K IN D FOLK
for the C R E A T I V E and C U R I O U S
F A B R I C
N O W AVA I L A B L E I N F A B R I C S H O P S !
Taking graphic cues from the mechanics of print on paper— the rollers of a printing press, stacks of paper, halftone dots and registration marks—many of the patterns in UPPERCASE’s third collection with Windham Fabrics debuted as print on paper in previous issues of the magazine.
B O O K S
PUBLISHED I N D E P E N D E N T LY SINCE
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Dear Reader, To be called a “creative,” one must create. So we imagine, conceptualize, experiment and eventually make something intellectual, physical or experiential. Creatives make something that didn’t previously exist— unique manifestations of their own thoughts and hands. But how? And where does the inspiration to be creative come from? I think inspiration is all around us. It’s in the everyday, the ordinary and the mundane. It’s in the cracks, messes and failures that are a part of life. Some people might overlook or deny these imperfections, but by doing so they stifle an integral ingredient for creativity. Creative folk use these experiences to express themselves and reflect upon the human condition. The biggest gift that creative people have is how we see the world. Imperfections and all.
J A N I N E VA N G O O L
publisher, editor, designer
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Contents JULY / AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019
Win a copy of Imagine a Forest: Designs and Inspirations for Enchanting Folk Art by Dinara Mirtalipova by joining our newsletter list. Winner will be drawn on July 30, 2019. uppercasemagazine.com/free
Dinara Mirtalipova PAG E 26
ARE YOU NEW TO UPPERCASE MAGAZINE?
ART & DESIGN
EDITOR’S LET TER . . . . . . 3 SUBSCRIPTIONS . . . . . . . 7
C O V E R A R T I S T . . . . . . . . 26
S T I T C H . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Dinara Mirtalipova by Linzee Kull McCray
Textile Artist Anne Kelly
SNIPPETS . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 W O R T H W H I L E . . . . . . . . 10 T R E N D . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 B E G I N N I N G S . . . . . . . . . 12
What is Inspiration? Text by Janine Vangool Illustration by Andrea D’Aquino
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Jordan Buschur by Laura Tarrish
Bird Ceramics by Andrea Marván M AT E R I A L S . . . . . . . . . . 88
BACK ISSUES AND BOOKS shop.uppercase magazine.com
Marvellously Mundane Submissions by Readers
O R I G I N . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
FIELD TRIP . . . . . . . . .
Clothespins Text by Correy Baldwin FRESH . . . . . . . . . . .
S T U D I O . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
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Howard Finster's Paradise Garden by Andrea Jenkins
Carina Aigner, Roshi Rouzbehani, Maia Wyler, Berry Aktuglu, Abby Jacobs and Cindy Kang C O L L E C T I O N . . . . . . . . . 40
Shani Nottingham's The Breadtag Project by Emily Orpin
G A L L E R Y . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Folk Art Submissions by Readers D I S C O V E R . . . . . . . . . . 56
Corita Kent by Lydie Raschka
FINE PRINT L I B R A R Y . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 B U S I N E S S . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Imperfection or Originality? Text by Arianne Foulks
P A R T I C I P AT E . . . . . . . . . 62
Perfectly Imperfect Submissions by Readers
MISC H O B B Y . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Objectionable Objects by Brendan Harrison S U B S C R I B E R S T U D I O S . . 112
Cathy Morrison, Kate Moran C O V E T . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
A B E C E D A R Y . . . . . . . . . 24
Mundane Magic by Andrea Jenkins
Abecedary of Imperfection by Jane Audas
B O O K S . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
The UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration
Little U, the offspring of UPPERCASE magazine, is an occasional publication for the young at heart. (Think of it as a smaller and cuter version of UPPERCASE!) With childlike wonder, Little U explores making, designing, illustrating and living. Highlighting children’s books, surface pattern design, clothing and product design for young folk, and arts and crafts inspired by and/or made for children, this publication inspires and informs professional creatives and families alike. littleumag.com
TH A N K YO U UPPERCASE
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Thank you to the many talented contributors, creative collaborators and loyal readers who submitted to this issue. uppercasemagazine.com/issue42
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I N S TA G R A M
copyeditor CORE CONTRIBUTORS
Jane Audas Correy Baldwin Andrea D’Aquino Melanie Falick Arianne Foulks Joy Deneen Glen Dresser Brendan Harrison Andrea Jenkins Linzee Kull McCray Andrea Marván Kerrie More Emily Orpin Lydie Raschka Christopher Rouleau Laura Tarrish
@ C O L O R G I R L Q U I LT S
@T HEFA B RI CMERCH A N T NL
T H A N K YO U Thank you to everyone who submitted to the open calls for this issue. Even if you weren’t featured within these printed pages, your effort was noticed and appreciated! UPPERCASE has the best readers in the world. Printed in Canada by The Prolific Group.
Interior pages are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled Rolland Enviro 100. @JENNAFREIMUTH
Give this magazine a long life! The content is evergreen, so we hope you’ll revisit it over and over again. If you’re done with it, please pass it on to a friend or colleague who might enjoy our content, or cut up the pages and create some art.
