Confessions of a Stationery Addict — Janine Vangool | Calgary, Canada

Confessions of a Stationery Addict — Janine Vangool | Calgary, Canada

Posted by Rebecca Lee on

We think Janine Vangool is a bit of a superwoman. You’d expect a publication as established as Uppercase to be run by a whole team, but this magazine is a one woman operation - and it’s a triumph. Janine is the editor and designer, and also wears the hats of web developer, social media manager and customer service advisor.

Publishing has always run deep for Janine; the decision to start Uppercase seven years ago was the culmination of running a gallery space where Janine sold her own paper goods. She produced several books of her own, and learnt the art of multitasking through freelance graphic design.

The quarterly, print-only magazine is a vibrant celebration of design, illustration and craft. Via textile, jewellery to book jacket design, Uppercase takes us around the world exploring the collections and creative adventures of many contributors - from professionals to hobbyists. Typography is also particularly resonant, so it comes as no surprise to learn of Janine’s obsession with typewriters and love of fifties ephemera - and the fact that her father restores vintage cars.

We had an inkling that Janine’s inquisitive nature and entrepreneurial spirit would make for some compelling stationery stories, and we were right.

Tell us about how your love of stationery began.

I’ve always loved paper, pencils, crayons and craft supplies. I have fond memories of the smell of wax crayons, the excitement of sharpening a pencil crayon for the first time and the fun of stapling little booklets together. It is safe to say that this infatuation with making my own little books led to my career as a graphic designer and now publisher.

How does stationery and / or paper play a part in your work and creative process? What are your go-to instruments for creating?

My company actually started out as “Uppercase gallery, books and paper goods” so I used to design and make greeting cards in my shop, online and for wholesale. I also made handmade notebooks out of reclaimed paper and later, when I began publishing Uppercase, I used magazine makeready papers from the printing press.

I wish I could say that my go-to instruments for creating are my pen and sketchbook… but the realities of making Uppercase magazine mean that most of my ideas and work process happen on the computer these days. However, over the years I’ve designed many notebooks for Uppercase. So I literally have a lifetime supply of little notebooks! I keep a few beside me at my desk for jotting down notes from phone calls, quick to-do lists, and for keeping a tally of how many pages I’ve left to design in my current project.

Do you have any favourite pieces of stationery? New purchases you’re getting a lot of use out of lately, or classics you keep going back to?

I do have a fondness for classic Moleskines. I always gravitate to the simple black covers rather than the newer design offerings (though I did purchase a nice lined Moleskine recently, with a pretty light grey fabric cover.) I also have a nice big watercolour sketchbook that is getting occasional use when I feel like painting with gouache.

Can you share your top stationery shopping spots with us?

There’s a stationery shop, Reid’s Stationers,  just down the road from my studio with lots of inventory. They have plenty of pens and notebooks for when the desire for a new creative tool strikes. It’s quite a mixed jumble of a store, though, with cheap party favours and odd toys and things. I hope to visit Papersmiths someday — the design aesthetic looks simply amazing.

Paper is most satisfying in the form of…

Nothing can beat the satisfaction of printed ink on paper! It is part of the ongoing appeal for me as a graphic designer and publisher. Uppercase is printed on a lovely 100% post-consumer recycled stock that has a very nice smoothness to it and the ink reacts in a very appealing way.

What’s been your biggest stationery indulgence?

I love stationery shopping and totally endorse purchasing items simply because they’re beautiful. Whether a particular sketchbook ever gets filled with my own ideas is almost beside the point. It’s already something to be cherished.