Upper Case Romance

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour..."
[From Auguries of Innocence, William Blake, 1803]


It's been a big few months. A big year. I don't know about you but I have been in my feelings. There have been times where my sense of continuity in time and space has been flimsy at best. Sometimes this was anxiety-inducing. Other times I felt quite serene.

Worst of times. Best of times.

Out of this ambivalent, hot and cold awareness came a little idea one day. It was sparked - as my ideas always are - by friendship. At a time when most of my in-person connections disappeared/were put on hold, a group of friendships became my core of connection to the world beyond home and studio. Those people became my bubble and made my otherwise solitary existence not only bearable, they sustained it. I realised how few close people I actually needed to feel like a functioning and healthy human being. This was a strange realisation. The intensity of lockdown drew us closer together, more honestly and openly. It has been the blindingly silver lining on a heavy covid cloud.

People often suggest graphic design ideas to me and I can never make them. (I'm glad people are having fun with ideas though!) Everything I make comes from my life experience and in particular the places and people I spend time with. I also like to act fast on ideas I really like because if I wait, the spark of enjoyment dies for me. Once I had mapped out this concept, I got samples made quicksmart.

My designs are, more often than not, gifts for people who matter to me. These tea towels started out as a house-warming gift. I wanted to make something that would be useful but also be about an idea my mate would really like. The text couldn't be anything but gothic font, the colourway nothing but black (if I'd been able to source black tea towels believe me, the whole thing would have been a goth's domestic dream). My friend is a Romantic. As in Keats & Yeats Romantic, not roses & teddybears and hashtag romantic. How else to speak of friendship but in eternal terms when you feel like you've known each other forever?

This design is lowercase romantic too, though. A small gesture made by a human being, time-bound and unable to go far. 50th wedding anniversaries run in my family, so it's an expression of love's ambition, too. 

As always, this idea can be read another way: it can encapsulate how lockdown 2021 has felt for so many of us, like a time warp, going on and on and on and making us wish we could be Over There Instead. It's a jokes-but-true design intended to lighten a mood which can shift at any moment into something tight and unbearable. Because this thing is far from over, globally. Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is looking grim. I feel strangely close to my friends who live half a world away. The wonder of DMs, you see. You can be together in spirit (well, videocall). 

In the end, I liked this idea so much that I decided to make more of them, for you. Everything on this website comes from a place of spontaneity and sharing. And Christmas is coming, so I figured it was a good time to add them to my store. Now you have something unique to give your loved ones without worrying about whether they'll arrive on time. Supply chains and shipping pathways from overseas are about to clog the hell up. I already have the stock so all you have to do is order the set.

The handful of friends who "see me" was all I needed to thrive this year. Being in the company of someone who feels like family turned out to be a precious gift and made withdrawal from society more than bearable, most of the time. I hope that you can be with your favourite people this Christmas, doing what you were able to do LAST Christmas. I will be drinking a glass of bubbles far too early and eating as much panettone as I'm allowed.

With you, and with love,


PS Blake opened this piece and Rumi, that great Sufi poet, closes it.


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