Entries Tagged as 'Interview'

Interview: Janine Vangool from Uppercase

Oct 7, 2013

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UPPERCASE is a quarterly magazine publication that is based in Calgary and read by creative-minded folk around the world. Founded in 2009 by Janine Vangool, the magazine’s content is as beautiful as it is eclectic, covering all things creative and celebrating, in particular, vintage ephemera. Janine handles most aspects of the magazine herself, working as UPPERCASE’s publisher, editor and designer.

 

Intrigued by Janine’s work and her global influence on the art and design community, we were thrilled when she agreed to do an interview for the blog.

 

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Image source: portrait of Janine Vangool by Heather Saitz

 

EQ3  You seem to have your hand in a lot of creative fields! When did you know you wanted to work in a creative field? And, why did you choose to focus on graphic design in college?

 

JANINE VANGOOL  Pretty much as soon as I knew how to write, I was interested in putting words and pictures together. When I was a girl, I used to make little books and magazines out of scrap paper and force my family to sign them out of my “library”. In highschool, I was the yearbook editor and that’s when I realized that putting together books and publications could be an actual career for me.

 

 

EQ3  What did the earlier days of your career look like – pre-UPPERCASE?

 

JV  My first job following graduation was working for a design firm specializing in signage and wayfinding. I spent months setting up signage files for production (ie specifying the position and design of the washroom signs in the local sports arena). Needless to say, it wasn’t very inspiring. Working in that first job was excellent motivation to become my own boss. I developed my design style and roster of clients over the next few years, specializing in print design for arts and culture clients. I did everything from small ads to large publications and marketing materials, as well as publication design for books and art publications.

 

 

EQ3  Tell us about your start in the publishing industry. What inspired the creation of UPPERCASE? Where did the magazine’s concept – the creative and curious – come from?

 

JV  Following the closure of an independent magazine that I freelanced for, the “magazine” section of my brain was free to explore. I had fantasized about designing my own magazine and I was getting tired of working for clients on their ideas but not my own. It also coincided with the closure of some mainstream magazines (Domino, Martha Stewart’s Blueprint) and I recognized there was a void for a well-designed, visually inspiring publication. The content came from my own interests as a graphic designer, but the magazine is not specifically about graphic design… we say we’re “creative and curious” with an eclectic content range from design, typography, illustration and crafting to just about any topic that relates to creative fields.

 

 

EQ3  With the prominence of blogs and online magazines, content is being delivered instantly and constantly! How do you gather the unique and original content that UPPERCASE is known for when working with the production delay that comes with print media?

 

JV  It is difficult to compete with the immediacy of the web sometimes. Certainly a lot of the content that is in the magazine might have been inspired by something seen on an artist’s blog or portfolio site. What makes UPPERCASE special is how the articles are curated and those serendipitous moments when seemingly diverse topics in fact have common threads. I also have a great roster of contributors who bring their areas of interest and expertise into the mix.

 

 

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EQ3  UPPERCASE is in its 4th year now. What are some common threads between every issue that you’ve produced? And, how has the magazine evolved over the years?

 

JV  Our tagline is “for the creative and curious”—this is a broad statement but our content is inspired by design, illustration and craft. We like to find creative tangents for our themes, engage our readership to participate in calls for content and imagery, and we often collaborate directly with our readers on articles.

 

The subjects are very eclectic, but at its core the magazine has an appreciation of the creative process, the handmade and the personal. Each issue has a number of themes that we use as a basis for editorial exploration.

 

 

EQ3  If you had to choose a favourite issue from the archives, what would it be and why?

 

JV  That’s a difficult question—it would be like trying to choose a favourite child! I’m fond of issue #13, in which we explore how weather can inspire creativity. The cover features gloss foil raindrops falling from clouds; in certain lighting it looks like wet droplets of rain.

 

 

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EQ3 UPPERCASE recently moved into a new workspace. Tell us about the new studio’s interior design. What words would you use to describe it? Where did you look for inspiration when pulling it together?

 

JV  Our new office is on the second level of a 100-year-old heritage building called The Devenish. When I first saw the space, it was in terrible shape—the ceiling was literally falling down. However, I saw past that to its great bones: lovely large windows, brick walls, high ceilings… My landlord has been excellent at letting me choose the flooring and wall colours and the transformation has been great. Now it is bright and so spacious! At 1000 square feet, the office actually has more square footage than my house, so it is so nice to have extra room. Erin Bacon, Jocelyn Kabatoff and I have our own work areas and there is plenty of room to grow into.

