetting houses, but soon they began issuing their own, beginning with Fred Lambert’s Compacta in 1963. Before long, Letraset typefaces were everywhere. Letraset employees Dave Fahey and Colin Brignall chatted on the phone during the BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test every Sunday night, pointing out to each other uses of Letraset type on the album covers the presenter held up to the camera. Whole streetscapes were transformed by the use of Letraset typefaces on shop front fascias. Much of the bold typography that defined the psychedelic ’60s was designed by Letraset. In 1970, Letraset launched Letragraphica, a subscription service that provided new faces to design professionals every week, a boon to agencies wanting to employ the latest in cutting-edge design. In total, Letraset designed 473 original faces. U P P E R C A S E / 27
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The ease and affordability of Letraset disturbed some. In a 1981 interview, the venerable Swiss designer Josef Müller Brockmann acknowledged that Letraset saved design houses time, effort and money, but he bemoaned a loss of “typographic sensitivity” and he accused the company of lowering typographic standards. For typographers trained in the “crystal goblet” school,3 Letraset’s chutzpah and promiscuous, attention-grabbing type was an anathema. Typography, however, was no longer simply in service to communication; the medium was, in Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase, the message. The broken serifs and cracked lettering of poorly applied Letraset came to be identified with punk rock just as much as the mohawk or ear-splitting music. The company was nimble in responding to the needs of both the design professional and the high street consumer looking to make a flyer for the church fête. As it turned out, Letraset was able to comfortably coexist with hot metal and phototypesetting in an era in which the DIY ethos thrived. The real threat to traditional typography was not, in fact, dry transfer type, but a change that would disrupt and demolish everything that came before: digital typography. By the mid-1980s, the introduction of the Apple Macintosh meant that professional designers had, for the most part, moved on from hot metal, phototypesetting and Letraset. The Letraset company struggled to adapt to the changing technological landscape. Many of their original typefaces continue to exist in digital form under license to digital foundries, and the company still produces dry transfer type in 16 typefaces in various weights and sizes—useful, they suggest, for adding detail to architectural and technical drawings, product designs, prototypes, displays and presentation boards, and for hobby uses. Letraset, however, is now known predominantly for its range of high-quality illustration markers. Despite its obsolescence (or perhaps because of it), Letraset dry transfer type still inspires fans. Corners of the Internet are devoted to images of Letraset sheets, catalogues and storage systems. Commercial artists of the era wax nostalgic on forums about the pleasures and frustrations of the day-to-day handwork that created the unmistakable aesthetic of the time. In the graphic arts world, the Apple Macintosh was welcomed with open arms—it made typesetting fast, easy and flawless—but it is undeniable that something was lost. In response to Steven Heller’s article “Homage to Velvet Touch Lettering” (in the Design Observer, June 30, 2008), a reader comments, “The thing I miss most about those rub-down and paste-up days is how much time it gave you to think. We did research back then. At the library! Thought and care go together.” At its heart, the DIY ethos that flourished during the Letraset era championed autonomy, creativity, craft and attention to detail. Letraset deserves its place in the pantheon of products and technologies that genuinely made life better, richer and, in Letraset’s case, typographically more exciting.
PHOTO BY GRANT HUTCHINSON
1 Letraset’s full archive of Rubylith stencils is now housed in London’s printing and graphic arts library at the St. Bride Institute. 2 For information about these tools, see Lou Brooks’ wonderfully curated site forgottenartsupplies.com.
In 1930, Beatrice Warde delivered a famous speech titled “Printing Should Be Invisible” in which she drew metaphoric comparisons between an elaborate gold goblet 3
and typography that obscures the message it is tasked to convey, and a clear crystal goblet and “modernist” typography, whose clarity allows the truth of the text to shine forth. For further information about the history of Letraset, see Jane Lamacraft’s excellent feature “Rubdown Revolution” in Eye Magazine, no. 86, vol. 22, 2013 (eyemagazine. com/feature/article/rub-downrevolution). U P P E R C A S E / 29
ART & DESIGN ANNA CHURCH
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EMBLEMS, CRESTSâ€”THEY ARE ALL AROUND US, REPRESENTING NATIONS, PROVINCES, FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS. THEY SPEAK OF UNION, A COMING TOGETHER, A VISUAL MONTAGE OF THE TIES THAT BIND.
STORY BY CHRISTINA CROOK
EYES WIDE OPEN Anna Church, as her name suggests, was by and large raised near a building with a steeple. “I had a lovely, safe childhood surrounded by beautiful things,” she recounts from her apartment adjacent to Toronto’s flatiron building. “I was lucky enough to run through gardens and pick flowers and dance for hours to Swan Lake, listening to mom’s records.”
er parents, both Anglican ministers, created an environment of safety and beauty for her and her brother in their home and parish of Christchurch, New Zealand. Her father was a court chaplain, her mother a psychotherapist. They met while studying together. “My parents always nurtured my imagination,” she says. “My grandmother was a still-life painter and an expert arranger. Her vignettes and artwork were always in the house. My mom loves history, loves to delve deeper—she’s a psychotherapist—so, I guess, we’ve always had connections like that. My parents travelled the world with us for a year when we were young—England, America, Israel—so our home was filled with mementos from these travels. In my environment as a child, everything was handpicked.” Anna has been called a collector, sculptor, curator and allegorist of sorts. She is a master of aesthetic arrangement, able to depict the essence of an occasion or way of life through the collection and artful arrangement of objects and ephemera, turning her early childhood experiences into an expanding body of work.
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Anna honed her creative eye at the New Zealand National College of Design and Technology, where she studied graphic design, multimedia, photography and digital film. After working as an in-house graphic designer and stylist for many years, she freelanced as a photographic stills stylist, working on many interior magazine editorial features as well as building a portfolio of personal clients. It was during this time that she was able to invent and explore her unique style of arrangement. Her current series of still-life groupings, entitled Insignia, includes five emblems that represent girl, boy, man, woman and partnership: “Sugar and Spice,” “Frog and Snails,” “Gentleman,” “Gentlewoman” and “Union.” Insignia involves her chosen artistic medium of sculpting and assembling found objects, and captures them in fine -art photography. It is a progression from her At Your Service series. There her subjects ranged from “High Tea” to “Sunday Roast” (a print of which hangs at Jamie Oliver’s headquarters). Each was comprised of a number of pieces of vintage tableware, and when viewed from a distance resembled a medal, thus cleverly exploring the multiple notions of service. In Insignia, Anna chose to explore the notions of family crests or emblems, those badges we create to identify ourselves. Just as a coat of arms is made up of a number of elements, each representing some aspect of the bearer, Anna’s insignia are collections of symbols. While her work unabashedly romanticizes these states of being, it is both nostalgic and current. Rather than wanting to neatly put people in a box, Anna hopes those who see her work will “recognise in each ensign elements of their own histories and realities,” and that, for example, “Sugar and Spice” will have as much resonance for the mother of young girls as for her little girls themselves. The trophy in “Gentleman” represents a man’s drive to achieve, and central to the work is a vintage boxing bag representing strength, agility and strategy. The pearls adorning “Gentlewoman” were traditionally given to a woman by her fiancé upon their engagement or by her husband upon the birth of their first child. The foliage adorning “Union” is a metaphor for the growth and evolution of two people together over time. Anna painstakingly considered and subsequently sourced each and every element of these compositions. She describes this process as being “like having a pair of divining rods—I just had a clear idea of what I needed to find and a sixth sense kicked in and helped me discover it all.” It took nearly a year to sketch out the vision for Insignia to see if it could actually work: sketching and developing the idea, researching and collecting inspirational material (using Pinterest a lot) to guide her and help her nail down the concrete ideas that now comprise the finished work. “I love discovering the perfect object—picking it up, examining it, visualizing what it would look like in one of my artworks,” she says. The thrill of the hunt may be Anna’s favourite part of the process, which in the case of 32 / U P P E R C A S E
Insignia took more than a year. “My mom always called me a magpie because I collected and kept all sorts of bits and bobs. Lucky for me, I have devised a career that matches exactly that.” Anna loves to lose herself in any flea market, antique fair or shop that might have oddities and curiosities tucked in the woodwork. “It’s somewhat painstakingly long, but hugely rewarding when pieces pop out at unexpected moments,” she says. “The trick is to keep my eyes wide open at all times and quietly revel in the thrill of each unique find!” When it finally came time to piece together the hundreds of items that would create the crests, Anna lived off creative adrenaline for months. “I can’t rush these ideas. They have to linger in my head for a bit, as if they are waiting for the right time to unveil themselves. I have to be patient, but once the idea comes to me, it’s like a rush. My eyes are wide open. I see absolutely everything around me, looking to see if that perfect piece to my puzzle pops out at me.” The series has been warmly received, receiving coverage in KiaOra, Air New Zealand’s inflight magazine, and being carried by a number of fine art galleries in both Canada and New Zealand. At home and abroad, Anna has cultivated a close circle of friends, one of whom serves as her sounding board whenever sussing out new ideas. “Don’t you love that about creative people who reach out and help?” she asks. “I need that critique and encouragement.” In the final work, Anna relies on her own intuition until it is time to take the art to her “rat people.” It’s an idea espoused by Paul Jarvis, author of the bestselling book The Good Creative. “You need to find your rat people,” he writes. “Not literally ‘rat people’, unless rats really are your thing. [Which they are for him.] I’m talking about the people that get what you do, appreciate it, and love you for it. . . . For your creativity to support you, you need to find your 1%. Your rat people. These are the people who should get your attention. These are the people you should listen to, cater to and serve with your work.” Anna has connected to many of these people through her Instagram and Pinterest feeds, and through the many encounters she has each day in her personal and professional life. In fact, she found one of her “rat people” in celebrity chef Jamie Oliver when she spotted him hanging off a fire escape across from her building, shooting a commercial. In a moment of inspiration, she grabbed her copy of Oliver’s Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals cookbook and stood at the window with her little boy, Thomas, waving for his attention. Oliver was chuffed, snapped a photo and posted it to his Instagram account. The image hit more than 300,000 views. Thanks to the exchange, Anna was able to give Oliver one of her exclusive prints, and thousands of people connected to her work. Though Anna has chosen a refined medium—painstak
“Art is who you are,” says Anna. Love, beauty, safety, oneness: these are the themes of Anna’s work; they are her insignia. ingly arranged photographs—whimsy, humour and utter enthusiasm for life abound in her work, and her life. Her children play in an indoor teepee and she wears strings of beads in primary colours to professional photoshoots. This spirit keeps her work light. Anna’s desire is to begin creating bespoke insignia for individuals and families, incorporating their treasured heirlooms in a modern retelling of their shared history. “I’d love to create a personalized insignia for Jamie Oliver and his family. He has great eclectic taste. How outrageously cool would that be?” she asks with unabashed glee. Anna loves her adopted home of Toronto, where the series began percolating shortly after their arrival two years ago. Before taking up residence in the Canadian hub, a move motivated by her husband Nick’s work as VP for Foster Moore, a niche New Zealand registry software company, they were living and raising their children, Molly and Thomas, on Waiheke, an island 35 minutes off Auckland. “Being exposed to a city like Toronto, with its defined seasonal changes, its landscape and its cultural diversity, has been hugely inspiring, reinvigorating and rewarding,” says Anna. “My brain hasn’t found an off button since we landed! I have connected with some beautifully creative people here and have collaborated with a few of them already, with more collaborations on the horizon.” As a part of Contact, Toronto’s annual citywide photography festival, Anna brought her Insignia series before a panel of professionals for constructive critique. After a day of looking at portrait and landscape portfolios, the New York Times photographer and his colleagues gathered closely around her work, murmuring their praise. Her curation was a refreshing salve, unlike anything they had ever seen. After 15 minutes of inspiring feedback, one panelist told Anna her work wasn’t controversial enough. The comment stung, and for a few days it overshadowed the enthusiasm of the day, until Anna returned to Jarvis’ idea: “I remembered pushing the limits, being controversial—those are not my rats. I had a lovely, safe childhood. I love beautiful things. That’s my language.” annachurchart.com instagram.com/anna_church U P P E R C A S E / 33
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ART BY ANNA CHURCH
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CRESTS The hobby of clipping engraved crests and monograms from envelopes and stationery began in the Victorian era. For more high resolution examples, visit uppercasemagazine.com/crests.
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SOUVENIR SPOONS The practice of collecting spoons as mementos has been going on for almost a century. These small, silver-toned treasures can be bought everywhere from tourist shops to rare antique catalogues as a commemoration of a place, a journey or a point in time. Souvenir spoons are still lovingly collected, bringing with them a sense of ornateness and nostalgia. – HOLLY HUTCHINSON
I would like to express my gratitude to Holly for her contributions to UPPERCASE over the years. From carrier pigeons to ham radio to bicycles and the virgula suspensive, Holly’s quirky topics were the perfect match to my magazine’s curious nature. These pages are in remembrance of her. – JANINE
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An arrow entered his eye. He tried to retreat, the arrow still gouging his eye. The warriors were brought there—seven miles north of Hastings, between Caldbec Hill to the north and Telham Hill to the south—to defend both his crown, King Harold II the AngloSaxon King of England, and that of the invading army, led by William II of Normandy.
