UPPERCASE founder, Janine Vangool, does it all: graphic design, blogging, magazine & book publishing, and even some party-planning. And she does all of it with an impeccable eye for beauty, style, and whimsy. Though most people know her now as a magazine publisher and blogger, Janine began her career as a graphic designer, specializing in print design for arts and culture clients. It was in 2005 that she made a few key decisions that would ultimately land her where she is today.
The first of these was moving her business out of her home and into a studio space in downtown Calgary. The studio lease came with a hitch, which Janine remembers:
At the time, the mandate of the building was to promote the arts and each tenant was required to have a space open to the public in some way. So I started UPPERCASE as a side project—it began as a gallery, bookstore, and paper goods store. I was mostly selling products made by other companies, though I quickly started making things of my own to sell as well such as notebooks and greeting cards. Folks could wander in and see a graphic designer at work.
Opening a store would have been enough of a challenge, but 2005 also marked Janine's venture into blogging. While many of us now first associate Janine with her gorgeous magazine, her blog actually predates her entry into print publishing by several years. She's the reverse of many others who begin in print and transition to web to keep up with changing trends.
It was really the combination of opening a gallery/store alongside running an active blog that eventually led Janine to consider print publishing as well. For her, print was the logical outgrowth of online publishing:
As my blog readership grew, so did the desire to develop my own products. I could see that I had a nice loyal following who loved print and paper as much as I did, and so in 2009, I launched UPPERCASE magazine. My hope was that if just a modest percentage of these people subscribed, the magazine could do alright.
Janine's gamble was a success and her readership has grown steadily in both media — she recently published issue #12 of UPPERCASE, and now has over 2000 subscribers worldwide. With growth in both arenas, she is a true believer that print and web are integral to one another. "I don't think you can have a periodically printed paper magazine or newspaper without supporting it online," she says.
Janine also believes that each type of publication fills a separate need. "Readers expect a lot," she says. "They want the immediacy of a blog to get a daily dose of inspiration but they also want the more sensual experience of holding a beautifully produced print production." By having a blog, Janine can also gauge readers' interests as she develops content for print—many issues of UPPERCASE have themes that emerged from trends she's seen online. For the next issue, she's even asking for reader contributions on a theme: the weather and how it impacts creativity.
Seeing everything she's done, we're so pleased that Squarespace has been Janine's platform since the very beginning. We're even happier the feeling is mutual. "One of the best things about Squarespace is how steady and robust it is," she told us. "My site contains an incredible amount of information from all these years, and yet Squarespace is always there... It has been great to be able to adapt the site configuration as my needs change, especially since my business has evolved so much."
We've also had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Janine personally over the last few months, after the Alt Design Summit wisely paired her up with us to plan a party at this past weekend's conference. Her work on the concept, decorations, activities, food and drinks for the party was simply phenomenal. (See for yourself in this gallery.) We're incredibly grateful, and if we've learned anything by working with her, it's how right she is when she says: "If you're making something special, there will always be people who take notice."