 

The new office is much more classic and sophisticated than my previous space, and that was intentional. I’ve grown and matured, as the company has, and so the interior reflects that.

 

 

EQ3  One of the major themes in the latest issue of Uppercase (#19) is the aesthetics of work, including vintage offices. In what ways did your move into the new studio impact the issue’s theme and content?

 

JV  The aesthetics of work is definitely a theme that emerged from having to pack up my old office of eight years. It led to an investigation of other methods of working and arranging workspaces. The issue has articles about coworking, a history of the cubicle and an ode to vintage office supplies.

 

 

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Cover of UPPRECASE Magazine issue #19: art by Lydia Shirreff

 

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EQ3  What’s at the top of your reading list right now (besides UPPERCASE, of course!)? Print and digital publications are both fair game, here.

 

JV  I enjoy reading independent magazines from around the world. Right now, I’m reading Extra Curricular, a magazine from New Zealand. It explores what creative people do in their spare time.

 

 

EQ3  You’ve already accomplished so much in your career. What has been the biggest highlight, for you personally, so far?

 

JV  That’s hard to answer. I don’t measure my career in moments; moments are fleeting. I find tremendous satisfaction at looking at the physical output of my creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. The stacks of magazines, the bookshelf full of my books… that is lasting and satisfying.

 

 

EQ3  What’s next…for you and for UPPERCASE?

 

JV  I’m looking forward to settling in to the new space. We’ve been here just about a month, but the past few weeks I’ve been immersed in getting the fall issue off to print, so now I can finish arranging a few more areas and then we’ll have an office-warming gathering. My team—Erin Bacon and Jocelyn Kabatoff—and I look forward to nurturing and growing UPPERCASE from this new home.

 

 

EQ3  Finally, as the magazine’s publisher, editor and designer, you have to wear a lot of different hats! What are your 3 must-have tools for living and working – things you can’t work/live without?

 

JV  Yes, juggling ideas, projects and tasks is my daily existence. Other than my laptop and iphone, I can’t work without Evernote. Evernote is a service that allows you to keep and sort notes, images and files and sync them across all your devices. It is where I store all of the magazine content ideas, suggestions and keep my goals and tasks organized. I’ve been using it since developing the second issue, and now it is so integral to my process I can’t imagine working without it!

 

Thanks Janine! We’re thrilled to get our hands on a copy of the latest issue. Visit uppercasemagazine.com for more information on this magazine or to purchase a subscription.

Video: Eames Demetrios Part 1

Oct 3, 2013

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We had the honour of interviewing Eames Demetrios last month at the EQ3 Winnipeg store, just before he delivered his keynote speech – Eames Design Thinking: 36 Years On – for the Winnipeg Design Festival. As the grandson of designers Charles and Ray Eames and the Director of the Eames Office, we were thrilled to sit down with him and receive his personal insight into Charles and Ray’s work, his relationship with his grandparents, and his new book release, An Eames Primer: Updated Edition.

 

Charles, EQ3′s Marketing Photographer, was there with his video camera, documenting the entire conversation. We’ve broken the video footage down for you into a 3-part mini-series, with each video showcasing Eames’ answer to a different question.

 

You can watch the first installment below.

Eames Design Thinking: How do the ideologies of the Eameses still reign true today?

 

Video by EQ3.com

Interview: Valentin from 2213 Inc.

Sep 4, 2013

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Make Coffee and Stuff is a Winnipeg-based coffee shop that, when not busy satisfying locals’ caffeine cravings, plays host to the coolest architectural and design exhibitions the city has to offer. It was here that we discovered 2213 Inc., a Canadian design company that’s been building major steam ever since it’s launch in December of last year (2012).