@S HEL L E YS DAV
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U P P E R C A S E
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This quarterly magazine is released in January, April, July and October.
Each issue is a labour of love: love for print as a medium and love of creativity as a way of life.
I N T E R N AT I O N A L
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NEW FOR SUBSCRIBERS!
Make connections, nurture your creative spirit and grow your business!
The UPPERCASE Circle is a vibrant community hub. One that is a valuable source of motivation, inspiration and encouragement for like-minded and kind-hearted creative people from around the world. Although the community is initially brought together by its support for and appreciation of UPPERCASE magazine, the Circle will enhance your experience of all things UPPERCASE while providing additional value to your creative life through conversation and sharing of knowledge. • Connect with members of the UPPERCASE community—both near and far—who share your interests. • Share your work with your peers, mentors and potential customers. • Find inspiration, motivation and new perspectives. • Move your creative business forward with tips, tools and support from peers and guest experts.
• Future UPPERCASE Circle features in the works include live video conferences and video chats. • Learn and grow through e-courses. Access to this community is FREE when you subscribe to UPPERCASE magazine. uppercasecircle.com
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PA R T I C I PAT E Share your ideas and art and enter the open calls! uppercasemagazine.com/ participate uppercasemagazine.com
COLLECTED DURING THE MAKING OF ISSUE
Maud Lewis Though her celebrated folk art was by no means mediocre, the life of Maud Lewis (March 7, 1903–July 30, 1970) was marked by hardship and poverty. Birth defects and rheumatoid arthritis afflicted her mobility and dexterity, but not her determination to add colour and beauty to her tiny house. A dramatization of her life was brought to screen in the 2016 film Maudie starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. Maud Lewis’ actual home is on display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. artgalleryofnovascotia.ca FINE ART
Beautiful Mediocrity Artist Anika Lacerte’s print delivers one simple message: “to encourage artists (including myself) to persevere through making a lot of art even when it doesn’t seem ‘good.’” thehandcraftedstory.com
U P P E R C A S E
Vintage Kilim Pillows
lyse Rodriguez collects and resells vintage kilim pillows, made in Turkey from kilim rugs that were handwoven between 1930 and 1950. “No two kilim pillows are the same, which adds an element of beauty and intrigue to the story of each piece,” says Alyse. “A kilim is a rug with vibrant colours and geometric motifs, hand-woven by Turkish artisans. Weavers spend months, sometimes years, pouring their time and effort into their craft in order to complete one kilim. Because of the artful nature of kilim, many rugs are displayed as wall hangings and showpieces.” Over the years, Alyse has established relationships with several Turkish vendors. “They contact me when they’ve acquired new inventory and I sift through thousands of their kilim pillows in search of those with unique pattern placement and vibrant colour combinations. My view to purchasing ratio is approximately 300 to 1, so if I buy 10 pillows it means I’ve shopped through 3,000. The colours and patterns in these handwoven rugs are so compelling to me that I’ve recently started a collection of my own paintings on canvas inspired and influenced by Turkish and Moroccan rugs.” alysestudios.com
N E W W E AV E S
Whimsy & Tea
ith Whimsy & Tea, weaver Marilyn Webster makes textiles for home and dining: “Beautiful, useful items connected to nourishment,” she says. Simple and utilitarian objects like kitchen towels, table napkins, placemats and table runners are made with care and detail, elevating an everyday experience of eating a meal or washing dishes into moments of mindful contemplation and the appreciation of craft. When selling her wares at farmers’ markets and craft fairs, she often hears the comment, “It’s too beautiful to use.” But Marilyn asks us to reconsider this notion. “For me, that’s the point,” she explains. “To use something beautiful in an everyday ordinary way.” “The everyday is where you spend most of your life. The seemingly mundane tasks of daily living, such as cooking, washing dishes, doing the laundry and getting the children off to school, are all part of how you care for yourself and others. Why not bring as much beauty as possible to these tasks?” Indeed, why not? whimsyandtea.com
W O R T H W H I L E
ART I S T S, DE SIG NE R S, CR AFTERS AND MAKERS USING T H E I R C R E AT I V I T Y F O R G O O D BY JANINE VANGOOL
he idea for Make it Worthwhile began a few years ago, and I first tried to create some momentum via a Tumblr website and Instagram account to share a collection of projects, people and organizations that are dedicated to making their creative endeavours worthwhile. But with only me contributing content, I burnt out quickly. I took the idea to heart, though, and am actively working daily to make sure that what I create via UPPERCASE is worthwhile and has a positive impact in the world. Each quarter, I provide Creative Boost subscriptions to readers facing difficult circumstances and send complimentary cartons to community-minded nonprofits. With each print run of the magazine, I also give away at least 500 copies for these purposes. Over the past couple of years, I’ve given away hundreds of back issues to schools, arts groups and other nonprofits. With each subscription and renewal, UPPERCASE also purchases a tree through TreeEra. Though the magazine’s interior pages are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, it feels right to help replenish forests. Since January 2018, we’ve planted nearly 6,000 trees! My resolve for 2019 is to find better packaging solutions for UPPERCASE magazines and books.