HERALDRY A TRADITION THAT BEGAN ON THE BATTLEFIELDS CENTURIES AGO CONTINUES TO THIS DAY. WITH LESS GORE. B Y J O N AT H A N S H I P L E Y
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s night approached on October 14, 1066, the bodies lay in the field, the wood and the marsh. His brother Gyrth: dead. His brother Leofwine: dead. Two bodies among the thousands as William’s forces continued their assault. In an account written by Bishop Guy of Amiens, Carmen de Hastingae Proelio (Song of the Battle of Hastings), King Harold was dispatched by four knights, probably including William, and his body brutally dismembered. According to French priest William of Poitiers, “The two brothers of the King were found near him and Harold himself, stripped of all badges of honour, could not be identified by his face but only by certain marks on his body.” Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, was dead. William II, to become known as William the Conqueror, was now the first Norman King of England. In the battle, full of hand-to-hand combat in full armour, it had been hard to discern who to fight. The difference between the invaders and the invaded was blurred. Who was who? It was just men in armour fighting to the death. Men on foot and on horseback, helmeted with swords and lances and maces and bows and arrows. William himself had to remove his helmet in battle so that his own forces wouldn’t attack him, so that his own forces would know who was who. If only there was a way, on the screaming battlefield,
to differentiate between who you’re fighting against and who you’re fighting with. Some years later, in the 12th century, heraldry as born. Coats of arms were created to differentiate and specify, via colour and pattern, shape and design, who you were and what your position or social status was. It’s still being used today, though no longer for those on horseback, roaring into battle, lance in hand, eager for blood. It’s everywhere you look: the Starbucks woman, the bitten apple on the Apple computer, the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz. Logos are the modern equivalent of heraldry. The kid wearing the Nike swoosh T-shirt skateboarding in the park has ties to medieval dukes, counts and kings. The fleurde-lis—the one on the New Orleans Saints football helmet—is deeply associated with the heraldic tradition. The first documented use of the fleur-de-lis was by King Louis VII of France, who reigned from 1137 to 1180. The first coloured representation came several years later, and can still be seen in the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France. The logo for Charmin toilet paper has ties to Chartres. The logo for Burger King has ties to King René of Anjou from the 15th century. Heraldry soon turned from military uses to familial ones. Arms appeared not on shields or helmets of men crashing into battle, but in ways that helped differentiate a feudal society in a state of reorganization. It helped situate individuals within groups and those groups within the social strata as a whole. One look at a heraldic symbol or a coat of arms, and you knew who was who. By the end of the 12th century, heraldry had become hereditary—the symbols and crests and coats of arms passed down generation to generation. By the 13th century, 1,500 distinct coats were being used in England alone. It spread from the military elite to the aristocracy to civilians and corporate entities. Clergy had coats around 1200, artisans soon after, then towns, corporations and civil organizations all had their own “logo.”
It spread through Europe, particularly in Western Europe between the Loire and Rhine rivers, between England and Switzerland. Heraldry was everywhere—on objects, garments, buildings, artwork, monuments. It had gained a triple function: a sign of identity, a sign of ownership and an ornamental motif. As the centuries bore on, more armourial bearings were created. Some 10 million existed in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries, each a pictorial representation of a person, occupation, avocation or standing. Oliver Cromwell’s was of a lion. Oxford University’s was a book surrounded by three crowns. William Shakespeare’s coat of arms was, according to England’s heraldic authority, the Garter King of Arms, “Gold, on a bend sables, a spear of the first steeled argent, and for his crest or cognizance a falcon, his wings displayed argent, standing on a wreath of his colors, supporting a spear gold, steeled as aforesaid, set upon a helmet with mantles and tassels as hath been accustomed and doth more plainly appear depicted on this margent.” Coats of arms were, and still are, detailed, specific and highly individualized. Heraldic visuals became more varied. Unicorns and griffons were added, as was the moon. In the middle of the family shield of Peter Dodge of Stopford was a female’s breast squirting milk. A lord from Baden had a man in a bathtub on his crest. Dogs, geese, fish, elephants, lizards, flowers, keys, mermen, trees, grain, shells, skin bags of water, ermine, crosses, passion nails, rings, snakes, babies and more were placed on crest after crest.
understood by everyone. The College of Arms in England, founded in 1484, is still in operation. It is the official registry of arms for England and those countries still under England’s crown. The power to consider and resolve heraldic problems lies, to this day, with the High Court of Chivalry. Nearly every flag you see—on a boat or above our nation’s capital— is a descendent of the heraldic system. As are many logos—the arms of the Duke of Milan are on Alfa Romeo cars to this day. Of course, logos have their own history that includes other contributing factors—languages, watermarks, printing technologies, the Industrial Age—but the modern logo is a direct descendent of ancient traditions. The first logo to be trademarked was the Bass Brewery’s red triangle in 1876. Since then, we’ve become inundated with countless ideograms (signs, icons) and emblems (symbols): the Coca-Cola ribbon wave, the World Wildlife Fund’s panda bear, the red cross of the Red Cross, Target’s target, Shell’s shell, McDonald’s golden arches, NBC’s peacock feathers, the Playboy bunny, the Olympic rings. Today there’s often a hue and a cry, the masses taking up arms, bugle calls of derision on Twitter and Facebook, when a company changes its logo. We saw this with JC Penny, the Gap and American Airlines. Why the agitation when a company changes their logo? Perhaps because heraldic crests are unchanging and shouldn’t be changed. It’s their history and it’s our history, as well. It’s also not just the history of a company or a person, it’s a history that stretches back to kings and queens—and further, to knights charging on horseback, a thousand years ago, into the pitch of battle. Knights proudly wearing their colours as arrows shriek across the sky, and as they raise their swords and face their foes—who have donned their own colours and patterns—both awaiting glory.
The heraldic tradition continues to this day. When you stop at a stop sign you’re stopping at a piece of heraldic tradition. It is a sign, a symbol, whose colours, pattern and shape is U P P E R C A S E / 41
City of Edmonton print.
D E P T H
T H E
F L A T N E S S
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nyone who seeks to make images these days has an enormous amount of power,” says Raymond Biesinger. “There are an incredible amount of options available and it’s inexpensive to do. I think in that environment, the most interesting thing you can do is to impose constraints on yourself, to place limitations on what you do.” For Raymond, this means working largely in black and white. It also means making sure everything is there for a reason—he has no interest in decoration.
The Montreal-based illustrator is keenly aware of the milieu in which he works, and within it has honed a style and process all his own. “You can think about everything I do as kind of a collage that doesn’t look like a collage,” says Raymond. On his computer are folders of shapes, lines and textures that he’s found in the real world and picked up, cut out and photographed. “The assemblage happens digitally. I scan them into the computer and then cut and paste them and collage them until they turn into something else completely.” Reusing these shapes creates a vocabulary, he says. A bend in the St. Lawrence River in an illustration of the city of Montreal, for instance, reappears as a bend in the large intestine in an illustration of the human anatomy. “It’s the same shape, reused over and over,” he says. “I’ve gotten an awful lot of mileage out of those things. That is the vocabulary. That’s my dictionary.” The process creates a unique aesthetic that has attracted the attention of major international publications—his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Wired, GQ, Monocle and the Economist, and newspapers like the Washington Post, the Guardian, le Monde and the New York Times. Raymond’s collection of collage-able items includes lines scanned from a shoebox, along with others from the contracts in the Graphic Artists Guild handbook. He has photographs of ceiling tiles and escalator treads. He’s lifted letters from the back of a Kinks record, which he cuts and pastes individually. One print features a repeating circle, scanned from the cover of an old 7-inch record. “None of these are perfect circles,” he says, “and all these lines are pretty straight, but there’s a certain wear and texture, and there’s just something else to them.” The materials, he explains, force things in a certain direction. “I can collage in photographs of shadows and gradients and end up with an interesting texture that isn’t digital and perfect. It comes with its own, special qualities—its own texture, its own waggle. People are incredulous when I say that I don’t work in vectors. Vector imaging to me means that there is a perfect, mathematical precision to things, and that’s just not what I do.”
Illustration created for Maisonneuve magazine.
Working digitally allows him to remain connected to the simplicity and physicality of collage while constructing more complex images. The result is an exciting balancing act between the seemingly opposing impulses of minimalism and maximalism. “It’s minimalist aesthetic, maximalist amount of time and research,” says Raymond. “You could say the maximalist side is the part that is invisible—the research that goes into it, the context, that kind of thing.” U P P E R C A S E / 43
This emphasis on research has given him a knack for illustrating concepts. Much of this can be traced back to a BA in European and North American political history. “Everything that an historian writes is underpinned by primary sources,” he says. “That importance of fact is something that I still hold dear.” A huge amount of research went into what may be his most popular prints—a series of maps of Canadian cities, each rooted in specific historical moments. On the back wall of his studio hangs a large edition of his print of Montreal as it looked on April 27, 1967, the opening day of Expo 67. “It’s kind of a cubist perspective, where there’s depth but there’s also flatness,” he says of the print. “And there’s a clear disrespect for
perspective. When people ask for a background, I just get confused. Clearly there’s a lot of plasticity, a lot of shifting going on. In a way it’s kind of Italian Futurist in that I’m trying to make things in a way that I perceive them and remember them, rather than aiming for complete accuracy. But then again there’s a tremendous amount of detail as well. It’s pretty arbitrary where I choose to do one and not the other.” His appreciation for unassuming places helped inspire his city prints. “So much of culture is assembled in New York and London and Los Angeles, and those cities get an enormous amount of love,” he says: “I feel that cities like Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Edmonton are worth making art about.” With the series, Raymond was able to indulge in his interest in local history. But another recurring theme in much of his personal work is the Cold War and the military clashes of modern nations. He says it can be difficult finding an audience for these pieces. “No one wants a print of a gulag on their wall,” he laughs. “My first love was history, and then I became an illustrator, so where those things come together I’m very excited. There are these sweet spots where my interests and the world’s interests meet. There are a lot of projects where it’s just my interests, but I’m equally satisfied doing ones where both my interests and other people’s interests are met. In a world in which there are a zillion projects, it makes sense to focus on those ones a little more.” Still, some projects are irresistible, even if they are less marketable. As Raymond says, “The bigger projects subsidize trying ridiculous things.” This arguably includes a 6.4-metre-long chart of the Edmonton music scene from 1950 to 2010. The topic is close to his heart: the illustrator is also one half of the garage rock duo The Famines, whose strippeddown aesthetic reveals another side to his minimalist approach. Raymond’s dual careers of illustrator/musician began in his hometown of Edmonton, a place he says tends to be overlooked as a cultural centre. “There are cities where artists who live there get the benefit of the doubt from outsiders. And then there are cities where they don’t. There was a certain thrill of living in the ‘cultural middle of nowhere,’ which is what people assume about Edmonton, even though there are actually a lot of people there doing a lot of really neat things.”
The Washington Post commissioned this piece. “It’s always a pleasure to stretch out and make tall illustrations in print,” says Raymond, “and this gentleman stood about 20” tall in the 25 June 2014 issue.”
FACING PAGE “Ever visit a typical illustration studio? I don’t mean one made up prettily
for Design Sponge, but one of the unsavoury ones full of real things: an observatory, life preserver, lightbulb, shank, photocopier, globe, paint, office supplies, watercolours, infinite toil, a sketch incinerator, alphabet, calendar, cash, a budget chart, deadbeat clients, telephone, computers, photo studio, reference library, clock, alcohol, copyrights, coffee, ink, a locked entryway, shipping room, flatfile, and an illustrator with a stunted little domestic life.” raymondbiesinger.etsy.com
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In 2010, Raymond and his wife, clothing designer Elizabeth Hudson of Ursa Minor, moved east to Montreal. “It is a fascinating city. I’m so happy to have moved here,” he says. “It’s a big part of what got me branching out into new things, specifically silkscreen prints. This is such a print town. There are such incredible silkscreen printers here.” The move has been good to him. He is busy full-time in his home studio, and has been able to make more time for personal work. He has increasingly been working with colour, too. “That’s been a slow creep that’s been happening for a long time,” he says. “It still causes me more grief than anything else.” Although it’s a departure from the starkness of black and white, he’s careful not to let his use of colour distract from his stripped-down aesthetic. “I really like saturated colours a lot,” he says. “The number one pushback that I get from art directors is that they want things to be brighter, louder. But I would rather that the concept and the structures wow, instead of something like colour. Colour has a shortcut into people’s hearts, I think, and I want to get into people’s minds instead.” fifteen.ca
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TAG TEAM TOMPKINS INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINA CROOK
PHOTOS BY ANA REINERT
Diana Tompkins and her daughter Madeline combine old-fashioned silhouettes with modern, whimsical lettering in their letterpressed line of art prints and bookmarks.
hat are your work, education, experience and arts backgrounds?
DIANA I knew I was an artist from a young age but tried to deny it by majoring in biology for my first two years at Texas Woman’s University. But art won my heart and I graduated with a BS in Advertising Design, in the days of Mad Men. I worked for Hallmark Cards for 26 years but never designed a card, focusing on surface design for gift wrap and albums, and I loved designing gifts. My watercolour paintings, sold through Midwest galleries and at art fairs, helped provide family income when my kids were young. MADELINE I started school at the University
of Kansas with the thought of studying something besides a creative degree—I was seriously thinking about their business school until Calc 2 made me reconsider. So I fell back on what felt right and I got my BFA in Design. And now I’ve been at Hallmark for almost 17 years, experiencing several different departments and job titles, such as card designer, lettering and typography artist, and gift designer.