 

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Image source (for above image only): portrait of Valentin Mittelstet by Sandra Birkner

 

Valentin Mittelstet – the founder, president and designer behind 2213 Inc. – grew up in Germany and studied constructional design out there before moving to Canada to live and work. After a stint in photography, followed by time spent travelling, Valentin put down roots in the southwestern part of Manitoba to launch his new creative venture. German and Canadian influences are both evident in 2213′s products, which combine modern and minimalist design with quality materials and craftsmanship. The company is quickly becoming known for their steel mailboxes and house numbers, meeting the demand for attractive, well-made fixtures for the front of the home – something that’s surprisingly hard to come by.

 

We recently sat down with Valentin in the 2213 office to talk about his products, the design process and where he looks for inspiration.

 

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EQ3  What’s your earliest memory of design?

 

VALENTIN MITTELSTET  I grew up very creative. From a young age I was actually drawing and painting. I used to do pretty much everything from graffiti to oil painting to photography. When I was 16 years old – in Germany it’s a bit different – I was done with school and I started to study design – constructional design. I was working basically part-time at a company that was building steel constructions…big industrial buildings, bridges and stuff like that. So I think that would be my first contact with design.

 

 

EQ3  What brought you to construction design to begin with?

 

VM  It’s very simple. I was only 16 years when I was done with school, so that was pretty early. I was interested in actually getting into an art school, but art school would be further away, so I would have to move away. My parents weren’t okay with that so I had to stick around and do whatever was available. That was the next closest thing to being creative, at that time I thought, so I just jumped right into it. Later on I figured that it’s not really being creative at all – it’s just work.

 

 

EQ3  Then, how did that prepare you for the creative work you do now?

 

VM  As I mentioned before, I was creative all my life so that was always somehow in the back of my head. But how it prepared me to design itself? I mean I learned the basics for design, obviously. A chair or a mailbox – the principals or the basics are the same as if you build something big. You can just scale it down and that’s what it is. Construction is construction. So design: it prepared me for everything. I learned materials. I learned different ways of producing things. I learned everything that has to do with design just on a bigger scale, that’s all.

 

 

EQ3  And so how did you get from there (in Germany) to owning your company here (in Canada)…because that’s a big jump!

 

VM  It’s a big jump, yeah. I was in Germany studying. Then I was working there for a year at the same company; and, then I was kind of tired of it. As I said, it was always an artist’s life that I had in the back of my mind. I wanted to do it for at least a short time of my life. So I moved to Winnipeg because my parents were living in Manitoba at the time already, so it was the easiest way for me to get out of Germany and move abroad, move to a different country, do something else. So I moved to Winnipeg and did photography. I did (fashion) photography in Winnipeg for three years. I was quite well known in Winnipeg and then I realized there was no money. So I started travelling and then was tired of it – travelling all the time. It’s not something for me. It’s fun for a while and then it kind of gets annoying. It was time to get back, but I didn’t want to just be a part of a big company and be a little part of it. I wanted to create my own. So right now I am here with my mailbox and house numbers, with more to come…and, happy about it. It’s going well so far.

 

 

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EQ3  What influences do you draw from when you’re designing?

 

VM  I am an extreme minimalist. Is that sad? Influences I draw from everywhere that’s around me. I know that’s a generic answer, but it’s true. I’m inspired a lot by Japanese architecture and Japanese architecture is just very minimal and cutting edge. And I personally think that it’s a good thing to cut down on details and just really go back to the basics: make it functional – make it very functional – and have it be a good quality product, but have it very clean for the eye. And I think you can see that in my products – it’s very minimal – and everything else that will come on from now will be very minimal.

 

I don’t know if I want to call it modern…it’s very minimal and very back to basics.

 

 

EQ3  Do you find that you have to start with something more elaborate and then strip away to get back to the very minimal basics?

 

VM  My thought is obviously there’s a process behind it. Let’s just say about the mailbox – everybody knows what a mailbox is. Everybody’s seen a mailbox before and everybody knows how a mailbox usually functions. You always have that in your head, somewhat. And then you have to erase it and create something totally new. Like our mailbox: it’s very minimal, actually very simple, but at the same time it’s super functional and sturdy and running smooth.

 

That was very important to me to actually get it to that point.

 

 

EQ3  There’s a strength to your pieces, I would say. Is that intentional?

 

VM  Yes, it is. I know a lot of people say that the mailbox is heavy, and it is heavy because we’re using steel, but at the same time I could use aluminum in the production process. It wouldn’t make a big difference, actually, but I want it to have a little weight to it.