TreeEra tree planting in British Columbia, Canada, June 2018. treeera.com Make it Worthwhile wordmark by Christopher Rouleau. christopherrouleau.com
Make it Worthwhile is now part of the UPPERCASE Circle, our online community for magazine subscribers. I encourage you to join us and to share links to projects, people and organizations that are dedicated to making their creative endeavours worthwhile—folks who are going beyond thinking of themselves and discovering how they can better the world, whether that’s through craftivism, raising funds for causes, fighting for equality and lifting up underserved groups, or simply using one’s talent to highlight something of importance. My intention is to showcase these projects: not only to help promote them within a caring community but also to inspire you to do something. You can be a positive force through your art. You can craft a difference. You can design a solution. You can make it worthwhile. makeitworthwhile.org uppercasecircle.com
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T R E N D
Fur becomes a fanciful canvas for folkloric patterns, and with their big eyes (and even bigger personalities) cats are favoured subjects for folk artists.
Folk Art Felines
1 TerriPetersenFolkArt.etsy.com 2 AliceinParis.etsy.com
3 MoggShop.etsy.com 4 FairyTaleUA.etsy.com 5 Sascalia.etsy.com 6 KristinShieldsArt.etsy.com 7 Tascha.etsy.com
B E G I N N I N G S
What is inspiration?
any social media platforms have been valuable in growing the UPPERCASE readership in the past 10 years—mainly my blog, Flickr, Twitter and Instagram—but over time, each has changed. Developers have changed course, platforms have become polarized, algorithms are taking precedence over personal choice and our attention is constantly segmented and diverted. I’ve wanted to create a community hub for UPPERCASE for years. There have been a few false starts at trying to program our own custom site, to cobble together apps and plugins or use other platforms. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed Facebook and there’s ever-increasing evidence that it isn’t a platform I want to support with my investment of time and effort (I deleted my account, hooray!). The UPPERCASE Circle is hosted on Mighty Networks, a platform to which I pay an annual fee, but in this way, the community lives outside the distractions, algorithms and paid advertising of other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. My hope is that the UPPERCASE Circle becomes a destination: a vibrant community hub that is a valuable place of motivation, inspiration and encouragement for like-minded and kind-hearted creative people from around the world. Although the community is initially brought together by its support and appreciation of UPPERCASE magazine, the Circle will enhance your experience of all things UPPERCASE while providing additional value to your creative life through conversation and sharing of knowledge.
JANINE VANGOOL ||| ILLUSTRATION BY
In the few months since the Circle went live, membership on the site has grown to 1,700 people and counting. That’s amazing and I’m thrilled that so many people are curious! When people join, they’re greeted by a welcome and simple question: “What kind of experience or benefits do you want from this community?” Without a doubt, the most common response includes the word “inspiration.” How can inspiration exist inside a virtual community? On Pinterest, one could say that it is inspiring looking at the images and works of other creative people—but that’s a solitary experience. On Instagram, inspiration might be found in following a particular artist we admire, perhaps liking a post or leaving the occasional comment. On Facebook and Twitter, inspiration could
U P P E R C A S E
be a link to something interesting that we reshare with our own followers. On a blog, inspiration might come from reading someone else’s perspective or the insight we gain by blogging about our own thoughts and processes. With the UPPERCASE Circle, I think we have the opportunity to provide the best of all of these other apps and platforms—and make them better. We can post raw images of our work in progress while having meaningful conversations about what we make and why—without the worry about algorithms, followers and likes. We can ask questions and seek advice within a safe space populated by kindred spirits—without divisive voices. With helpful intention, we can share links and articles and resources that have positively affected our own creative business and lives—without paid advertising. And we can write long-form essays and personal musings with others for feedback, encouragement and new perspectives—ideally without the diversions that other platforms encourage.
another part of its definition, but remember: inspiration is also a process. To have those brilliant flashes, we have to invest time and attention and train ourselves to be ready. Inspiration is also defined as the drawing in of breath; the inhalation of air. For most of us, staying inspired— motivated, energized, interested, engaged—is just as vital as breathing. Similar to the law of conservation of energy, I like to think that inspiration can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transferred or transformed from one person to another. Inspiration is out there—it already exists—floating around in the world. Breathe it in. Now exhale. Each of us is a conduit from which inspiration can flow. uppercasecircle.com
But what is inspiration, exactly? Can we create inspiration? Looking at its definition, inspiration is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” UPPERCASE magazine is a printed edition of my particular editorial vision, but it is made by many people. There’s my wonderful roster of core contributing writers and illustrators, a variety of guest writers and featured artists, plus often dozens of readers who submit their work. The magazine is stimulating, intelligent and a visual feast. In each issue, we pool together our talents to create something that I hope is indeed inspiring. Unlike the print magazine, which exists in a particular time and place, the UPPERCASE Circle is always evolving. Without the physical restrictions of page count, it is infinite in possibility! And we’re all contributors; by sharing photos of what we’re making, articulating our thoughts and passing on interesting ideas, we are cultivating an environment from which inspiration can emerge. It is a group effort that requires our time, energy and attention. Being an active member of a community is an exercise in generosity; we do it not to enhance our self-worth or gain likes or status, but to share our experience, talents and skills to benefit others. Inspiration isn’t always pretty. Creativity isn’t about perfection. Struggle, confusion, doubt… you might think imperfection is the antithesis of inspiration when in fact they are entwined. Our community will add kind voices and nurturing perspectives. You might be thinking that inspiration is a “sudden brilliant, creative or timely idea,” which is certainly
Circle “I love seeing what other people make. It always gives me new ideas about how to look at things. In a creative community you can ask questions, and learn from and feel encouraged by each other. The chance to do that in an environment that isn’t managed by a giant corporation with questionable ethics is pretty appealing.” –DARYL AITKEN
“I’m really looking forward to being part of a supportive community, finding and giving inspiration. I also hope to share some knowledge. I’m in the process of learning so much so fast. I’d love to share what I know with anybody interested and maybe find some advice for the things I’m still figuring out.”
