Claire Caldwell Writer Interview

“Stockpiling words and images all week,
then burrowing into them on the weekends.” 

Claire Caldwell delivers a fantastic poem for our October issue (how can you not instantly love a piece that begins ‘As expected, the circus tigers escaped’?). That’s all we’ll reveal for now – subscribe by September 20 to receive Claire’s poem in your mailbox for a mere $5.75, shipping included. You’ll get 11 more art and literary surprises in the mail, all year long!

Art by Hollie Chastain accompanies it.

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Hi Claire! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi! Well, I’m a poet from Toronto, and I also work as an editorial assistant at Harlequin. I edit their clean romance line (no steamy reads at my desk, but I have been known to tear up at a happy ending) and also an action-adventure series called The Executioner. I now know more gun specs than I ever thought I would! Other random trivia? I like to sew and ride my bike and play guitar; when I was thirteen I made a scrapbook devoted to Frodo-era Elijah Wood; when I was fifteen I did a 36-day canoe trip in Quetico; I lived in the Yukon as a little kid; I believe in ghosts just enough to be glad I don’t have any ghost stories of my own.

I believe in ghosts just enough to be glad I don’t have any ghost stories of my own.

 

We’re excited to share your poem, La Gamine, with our readers this month. Reading it feels like being transported to a magical place very early in the morning, and as the day unfolds we only come to realize what a privilege it is to visit. When was the inspiration behind the piece and where were you when you first wrote it?

Thank you for those kind words! This poem took quite a while to finish writing because it’s actually several fragments of different poems grafted together. The spark of inspiration came when I was visiting Paris and spotted this dilapidated circus tent beneath an overpass. It seemed so sad and out-of-place, yet mysterious and compelling, too, and I knew it would find its way into my work somehow. I remember browsing racehorse names when I was working on an early draft—that’s a fun trick I learned from poet Kevin Connolly for jolting yourself into a poem. Seriously, racehorse names are hard to beat for strange and inventive use of language! When I wrote this final version of the poem, I was at my partner’s family’s cottage just outside of Huntsville, ON. It was morning, very peaceful, with that end-of-summer chill in the air. Perfect poem-writing conditions.
Do you write on a set schedule or do you wait for inspiration to strike? What does a typical day look like for you?

Since I work nine-to-five (and wrangle words all day), I’ve found it tough to get into a daily writing schedule. Maybe that will change one day, but for now I take a squirrel’s approach to writing poetry: stockpiling words and images all week, then burrowing into them on the weekends. I tend to write more, and write better, when I have an idea or image to jump off from, and when I do, I can usually slip into that writing zone and shape a fairly solid draft in a few hours.

My hope is that poetry can connect people with the magic and mystery of their environments in ways other media can’t.

 

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Your poetry collection Invasive Species has just been released by Wolsak & Wynn. In these poems you juxtapose the calamities of climate change and the dangers of the natural world against the intimacies of daily life. Is this is a recurring thematic in your work or new territory for you?

This was a concern that developed over the course of writing the book, and in some ways it feels even stronger now that I’ve finished the collection and have started working on new material. I’m fascinated by the lines we draw, individually and globally, between ourselves and the natural world. I was in the countryside the other weekend, and during a bad thunderstorm, someone mentioned that she liked the feeling of being in the weather. I know what she meant—because in the city, we’re inside so much, insulated. And it was a dramatic storm. But aren’t we always in the weather? Increasingly, we’re losing that sense of protection and insulation. We’re forced to confront and shift our relationship with the world around us. My hope is that poetry can connect people with the magic and mystery of their environments in ways other media can’t.


What’s on your horizon in the next year?

I’ve got some readings lined up in support of my book, and hope to fit more into the year ahead. So far, I have several events coming up in Toronto, as well as readings in Fredericton, Detroit and Victoria (I’ll be updating my event schedule on my website). And writing as many new poems as I can!

Claire Caldwell is our October 2014 writer.
This is a taste of what’s to come when we release her print at the beginning of the month.

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Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.

$69 in North America, $99 Internationally. 

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See past issues   •   Learn how it works

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Hollie Chastain Artist Interview

 ”…the personality, the scribbles and names and drawings.”

Hollie Chastain ferries us into fall with a beautiful collage that gives an old book cover new life. Subscribers will receive her print in the first week of October: sign up by Saturday September 20 to count yourself amongst them! Get to know Hollie better in our exclusive interview below.

A poem by Claire Caldwell appears on Side 2.

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10311119_729170327125737_4321003735015903907_nHi Hollie! Could you introduce yourself to our readers? 

Hello! I live in Chattanooga. Tennessee with my husband and 2 children and herd of rescue pets. It’s a full house and I love its energy (95% of the time) so I work in a home studio stuffed with book parts and clippings and sharp tools. I gather strength from coffee, music and cheese and inspiration from folk tales, ephemera and nature.

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You have an incredible series of collages on vintage book covers. How did that series begin?

Thanks so much for the compliment! At the time I was working with a lot of vintage paper and would work directly on the paper sometimes but mostly I built work from the paper onto wooden panels. The inside of text book covers was always my favorite material because of the personality, the scribbles and names and drawings. I spent a bit of time one day trying to remove some great inside paper off of a cover before I realized that what I really wanted was that whole look together…  the sturdy canvas of the entire cover with the book bound edge and labels. So I started working in minimal compositions alongside the water stains and scribbles that are already there.

