fall in love with the unmanageable
Inspirations and musings on building a life (and business) in creativity

Dear Reader,

I have a collection of blank sketchbooks and journals that I’m afraid to make a mark in for fear that what I commit to paper won’t be good enough to match my expectations. There's a gorgeous hardcover blank book covered in Marimekko fabric that I intended to start as a daily record of my business thoughts and goals when I moved into my new office space… a year ago. It’s still blank, but as the months pass, that simple notebook is becoming more of a burden. I see it perched on my shelf, chiding me. The past year didn’t turn out as I imagined or planned. Moving my studio after eight years in Art Central (a 3-storey commercial arts complex slated for demolition) turned out to be just the opening act for a very challenging year.

Unless I disassociate my expectations about what this past year was supposed to be like, I suspect I will never do anything with that notebook.

Have you ever not started a project in order to avoid the risk of failure? 

As creatives, we dance with failure on a daily basis. Whether we flirt with disaster by using a temperamental medium, like Robin describes in the sidebar, or endure the uncertainty that comes with being a freelance designer or illustrator, the potential for failure (and success) is immense. It’s part thrilling, part paralyzing. 

Keep moving!

Fail better, feel better.
Acquaint yourself with the unknown. Gather your art supplies and just start splattering a piece of paper with random marks. No expectations other than to transform the blankness into something different. Better yet, do this with a child! These examples were created by my 4-year-old son and me as we experimented with watercolour, salt, crayons and blowing through straws into watercolour. It is so much more fun when there are no expectations about what it is supposed to be. He didn't mind that the paper got so soggy that it ripped, nor that eventually the colours blend into a muddy puddle. These "failures" are all part of the fun.

"Sometimes I wonder how I managed to fall in love with watercolours because they often feel untameable. Unmanageable. I have always been fairly risk-averse, yet it is a risk every time I drop a brush full of colour down into water. Each wash of colour can bring failure or success or a million variations in between. As the colours slowly – or far too quickly – creep and spread across the paper, I learn again and again, painting by painting, that I can't control everything. Overworking and meddling will bring nothing but dull, muddled washes and disappointment. But the combination of water, paper, and clear, bright colour can also lead to unexpected and, if I’m lucky, magical things. Yes, failure is possible. Risk is inherent. But I am learning that it is all worth it. Painting with watercolour brings no guarantees, but as Samuel Beckett famously wrote: No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. 

And so, I continue to try again." 

– Robin Wieskus


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What can ink on paper do? 

When you pick up a copy of UPPERCASE, you know it was made for you. Not only did I place each and every element on the page, but skilled printers also did their best work to produce a glorious experience of ink on paper. Together, the design and high production values present each artist's work in the best way possible. Ink on paper makes it come alive. There's nothing like experiencing the magazine in person and having it become part of your everyday in a tangible way.

Subscribe today with the current issue, or start with #23 coming this fall. The fall issue is going to be an extravaganza of amazing calligraphy and lettering as well as articles on heraldry, crests, monograms and—to challenge my graphic design self again—this issue will be monochromatic with touches of silver. It'll be an excellent complement to the spectrum issue! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen some teasers of the incredible calligraphy submissions by UPPERCASE readers.

(This newsletter is sent to everyone on my list, so I thank you if you're already a subscriber!)
Nature has its own ways of displaying colour, and it does so with abandon; colours in their natural state are wild, uninhibited, free. They shift and vary, they grow and recede—always dynamic, always unpredictable. Colours like to mix it up, and they don’t sit still. These tendencies are inspiring, but not always practical—at least not from the standpoint of humankind. Let’s be honest: there are times when we need to contain colour, to isolate and dissect it.

Consumers need to see their colour options, and manufacturers need to ensure that those options remain consistent. Scientists need to classify what they observe. Designers and artists need to build colour sets, to select and combine, and mix and match. Sometimes we need to break things down to their elements, and sometimes we need to bring elements together to get a sense of the bigger picture. We need to pair up—or weed out—as we hunt for that ideal combination to suit that single purpose.

The complete article written by Correy Baldwin is now available online with extra images not seen in the print edition. 
Seeking advertisers and patrons and peeps!
(and some help)

UPPERCASE has mostly been ads-free. I try my best to get the word out about advertising and partnership opportunities through this newsletter, social media as well as emailing with potential sponsors. But I have been failing at this. A big #fail (I've sold no ads sold other than a handful of Peeps). In the six years of the magazine, there have been so few ads that perhaps I should officially throw in the advertising towel, but some additional revenue through advertising and partnerships would be nice to have: I could pay contributors more for their fine work and also offer special features that are usually beyond the budget. (On my wish list for the fall issue: silver foil for the cover is $1800 and/or a special old-school dry transfer lettering sheet in every copy of the magazine would be $4200-$5000.)

Do you have ad sales experience and would like to help? I'm open to your suggestions.

For details about how to support the magazine's fine content as well as advertising opportunities (including online ads) please click here
Who and what is UPPERCASE?

UPPERCASE publishes books and magazines for the creative and curious: products that spark the imagination and inspire creativity. The eponymous 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 3600 (and counting!) subscribers around the world. Truly an independent magazine, UPPERCASE is supported by its readers through subscriptions and by a roster of stockists.
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