FriYAY Friends

FriYAY Friends :: An Interview with Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE Magazine

FriYAY at last!

Is it just me, or did this week go on forever? We've been park-ing, splash pad-ing, mess making, eating, and laughing for the most part around here, but it seem like we've fit more than usual into one week. As I'm typing, I'm listening to my boys laugh hysterically in the next room. I don't know what the joke is-- that's for them to share as brothers-- but their laughter is the sign of a good sleep, a recharge for more playing. (Update: the "more playing" yesterday afternoon when I started this post meant going to one of our local splash pads... which ended in a pretty severe head bump and trip to the ER for Jem. Don't worry--he's going to be just fine-- we simply had to get him double checked since he fell and hit the same spot recently. He's sporting quite the bump but is otherwise already back to his crazy self. Just thought I'd share in the in interest of honesty and all. Sigh, #parenthood)

Anyway, whether your week was long or short, good or bad, welcome back to FriYAY Friends where I do email interviews with creative folks from a variety of industries and fields. I love getting to know other people who passionately pursue creativity, and I know you do, too. Today, I'd like to introduce Janine Vangool, who I "met" because she is editor of UPPERCASE magazine. Each new issue makes my eyes as big as saucers with its gorgeous photos, interesting articles, and new ideas. Welcome, Janine!

1) Tell us a little about yourself, your family, your hobbies, your creative background, etc. I’m the publisher, designer and editor of UPPERCASE magazine, a quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious. My husband Glen does the customer support for UPPERCASE. We have a crafty 7-year-old son who loves to read.

In addition to the magazine, I publish books on creativity—with a particular fondness for textilesstitching and vintage. My previous hobby of collecting typewriter ephemera lead to publishing a book called The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. Since that was released a few years ago, my collecting energies have gone into vintage feed sacks—mainly scraps and pieces, but I have some full sacks and some quilts. I published a book about feed sacks last year, authored by Linzee Kull McCray.

One of the pleasant offshoots of UPPERCASE magazine has been collaborating with Windham Fabrics on two collections of quilt-weight fabric. The collections are based on the unique spine patterns that I create for each issue, plus a bit of feed sack influence as well in the new collection (it will be in shops by November).

2) How was UPPERCASE born? What is the process of periodical publication, especially an extremely visual and creative publication, like? As a child, I would make booklets and magazines and have my family sign them out of my little “library”. I’m trained as a designer and was previously a freelance graphic designer for arts and culture clients—some were book and magazine publishers so that’s when my love of designing books took hold. 

UPPERCASE is a visual feast, so my job is to collect and curate and assign content to my roster of wonderful contributors. There are also plenty of open calls for readers to participate. I typically decide on a few themes per issue to help corral all my ideas and give the issue focus. The current issue, for example, has themes about creative adventure—whether than means physically going on adventures or simply exploring our own creative potential.

3) In addition to UPPERCASE, you have your own creative work which includes writing and stitching and fabric design. How do all of the above influence and feed each other? Do you ever experience creative burnout? If so, how do you combat it?  UPPERCASE is basically a conduit for me to express and explore my creative ideas and likes. Since each issue has new topics, I’m always learning. And diving into each book project is also a learning process. For me, being curious helps me avoid burnout. I can switch gears and interests so that one particular thing doesn’t tire me out. I’m always looking, finding, curating, sorting. There’s no shortage of inspiration, that’s for sure! Of course, this in itself can be tiring, so in that case I unplug and detach from my work for a few days… perhaps do some English Paper Piecing or some other project by hand.


4) How is creative community important to your work? The creative community is vital! My readers inspired me everyday and I have it as my job to help spread their work and share it with other readers around the world. The open calls for participation have become a hallmark of the magazine and I’m always amazed and impressed with the talent, enthusiasm and generosity of the creative community. I’m fortunate to have such eager and loyal readers who have supported UPPERCASE for these many years. As an ads-free, independent magazine, it’s these subscribers who keep it all going.

5) What advice do you have for other makers on their creative journeys? Don’t get too caught up in following other people’s paths. Our creative gifts are unique to us, so we need to find our own ways of expressing them.

Thank you, Janine! I hope all of you are feeling inspired! I think I'm going to go read some more of Issue 34 of UPPERCASE! Which, if you turn to page 83 of that issue, you'll see a lovely feature of Quilts for Cure's E Pluribus Unum Project. Also speaking of Quilts for Cure, if you haven't read about the new UFO Disposal Service we've launched, click here to check it out! Set yourself free from languishing projects and help a child with cancer at the same time!

Be sure to follow Janine on Instagram @uppercasemag, and follow me @stringandstory. My Saturday Newsletter will be out tomorrow, full of updates and inspiration as usual! If you're not already receiving them, be sure to sign up here to join the fun!

Rev your motors-- I'll be back for #MachineQuiltingMonday!




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