“I’d like to find creative inspiration in this community, meet some new friends and share some of my knowledge.” –ERIK A MULVENNA
“I am loving the UPPERCASE Circle. I belong to a lot of creative groups, but I feel most connected to this one. I love your rule about being a subscriber… it makes me want to keep up my subscription (which I would want to anyway), but if money was ever an issue, I would have to make it work because I would be sad to lose this community. THANK YOU!” –PEGGY PFENNINGER
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Carina Aigner LINZ, AUSTRIA
More than anything I love being creative, and ever since my childhood I have loved creating something with my hands. I make paper collages because I like the fantastic worlds I can create. Iâ€™m free to invent my own reality. My dream is to make illustrations for books or magazines. @thiscollagelife
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Maia Wyler WASHINGTON, DC, USA
I am an Argentine illustrator living in Washington, DC. Iâ€™m crazy about colour and patterns, and I seek to enhance life through my art. Iâ€™m focused on editorial illustrations as well as art for licensing. My goal is to push the limits of illustration, creating beautiful, original and meaningful artwork with a positive impact. @maiawyler
Roshi Rouzbehani QATAR
I am an Iranian freelance illustrator currently living in Doha, Qatar. I like to call myself a visual storyteller, as I love to tell a little story in my illustrations so they are not just beautiful but also meaningful. When I am not drawing, I design and make silver jewellery. @roshi_rouzbehani
Berry Aktuglu MIL A N , ITA LY
I have always been passionate about nice colour combinations, whimsical patterns, illustrations and creating things with my hands. Following this desire to create has led me to build my own playground: Atelier Mave. Each design starts with handdrawn lines and has its own playful characters and colour combinations that make up Mave’s joyful vocabulary. My style is influenced by vintage objects, films, sayings, nature and all the beauty around us in everyday life. I have worked with some wonderful companies in different markets. In the future, I would like to do more illustration for editorial and books, and to create a fabric range. @ateliermave
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Abby Jacobs BOULDER, COLORADO, USA
I have a master’s degree in art therapy and have always been grateful to have the artistic process in my life. While my children were young, I decided to stay home with them. I began a small but successful business painting wooden peg dolls. I enjoyed this creative business but I knew something was missing. What I truly fell in love with was painting the patterns and designs on their clothing. It wasn’t until about one and a half years ago that I discovered the surface pattern design and art licensing world! I have been working feverishly to create my portfolio, take as many classes as I can and get as much professional advice as possible. It is my dream to see my work “in the wild” on products like ceramics, fabrics, journals and more. I’d also love to illustrate a book. My dream clients include Anthropologie, Target and Chronicle Books. @abbyjacdesigns
Cindy Kang NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA
Originally from Korea, I moved to New York in pursuit of my creative passions, where I received a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in 2018. My works are inspired by places I live in or visit, people I meet, my feelings and precious little objects. Combining digital techniques and traditional media, I illustrate heartwarming moments in various styles. I mostly work digitally but constantly explore new tools, techniques, media and colour palettes to develop my styles. My dream was to collaborate with the New York Times and New Yorker magazine on creating editorial works, and I also have a goal to write and illustrate a picture book someday, which will be about love and important people around me. @cindysykang
Make, Mend & More RECOMMENDED READING FROM UPPERCASE EDITOR J A N I N E VA N G O O L
U P P E R C A S E
L I B R A R Y
MEND Katrina Rodabaugh’s book Mending Matters (Abrams, 2018) inspired me to patch my gardening jeans, though I was going for a quick and dirty solution rather than the well-considered mended denims pictured in her “slow fashion guide for a well-loved wardrobe.” @katrinarodabaugh
Baskets P R O J E C T S , T E C H N I Q U E S A N D I N S P I R AT I O N A L IDEAS FOR YOU AND YOUR HOME BY TABAR A N’ DIAYE PUBLISHED BY HARDIE GRANT QUADRILLE
B S B BY Y P PE EN NN NY Y W W II N NC CE ER R BA AS SK KE ET TS S P PH HO OT TO OS
||| Tabara N’Diaye grew up in Paris but spent summers in Senegal, in West Africa, visiting with family. Fascinated by artisans selling their wares in colourful markets, Tabara was particularly drawn to Senegalese baskets. “These baskets were like a beautiful memory box, stimulating precious recollections of people, places and times gone by,” she writes. Years later, she and her sister founded La Basketry, a London-based homeware brand that collaborates with women in Senegal to create stylish baskets. Along the way, Tabara has picked up the techniques of basketmaking, which she shares in this new book. Using grasses, cane, rope and colourful plastic twine, the projects in Baskets go from simple coasters to bowls to more complex lidded baskets. labasketry.com
In addition to denim sashiko stitching, Mend & Patch, a forthcoming book by Kerstin Neumüller (Pavilion, October 2019), intructs on darning wovens and knits, caring for leather and using a sewing machine for reinforcing fraying fabrics.
