UPPERCASE Magazine

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I am cheating here because UPPERCASE is a magazine and not a book, but rules are made to be broken. How could a web site that bills tags itself with “books for the creative mind” turn down a review of the first issue of a magazine that bills itself as a “magazine for the creative and curious”? Exactly.

So, what can one say about another magazine in such a crowded marketplace? Although it is hard to tell just from the first issue, UPPERCASE differs from most glossy design magazines by ferreting out the small, but interesting people out there building little creative niches for themselves. People who come up with an interesting idea and actually go out and make it happen.

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UPPERCASE is put together by Janine Vangool who opened the UPPERCASE gallery in Calgary in 2005 and Deidre Martin a writer, curator and teacher (hiding behind her creation in the opening photo). Since the opening of the gallery, they have also expanded into publishing books and paper goods. The blog has been collecting the creatively curious for some time, so creating a magazine seems like a natural extension.

Most of the people profiled have a mix of a strong online presence connected to the physical world of making actual things. As a digital guy, I’m always impressed by people who can create wonderful objects without chiselling off their fingers.

Julie and Kathryn from perfectbound create small still-life dioramas from their daily aesthetic travels, photograph them and place them on their blog. Jordan Provost and Jason Wong are Enormous Champion, a Brooklyn-based duo (of course) who specialise in beautiful letterpress printed stationery.

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Also profiled is Karyn Valino, who runs The Workroom “Toronto’s first sew & craft by the hour space”. Recognising that many people might want to get creative with craft materials but might not have them, nor a sewing machine and space to hand, she set up a fully equipped studio space that has been a great success.

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I can’t list all the contributors and profiles, but a few other favourites are Glen Dresser’s essay on the remarkable history of the humble screw, Heini Koskinen’s gorgeous vintage wardrobe re-mixing and Blanca Gómez’s illustration that graces the cover of the first issue.

You know the friend whose apartment decor is a perfect mix of carefully considered design classics with a few casually quirky objects? The one you’re always jealous of for their ability to effortlessly make the place look cool yet unpretentious. That’s UPPERCASE magazine.

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UPPERCASE has a very contemporary feel about its content – it’s as if someone took all the best bits of great blogs and printed them up beautifully on good, weighty stock. This can, of course, go both ways. The writing is sometimes a little casual and bloggy in tone, but it usually suits the subject.

The only thing I’d like to see a little more balanced are the question-answer style interviews. Sometimes it’s more engaging to read an edited, descriptive profile of a designer or studio with a few quotes rather than a simple Q&A.

These are minor niggles, though. If Leonardo were alive today, he would almost certainly be blogging his exploits (in-between building iPhone apps) and his magazine of choice would be the neo-Renaissance UPPERCASE. I heartily recommend you go an buy a copy yourself.

As with any magazine, the challenge will be to see whether they can keep the standard high, but with the amount of amazing Etsy stores out there, it seems they will have no shortage of material.

I’m giving it four stars for now and besides they sent me a bookmark, which I always need.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

(All images are copyright Janine Vangool and plundered with permission from her Flickr set)

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Andy Polaine

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