 

 

EQ3  You mentioned about the process: knowing something and then erasing that and creating something totally new. Can you give us a bit of insight into your creative process? Where the ideas come from? How you explore them? How you implement them?

 

VM  I research a lot. I’m reading books.

 

I was looking for a product that we can produce that is small, that is cheap to produce, that is easy to produce and that can actually make an impact. When I was living in Winnipeg, I was walking through a neighbourhood and I was just wondering “okay what is missing?” I was looking at the house numbers and everything out there looked pretty bad. There is not very much available that is modern.

 

So we thought we could create something that is minimal, different and that people would love to have on their houses. That’s how I started to design house numbers. The process of designing this font (Valentin points to the product sitting on the desktop next to us) was actually quite long. I designed 10 different fonts and then I decided on this one because it was so different.

 

The creative process behind this font: I designed the number 8 first because it’s the number that has the most material to it. So then from the number 8 I was cutting away. “How do you create the most simple number 8?” That’s where I went and then I just cut away and made the rest look similar to the number 8 to make one font. There’s a little bit here or there that you’re changing, but that’s basically it. That’s how I got to those numbers.

 

 

EQ3  Was the mailbox just a natural off-shoot of that, then?

 

VM  The mailbox for me was the logical next step because, again, there are not many mailboxes out there. Especially around here…if you find a nicer mailbox, you pay right away 500, 600, 700 dollars for it. And we don’t want that. We want the product that is still medium price but that looks good. It was a natural step. The concept of 2213 is actually to start with the first thing you’re looking at – that was the house number. If you want to visit someone, what you’re looking for is the house number. So that was the first thing. The next thing was the mailbox.

 

 

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EQ3  Any role models or mentors that you could name, or peoples’ work who inspire you?

 

VM  People that inspire me – there are always people…like Steve Jobs, obviously. He had a few things that really inspire me. Like Apple – the product itself inspires me. It’s very minimal. It just functions. It just works. That’s what I want from a product.

 

And, there are a few architects out there that inspired me in the past…that I liked the work of them. There are a bunch of Japanese accessories that really got my attention. But I don’t really have a role model.

 

 

EQ3  Stepping aside from work, when you’re not working what could we typically find you doing?

 

VM  I’m always working. I am married, so I try to spend as much time with my wife as possible, otherwise I get in trouble. But that is basically it. I mean I like to be in nature. I personally think that it’s beautiful out there so I try to get out from everything material and go back to basics. I love trees, I love sunshine, I love water. If I don’t do that, I read. If I don’t do that, I am working. To be, I think, a creative person you never stop. You always think. Even if you’re not at the office…like I’m not saying I’m 24/7 at the office…but wherever I am, you kind of still think about what’s next.

 

 

EQ3  So seeing as you’re always working, what are your 3 must-have tools for living and working…things that you can’t work/live without?

 

VM  My iPhone. My iPad. My MacBook. I’m drawing on my iPad, I use my iPhone for a lot of things, and my MacBook obviously that is where everything is getting finished up.

 

 

Thanks Valentin for inviting us inside your studio and warehouse.

Interview: Lauren from Weekend Almanac

Aug 29, 2013

(2 comments)

We spotted a new publication on Design*Sponge a few weeks back titled Weekend Almanac – an independently published, 64 page book celebrating all of the creative and fun things people do outside of their 9 to 5 work weeks. Weekend Almanac’s tagline “life happens on the weekend” intrigued us right away; and, if that wasn’t reason enough to order ourselves a copy, then the online sneak peek at the book’s hazy photography sealed the deal (click on the image below to watch an intro video and you’ll know what we mean).

 

Curious about the book’s almanac format – a type of publication more often associated with subjects like the weather or farming – we reached out to Weekend Almanac curator and editor Lauren Ladoceour with a few questions about the book’s concept, production and more!

 

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Video by She Shoots, He Scores for Weekend Almanac (on Vimeo)

 

 

EQ3  What inspired the concept for your new publication, Weekend Almanac? And, why did you choose to create an almanac, instead of going with a more traditional format, like a magazine?