@kerstin.neumuller Picking up Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals (Knopf, 2013) is my nightly bedtime reading ritual. With copious but quick profiles of the methods (and medicated madness) of writers, composers, painters and poets, it’s a fun read that proves that creativity is a unique and wondrous thing that often happens despite ourselves. @masoncurrey Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyful (Little, Brown Spark, 2018) is a great book to read on vacation, since we’re often more observant and open to new experiences when away from home. Or, read it as an antidote to not having any holidays on the horizon and perhaps you’ll discover some hidden pockets of joy in the colour and quirkiness of everyday life. @aestheticsofjoy
Here’s my naturally worn-out knee (no store-bought holes in my house!), earned through laying 600 reclaimed bricks in my backyard. I cut a clean hole and backed it with a larger denim patch stitched in place. I secured the raw edge with more stitching, though I probably should have folded it under to prevent more fraying, as recommended in Mending Matters. I used big running stitches to reinforce the worn denim onto the backing patch. Ten minutes later and I’m ready to head to the garden centre!
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Art & Design D I N A R A M I R TA L I P O VA
Once Upon a Time
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airy tales and folk tales abound with the unexpected—a frog becomes a prince, a speedy rabbit loses a race to a slow-moving tortoise, a lifeless princess awakens with a kiss. So, it is fitting that the story of illustrator and folk artist Dinara Mirtalipova confounds expectations, including her own. Dinara arrived in the United States from her native Uzbekistan 12 years ago, speaking little English and planning to pursue a career in computer science and programming. Lured by the warm climate, she and her husband moved first to Los Angeles and took any job they could find, including washing dishes and busing tables in restaurants. Next came a move to New York, where they did similar work. Finally, someone suggested Cleveland, Ohio, as an easier place to find employment. “That’s how we ended up in a snowy climate, out of all the places to live,” says Dinara. “Winter in Uzbekistan is not so brutal and doesn’t last as long as here. There, in March, it’s springtime. Here, we’re still wearing our coats.” Though Dinara’s first job in Cleveland lacked promise for someone interested in computers—she worked as a housekeeper at a small hotel near the airport—the city offered an unanticipated opportunity. Dinara answered an advertisement for a part-time, temporary position with American Greetings, a company with a century-long history of producing greeting cards, gift wrap and party goods. “It was right before Christmas and they were extra busy and looking for people who were good with scissors,” says Dinara. It was the first time she understood it was possible to have a career in art. In the eight years that followed, she moved from department to department, learning the technical aspects of Photoshop and Illustrator, and soaking up knowledge about the industry. She also availed herself of the company library, borrowing books and videos that helped her improve her artwork and develop a portfolio. In her eighth year, her work drew attention during an exhibition of staff members’ artwork and she was hired fulltime in the design studio.
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PARTICI P A T E
Annie Bakst E A ST C AL AIS, VERMONT, USA
Throughout my life I have strived to do everything perfectly to get the approval of parents, teachers or others who I wanted to like me. I worked hard, and yet there were many instances where I believed I didn’t quite get where I thought I should be. Realizing “perfectly imperfect” has brought my fears and myself to a more relaxed and satisfied place. I can enjoy the beauty of what is, just the way it is, without trying to change it. anniebakststudio.com
perfectly imperfect 62
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Bronwyn Bulwer TE AWAMUTU, WAIK ATO, NEW ZEALAND
Your imperfection is your greatest gift—to yourself and to the world. Your imperfection is your mystery, your honesty. It’s your gift, your superpower, your story. Your imperfection is your teacher. If you go through life unchanged, you’ve missed the point. Also, if you go through life being perfect, you just make others feel really bad about themselves! I am an imperfect wife. That’s good, it teaches me to accept love given unconditionally. I am an imperfect mother. That’s good, it inspires me to wake up each morning wanting to show love more intentionally.
Alyssa Beigi VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
It never occurred to me that I was a perfectionist until my high school art teacher, Mr. Hartford, yanked my painting away from me one morning as I was settling in to paint over it for the umpteenth time. With an “it’s good” he framed and hung it in the hallway, leaving me, at once, mortified and proud. For the rest of that year, I smiled to myself, feeling oddly liberated, every time I walked past my imperfections, laid out there for everyone to see. Without someone to tell us when something is good enough and to validate our work, so we can happily move on, it’s up to us to frame or reframe our attitude towards the imperfect.