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How did you come to work together? DIANA Madeline and I, being daughter and mother, have trained each other in the delicate art of working together for years. When I retired from Hallmark, I still had a wish to create content with meaning, and we devised our Shadow Family art to see whether we could sustain a work relationship. MADELINE I had a spell at work where I didn’t
feel like my creative voice was being heard. So on evenings and weekends I took my extra energy home, and my mom and I started collaborating on projects. And I knew that I wanted to involve a friend’s new letterpress print shop in one of our projects. What is your process? Who does what? How does it work?
DIANA When we’re creating new letterpress
prints or bookmarks, I’ll begin by compiling a selection of quotes that please me. Madeline and I often disagree on which quotes work best. When we do agree we feel confident that it’s the right direction to pursue. I make sketches in pencil, pen or flexible sumi brush and cut final art silhouettes in black paper. I find that cutting the design helps me simplify the forms. Together we fuss with layout as Madeline begins her hand lettering.
MADELINE I think our process works well be-
cause we each have separate skills and different points of view. But our many years together help us appreciate each other’s aesthetics. I love mid-century modern; my mom’s tastes are more bohemian. Where do you work? What does it look like, sound like and feel like?
DIANA We work together in my home studio
in a great old neighbourhood in Kansas City,
Missouri. I’ve been a collector of vintage office furniture for years, but I also need some contemporary items to add the right spice. You might find us at an old oak partner’s desk, laptops open, sharing images and inspiration. Near Madeline’s side of the desk you’ll find an oak dentist’s chest with many drawers filled with art supplies. As a kid, Madeline would store shells, dried insects and sparkly things in these drawers. Studio sounds might include NPR news, the occasional bark from Madeline’s Scotty, Bruce, and traffic sounds coming from the street below the studio’s second-floor window. MADELINE When I am working on the digital portion of our work, I usually plug in to an audio book. I feel so productive, reading a book and finishing a project at the same time.
What do you love most about what you do? DIANA First of all, I love that our art needs both of us to feel complete. And I’m happy to be the creator of my business strategy, not relying on senior management to give assignments to me, as it was in corporate life. I’m lucky to be able to make my art reflect my own life and beliefs, and fortunate that our consumers see value in our work. MADELINE It surprises me that we continue to have great enthusiasm for our Tag Team Tompkins work. My mom is the one with four hundred ideas going at one time. I love to single out the best one or two and make those ideas bloom into great work.
Portland, Oregon, and Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado. We’ve had an Etsy shop for four years and have learned many good points about running a small business from the Etsy teams. Madeline’s the one that urged me to join Etsy. MADELINE And by far, most of our buyers are women, often shopping for others the first time but returning to purchase something for themselves at a later date.
Do you have a favourite piece in your line? DIANA I have two favourites: one of our eight Dire Warnings that says, “Don’t let your tongue cut your throat.” I love that Madeline found the copy and I could help bring this personally helpful reminder to life. My other favourite is, “Hours fly, flowers die, new days, new ways pass by, love stays.” It’s a motto on a sundial at Yaddo Gardens in Saratoga Springs, New York, written by Henry Van Dyke. This piece has comforted me through times of loss and separation. MADELINE I’ve had the “web of our life” print
on my mantle since it came off the printing press. To me, Shakespeare’s words on the idea of life, the light and dark of it, are perfectly written.
Who are your primary clients? DIANA Our letterpress art prints and book-
marks are sold at retail and wholesale. We’re proud that bookstores we admire carry our work—stores like Powell’s City of Books in U P P E R C A S E / 47
S P E C I A L F E AT U R E
CALLIGRAPHY BY JOY DENEEN BACKGROUND B Y M AY B E L L E IMASA-STUKULS PHOTO BY BROOKE HOLM
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A MODERN MASTER OF THE PEN In a time when people are saturated with digital images and computer-generated script, there has been a remarkable resurgence of interest in the age-old art of calligraphy, particularly among millennials. Hand lettering has flooded social media, and calligraphy guilds are welcoming younger members into the community. Notably, one of the contemporary masters of the pen is not even 30 years old.
ake Weidmann is one of an elite group of 11 modern day Master Penmen. A consummate Renaissance man, he is at once a calligrapher, an artist, a bodybuilder and a teacher. He speaks with both gentle eloquence and intense passion. He is a man of fierce faith, with a penchant for poetry and a love of history. His journey into the arts began as a small child. When Jake was in the first grade, his family’s Colorado home was devastated by a fire. All of their belongings were burned or damaged, so a kind family friend brought him a small box of toys. “I befriended this little parrot,” Jake remembers. “I absolutely loved it.” He was inspired to draw a picture of his newfound friend. “Looking back, art for me was almost therapeutic. It gave me the opportunity to re-create my own world, even though the fire had taken it.” Jake clearly recalls the moment when he returned to school to find his drawing “lavishly matted in crepe paper with a blue ribbon beside it.” The quiet boy’s 50 / U P P E R C A S E
STORY BY JOY DENEEN PHOTOS BY JAKE WEIDMANN AND JENNIFER LITTLE
confidence was bolstered by the prize and the encouragement of his teacher. “From that day forward, Mrs. Kay called me her ‘little artist,’ and it was something that really solidified my identity.”
calligraphy. Although he was familiar with broad-edge gothic styles, “they didn’t quite catch my eye like the flow of script and the drama of the way that the line tapers and swells and just moves so fluidly.”
While his first love was pencil, Jake went on to teach himself everything from scratchboard and acrylic painting to airbrush and wood carving. Through his self-directed studies, he found that each medium informed the others. “I was always borrowing techniques and principles,” says Jake. “Trial and error was my curriculum.” He also paid careful attention to his handwriting. As a teenager, the thought occurred to him that “if I was going to be known as an artist, every time I put pen or pencil to paper, the result had to be a thing of beauty.”
He had a rough entry into calligraphy, as his local art store had limited supplies and poor-quality plastic penholders. “I was frustrated with all the materials,” he says. “I saw some wooden penholders online and I thought ‘I think I can figure that out.’ I taught myself to make a pen so I could teach myself calligraphy.”
During his studies at Biola University in La Mirada, California, Jake’s elegant penmanship caught the eye of fellow students. He began to receive requests to pen wedding invitations, which led him to research the art of formal
Jake also began to correspond with Michael Sull, director of the Master Penman Society and past president of IAMPETH (International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting). Jake shared his work, and Michael sent copies of his first volume on American heritage handwriting. The college student was introduced to the influential penmen of yesteryear, including Platt Rogers Spencer, Daniel T. Ames and Francis U P P E R C A S E / 51
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WEDDING BLISS Jake and Hannah Weidmann were married on April 6, 2014. Jake not only designed their entire invitation suite, he also made their wedding bands. In the tradition of the Jewish chuppah, he carved a magnificent pair of six-foot-long mahogany wings with a gold leaf monogram. You can read Hannah’s words about these special wedding details at:
jakeweidmann. com/blog/ beneaththewings.
B. Courtney. “Within this niche art form of handwriting, there’s this very distinct lineage and these unbelievable artists of the pen that I had never heard of before,” Jake says. “My appreciation really blossomed out of this rich history. That was hugely formative for me as a penman, to realize this is the heritage that I’m living into, this is the heritage that I’m carrying on. So, ever so much more than just an art form, this is a great legacy to live into.” After months of handwritten correspondence, Jake and Michael met in person at Jake’s first IAMPETH convention in Kansas City. “I believed in him right from the beginning,” Michael says. “He had all of the earmarks of somebody who had everything going for him and a natural ability, and then could just go beyond the stars if he had some guidance.” In a short time, Jake was nominated to participate in the Master Penman program. This rigorous program was founded in 2001 to “recognize members who have achieved a distinguished level of excellence in penmanship and the calligraphic arts.” Each candidate is mentored by one of the Masters, and Jake was soon taken under the wing of White House calligrapher Richard Muffler. “There was nothing but great expectation,” Rick says. “He just needed a little tweaking here and a little tweaking there.” In the tradition of the Masters before him, Jake was required to design and execute his own Master Penman certificate, as a final judged piece. The text has been the same for generations, but the layout and design is unique to each penman. Over a year, Rick provided valuable critiques on the concept and drafts. “To Jake’s credit, the kid could defend everything that we were talking about, to explain why he did it that way, passionately and intelligently,” says Rick. The final certificate was judged and accepted by the Masters, based on an exhaustive list of criteria surrounding composition, lettering styles and techniques. Rick recalls the electricity in the air during the ceremony
and the collective gasp that arose from the crowd when Jake’s certificate was revealed. Displayed in a handcarved mahogany frame, the impressive piece stands four feet tall. It was executed on calfskin vellum and features elements indicative of penmen from the 19th and 20th centuries, including acanthus leaf borders, off-hand (illustrative) flourishing and both Copperplate and Spencerian scripts. The white key at the base of the frame is the penholder that Jake carved out of pre-ban ivory, and which he used to execute the piece. “There isn’t anything he can’t do,” Rick says. “Everything is done to perfection.” Without a doubt, calligraphy changed Jake’s trajectory as an artist. “Calligraphy gave me a whole new lens to view the rest of my art through,” he says. “It’s given me eyes that most artists don’t have and don’t understand.” Because calligraphy is line art, Jake can reference and incorporate other mediums and techniques into his work. A dove’s wings burst into flourishes, and an intricately carved compass is encircled with ornamental script. He hopes that aspiring calligraphers will take courage and understand that “nothing performs as well as these old tools. When people are trying to emulate an older classical look and they’re trying to use modern tools, it just doesn’t work. I tell them—lovingly, you know—it’s time to grow up and put down the markers and pick up a real man’s pen.” Reflecting upon the current digital age, Jake believes that “the driving desire for authenticity of our age might be the very thing that stokes the courage of the designers and the artists, because when they find that there’s a sweet romance, even into the rhythm of dipping the pen into the ink and the flow of the pen across the paper, there’s magic there.” jakeweidmann.com @jakeweidmann iampeth.com U P P E R C A S E / 53
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Working in calligraphy means bridging the old and new worlds, he says. “A lot of my calligraphy juxtaposes modern sentiments, ideas and language with ancient craftsmanship. It feels fresh, modern, relevant and accessible to a lot of people.”
eb Lester, a London-based type designer and illustrator, fell in love with calligraphy during a particularly difficult period. “Three-and-ahalf years ago my partner was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer,” he says. “Everything was normal and then suddenly Pamela was having an emergency operation. It was an incredibly tough time for both of us.” Seb dropped everything to take care of his partner. At the time, he had been focused on digital letterform work, working independently after nine years as a type designer at Monotype. He had begun playing around with calligraphy pens, but with no serious intentions, aware of the sheer amount of time required to become proficient. Now, with his work on hold, all of that changed. “I could barely turn on my computer during this period, let alone do complex digital work,” he says. “Suddenly the only creative outlet I had was sporadic sketchbook doodling, and I started doing more calligraphy. It was therapeutic for me and offered me much-needed respite from being a full-time carer.” Today Pamela is in remission, and Seb says he has emerged a better artist and designer with new skills and knowledge. “That will always be a beautiful thing,” he says. “Sometimes clouds do indeed have silver linings.”
Seb’s Instagram account recently spiked in popularity after the social media platform showcased his work. He now shares his work with more than 163,000 followers. “The demographic is now literally 7 to 80-year-olds, and people come from all walks of life, all over the world,” he says. “I have to be respectful of that and adapt. I have reigned in a lot of the sweary calligraphy and quirky humour that people may know me for.” Though he’s playing it safe, he expects to relax into interacting with this expanded audience. Particularly exciting to him is the number of young people he sees becoming interested in calligraphy. “They’re applying calligraphy in new contexts and with a progressive, exploratory and sometimes irreverent attitude,” he says. “I see calligraphy influencing logo design, graphic design and graffiti. I find this new relevance and interest very exciting.” All this, he says, is part of calligraphy’s current renaissance: “Until recently, calligraphy had a bit of an image problem. In the UK it conjured up images of elderly ladies in church halls copying out passages from the Bible. I love the traditional aspect of calligraphy, but it is only one side of the story today.” “Calligraphy is a powerful medium with broad appeal,” he says. “It has the ability to move and inspire people. It needs to evolve to survive but I am hopeful that is happening.” seblester.co.uk seblester.com
What began as therapy has now become an integral part of Seb’s career. “I have a hybrid way of working that combines traditional and modern tools,” he says of the appeal of calligraphy. “I feel that this working process lends an authenticity to much of my work.” It has also given him a depth of knowledge about letterforms. “To understand calligraphy is to understand the foundations on which modern typefaces and typography have been built,” he explains. “It involves getting inside the Latin alphabet in a way that working digitally doesn’t allow.” Seb lauds what he calls “a great synergy” between calligraphy and type design. “I am capable of developing a much wider range of styles of typefaces with a much greater degree of understanding,” he says. “I understand line, rhythm, movement and texture in ways I never could have imagined before. I have a much wider palette of tools at my disposal and that makes me a much more versatile designer and artist.”