 

Lauren Ladoceour  We’ve both worked in the magazine and book worlds since, well, forever. In fact, that’s how we met. She was an art director at a magazine, and I was an editor there. After we’d both moved on to other publishing jobs we’d continue to get together for happy hour. And one Friday night, we both confessed to feeling totally zapped creatively. We longed for something we could sink our teeth into outside our jobs, something that would let us exercise our creative muscles again. I (Lauren) wanted to try my hand at photography and styling, and Ali wanted to get back to being an artist. Surveying our friends, we saw that we weren’t alone. Everyone we talked to–be they doctors, grocery store clerks, illustrators, or stay at home moms–all confessed to secret talents they only used on the weekends. So our thought was: Why don’t we create a format, a platform, for us and anyone else to exercise those talents by asking them to make something over the weekend.

 

We went for an almanac format (mixed with magazine elements) because almanacs tell the story of time–typically a year into the future. We wanted to tell the story of a weekend: Friday night to Sunday. Also, magazines can sometimes feel disposable, like they’re to be flipped through once or twice and then stuffed in the recycling. Very early on we wanted to create something that was special and something you’d want to hang on to for a long time.

 

 

EQ3  Tell us a bit about the roles each of you played in the book’s production? What did a typical weekend look like for you while you were working on this project?

 

LL  Ali was the creative director. She designed nearly every page, did all of the watercolors, and sketched most of the hand-written type. She also art directed a couple of the shoots we commissioned, like “Hangover Cures.”

 

I was the editor, which meant I edited any submitted copy and wrote several original stories, such as “The Early Bird.” I art directed a couple of shoots, took a couple of shots myself, and handled the business/distribution/money side of things. And I created our website, which was a total learning curve for me. But it was fun!

 

We share the social media stuff: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

 

 

EQ3  How long did it take to complete – from dreaming and conceptualizing the book to holding the final printed and bound copy in your hands?

 

LL  It took about a little more than a year! Honestly, we thought at first this was a 3-month project, but several factors forced us to go more slowly: Ali had a baby and I switched jobs and had to travel a lot for work. Now, though, I’m really thankful that we had to take the “slow food movement” approach. It gave us the time and space to really mull over our editorial and artistic decisions, something you don’t get to do very often in publishing.

 

 

EQ3  You opted to publish the book independently. That sounds overwhelming! Any tips for readers who are interested in doing the same?

 

LL  Sure, a couple of things:

 

1. Decide on your budget, and then plan on doubling it halfway though.

 

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. There are a couple of people (former co-workers mostly) we turned to over and over again who would give us a crash course on, say, finding a great, affordable printer. Learning along the way is part of the fun.

 

3. If you have a founding partner, as Ali was to me, always look for ways to help each other. We’d trade off being slammed while the other got to catch a break. It was just the nature of our roles. Because we’re a super small team, it was extra important for the person on a break to figure out what they could take off the other person’s plate to help us meet our deadlines.

 

 

EQ3  Where did you look for inspiration when curating content for the book?

 

LL  We looked to our colleagues and friends and asked them what they did that weekend. In fact, most of the almanac is crowd-sourced. And, honestly, we looked to what we naturally were doing on the weekend. It was really a matter of art imitating life.

 

 

EQ3  What did you take away from this experience? Do you have a favourite moment?

 

LL  When our first non-family/friend order came in, we did a shot of vodka to celebrate. It’s incredibly validating to have a complete stranger be willing to throw down $15 for something you made in your dining room.

 

 

EQ3  What’s next for Weekend Almanac?

 

LL  Well, we’re very close to reaching our sales goal that would allow us to make a second one. It might be an annual, but we’re not sure yet. Until then, we’re getting it into stores around the country.

 

 

EQ3  And finally, what are your 3 must-have tools for living and working – things you can’t work or live without?

 

LL  Speaking for myself only (Lauren, that is), I can’t work without sunshine. What can I say? I’m a total California girl, and I need hazy, natural light to keep me motivated at my desk, which looks out onto my garden. Other than that, I’m pretty dependent on notebooks for all my to-do lists and random ideas. Some people like their notebooks to all be the same color and from the same company. But mine are pretty random. No two are alike. Lastly, baths – really hot, long soaks after a long day. Nothing keeps me sane better.

 

 

A big thank you to Lauren for chatting with us about Weekend Almanac. We’re eagerly awaiting it’s arrival in the mail and will be taking a closer look at the book’s content right here on the blog soon!

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