Ironically, of all the places the silver could have chosen not to flow, it chose the thigh—the very area I had spent my adolescence and 20s obsessing over, seeing it as my flaw. This collection was called Recovered, not just for the aesthetic of the pieces, but to reflect the theme of physical and spiritual recovery. It was about accepting and loving our frays and cracks. After countless attempts to fill and repair the thigh, hearing Mr Hartford’s voice in my head, I finally surrendered and let gold flow over her beautiful, unintentional marks, for all the world to see. Perfection isn’t for us to attain, instead we can gather memories and experiences that enrich our souls. Our journeys become etched in our skin; our scars give us character, they make us beautiful, relatable and loveable.
I am an imperfect friend. That’s good, it gives my friends the grace to be human too. I am an imperfect writer. That’s good, it encourages me to choose my words more carefully. Imperfection in my life teaches and inspires me, it opens my heart. Those are good things. They make me a better human being. Imperfection is messy but it’s a reminder to keep it real, to stay grounded. So if accepting our flaws is good, what does it really look like to have the courage to stop chasing perfection in your life? What if you let go? What if you unfurled that tightly clasped fist? What if you relaxed that clenched jaw? What if you released that breath you have been unconsciously holding?
BACKGROUND BY ANGEL A FEHR
While designing my collection Recovered, I drew inspiration from the philosophy and aesthetic of the Japanese art of kintsugi (“golden joinery,” in which objects, often ceramics, are repaired by filling in the cracks with gold). I created intentional cracks in the wax and, once cast, filled them with 18 karat gold. What I didn’t plan for was the large part of my dancer’s upper thigh not being completely filled with silver!
I am an imperfect daughter. That’s good, it cracks my heart open enough to give and receive forgiveness.
What if you replaced fear with trust? What if you replaced uncertainty with curiosity? What if you replaced fear of failure with grace? What if you replaced the shoulds with coulds? This would create space, encourage growth and increase compassion for yourself and others. The gentle and patient St. Francis described this when he said, “Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” The imperfect tense describes an unfinished action. We are all unfinished, we are perfectly incomplete. That means we are becoming, there’s still more to us and there is an unquenchable hope and freedom inherent in that. Your perfect imperfection is a gift.
Angela Fehr DAWSON CREEK, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
I used to think that I would know success as a painter when I created a perfect painting. The transparent nature of watercolour reveals an artist’s emotions, and my anxiety to “do it right” showed in my brush strokes, and crippled the authenticity of my work. My art, my style and my artistic career were transformed when I realized that the paintings that others connected with most were the ones that weren’t even close to perfect. The paintings that snuck up on me when I was playing and exploring had more life in them than anything I had laboured over for hours. When my love for watercolour became uninhibited and I gave myself permission to pour from that well onto my paper, my paintings developed a compelling heart and life that technical skill could never reproduce. Now, I embrace the unexpected that comes with mistakes and diversions from my original plan. I’ve learned that in giving myself permission to fail, I also get to take exciting risks, explore creative “what ifs” and show who I am, flaws and all. The people who connect to my paintings understand that honesty is more beautiful than perfection, in life and in art. @angelfehr
Toni Santos SE AT TLE, WASHINGTON, USA
I used to be an architect. Everything was perfect to the last detail. Now I’m a painter. I love to paint everyday objects, buildings and portraits of people and pets. Not exact replicas. I draw and paint quickly and with joy. The paintings are not perfect but somehow I capture the essence of the real thing. As soon as I relaxed and stopped trying to make everything perfect, my own personal style emerged in a whimsical and happy way. People are drawn to my art because it makes them smile, to see joy in simple things. My motto is wonder + imagination + kindness. babybuddhastudio.com
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Dawn Pearcey VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
I used to paint only with watercolours, carefully drawing lines and filling in shapes with controlled washes. I would get so nervous about making mistakes my hands would tremble and sweat, and the fear of wasting paper and precise effort stopped me from exploring my creative self. My paintings had a stilted sameness that matched the anxiously contained days of my personal life. A need for certainty blocked the growth I could achieve in self and art through the making and experiencing of mistakes. I decided to try many different mediums and concepts without fearing the lack of control and unknown outcome. I gessoed old cookbook pages, working into them with pencil, ink, acrylic, pastel, collaged papers and stencilled lettering. I incorporated ephemera and words from my old journals, giving voice to a submerged self. Peeling, scratching and sanding the layers became an outlet for the nervousness in my body, the paper a stand-in for my skin. My hands and creativity flourished. Yet my inner critic still came knocking: you can’t mix those mediums, you can’t peel those edges, you can’t show your crazy self. I worked in a frustrated state, believing my art to be a visible mess of conflicting styles, materials and emotions. But the markings were like scars that held both error and grace in the painted surface, and people began responding to my work in a way I hadn’t known before—with emotion. Flexibility and self-trust open you up to spontaneity, but they also hold you steady when doubt arrives. I repeatedly asked other artists which mediums and processes they used, believing there would be one perfect answer for each question. Instead there were multiple answers and even more questions. What is perfect? What is a mistake? Who decides?