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A CHAT WITH JOY DENEEN WHAT LED YOU TO CALLIGRAPHY? I grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula, raised by parents who encouraged and nurtured my creativity. I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil—my mom tells me that as a child I would concentrate so hard while colouring that I would sweat. I was also fascinated by a piece of calligraphy that hung in our living room: a beautiful passage from Ecclesiastes penned by my father. I would lie on the couch and trace the letters in the air with my finger. My entry into the world of lettering began with a Christmas gift. I flew home for the holidays with a bargain bin calligraphy kit I had found a few weeks earlier, thinking I would take up a new hobby during vacation. My brother clearly noticed me struggling with a cheap fountain pen, because on Christmas morning I pulled back wrapping paper to find a clear box of shiny nibs, a bottle of ink and a copy of Modern Mark Making by Lisa Engelbrecht. I found myself swept up in the colourful pages, amazed to find details on everything from traditional Roman capitals to vintage pointed pen styles to funky scripts and even graffitiinspired lettering. When I turned to the resources page at the back of the book, I had to blink twice. Lisa had included a website link for the Society for Calligraphy, her guild in Southern California. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles and had no idea that calligraphy guilds even existed, much less in my own neighbourhood. When I returned to LA after the Christmas vacation, I dove in head first. I showed up at an annual general meeting for the society, bright-eyed and eager, not knowing a single soul in the room. I not only got to meet Lisa but also Carrie Imai, now a dear friend and mentor. I enrolled in classes, took workshops and was asked to join the guild’s board as vice president. I attended my first calligraphy conference, edited the society’s journal, the Calligraph, and eventually began to take commissioned work. IS CALLIGRAPHY YOUR HOBBY OR PROFESSION? I work as a calligrapher full time, creating hand-lettered details for weddings and special events. I also serve on the boards of la Société des calligraphes de Montréal (vice president and international workshops coordinator) and the Society for Calligraphy of Southern California (as editor of the Calligraph publication).
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CALLIGRAPHIC STYLE? My signature style is modern script with clean lines and subtle flourishing. I also like to draw letters using my own handwriting as a base. Outside of commissioned work, I have begun to explore more gestural (and sometimes illegible!) calligraphy using brushes, folded pens and unconventional tools. Earlier this year, I took a workshop with Italian calligrapher Monica Dengo, who told me, “It’s not important that the mark is perfect, but that it’s honest.” Those words come back to me often. I try to focus on making marks that breathe and dance, rather than letterforms that are stifled or painstakingly overwrought. WHAT MAKES A CALLIGRAPHER’S STYLE UNIQUE? Looking through magazines and blogs, I can often identify the work of my peers without seeing their credit first. Two calligraphers can write in the same hand—Copperplate, italic, etc.—but they will never be exactly the same. We all have certain tendencies, idiosyncrasies and preferences when it comes to forming letters. While I have a great love and admiration for traditional calligraphy that is technically immaculate, my heart sings when I see words that dance and twist across the page. WHAT IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING THING ABOUT CALLIGRAPHY? WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING?
Calligraphy is a solitary craft, typically executed in a quiet and still space. My brain is always rattling, and when I’m alone it’s easy to get absorbed in my thoughts and become very critical of my work. However, after I get warmed up and time passes, I usually hit that creative zone where your peripheral vision softens, time slips away and you fall into a state that is both meditative and productive.
HOW DOES THE PRACTICE OF CALLIGRAPHY INFLUENCE YOUR OTHER CREATIVE PURSUITS?
Client work is incredibly rewarding to me. I love the entire process, from the initial meeting to discuss ideas to the look on the client’s face when they see the final hand-calligraphed work. I also feel honoured to have been entrusted with deeply personal texts and special detailing. In particular, I have calligraphed over 50 handwritten books, filled with everything from narratives to haikus. I am so grateful for the kindred spirits I have met on this journey.
HOW ARE THE CALLIGRAPHIC ARTS RELEVANT TO CONTEMPORARY DESIGN AND TYPOGRAPHY?
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT IMPROVING YOUR CRAFT? I am a perpetual student—there are new things to learn each and every day! Beyond annual conferences, I seek out classes and workshops on a variety of styles and coordinate workshops for the guild here in Montreal. Last year I even had the opportunity to study with renowned calligrapher Sheila Waters for a week in her home. During that master class, I also met Tamara Stoneburner and had conversations with her that profoundly impacted the way that I run my business.
I have always loved to write, and through the calligraphy community I continue to meet so many talented artists. I’ve had the opportunity to interview almost two dozen calligraphers and write about their work and creative processes.
When the viewer can see the artist’s hand behind a design, the work immediately becomes more warm and accessible. In an era that is saturated with digital media, I see people yearning to return to a more organic place. The recent resurgence of interest in calligraphy has been quite exciting to watch over the past few years. Hand lettering (especially in chalk) has made a real splash within design and advertising, and I predict that calligraphy will follow in its wake. I can only imagine the possibilities if more graphic designers studied formal calligraphy and incorporated that knowledge into their work. There are so many unique tools that can render beautiful letterforms, texture and spontaneous marks. And under a skilled hand, calligraphy can be digitized and still retain its integrity.
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ike handwriting, calligraphy is an expression of an individual’s style, and the creator’s hand can be recognized in their work. Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls strives for a casually elegant and imperfect style. Occasionally, an uninformed observer will see something calligraphic and assume that it has digital origins. “Every now and then I will get an email asking me the name of the font I used,” says Maybelle. Such comments cause her some concern: “I start to think my work may be looking too perfect, and this will probably sound like the complete opposite of what most people want to achieve with calligraphy.” “In the beginning my work seemed to lend itself well to weddings, invitations, hand-drawn maps, place cards and envelopes,” says Maybelle. “Nowadays, I try to take on work that pushes my comfort level. I have been teaching calligraphy workshops. What started out as a few class offerings at Makeshift Society in San Francisco turned into workshops in Los Angeles, Boston, Portland and New York, and led to Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hawaii.” In developing her classes, Maybelle goes beyond just demonstrating technique. “It is important for my students to succeed early on so that they will continue practising,” she says. Maybelle creates immersive experiences as well as
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portrait by Mariana Garcia-Katz event photos by Brooke Holm
providing a workshop kit developed to motivate her students. “I create the details of my workshop supplies with utmost care, from the wooden holders, bottle of ink, practice booklet, and letterpress exemplar. Each time I ask myself how I can make the next class better and each workshop experience different. At my classes in Melbourne, for example, Megan Morton hired Katie Marx Flowers to suspend hundreds of tulips from the ceiling. What a beautiful, special and memorable experience!” Maybelle has been able to take her calligraphy beyond the paper onto some unexpected mediums. “Recently, I was hired to create brush lettering work for television, for the new cable channel FYI, the former Biography Channel on the A&E network,” she says. “It has been so exciting to see it streaming all the time on that channel. It’s very different from what you are used to seeing from me.” Her work will be featured in some upcoming book projects and she is looking to ways to combine her calligraphy with products. “I feel so fortunate to be able to collaborate with so many very talented designers, artists and editors,” she says. “I have made wonderful friends all around the world who share the same passion for this art form.” may-belle.com
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hough she’s been practising calligraphy since the age of 10, Erica McPhee began her professional career 13 years ago with the founding of Paperwhite Studio. Calligraphy was a means to earn an income while staying at home to care for her children. To get her start she invested in a small ad at the back of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. “Little did I know how crazy busy I would be from the getgo,” says Erica. “I spent the next four years sleeping little, working lots and basically overwhelmed, but I felt I was accomplishing a lifelong dream to be doing calligraphy full time.” “I started designing greeting cards for Marcel Schurman (now Papyrus) and Sunrise Greetings (now Hallmark) about seven or eight years ago,” she says. “Greeting card lettering is typically more contemporary than traditional calligraphy. I had to force myself to work outside the habits I had spent years cultivating to make perfect letters that matched an exemplar. Eventually I developed a style that I think is recognizable as my work. It has an overall feel of a classic style but with more flow and bounce.” With a lifetime of experience, Erica has seen calligraphy grow in and out of fashion. “Calligraphy and lettering are experiencing a popularity I have never seen in the 35 years I have been doing it,” she says. “It is a beautiful thing to share in the love of what you do with others who enjoy it, too.” She worries a bit about the proliferation and how it might affect professional quality, but is pleased that contemporary or modern calligraphy has made the art more accessible. Erica is helping foster and educate the calligraphy community through The Flourish Forum, a website that launched in October 2013. “We now have over 1,600 members from all over the world,” she says. “Members have free access to a complete series of video tutorials teaching Copperplate and modern calligraphy.” She has also just released the first issue of Dasherie Magazine, dedicated solely to the art of calligraphy and hand lettering. “It is so incredibly satisfying to swoosh that pen around and see beautiful letters appear,” she says. “And when you achieve the letter or flourish you wanted, you just feel this rush. It feels so good. I can, and do, practice for hours—it’s meditative, relaxing and energizing all at once. It’s one of the only times as a mom of three that I can truly be all to myself without feeling guilty. Calligraphy is truly a part of who I am, and every letter I create is a little piece of me.”
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DASHERIE MAGAZINE Dasherie is a newly launched magazine published, edited and designed by Erica McPhee of Paperwhite Studio. It focuses on calligraphy and lettering arts for weddings, events, products and home decor. Both a showcase and resource, it features calligraphic artists and their work, provides inspiration and connects those looking for calligraphy ideas, products or a calligrapher.
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t’s not easy to make a living making letters, and it’s important to explain to my clients that what they will have is a truly unique and unrepeatable solution, a marriage of form and content,” says Italian lettering artist Pietro Piscitelli. “It’s a job that requires a lot of effort and study to have a good level of mastery.” “There is a revival of calligraphy and lettering these days and I think that’s a good thing, but it does have its negative side,” he says, referring to the bad typography and poor lettering in circulation both in the world and on the web. “I don’t like script fonts. With the progress of technology some fonts seem to have enough OpenType features to replace the hand of a calligrapher, but there will never be enough alternative glyphs to match the hand and the brain of a trained calligrapher. The challenge is to explain the difference to clients and art directors.” Pietro studied graphic design in Florence and type design in Milan. “During my second year of study in graphic design I started to deepen my studies in typography and letterforms in general,” he says. “I realized that calligraphy is the foundation of typography. After some research I discovered the Italian Calligraphic Association, and I began to study the formal scripts with teachers like Giovanni de Faccio, Anna Ronchi, Luca Barcellona. Since that first workshop I intensified my calligraphy studies and I slowly decided that letters would be the most important part of my job.” “A lot of my works are based on broad-edge pen manipulations,” says Pietro. “With manipulations of pressure, angle and multi-strokes I can achieve extremely fine and elegant letters, full of subtle details. The master of this technique is the great Hermann Zapf, who is my favourite calligrapher and type designer. I really like to work in this way, especially for capitals and italic, which is my favourite calligraphic style, because from its form it’s possible to develop infinite variations. I also like to work on lettering, something that is drawn instead of written—sometimes the line between drawn and written can be subtle. If I’m working for reproduction I often retouch the shapes with white tempera. In this way I can have really accurate outlines. If the work is not for reproduction I leave the letters as they are, even with some imperfections that show the gesture of the hand and its beauty. I always work by hand, and only in the final steps, if necessary, will I re-draw the letters digitally, otherwise I simply scan at high resolution to keep the material quality of the line.” “Calligraphy needs constant practice, like a musical instrument,” says Pietro, “but I try to vary my weekly routine. For example, one week I focus on brushes, the next on broad pens and so on. I consider myself a beginner and for this reason I always participate in workshops during the year, to learn more historical scripts, work on variations or simply meet other crazy people who love letters.”
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ince childhood, Barbara Calzolari has loved calligraphy and found a particular appeal in nice pens and nibs. While studying to be a graphic designer, she also worked for a screen printer in Bologna, Italy, who specialized in modern art prints. This role later transitioned to working for a fabric printer and a career in fabric design and production that led her back and forth from Italy to Asia. It was while waiting in airports that Barbara read poetry and reconnected with calligraphy, transcribing memorable poems into a notebook. “The poets had different voices and meanings so I started to find different writing styles to interpret them,” she explains. Barbara began a serious study of the art some 19 years ago and has studied with calligraphers from all over the world. She now returns that joy through teaching workshops. Calligraphy is “my love, my life,” she says.
