Tools & Talismans #18 — Janine Vangool

There are so many places that this project has led me — both in my mind and on the watercolor paper. Some of the paintings have proved harder to render with my new but growing watercolor skills, and some have just been hard to get my head around. I hesitated to start this particular one, and shuffled it back into the mix not twice, but more like 4X. Until it popped up for the 5th time, and I said out loud to Janine's photo and myself: Time is now, if you fuck it up, you have more clean paper.

The open Pantone book, the arms of each key in the typewriter, the beads in the jar, they all said to me: This might prove more difficult than your skills can handle. And yes, perhaps that's true, or perhaps not, I realised that that's not really the point, you know? The point of the story is to keep aiming toward where I want to go, and sometimes shuffling things to the bottom of the pile has something turn up again just when I'm ready to take a step or two forward.

I've loved typewriters since I was a girl. Typing was an early introduction of the notion of publishing: to commit one’s ideas to paper. I’ve been working on a book about typewriters for many years and now the machine has become my mascot of sorts! I’m trained as a graphic designer, so the Pantone swatch book has always been an emblem of that profession for me. Fanning it open represents the potential and inspiration of starting a new project.

The old camera doesn’t work, but taking images is an important part of my creative outlet. The glittery F is in honour of my son, who made this small apper car sculpture all by himself when he was 4. I keep the car on my desk and look at it throughout the day when I’m at the computer.

The jar of beads was given to me by Kateri Morton, a long-time subscriber of UPPERCASE magazine. She makes beautiful necklaces out of re-purposed vintage beads. Out of the blue one day, I received the mason jar of assorted beads in the mail. It’s a jar of happiness and delight and a daily reminder of how lucky I am to have such wonderful readers.

I found the blue ink bottle in a junk pile on my family’s farm when I was a girl. I've saved it now for thirty years so that must mean something — if only a representation of what I liked and appreciated as a girl still holds true today.

Janine Vangool is the publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious. She's inspired by design, illustration, typography, craft and vintage things and the magazine is an expression of appreciation for a creative lifestyle.


Do you have an illustration project that you think my style might be a good fit for? Looking for illustrations for your website, book project or have something else in mind? Please let me know, I'd love to talk about your project with you!

Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I’m documenting {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.