Peggy Dean PORTLAND, OREGON, USA
In studying the life around us—in nature, in buildings, in people and in otherwise overlooked details— urban sketching challenges us to see with fresh eyes. Sketching on scene is a whole new way to record memories. Taking photos is lovely, but sitting down with a sketchbook on location gives us the power to record exactly what we see through our own eyes and allows us to connect with the energy within the handdrawn snapshot. Just as nature is imperfect, illustration finds the peak of its beauty in the imperfections through this art medium. In fact, the more imperfect these pieces are, the more the eye is drawn to their character and what makes them unique. thepigeonletters.com
I’ve always loved rusted metal, chipped pottery, old wood, crackled paint, torn paper edges. There is textural soul and poetry in broken down surfaces—they are unfinished and complete at the same time. I varnish my work now, settling imperfections into the painting’s story and concluding my quest for a perfect ending. dawnpearcey.com
IN HER OWN WORDS
Textile Artist Anne Kelly 76
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S T I T C H
Anne Kelly incorporates traditional motifs and techniques from folk art and vintage textiles into her own storied artwork.
am a UK-based textile artist, author and tutor. Growing up in Canada, I was inspired by naĂŻve art and folk art in my native province of Quebec and upper Vermont state. I started quilting when I was 12, and this was followed by a fine art degree, two consecutive Greenshields Foundation scholarships and further training at Goldsmiths College in London. I migrated from mixed-media to textile art through my teaching, and use collage techniques to create multi-layered and densely embroidered surfaces. Rescuing and reinventing vintage and neglected textiles, I reclaim and repurpose them, giving them new meaning. I have written three books for the publisher Batsford, the latest being Textile Folk Art.
I work in a converted shed or garden outbuilding behind my house in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent. It has been retrofitted with heating, water and power. I have inspirational objects surrounding me to work from, including vintage sewing machines, haberdashery, and natural and man-made objects. I like to start by placing fabrics together and arranging vintage pieces to see how they look and fit together. I work from sketchbooks, but tend to use them as mood boards rather than following my drawings and collages religiously. I collect scraps of fabric, ephemera and vintage haberdashery to help to create my designs. Old neglected natural history books can also be useful and sometimes end up lining doll houses that I am refurbishing or boxes that I am recovering. My favourite shopping destinations, as common with many artists, are charity and junk shops. Most of my textiles are donated or sourced from these places. Very occasionally I will buy newer fabric but I try to use older pieces, as they are better quality and add a patina and character to my work. I love to look at old lettering and you can see the sources of my inspiration in the accompanying photos. I collect old and new alphabets, printing blocks and rubber stamps as well. I use old lace, crocheted pieces and needlework scraps to embellish my work.
Lettering inspiration from Anneâ€™s collection of vintage books.
Textile Folk Art by Anne Kelly is published by Batsford. Photographs by Rachel Whiting.
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Objectionable Objects STORY BY
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ast year, I moved twice in six months, which is at least one and quite likely two too many moves. After selling the house where we’d lived for the better part of 10 years, my wife, daughter and I moved into a two-bedroom rental while we embarked upon an ambitious renovation of a mid-century bungalow. I found very little to recommend in either of these activities. A smarter man than I would have used the occasion of either move to practice Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, systematically sorting through every item in the house and keeping only those that “sparked joy.” Instead, I packed in a panic, hurriedly filling boxes in a desperate attempt to stay ahead of moving day’s immovable date. Not only did I fail to declutter, I made the problem worse, adding two manual typewriters to my collection of 16 while living in temporary housing. If I wasn’t already aware of my own ridiculous attachment to worldly goods, the withering look on our mover’s face as he entered our house would leave me with no question.
Readers will be forgiven for thinking that I hated everything about moving. I laboured under this misapprehension myself for several months; it’s only now we’re settled in our mostly unpacked house that I’ll admit there were pros to this otherwise con-heavy task. There was something powerful about being forced to physically handle every object we owned in a condensed time frame. Manipulation made manifest the otherwise unconscious connections that tie together the things we choose to surround ourselves with. Every home is an act of curation and co-creation, and our stuff says more about who we are than we may care to admit. Though my wife and I have lived together for 12 years and, for all practical purposes, share everything we own, it was all too easy to distinguish between “my” things and “hers” while packing and unpacking: everything ugly was mine. This distinction became painfully apparent as we organized our cupboard. The half-dozen diner mugs that I’d pilfered from Denny’s in my early 20s looked like a pile of misshapen potatoes alongside my wife’s collection of vintage Japanese stacking mugs and Hornsea pottery. By any measure, my wife’s cups are superior vessels: more beautiful, better crafted, a joy to hold. And yet, I can count on a single hand the number of times I’ve reached for them. For reasons I rarely reflect upon, my go-to coffee cups are empirically bad. Every design decision that went into these mugs reflects the triumph of utility: cartoonishly thick walls mean they’re virtually indestructible when dropped, ivory glaze flecked with brown make them forgiving of ineffective dishwashers,