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N E I L TA S K E R
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eil Tasker has a degree in graphic design and he’s kind of surprised by that. “The funny thing is, I would have never pictured that I would end up as an artist. I took one art class in highschool as a blow off and I barely passed. In college I had to register late one semester, leaving very few classes open, one of which was a course on typography. I knew nothing about it but decided to take it, and after the first class meeting, I remember knowing this was where I was supposed to be.” The majority of Neil’s work is lettering for magazines, books and advertising. After realizing the limitations of drawing lettering on a computer, Neil went back to the drawing board. “I had come to a realization that I had no formal understanding of letterforms. I decided to practise drawing letterforms by hand with a pencil, copying samples from old type specimen books. While this helped greatly improve my skill and understanding, I still felt there was a gap in my knowledge. This is what led to me calligraphy.” Neil still considers calligraphy a hobby, a distinction that allows for more freedom. “I can step away from the computer and head over to my desk to do calligraphy for fun. There are no deadlines or art directions, just a pen and empty sheet of paper. It is very relaxing.” Of course, as anyone who has dipped a nib into ink can attest, things can go wrong quite suddenly. “Calligraphy is a one-shot art form, and to me that is the most frustrating part. Mistakes are going to happen from time to time; you just learn to work around them as you become more practised. I’ve had the nib snag and ink splatter on pieces that were almost finished and you just want to snap the pen in half.” Despite these setbacks, Neil considers practising calligraphy an important influence on his client work. “I work primarily with pencil sketches and Adobe Illustrator for my client work, but calligraphy has helped me grow so much by bridging the gap between the computer age and understanding the traditional side of lettering.” “Calligraphy is an essential part of typography, which to me is the largest part of design,” says Neil. “Before typesetting, letters were drawn by hand by calligraphers and lettering artists. A great example is to look at Hermann Zapf, a calligrapher and typeface designer who has been a part of both the digital and analogue world. Behind any great typeface is someone who understands calligraphy and how letters are constructed. Calligraphy is the root of why we have so many great typefaces digitally, which in the end gives designers today a lot of potential to create beautiful design work.” neiltasker.com
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M O L LY J A C Q U E S
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olly Jacques describes her work as “the love child between illustration and graphic design.” She works as a full-time editorial calligrapher, lettering illustrator and co-owner of a font foundry. These various entreprises help keep her enthusiastic; Molly admits that she has a short attention span. “It’s a weakness of mine,” she says. “I think calligraphy forces me to focus on details that I might otherwise overlook. This practice seeps into my everyday life and helps me grow strong in areas that are very important. Also, calligraphy is deeply rooted in education. It’s the reason I started teaching. The more I teach, the more I learn. It’s a beautiful cycle.” Calligraphy workshops have become a popular activity. For some participants it is a fun diversion, for others it is the start of a professional pursuit. “Calligraphy is in high demand these days,” says Molly. “I think this is often said, but it’s true: people want to connect with real things. Calligraphy is hand made. It’s imperfect. In a digital world, it’s so important for us to remember that we are human beings that are capable of creating beautiful things with imperfections.” Molly advises beginners to be willing to persevere through frustrations. “Most people think that when their calligraphy isn’t going smoothly, they are the problem. Really, it’s usually just the tools that you’re working with that might not be a good fit. Figuring out what surface works best with specific nibs and mediums is tricky and takes a while.” Even calligraphers whose work is seemingly perfect struggle with the finer points of style. “For example, I’m not that great at flourishes,” admits Molly. “I’ve been practising like crazy and studying the masters to get a better handle on the art but it has been difficult for me. Recently while I was practising, using pencil, I started to to become more aware of the negative spaces within my flourish forms. It was a mini-breakthrough. So rewarding! I’m still no master at flourishes, but I’m progressing—that’s the important part!” She’s currently focussing on her lowercase Rs: “My usual Rs are distinguished by a dramatic raindrop-shaped loop. I’m now experimenting with a more free-form upper loop that gives words a wild, organic feel. It’s another thing I haven’t perfected yet, but I’m enjoying developing it.” By paying attention to these elements, Molly is able to keep her aesthetic fresh. mollyjacquesillustration.com
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CALLIGRAPHY TIPS FOR BEGINNERS INVEST IN GOOD SUPPLIES. Save yourself from struggling with cheap supplies and invest in quality tools at the very beginning. Arts and crafts stores tend to have very limited selections, so I go to Paper & Ink Arts (paperinkarts. com) for my nibs, penholders and specialty items. –JOY DENEEN
The Nikko G nib, Moon Palace Sumi no.170 ink and Smooth practice paper is what I recommend to beginners. In the beginning, try not to worry so much about it looking so perfect, but learn how the tool works. –MAYBELLE IMASASTUKULS
KEEP IT CLEAN. Clean your nibs before first use. Nibs have a coating to protect from rust, but it also repels ink, so you won’t be able to write. I apply a little bit of plain white toothpaste with a Q-tip and then rinse with water. –NEIL TASKER CONNECT WITH OTHERS. Take a class. There are so many calligraphy classes out there these days that will meet your needs. You could take an online class (I teach one over on Skillshare) to learn the very basics, or you could take a more in-depth class in person. –MOLLY JACQUES
Find a good teacher to start. In the first phases it is important to have the supervision of an expert who can show you the right tools, the right angle, the 72 / U P P E R C A S E
right pressure, the right paper and of course the right forms. –PIETRO PISCITELLI
Google the words “calligraphy guild” plus your state or province. Nearly all calligraphy societies are open to anyone with a love of lettering arts. Although you will find many seasoned artists and professional calligraphers, guilds are full of newbies, students and hobbyists. Guilds offer incredible workshop opportunities with local and international instructors. Online courses and books can supplement your studies, but nothing holds a candle to live classes and the relationships you build within a community. And we are a notoriously friendly bunch, so don’t hesitate to reach out! –JOY DENEEN
PRACTICE. To begin practising, write with guides (slant, baseline, etc.) printed out on paper. It is essential build up muscle memory of how the letters sit on the guidelines. iampeth.com is the most resourceful site for lessons and tips to get you started. –NEIL TASKER
POINTED PEN TIPS FROM ERICA McPHEE There are two ways to approach learning how to use a pointed pen. You can learn how to use a pointed pen and play around with your own writing to create a modern style. This can easily be done in a couple of hours and refined with infinite practice. Or you can start with the basics and learn either Copperplate or Spencerian script and then branch off to create your own style. I certainly advocate the latter but support both. Either way, please follow my suggestions at right.
SEB LESTER’S RECOMMENDED TOOLS
2. CONCENTRATE on improving one thing at a time. First work on form, then oval shapes, then squaring letters, etc.
3. REMEMBER that you are drawing letters constructed of strokes, not writing them. 4. PRACTICE from an exemplar. Memorize the letter forms. Even with modern calligraphy, make your own so your work is consistent. Then you can add variety. 5. RELAX! Tension creates shaky lines. Listen to music. Enjoy the process. Have fun.
NIKKO G NIB WITH OBLIQUE PEN HOLDER
COPIC WIDE EXTRA BROAD
KURETAKE BRUSH PEN
LOOK TO THE PAST. It’s tempting to completely dive into learning from contemporary calligraphers, but I’d highly recommend learning some of the tradition first. For example, I learned the tradition of Copperplate calligraphy from Eleanor Winters’ book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy. –MOLLY JACQUES
PILOT PARALLEL PEN
MANUSCRIPT ITALIC FOUNTAIN PEN
TOMBOW ABT BRUSH PEN
P H O T O C O U R T E S Y M O L LY J A C Q U E S
1. START SLOW. Take time to learn the proper way to insert a nib and prepare it for lettering, and how the thicks and thins are created. This will save you from lots of frustration.
I must confess that I devised the â€œCalligraphy Auditionsâ€? open call for submissions so that I could have the pleasure of receiving examples of calligraphy from UPPERCASE readers from all over the world. The following gallery of calligraphy highlights just some of the amazing talent that was delivered to my mailbox.
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M O L LY S U B E R T H O R P E
B R O O KSV I L L E , M A I N E , U S A
I got hooked on calligraphy in design school and soon after founded Plurabelle Calligraphy & Design Studio. I enjoy working with clients from around the globe on projects ranging from wedding invitation suites to company branding. I specialize in modern calligraphic script styles that I combine with clean layouts and bold colour palettes. My special passion is teaching—workshops, private tutoring and lecturing—because I get to share my love of lettering with all sorts of great people in creative settings. Besides in-person teaching, I also offer a Skillshare online class, Digitizing Calligraphy: From Sketch to Vector, geared toward calligraphers looking to take their work into the realm of graphic design. My book, Modern Calligraphy: Everything You Need To Know to Get Started in Script Calligraphy (St. Martin’s Press, 2013) has been an Amazon bestseller from the start and was selected as an Editor’s Pick in September 2013. My work has been featured in such publications as Martha Stewart Weddings, Country Living Magazine, Style Me Pretty Weddings and C Magazine and online at Oh So Beautiful Paper, Snippet & Ink, Daily Candy and The Guardian.
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MAUREEN VICKERY H O U STO N , T E X A S , U S A
I have been a professional calligrapher for the past 13 years, working mainly in the wedding industry. My love of letters started when my mother bought me a calligraphy instruction book when I was in middle school. I would spend hours drawing the letterforms with pencil over and over. I finally took formal calligraphy lessons when I decided to address my own wedding invitations. I work mainly in traditional pointed pen styles, but I would like to branch out to modern and contemporary styles to loosen up a bit!
CHELSEA HOWELLS C E DA R C I T Y, U TA H , U S A
After I complete my BFA in Graphic Design this December, I hope to go into letterpress, book design and hand lettering. My dream is to have my own design studio. My husband is a canyoneering guide, and I am very close to nature. I love the old as well as the new, but I like to mix the two together. I want to find harmony between the perfection of technology and our hand-made humanity. I believe that modernism has failed us because it only fulfils half of our human experience. I love processes like calligraphy because they allow us to use our hands and be human again. I know my calligraphy isnâ€™t perfect. But, just like humans, itâ€™s not supposed to be perfect.
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KATHRYN MURRAY VA L L E Y G L E N , CA , U S A
I have always had a love for handwritten letters, fine penmanship and the intimate correspondence of bygone days. As a child I played “stationery store,” and now I get to live that dream. I studied illustration in school, but found I was always adding text to each painting. In time that developed into my signature style of script and I found it was a service in demand. I am a full-time calligrapher based out of Los Angeles, California, specializing in wedding work and custom invitations.
KRISTEN DROZDOWSKI Y P S I L A N T I , M I C H I GA N , U S A
I’m a hand letterer and print designer with an obsession for stationery, paper and print. I have loved learning the art of calligraphy and continue to be inspired. When I’m not addressing envelopes or practising, I’m designing screen-printed cards and paper goods. My love for calligraphy stems from my adoration of hand-made typography, along with the emotional connection I have always had with words and writing. It’s easy to forget how beautiful it feels to receive a message written in actual handwriting. Handwritten notes are more special than ever now, as they are more commonly seen and felt as art rather than just words. Being left-handed also throws some fun into the mix for me, especially in the learning process!
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MOYA MINNS AT L A N TA , G EO R G I A , U S A
I am a passionate calligrapher who started this wonderful artistic journey as a little girl in the Bahamas with a calligraphy pen in hand doing her homework. I went on to study accounting but never forgot about this beautiful art form. Once in the USA, I studied calligraphy under the Chief White House Calligrapher while working with several large corporations. I left my auditing job two-and-a-half years years ago to fulfil my dream of being a full-time calligrapher, and I love every minute of my day now. My classic calligraphy style allows the true elegance of calligraphy to shine through. For me, calligraphy is a calling.
G R E E N F I E L D, O H I O, U S A
I taught myself calligraphy to keep the art of the handwritten letter alive. It has become a lovely career where my work has been seen on various Anthropologie projects, as well as teaching workshops and on Etsy. My style tries to hold onto the nostalgic and timeless nature of the art form, while playing with the whimsy of the modern twist of calligraphy today.
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WENDY XU W E ST H O L LY WO O D, CA , U S A
I studied graphic and type design in school. Last spring, I took a calligraphy class with Pat Blair. Since then, I have practised calligraphy every day. I have started taking on wedding calligraphy work and continue to hone my skills at writing pretty. I gravitate towards classic styles of calligraphy. I love that in the hands of a master penman, a handwritten message could rival the precision of computer-printed texts yet infuse the human touch that machines cannot produce. Each handwritten message is one of a kind, personal and preserves the thoughts and mood of the calligrapher—something to be treasured forever. I’d like to think that my approach is grounded in traditional techniques but my strokes carry on my inner quirks. I’m also obsessed with ligatures and flourishes so they somehow always sneak into my work.
VA N C O U V E R , B C , CA N A DA
I am a professional calligrapher with over 30 years experience. I have done work for Microsoft, Chanel, Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton as well as many professional and government organizations. I am a faculty member at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in their Continuing Studies. My focus currently is the trend to see calligraphy more as a fine art rather than just a craft. The alphabet is the original abstract art and when strung together to make words is a powerful form of self expression.
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PATRICIA DAWKINS CA LGA RY, A L B E RTA , CA N A DA
I used to be a calligrapher, a lifetime ago. I was obsessed with letters—writing them, looking at them, reading about them, attending classes and workshops in Canada and the US, teaching others. I studied under international greats— Thomas Ingmire, Liza Schulte, Mark Van Stone, Julian Waters, Martin Jackson, Alan Blackman and so many more. For several years I wrote letters every day, squeezing it into a busy life with children, a spouse, volunteering and working part time at the family business. I was a founding member of the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild, president for a couple of years and workshop co-ordinator for a couple more. They were heady times. The guild grew by leaps and bounds. Our newsletter was distributed throughout the world and our workshops were very popular. It was a marvelous community, very supportive and inspirational. I received many beautiful envelopes, cards and letters in the mail. And then I went to art school. I was driven by the fact that most of the calligraphers I admired had some art school training. My calligraphy teacher said it would ruin me and I must confess she may have been right. I paid my way through art school doing commercial calligraphy jobs and teaching. The love and passion that I had for letters never left me but my interests moved in new directions. I developed a keen interest in contemporary art and still can’t get enough of it. The challenging stuff, the more difficult the better, the more it makes me think the more engaged I become. The more subtle and obtuse the more I like it. I left calligraphy behind.
BRIGITTE STERMANN VA N C O U V E R , B C , CA N A DA
I have loved hand lettering all of my life. I am fortunate to have a career in graphic design, which has allowed me to, on occasion, incorporate this hobby into my day job. Because much of my work is now digital, it is so rewarding to be able to create something by hand with pen and ink. This card was created with walnut ink and sumi ink, using a ruling pen and brush. The quote perfectly expresses how I feel about calligraphy.
