Inspirations and musings on building a life (and business) in creativity

Dear Reader,

The design process is often an experiment in taking things away. Much like you crop a photo so that its composition is just right or remove extraneous elements in favour of white space. It’s not that the unseen portion of the photo is necessarily bad, nor that what you pared away from a layout is not pretty. Staying clear with your message requires pruning.

This image, above, is by reader Melissa Chao. It shows the scraps of paper that she trims away from her greeting cards. The rough edges weren’t useful on her cards, but they are beautiful in their own right and I’m glad she saw shared them with us.

The UPPERCASE website was becoming overgrown, so I’ve been working on changing things up over there. I’m decluttering, with the intention to make more content accessible. It is a work in progress, so you’ll see me experimenting there over the weeks to come. 

I’m in total makeover mode, it seems! Maybe I should take this attitude go for a radical new haircut. (I’ve been too busy to get a haircut for oh, about eight months.) Or I could really be adventurous and dye my hair, something I’ve never dared to do.

hmm... It's far easier with typefaces and pixels and the command-z key!

"I find colour to be exciting, even intoxicating. As an artist, colour plays an integral role in my life and work. I’m often delighted by high contrast pairings, with bright hues accompanied by softer, subdued tones. I love to surround myself with colorus and textures that energize me and inspire my work. 

The colourful scraps pictured here were trimmed from watercolored cards that I make and sell. I love watercolour for its vibrancy, as well as its ability to enhance a paper’s natural texture. These wisps of paper are playful yet precise, a fitting parallel to the cards from which they came.

– Melissa Chao

The summer issue is starting to arrive in subscriber mailboxes! I love seeing your pictures. This image is by Carol Fowler showing the magazine next to a sewing project. Share your pics @uppercasemag #uppercaselove.

"Someday I'm going to do something with these." 

Ever since I started my career as an illustrator, one of my favourite mediums has been watercolour. If you have painted with watercolour, you know that you have to dab your brush . . . often . . . to get just the right colour. I always place a piece of scrap watercolour paper next to my paints and swipe my brush before touching the artwork.

When I begin cleaning up after completing a project, I have often thought, “I love the way this palette looks. Some day I’m going to do something with these.” And I toss it up on a high shelf.Recently, we finished a big studio cleanup, and unearthed the pile o’ palettes. Again I said, “Some day I’m going to make something with these.” And I tossed them back on the shelf. But before I did, I snapped this picture.

So here is a photo of a pile of palettes representing the creation of 30 years of licensed artwork. In the same time span, we have also raised three daughters who often have stood near the drawing table and left little drawings and messages on the palettes. As I unearthed each of these, wondering if I could guess the collection that it represented, I came upon one with these words, “Hi Mom.” This is my favourite palette of all.

This article appears in our current issue. Subscribe today. Read more about Cathy and her work on her website.
Known for her neon orange hair and enthusiastic, bouncy outlook on life, Toronto-based stylist Tiffany Pratt has created a colourful career.

What role does colour play in your life?

Colour is life energy and one of the most powerful pure forces. It is the air that I breathe. How and why I choose certain colours is deeply personal for me, and I do it with a lot of purpose. I associate people with colours, I see experiences and moments through colours and I always dream of colours. This is why I need to create, make and design. Colour acts as the road map through my life and sets me apart, making who I am and how I see the world special.

Your hair is always strikingly coloured.What first made you decide to colour your hair in such a vibrant way?

I was born a ginger, but it dulled in colour as I got older. I flirted with orange hair for 15 years, floating in and out of vibrancy. Five years ago I decided to take it electric and added pink and now purple. It was a “go big or go home” moment where I decided to really commit to my love for colour. I spread love and colour therapy to the masses by way of my hair. There is no turning back now. Once you have slid down the rainbow, everything else pales in comparison.

Neon-coloured hair suggests that you have a lot of self-confidence. Do you think people react to you differently because of your colourful appearance? How does this benefit or hinder you?

Neon-coloured hair does suggest confidence. This confidence is required to handle the amount of comment and questioning that I face each day. I did not expect the level of curiosity that my appearance sometimes brings, but I continue to be who I am, as a service not only to my soul but to all the people I meet who I inspire to do the same. Sometimes neon hair implies that you are not professional or involved within a corporate career. This is fun for me to navigate because I can be in a man’s world and play hard, even though I have a rainbow on my head. The juxtaposition is lovely. Don’t judge a book by its colourful cover; it might just be a scholarly read. 

Read the full interview by Cara Howlett in issue 22. (Photo by Tara McMullen.)
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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