the restaurant supply company’s makers mark on their underside facilitates easy restocking. They weren’t created to be loved, they were created to be used. And that is why I love them. The same pattern repeats itself in virtually every room where my aesthetic choices are permitted (my wife is understandably reluctant to let my ugly into her living room, while our five-year-old daughter simply disregards either of our suggestions for her bedroom). My injection-moulded plastic planters sit awkwardly beside my wife’s West German pottery. My grease-caked cast iron frying pan lies buried beneath my wife’s gleaming new eco-friendly, anodized steel pots and pans. My tubular steel waiting room tables are relegated to the basement while my wife’s sleek Danish teak tables enjoy the run of the house upstairs. And while it’s true that I almost certainly have a sentimental connection towards mugs that connect me to a youth no longer my own, my attachment to most of these objects is less emotional than I might wish. I find beauty in their utility. My tastes were shaped by a childhood spent trawling garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores with my dad. We didn’t have much money and this was a good way to make the most of the little we did. On the rare days I bought anything bigger than an Archie comic, I always wanted to make the purchase count. And so I slowly found myself surrounded by things designed to stand the test of time, solid and sturdy objects expressly built to be fit for their purpose. Though my financial situation has changed, my taste has not. At the risk of sounding immodest, I could easily go to any furniture store in town and make our new home look like it had leapt from the pages of Dwell magazine. Instead I continue to skulk around surplus sales and thrift shops, searching for objects that no one else could love. Which brings me back to moving, curation and the cull. Our new home has given us perspective and an opportunity to more thoughtfully reconcile our disparate aesthetic approaches. And yes, in some cases that has meant saying goodbye to objects that no longer “spark joy.” But while I may not hold onto every steel relic I’ve brought back from my quests, together our household has crafted a design that suits all of our aesthetic yearnings. As we fuss over teak and rosewood upstairs, we’re giving equal credence to a collection of utilitarian industrial pieces in the basement. Some powder coating here, some intentional juxtaposition there, has given us the purposefully beautiful home we always wanted. At least, that is, until I bring the next ugly thing home.
STUD I O S
Subscriber Studios Cathy Morrison LIVERMORE, CO, USA
Cathy Morrison is a children’s book illustrator who is passionate about nature, science and the environment. Combining her degrees in fine arts and education along with her background in animation and graphic design, she now researches and illustrates “creative nonfiction” picture books that read as a story while being based on facts. Cathy is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, the National Science Teachers Association and the International League of Conservation Writers. Cathy enjoys hikes and gardening in the foothills of northern Colorado. She’s forever experimenting with a variety of vegetables, native perennials and high-altitude xeriscaping. She also loves volunteering for the education department at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. She especially enjoys being a part of Storytime in the Dome and a docent in the historical Culture in the Courtyard program. cathymorrison.blogspot.com @cathymorrisonillustrates
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Kate Moran FERNIE, BC, CANADA
Iâ€™m an inquisitive artist, and I love to explore. I express myself through fibre, beading, block printing and more. My custom workspace is within an old school bus that doubles as my open gallery/shop. Visitors can come and see progress of pieces big and small, in a bright, creative, mobile space. @acefergusonstudio
C OV E T
PHOTOS AND STORY BY
very week, I drive by four blue mops. That is, I cut through a parking lot strip mall to get to where I need to go, and in the process, pass the backside of a few businesses. And one thing I can always count on seeing are four mops, all leaned up against a railing, drying in the afternoon sun. They are always perfectly spaced, mopheads the colour of faded denim, hanging over the railing like hair. I have almost stopped to photograph them at least a dozen times. I don’t know why I haven’t. But I look for them, always. And I smile to myself every time I see them there.
“You need to let the things that ordinarily bore you, suddenly thrill you.” Words spoken by Andy Warhol, master of spinning magic from the mundane. Will a can of Campbell’s soup ever be the same again? Or a box of Brillo Pads? Certainly not. When this idea became central to my own work, I’m not exactly sure, but I think the seeds were planted in early motherhood—when my days ran immutably together and I found myself stuck in a continuous loop, one that often included me on my hands and knees, scraping day-old peas off dirty wooden floors while my children cried in the background. This is not to say these same days were not also punctuated with extreme joy, but as an artist, as a regular person struggling with a specifically relentless routine, I thought, there’s got to be a better way. As it turns out, there isn’t. Just a different lens, a different way of looking at things. Here’s the thing about the practice of mining the mundane for magic: it is wholly accessible. It costs nothing. It can be done anywhere, anytime. You need not travel the world or be any sort of accomplished artist. You need only eyes and a particular frame of mind— an ability to recognize that sometimes art lives in ordinary places. That sometimes extraordinary colour and light and pattern show up in the drudgery. Once I leaned into this way of seeing, I felt a shift—both in my personal outlook and in my work. I have so deeply folded this practice into my process over the years, I believe it informs the way I move through the world on a daily basis. I once stood in the shadow of the magnificent Flatiron Building in New York, but found myself more deeply moved by a blue shovel that stood against a dirty yellow wall nearby. I suppose I live for what falls in between, I do what I can to distill the gold in the overlooked and the unnoticed. Sometimes this shows up in photographs I take, sometimes in things I write. But mostly, it is a practice in acknowledgement, a conversation I have inside my head: I see you, blue mops. Leaning against that dirty strip mall wall. I see you and your unintentional, unexpected loveliness. And I appreciate you.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
Corita kintsugi imperfect inspiration folk feline mundane mending wabi sabi wonky everyday estates
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