Occasionally I find myself looking at calligraphy again with a yearning for something that used to feed my soul. While in London visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum I stumbled upon the Saint John’s Bible and recognized the work of Thomas Ingmire and Donald Jackson. My heart leapt in my chest. I spent a long time looking, remembering and wondering why I chose a path away from calligraphy, away from that supportive environment and into one very different from where I had come from. But there is no going back. I do one calligraphy job a year now for the Alberta College of Art and Design, writing the name of the Governor General’s Award winner on a certificate and booklet. Otherwise my life as a calligrapher seems a world away, but one that I look back on with great fondness.
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E M I LY P O E - C R AW F O R D W I N STO N - S A L E M , N O RT H CA R O L I N A , U S A
My background is in music and literature; I studied both in college and went on to earn an MA in English literature. I taught myself calligraphy during graduate school as a hobby, and decided to make it into a career after addressing a close friendâ€™s wedding invitations and really enjoying the process. Since starting my business, Em Dash Paper Co., Iâ€™ve developed a variety of new lettering styles in addition to the calligraphic script I used in the beginning, and I create the hand-lettered designs I sell in my shop by artfully mixing these different styles. My approach to calligraphy and lettering is fluid; rather than strictly adhering to a particular established calligraphy alphabet, I am constantly building on and improving my original script using elements I encounter in nature, daily life and the world of design.
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LINDA YOSHIDA M O N T E R E Y PA R K , CA , U S A
I have always loved “beautiful writing.” My first exposure to calligraphy was in the sixth grade—my teacher had the most exquisite handwriting and taught the entire class italic hand! I was so inspired by her that I would sit at my desk after finishing my homework and practise my cursive over and over. Since then, I have continued my love of letterforms by studying graphic design and typography, then working as a web designer and graphic designer. I am a member of the Society for Calligraphy in Los Angeles and I have been studying with master calligrapher Yukimi Annand for about three years. I also take classes and workshops. Currently, I am doing calligraphy work via my Etsy shop at BloomCalligraphy.com. Because I have a foundation of classic calligraphy scripts, my approach combines the traditional and the modern. I am a huge music fan, so much of my calligraphy work is inspired by music and lyrics, as well as some of my favourite TV shows.
S A N TA F E , N E W M E X I C O, U S A
I have a great passion for all things handmade and in recent years have played with papier-mâché, made tiny figures from paper clay, “painted” with thread through stitched embroidery and carved hundreds of rubber stamps to decorate cards, tags, journals and letters. My favourite pen is never far from my hand . . . to jot notes, record inspiration, sketch ideas. I love to write. I have been an illustrator/designer for most of my life, licensing my art for products with companies such as Caspari, CR Gibson, Melissa Neufeld, Michel & Co., Gregg Gift, Free Spirit Fabrics and Blend Fabrics. Writing (decorative lettering) has always made me happy. It is a big part of each day. Why can’t writing a cheque be creative? I do not think of it as unusual because it is part of my everyday. I realize, though, that I might be unique in my delight of a tiny swirl at the end of every “S” that I scribe.
C O U RT E N AY, B C , CA N A DA
I have a degree from UBC in chemistry, but have always been pulled to hand lettering. I think my left brain likes the challenging rules of formal lettering! Over time my right brain stepped in to help broaden my love of making art. I now use my lettering skills to create my rubber stamp line, which I ship worldwide, and more recently I’ve had my digital cutting file designs licensed by Silhouette America. quietfiredesign.ca U P P E R C A S E / 81
JULIE DOAN W I N N I P EG , M A N I TO B A , CA N A DA
I have a degree in graphic design with a background in photography and started hand lettering as something complementary to my work. After noticing that I spent more time writing and drawing letters than anything else, I decided to learn more about it and taught myself calligraphy. Calligraphy is so emotive. I love how something can be expressed with words as well as with the way those words are written. I’ve been hard at work at this craft for the past four years and am still learning new things every day. There really is no end to what you can do! I now work freelance as a calligrapher and hand-letter for Kate & Birdie Paper Co., working on paper goods. I think my design background coupled with drawing letterforms rather than simply writing them helps me find interesting ways to approach calligraphy; making connections and forms within the strokes and words that make my work unique.
HEATHER BLOEM S A N F R A N C I SC O, CA L I FO R N I A , U S A
I have a love for handwriting and design, and my passion for colour, texture and typefaces is what inspires me. I began my career in landscape architecture, but found pen and ink always working its way into whatever I did. So I pursued that passion, studied typography and fell in love with all things paper. A genuine appreciation for the classic and timeless beauty of calligraphy inspired me to learn more. I’ve had the privilege of turning that passion into what is now Design Roots. I do it because I love it. I do it because it allows me to still be a mom and a wife. With the support and inspiration of my husband and kids, I’ve been able to continue pushing forward, growing professionally and sharing my passion with others. I often feel like design is something that is a part of who I am, deeply rooted within me. Hence Design Roots, which is also a nod to my background in landscape architecture and love of trees.
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C H A N N I N F U LT O N S A N D I EG O, CA L I FO R N I A , U S A
I came across calligraphy through a coworker friend last year while at a summer design internship. He introduced me to basic strokes and bought me some calligraphy supplies. I loved it so much! I began practising late at night just for fun. I find it incredibly relaxing. I love to explore interesting flourishes and create a flirtatious baseline. I hope to continue and strengthen my skills for many years to come, as it brings me joy and calms me after a busy day.
BY R O N B AY, N E W SO U T H WA L E S , A U ST R A L I A
I am a calligrapher and letterpress printer based in a tiny seaside town, Byron Bay, the most easterly point of Australia. I handwrite contemporary calligraphy with a whimsical twist! I have always done more modern styles of calligraphy since my teens. I was a graphic designer/art director in magazine publishing for most of my working life before now making calligraphy my sole career. My heart is driven by lettering that is clean, modern and exudes personality. pickme.com.au
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LISA MAVIAN TO R O N TO, O N TA R I O, CA N A DA
I am a graphic designer by education and trade. I graduated from the Center for Creative Studies–College of Art and Design in Detroit. I then worked as an art director at Chrysler many moons ago. I have always been fascinated with letters and form and words. I love poetry, and to me, ultimately, calligraphy is poetry in motion. I am very impressed by people who write well and who can put words together to form meanings that strike a note, a feeling. In the same way, calligraphy is dynamic. It can emphasize, illustrate and enhance. It is ever-evolving. For me, calligraphy is a career. I started postcalligraphy to lend my voice to this art form and help fill the void that has people yearning for a way to add beauty to invitations, envelopes, personal letters, identities, brands and more in this digital world. I am self-taught and constantly learning and looking. For me, a lot can be said in the silence, in the spaces; in what we reveal or choose to keep hidden. It’s all in the edit.
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PEGGY BARRETT ROBINSON B R I G H T S G R OV E , O N TA R I O, CA N A DA
I love words . . . and language, books, reading, letters and writing! I pursued calligraphy as I do all things; I just jumped in with both feet and played, on my own, finding pens and letterforms, pencils and shapes; happily creating wedding invitations, signs and stationery for family and friends. After high school I headed to college for an interior design program but fell in love with graphic art and, in my architectural drafting class, lettering. I recently had an opportunity to meet up with that instructor, 40 years on, for lunch and had the joy of telling him of his impact on me. My husband’s career took us across Canada, and while in Calgary I discovered the largest calligraphy guild in the country, along with some of the most talented, generous and encouraging artists anywhere. There I finally got real instruction with top international teachers, in classical forms, with history lessons and guided experimentation with likeminded journeyers! Now I take commissions and have sent my work around the world. We’ve retired to our lakeside home near family, with an inspiring and calming view of the water from my dreamy new studio. This is bliss!
SCHIN LOONG H E N D E R SO N , N E VA DA , U S A
I am a graphic artist and illustrator, and calligraphy is a hobby that is slowly taking over my life! It started out as a fun thing I did in my spare timeâ€”I was just writing quotes and things with old fashioned dip nib and ink to get away from the technologysaturated world. I did some Christmas envelopes for friends and earlier last year I started Openinkstand and began taking work formally. The response has been encouraging and these days it is my second job as well as a way for me to relax after a long day at work. In the future I would love to merge calligraphy with my art, and use it as a new form of self-expression.
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Paris has calligraphy at its heart STORY BY CANAN MARASLIGIL PHOTOS BY ERINÇ SALOR
VISIT CALLIGRAPHIS ONLINE calligraphie.com
n beautiful Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where art galleries and antique bookshops abound and surround the National School of Fine Arts, where type founder Firmin Didot of the famous Didot family of printers, publishers and typesetters once had his enterprise, there is a quiet and narrow street between the wider rues Bonaparte and de Seine. Rue Visconti was once host to writer Honoré de Balzac’s printing house and home to such people as the historian of French letters and typography Maximilien Vox and writer Jean Racine. Once there, stroll to number 16 and enter a haven for calligraphy. “A place like this is unique in Paris and even in France,” says Bruno Gigarel, a calligraphist specializing in Latin lettering, “and being in a street like rue Visconti, which was predestined for writing, where the whole neighbourhood is dedicated to letters, is really magical.” Calligraphis, an association founded in 2000, has been in this house since 2003. The building itself dates back to the 17th century, and like many other houses in the neighbourhood was required to accommodate the horses of the king’s Muskateer guard when needed. The city of Paris acquired the building in 1914, and for years it was abandoned. The rooms on the entrance floor, where Calligraphis is based, are now entirely dedicated to calligraphy. Four artists run the place and offer a wide range of workshops and weekly classes on the three great styles of calligraphy—Latin, Persian and Asian—to amateurs and professionals alike. “Many people who join our courses don’t know anything about calligraphy, but they come with knowledge from different areas. Some are historians, artists or graphic designers,” explains Bruno. “We do have professionals working in the visual arts who join to learn an art they have never been taught.” His colleague Laurent Rébéna adds that “calligraphy has for a long time been abandoned, even in arts schools.” Bruno and Laurent both come from the Scriptorium de Toulouse, founded in 1968 as a calligraphy and type design workshop inside the Toulouse School of Fine Arts. It closed in 2005. In a climate that makes
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it difficult for calligraphy to exist, Calligraphis perseveres, driven by the passion and hard work of the association’s founders and members. Both Bruno and Laurent were passionate about typography and the history of writing, and decided to continue working in the art of calligraphy rather than pursue careers in advertising (Bruno thought he could turn his passion into a profession after reading La civilisation de l’écriture by Roger Druet). However, the only way they could survive financially was to open up to the wider public. Today, the artists of the association live entirely from calligraphy. They all work and exhibit across France and throughout Europe and have run workshops in Japan and Canada. Interested in research and experimentation, they also explore new ways to reach people through their art, such as working in large letters to emphasize the value of the gesture. “We would create an ephemeral work in the Jardin du Luxembourg, for example, using brooms and chalk, and it would get people’s attention,” says Bruno. “Everything used to be written on walls throughout history.” Even as our communication and tools for creation shift to the digital, the importance of the physical gesture will persist, even flourish. This can be seen by the number of graphic designers who attend the calligraphy courses, yearning to connect to the physical gesture. No matter the style of calligraphy, the gesture remains and you need to sit and concentrate. “You enter into a personal reflection, thinking about how you are going to invade that white space,” says Bruno. “It is the same whether you are in China, Tehran or France. Breathing and the position of your body is going to impact how you write.” When I tell Laurent and Bruno that what they are offering is quite unique, one of their students adds enthusiastically, “No, they are unique.” They are indeed unique, being among just 40 remaining professional calligraphers in France, and working in a distinct space where you can go to escape your daily routine. “We are preserved from the rest of the world. This space is like a refuge,” says Laurent. A refuge, certainly, but with doors wide open to all letter lovers.
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LETTERED For letterer and designer Claire Coullon, her sketchbook is a constant companion in a life full of travel and new adventures.
hen I was younger, my family moved around for my dad’s work, so travel has always played an important part in my life. After university in the UK, my boyfriend and I drove around Western Europe, ending up in Brussels where we lived and worked for a year. Since then, we’ve continued living in different places for either a few months or a few years, travelling in between. Being able to switch between living at a fixed address and moving around is a great way to keep things versatile and fun, by avoiding too much routine. As both an English and French native speaker, most of my lettering and typeface design projects revolve around those languages, but I’ve also worked a lot with Czech and some other European languages. I like diacritics so I find accent-heavy languages fun to work with, as it’s interesting figuring out how to design accents in keeping with the lettering approach. Language has come into play more with the typeface design work I’ve done than with lettering, although I’m sure this will change as I do more lettering in different languages. My lettering projects for clients tend to focus on custom logotypes. The style varies—I do a lot of script designs that are more casual and informal, as well as more classically inspired elegant scripts, sans serif designs, slab serifs, traditional serifs and of course designs that draw from many different styles. Overall, regardless of style, the designs are generally clean and simple while keeping hold of the warmth of hand-made lettering. Part of the simplicity is due to the nature of the logo. For instance, a logo must function at very small sizes and on different materials without distorting, and simplicity plays an important part in a logo’s ability to be instantly recognised. But I generally prefer subtlety in design, anyway—working importance into the smallest details rather than crowding ideas into a more complicated form. The other lettering projects I work on (either for clients or for myself ) involve packaging, stationery, book design and occasionally advertising. Depending on the context, the lettering style will be more or less elaborate and generally varies more than in my logotype work.
VIEW CLAIRE’S LETTERING PORTFOLIO coullon.com
I use sketchbooks for a mix of client projects and for myself, both of which often crossover. I typically use them for rough sketching, doodling, research, recording type samples, notes and so on. For client projects, I primarily use sketchbooks at the early stages of the work: refining and elaborating on the design brief, early notes and ideas, rough sketches for logotypes and the progression of the designs. Sometimes I’ll also use them to record the final refinements near the end of the project and to keep track of print-outs of different design versions so I can annotate them, draw on top of them and experiment. I’ve kept sketchbooks for years, and although they occasionally go through patches of being mostly filled with to-do lists, they’ve always been important to me. They are a really good way to explore different styles and follow the progression of your own interests. For instance, early this year I was really into drawing gothic scripts, before that I was drawing elegant scripts and more recently my sketchbook is full of typeface design and signage, as I’ve just finished taking sign painting and typeface design courses in New York. Ultimately I find them really enjoyable to sketch in, and through this have done a lot of practising and have learned a lot.
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SIGNS OF THE TIMES a hand-lettered legacy for Toronto
n the bustling corner of Bloor and Bathurst stands Honest Ed’s, a Toronto landmark that has remained virtually unchanged since it opened its doors in 1948. Along with the 23,000 twinkling flashbulbs and the delightfully punny signage on the exterior facade (“Honest Ed’s a NUT, but look at the CASHEW save!”), one of its most charming features is the colourful hand-painted showcards and advertisements displayed in abundance inside the store. At one time there were seven full-time sign painters at Honest Ed’s, but now all of the signs in the store are handcrafted by two seasoned sign painters: Wayne Reuben and Douglas Kerr. Sadly, the careers of these two commercial artists will soon be over, as Honest Ed’s is scheduled to close. But for now, things are business as usual, with a large painted notice outside that reads, “Hello! We are still open until December 31, 2016.”
STORY BY CHRISTOPHER ROULEAU PHOTOS BY BECCA GILGAN
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Their talents were showcased this spring when Honest Ed’s held its first public sign sale. Thousands of Torontonians waited patiently in line for over seven hours to get their hands on unused and antique signs, and to meet the craftsmen who created them. Wayne and “Dougie” became local celebrities, signing autographs until past midnight and raising almost $20,000 for Victim Services Toronto. The success of the sale showed that their work resonated with the public, both because of its handmade quality and the legacy it represented for Toronto. As an aspiring letterer, I wanted to learn more about their craft and get a chance to hear their story. I sat down with Wayne at the tiny Honest Ed’s sign shop to talk about his career as a commercial artist and get his thoughts on the resurgence of traditional hand lettering and sign painting. q You started at Honest Ed’s in 1967 and worked here for about two-and-a-half years, then returned to Honest Ed’s in 1995. Can you tell me more about your sign painting career? a I started here in ’67. Then I went down and designed the windows at Simpson’s [department store]. I took an art course at Cedarbrae, where I met my wife. We had two kids. We moved back to Toronto, and I then worked at Pennington’s doing their windows for a while. Then I came back to Ed’s in ’95 and I started painting signs again. So it’s like a big circle. q When Ed Mirvish founded Honest Ed’s in 1948, did he come up with the original colour scheme and branding? a More or less. He liked everything, and said, “You can do it the way you want, just as long as you put the price in red.” q Where do you think Mr. Mirvish drew his inspiration from? Broadway? Vegas? a I have no idea! It could be. He liked the bright lights and the novelty of it all. Honest Ed’s is the only one that does it to this scale. Even back in the day there were a few stores that did it, but this is the only store that’s been around so long doing it on this scale. Everybody back in the day did silkscreen. They tried letterpress once, the one with the blocks. It took forever. I said, “I can’t do it! I can knock out 20 signs before you get the blocks set up.” So that went by the wayside.
end of 2016. How does it make you feel? a Well, it’s been fun. I’m 67—I don’t wanna be killing myself. I’ve got grandkids to spend time with. q So you get to “gracefully retire”? a Yeah. I will still probably do the odd thing. And if the grandkids want to learn it, I can teach them.
Ed always believed in the hand-painted signs. He liked it, and that’s what he was known for.
q Speaking of teaching, do you have any interest in passing your knowledge down as an educator and keeping the tradition alive?
q Do you have any memories or anecdotes from when the digital era of signmaking began?
a I’ve been offered to teach a class up at York University. I haven’t really decided. I hate to teach something that’s not really going to be useful to anybody, in terms of getting a job. You have to get the students set up with supplies, get their brushes. And the brushes aren’t cheap. These Langnickel brushes cost $40 to $50 a pop, and even the 1 Shot paint—that small tin is $40. There’s not a whole lot of places that carry that, other than Graphic Commerce [in Toronto].
a It came in so gradually. I did a lot of outdoor signage for pharmacies—big banners—and variety stores. I’d be up until 11 or 12 o’clock at night doing signs. And slowly, just less and less work as things slowly started drifting towards digital. Now I don’t do anything like that. q The last I heard, Honest Ed’s will remain open until the
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Never say never. If someone says, “Do you want to do it?”, I might give it a shot. A lot of people I’ve talked to say there’s been a resurgence. More and more people are getting tired of this digital stuff. They want the thing that’s more personalized. q There certainly is a resurgence of sign painting, chalkboards and old-school lettering in Toronto—like you said, people yearning for something more personal. Do you think it will last? a It will come back, but not on the scale it once was. Especially if you’re doing a truck—putting the company's name on it and all that fancy stuff—to charge how long it would actually take you to do that type of thing. It’s the cost factor—when a guy can just run it off a printer and stick it on. But on a small sale, people could do it for their stores for sure. Doug and I used to work on the ice cream trucks. I worked a couple of summers doing that. It’s a lot of work. You’re also working with that oil-based paint in the confines of warehouses. It can be dangerous. A good friend of mine, he used to do a lot of air brush for vans, motorcycles, gas tanks, stuff like that. He was about 36. He died. His lungs, because of all that spray. Even though he had the mask, it just got to him. He was so young when he died. So you have to be careful. q I’ve heard you quoted as saying, “If you find a job that you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Do you have any other advice for aspiring artists, designers and letterers? a If you really enjoy it, if you really want to learn it, don’t get discouraged, because it’s not easy. Everybody makes it look easy. Like anything you do, if you do it long enough and you work hard at it, it will come. If you really want to learn it, just keep at it. Keep practising. It will come. I have people come in, they say, “They all look the same. You have a machine here?” I say, “Yeah, me!”
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LESLIE LEWIS SIGLER object portraits
STORY BY VINCIANE DE PAPE PHOTOS BY CARA ROBBINS
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California-based Leslie Lewis Sigler is best known for her unique oil paintings of silver heirlooms. Her work explores the beauty and individual character of family objects like flatware utensils and vessels, and examines the histories and lifespans of these items. Her paintings have been exhibited in a number of galleries in Santa Barbara, California.
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ascinated by objects that have a story, Leslie aims to communicate the distinctive feel and personality of each piece. Her still-life paintings take on more of a portrait-like quality, transforming otherwise common objects into subjects rich with history. “Flatware and vessels intrigue me because they seem to have an eternal life,” she explains. “They pass through family generations as cherished heirlooms, survive the purgatory of antique markets, or perhaps find new life at estate sales.” Leslie also sees sets of silver flatware or vessels as “families” of objects that form a lineage, their stories ever evolving. Her recent series, Relatives, explores this idea. “Two years ago I painted 10 individual paintings of various silver utensils,” she says. “The idea of representing family through still life was already a strong theme in my work, but with these utensils I was interested in the idea of an extended family, or relatives, that have a similar function but vary in form, size, detail and condition. The history and personality of each relative is revealed in each of these characteristics.” Leslie has completed over 80 paintings in the Relatives series and continues to add to it, even being inspired to start a new series. Painting has always been a passion for Leslie. She dabbled in watercolour, charcoal drawing and acrylic painting, but it wasn’t until college that she discovered oils. “When my TA sat me down and explained the proper technique of mixing oil paint—how a formula of five tube colours can
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make the most beautiful putty periwinkle—I was hooked and fascinated with how to create colours I see, not colours I know,” she remembers. Now, Leslie’s days are primarily spent working with oils. A typical day in the studio starts with cleaning her palette from the previous painting day and studying whichever piece or pieces she is currently composing. “I’ll mix colours for the particular piece I’m working on, lay out an underpainting for a new piece or consider which objects to use for the next painting,” she says. Leslie usually works on two to three pieces at a time, so it’s not uncommon for her to spend an entire day working away at several paintings. For the most part, a new project begins with sourcing objects, which can come from a number of avenues. Sometimes Leslie puts out a call for silver heirlooms, in which she asks her far-reaching network of friends and family to send her unique items. Other times she will select from her growing personal collection of pieces, gathered from garage sales and antique stores, as well as those special objects handed down in her own family. Lately, fans of her work have begun coming forward, offering to show her their silver collections. Ranging from treasure chests full of various family heirlooms that haven’t seen the light of day in decades to entire butler’s pantries stacked from floor to ceiling with sparkling silver, there certainly doesn’t seem to be a shortage of inspiration to choose from. “Often during this part of the process I get to learn the history of some of the objects: where they came from, what they are used for or how they came to be part of their collection,” says Leslie. “All of these details, from where I sourced the object to its particular history, influence each painting. Personal stories of love, connection and nostalgia are what inspire me.” Leslie’s sunny studio also influences her work. Santa Barbara is home to many American transplants, and people from all over the country have shared their silver collections with her. Her environment also directly influences each painting in a more literal sense. “The reflections depicted in my work are reflections of my surroundings: the California light reflecting on interior walls, the rich blue skies, what I’m wearing,” she says. “I find even the weather can influence the colours I choose that day.” Leslie is currently working on a series of portraits of silver vessels called Matriarchs, which honours the beloved mother figures in a family. She also hopes to expand outside the intimacy of small panels and experiment with more large-scale pieces, perhaps even exploring some of the abstraction seen in the reflections of silver objects. Leslie also plans to explore venues to exhibit her work outside of California, which is great news for those of us who have always wanted to appreciate the beauty and subtlety of her paintings in person. 100 / U P P E R C A S E
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bookhou is Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth. Hands-on makers and creators, they use natural materials for their products, which include silkscreened textiles, leather bags, ceramics and wooden furniture.
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“A shop view with some of John’s furniture pieces in the foreground.”
“Our home is in the same building as our studio and shop. Our kids are part of our studio life. It’s always nice to see them work on their own projects,” says Arounna. “We make all our goods in-house. I do all the printing and we mix all our own colours.”
“What drew me to silkscreening was how it captured the natural qualities of my drawings.”
Through her blog and Instagram, Arounna shares a look into her life through photographs. “I really enjoy taking photos of our products. Playing with light and the mood of the photo is always a fun challenge.” Her photos go beyond simply being product photography. “Taking pictures is not just a means of documenting but it’s also a creative outlet for me: looking at the object or space, capturing the light and the composition, the texture and surface. When it all falls into place there’s so much harmony.”
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FAR LEFT Silkscreened pillows, part of the bookhou home collection. TOP LEFT “Remnants from my daughter’s flower crown. I like the simplicity of shapes, and when a plant dries out they have such lovely gestures.” LEFT “I like the meditative qualities of carving and the transformative qualities of taking a material and slowly evolving it into a functional object.” BELOW “My sketchbooks are filled with ideas. This page shows a quick method of figuring out the layout of watercolours, using different tones of sepia washes.” RIGHT “I created this display to showcase our fabric containers.” BELOW RIGHT “We are at the tail end
of a long renovation. We were thrilled to include a non-production studio above the garage. I will use this space for drawing, painting, embroidering and more.”
bookhou.com bookhouathome.blogspot.com instagram.com/bookhou
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MAKING, WEARING, COLLECTING, DECORATING AND OTHER ASPECTS OF CREATIVE STYLE
THE HOUSE OF CARDBOARD
STORY BY JANE AUDAS PHOTOS BY DOSSHAUS
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Les Deux de Dosshaus Les Deux is Zoey Taylor and David Connelly. They are multimedia artists and they live in Dosshaus. They make films, animation and photography featuring themselves. They are the characters of their own stories. Looking at Les Deuxâ€™s work it is easy to try to read it as autobiographical, a tendency exacerbated by the seeming intimacy of their relationship and often domestic nature of their subject matter. You feel what you are looking at must be more real than it appears.
his real/unreal tension plays out well in the piece Zoey and David are currently building: the House of Cardboard. As they unpack it photo by photo for our viewing pleasure (on a Tumblr of the same name) it seems that they must indeed be building a real house. But not yet, Zoey and David told me. Though they would be delighted to eventually present an exhibition of the House of Cardboard, it is currently a series of set pieces in a series of photographs. Rooms in this facsimile house, details of rooms and sometimes views from the rooms are all intricately constructed from cardboard in a mostly monochrome palette and then beautifully archived in gentle colour U P P E R C A S E / 107
photographs, which seem, somehow, to be black-and-white photographs. Acrylic paint and glue transforms this most prosaic of materials. Cardboard is cheap and available, as Zoey says: “there is a blank canvas in every alley.” Their approach to the material is to leave it slightly raw—you can tell it is cardboard, but it is cardboard removed, remodelled and represented. Travelling through the rooms of the House of Cardboard is a character played by Zoey, dressed head to toe in cardboard clothing, posed in situ with furniture, cameras, paintings, dinner tables, record players and, most intriguingly, an airplane. How incongruous, to repair one’s airplane in a white cardboard dress and not dungarees. Yet Zoey says this is a realistic scenario—she is, she says, often overdressed while she is creating her art. Les Deux’s influences while making House of Cardboard are here for all to see: The Chagall Room, a painting After Basquiat, a guitar modelled After Picasso. Their House of Cardboard also references numerous artists who have worked with the same material.
EXPLORE DOSSHAUS dosshaus.com dosshausdeux.blogspot.com
David only occasionally pops into the photos as the man of the house. This is first and foremost a woman’s imaginative playhouse, writ large. It is almost childlike, creating worlds in great detail; refusing to accept other people’s definition of what should be and making real the imagined. Les Deux are keen to be seen as making impossible things possible with their art. The work of Les Deux exists in the space between art, design and media, and they refer to themselves as multimedia artists. The House of Cardboard is their most media-friendly work to date, but it is only part of their output. More contemplative photos, short films and an animation—all on their website—come across as quieter collaborations, and are not as immediate as the House of Cardboard. These other pieces have narrative, though viewers are left to decide on the truth of it all. On the horizon is a feature-length film, a natural progression of their projects that they hope will be on screens before the end of the year.
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Among these works, Les Deux post images of things they like on their blog, dosshausdeux, such as stills from films by François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Yasujirō Ozu, and nods to Diane Arbus and Edgar Allen Poe. Music is obviously a big thing for the two, with photos of Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, Elvis, Ravi Shankar and David Bowie posted on their blog, cardboard vinyl albums strewn across House of Cardboard and “Title Free Tuesday” album covers they create each week for their followers to identify. An earlier set of photos called The Party involved the two of them “sleevefacing” away, or holding album covers that feature faces in front of their own faces. Their blog maps how the pair has worked together since meeting in October 2011, and how they have refined their artistic relationship. Zoey and David are among the new breed of artists who use digital multimedia to both display and deliver their art. They hold conversations with their public, and announce on forums and Twitter that new rooms in the House of Cardboard are in the pipeline. The titles of their works are often posed more like social media statements: “Can you guess what album Dosshaus is playing this week?”, “The man with two faces will be here for tea, will you join us?”, “In the House of Cardboard, it’s possible to own your favorite works of art.” Sharing the production of art in real time is possible for this new generation of digital artists. If artists want to, digital and social media platforms can pull their audience along for the ride and allow them to provide instant feedback—social media can even involve the audience in the process. Artists can control how and where their work is found online and enable it to continue being broadcasted. But the downside is that they cannot control the speed with which work is embraced and then discarded. It is a fickle world, the digital one—and a tricky one to make money from. How do you convert likes and retweets into a living wage? For the moment Les Deux are watching quietly, seeing what happens; continuing to make their work, continuing to put it out there. The limited personal information available on Zoey and David is intentional. They wish their work to speak for itself. Among all the exhaustive personal detail we wade through online today, a little bit of mystery, something left to the imagination, is surely no bad thing. But I am not sure Les Deux can fault us for wanting to know more; for hoping it is all real.
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CAPTURING SHADOWS T E X T BY B R E N DA N H A R R I S O N
ith Instagram, it’s easy to embrace the contrasts of blackand-white photography, to desaturate digital hues until they disappear altogether, leaving nothing behind but the interplay of darkness and light. The earliest photographs, of course, were black and white or sepia-toned not because someone applied Willow or Inkwell filters, but because of the limitations of the then-newfangled technology. All photos were monochromatic until colour photography was invented. Even after it was invented, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that colour film took over, itself giving way in the 21st century to digital photography, a medium most often associated with colour photos.
Anyone looking to pick up the hobby would be wise to follow Chris’s lead and sign up for an introductory course. Shooting, developing and printing your own black-and-white pictures demands a solid knowledge of technical processes. Learning the ropes in a structured environment with the proper equipment and a knowledgeable instructor establishes the foundation you need.
But black-and-white film photography is alive and well. Dedicated acolytes have remained true to the original medium, and it’s easy to understand why. There is something magical about capturing light and shadow in a box, trapping it with precious metals and fixing it forever with a careful concoction of chemicals. And while the label “black and white” implies a binary relationship of stark contrasts, the reality is that these photos are comprised of a startling array of greys every bit as complex as any chromatic composition.
In addition to classes, many towns and cities have specialty stores that sell equipment for developing and printing photos. These shops can be invaluable resources for getting started. If you don’t have a brick and mortar option, there are many online resources to choose from. And with many long-time photographers transitioning to digital only, you can find a lot of traditional film equipment for cheap on eBay and Kijiji.
I recently spoke with photographer and black-and-white loyalist Chris Tait about what initially drew him to the old-timey process. “I was of the first generation to learn on digital before film,” he says. “Before that you had to learn on film and then digital was this thing that made your life easier. I went in reverse.” “After I had been shooting for several years and had started doing a couple of jobs on the side, I took a film photography class at the university and I fell in love with it. It had a different look from what you can get with an average digital camera. It had a different feel to it. It was a little more organic.”
“There aren’t too many people who are selftaught, unless they did this in high school or something and got back into it later in life,” says Chris. “Even if you’re not starting from scratch, it’s good to relearn the process. The problem that a lot of people have at first is just speaking the language and figuring out what everything is and where you can find it.”
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a ton of gear to make your own black-andwhite photos. All you really need is film, a camera, a light-safe and watertight film processing tank, jugs or bottles for mixing chemicals, photographic paper, a safe light for your darkroom, a printing frame or enlarger, and trays for processing prints. Of course, it all begins with taking pictures. As soon as you click the shutter, light is captured on your film, activating silver crystals in the emulsion to create a latent image in the film. Next, you need to get the film out of your camera and into a light-safe developing tank. If you don’t have a darkroom at your disposal, you can use a dark bag (a light-tight bag with sleeves designed to let you transfer film in perfect darkness).
Once your film is loaded into the tank, you’re ready to mix up your chemicals. Black-andwhite chemicals are typically sold in concentrated solutions that you then prepare according to set instructions. The diluted chemicals are added to the tank in order: first the developer to make the latent image visible by darkening the silver that’s been touched by light, then a stop bath to stop the development process from continuing, then a fixer to wash away all of the silver that hasn’t been activated by the light. The last step is a rinse or wash, to ensure all the fixer is removed. “The worst thing that you can do is put the chemicals in the wrong order,” Chris says. “I’ve had friends who have put in the fix first. And that’s the worst. That’s irreversible. There’s nothing you can do at that point, there’s no silver to stick back onto the film, so you’ve totally botched an entire batch of film.” Assuming the worst doesn’t happen, you’ll end up with a negative of your image that you can use to print photos from. Although you can develop film at home relatively easily, you need some manner of darkroom to print photos. Once you’re set up in a darkroom, you follow a similar process to developing the film. Using an enlarger, you project light through the negative and onto a piece of light-sensitive photographic paper, creating a latent image. You then put this paper through a series of chemical baths to make the latent image visible: first a developer to darken the silver, then a stop bath to arrest development, then a fixer to rinse away everything that’s unnecessary. Although black-and-white film photography is unlikely to become as popular as it once was, it remains a rewarding pastime for those who pursue it. Equal parts art, science and craft, a well-crafted black-and-white photograph forces us to remember that amazing images have nothing to do with how many likes they produce.
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Linda Arandas U N I T E D S TAT E S
HOW ARE YOU CREATIVE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
U N I T E D S TAT E S
HOW ARE YOU CREATIVE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
HOW ARE YOU CREATIVE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
My background in graphic design influences my exploration of form, pattern and line. Drawings and photographs are the starting point from which I develop organic, abstract forms. The final pieces are digitally cut into stainless steel, aluminium, copper and reclaimed steel, transforming the drawn line into a tangible object.
I work full time as a print and pattern designer for a huge American retailer, and have a huge passion for illustration that I am trying to pursue outside of my day job. I recently started my own project, called My JetSetter Life, which combines my love for illustration and travel and has resulted in illustrated fold-out city maps that highlight the 25 quitessential “Jet Set” things to do whilst traveling.
I am mindful every day of my creative spirit and try to honour it in everything I do. WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT? I am curious about what a person’s handwriting reveals about their personality. WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION? Childhood art and notes from my children are my most valuable possessions. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LETTER OF THE ALPHABET AND WHY? I love writing the uppercase L in cursive. It reminds me of the winding path I’ve been on as an artist. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR? My favourite colour is the lovely robin’s egg blue. WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED CREATIVE TOOL? My favourite tool would be a dip pen. dandelioninkstudio.blogspot.com @dandelionink
IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU! uppercasemagazine.com/ participate
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WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT? The natural world—my work is inspired by pattern and structure in nature, focusing on silhouettes, shadows and movement of leaf, branch, light and flame, and explores repetition, balance and symmetry. WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION? Our latex ’60s Sprite caravan, which we are currently renovating and are going to use as a mobile studio and to help us get back to nature. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LETTER OF THE ALPHABET AND WHY? My favourite has to be S because it’s so curvy and sssssssexy just like my girlfriend Susan.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT? Travel, illustration and mid-century design. WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION? My art and illustration books. I have them piled up around my apartment, and they are a constant source of inspiration. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LETTER OF THE ALPHABET AND WHY? G, it’s my first initial. I love the curves and angles. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR? Aqua
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR?
WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED CREATIVE TOOL?
Pencil and ink. I do all my illustrations this way first before finishing and colouring them in Illustrator.
WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED CREATIVE TOOL?
grantkyoung.com myjetsetterlife.com @grantyoung79
My Apple Mac Pro. ianturnock.com secondnaturesculpture.blogspot.co.uk @iturnock
544 PA G E S
850 PAT T E R N S
VOLUME “F” IN THE UPPERCASE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF INSPIRATION
A multi-volume book set released in whimsical (non-alphabetical) order on all manner of intriguing topics.
eed sacks are the perfect example of a utilitarian product turned into something beautiful. Author Linzee Kull McCray explores the history of the humble feed sack, from a plain burlap or cotton sack to exuberantly patterned and colourful bags that were repurposed into frocks, aprons and quilts by thrifty housewives in the first half of the 20th century. Extensive imagery and at-scale reproductions of these fabrics create an inspiring sourcebook of pattern and colour—and offer a welcome visit to a slower-paced way of life. ||| uppercasemagazine.com/feedsacks
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letter love STORY AND PHOTO BY ANDREA JENKINS
hands. We’re obsessed with streamlining processes and eliminating seemingly superfluous tasks yet revere the time and effort that go into the things we make and do with our hands. We view the handmade as sacred, crave the tangible and the slower processes, and find comfort in the imperfections.
There has been a glorious resurgence in letter writing. Online, one can discover club after club devoted to reviving the art of the handwritten letter. Of course, we love the convenience and immediacy of technology, but at the end of the day we come back to what we can hold in our
I put my phone away and decided to write my friend a letter. I rummaged through boxes to find a forgotten stash of stationery and sat down at the dining room table. I started and stopped a few times, crossed things out, used my best penmanship. When I finished, I walked the letter down to the end of the driveway and put it in our mailbox for pickup the next day. I imagine the journey that letter will make, all the way across the country, from Atlanta, Georgia, to Portland, Oregon. I imagine my friend at her mailbox, opening the slot to find my handwritten letter amid bills and junk mail, tearing the envelope open and holding the letter in her hands. I can almost feel her smile—which, in my opinion, is better than all the texts and emails in the world.
letter came for me in the mail a few weeks ago, an actual letter. I can’t remember the last time I received a personal letter. I turned the paper envelope over in my hands, felt the slight weight of it, lingered over the handwritten script on the front. My name and my new home mailing address were written in charcoal grey ink. I was about halfway through the letter when I realized I was feeling something, and that something was absolute delight. My friend had taken the time to sit down and write me a letter. In the year 2014, that means something. I read through the four pages a couple of times and then, folly of all follies, I picked up my phone to text her. I couldn’t wait to tell her I’d received her letter and answer the questions she’d asked in it. I couldn’t wait to thank her. But then it hit me: sending a text in response to a thoughtful, handwritten letter would mean I’d missed the point entirely.
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EN C Y C LOPEDIA
S T I TC H • I L LO A R T BY K E L L I M AY- K R E N Z
A multi-volume book set released in whimsical (non-alphabetical) order on all manner of intriguing topics.
VOLUME “S” IN THE UPPERCASE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF INSPIRATION
TITCH•ILLO. Traditional embroidery and textile arts are enjoying a renaissance in new hands: artists and illustrators who use stitchery, embroidery, needlework, appliqué and textiles to tell stories. Stitch-illo highlights two sides: the textural, labour-intensive works of textile artists who tell stories through their work, and illustrators who eschew a computer and tablet and are turning to needle, thread and fabric as a means to communicate. From cute creations to deeply personal expressions, every stitch tells a story.
VOLUME “B” IN THE UPPERCASE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF INSPIRATION
O TA N I C A . Flowers and plants have always been the muse of artists and craftspeople. Botanica collects a veritable mixed bouquet of inspiring art, illustration, pattern designs, floral-inspired projects and botanically inclined lifestyles. Succulents and cacti and the simple potted plant are an of-the-moment trend, but this volume also goes back to historical sources and botanical ephemera, illustrating that creatives have an evergreen fascination with all things floral.
IN THIS ISSUE:
letraset lester pointed penman honest heraldry silver spoons nib nebuly church crest COVER BY SEB LESTER BACK COVER BY M AY B E L L E I M A S A- S T U K U L S
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C A N A D A