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Are there specific narratives or themes that you find yourself continually exploring in your work?

I’ve always found myself drawn creatively to the innocence of play and exploration. Kids, bubbling energy and bright colors turn up a lot. I draw a lot of my palette from paper material from the 50s and 60s.

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You employ an unusual but wonderful combination of collage and drawing. How did this style develop, and when did you start to feel confident that you had found your own stylistic voice?

I never really explored collage in school or my earlier years at all but have aways been fascinated by and collected found and vintage paper and ephemera. When I left my desk job in graphic design and started working in an analog studio again it seemed like a natural path to use the materials that I find such inspiration in so I developed a style and techniques that felt the most natural to me while pushing myself into a new medium.

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Tell us about the art scene in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Chattanooga is very supportive of the arts and, especially in the last few years, galleries are popping up everywhere. We have an extensive network of public art groups, gallery hops, and a yearly art festival that brings patrons from all across the country. It’s a great place to be making things.

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What’s on your plate for the next year?  Any new developments and exciting events? 

I had so much fun this year with several shows, both solo and group. This coming year I’m really looking forward to studio time to try some new ideas and explore without a deadline looming. I’m keeping the immediate future loose, working on a list of commission work and collecting material! My work is also in the just-released book Collage, by Danielle Krysa and Anthony Zinonos.
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Hollie Chastain is our October 2014 artist.
This is a taste of what’s to come when we release her print at the beginning of the month.

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Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.

$69 in North America, $99 Internationally. 

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See past issues   •   Learn how it works

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Hollie Chastain: October Artist

We are jumping for joy that we will soon be sending subscribers a print by the incredible collage artist Hollie Chastain. Scroll down and you may well recognize some of her art, as the internet has been swooning over her for years. When you are done swooning, subscribe to Papirmass if you haven’t already, and we will mail you a print by Hollie for the incredible price of $5.75 (including shipping!), followed by 11 more art surprises once a month all year long.

A poem by Claire Caldwell is paired with this print. Learn more about Papirmass here.
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Hollie Chastain is our October 2014 artist.
This is a taste of what’s to come when we release her print at the beginning of the month.

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Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.

$69 in North America, $99 Internationally. 

.

See past issues here.

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September Giveaway! Theme: Flower Power

This month’s Photomass Giveaway theme is FLOWER POWER, in celebration of our current issue, featuring a painting from Carmelo Blandino’s Single Flower Series, & the poem ‘Floral Arrangement’ by Raoul Fernandes.

This month, WIN a pack of postcards featuring the League of Lady Wrestlers by sending us images that relate to the theme via social media. No wilting daisies, The League is all about subverting traditional expectations, so get creative. We hope to see images of flowers in full bloom or glorious decay, printed or drawn, or even – perhaps – metaphoric. Full details below.

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Photo credit Ben Freedman

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LOLW is a group of female-identifying wrestlers formed in celebration of feminine identities, subversion of traditional gender stereotypes, and professional wrestling. They have chosen to wrestle and to fight, as ladies, not because they have to, because they want to. The wrestling ring is important because it is the site of an epic power shift that allows for the inversion of traditional roles and gendered expectations. It is a stage where the spectacle is embraced and expected, leaving, naturally, a place for the comedic, enabling us to make statements about our wrestling as art and social practice. Here’s a photo from the recent event Island Rumble, this past Saturday in Toronto:

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Photo Contest

PHOTOMASS CONTEST RULES: As always, entering is easy! We will pick our favourite photo
– of anything related to our current theme – at the end of the month.

Share your own photos and tag us to enter: #papirmass or @papirmass. Get snapping!

To enter your photo, simply post it to InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

We will choose the next winner on September 30.

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Papirmass 57: Carmelo Blandino & Raoul Fernandes

We are thrilled to announce the release of our latest issue, featuring the painting Falling Into Grace by Carmelo Blandino and the poem Flower Arrangements by Raoul Fernandes. Frame this flower and enjoy the memory of summer well into the coming fall and winter. Buy it now for a mere $10 plus shipping!

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Falling Into Grace, by Carmelo Blandino

Carmelo Blandino’s contemplations on the depths of a solitary flower are widely known for their immediacy and their sensual, even lascivious, expressions of colour, movement, and shape. His work builds on the practice of Buddhist monks, who meditate on a single flower, recognizing that all energy originates from a single source, and that in the complexity of the petals is expressed our own true form. Born to Sicilian parents in Tubingen, Germany, and raised in the culturally-charged cities of Montreal and Sicily, he currently lives in Naples, Florida. See more at www.blandino.ca

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Flower Arrangements, by Raoul Fernandes

Raoul Fernandes offers us a sweeping survey of our culture’s tendency to sever flowers from the earth, occassionally offering them in ritual sacrifice, and arranging them as ornament. Widely published and writing out of Vancouver, Raoul was a finalist for the 2010 Bronwen Wallace Award. He is the editor at The Maynard. His debut poetry collection is forthcoming in 2015 from Nightwood Editions. Read more at www.raoulfernandes.com

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Paper Size: 9 x 9 inches
Image Size: 9 x 9 inches
Printing: CMYK Offset Lithography on coated cardstock
Ships Flat in a 9 x 12 inch envelope with a cardstock stiffener.
Price: $10 + shipping

Add to Cart

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Carmelo Blandino: Artist Interview

“Art needs to reach the hearts of our society
as it is a strong force for change in the direction of what is right.”

This September we bring you the floral stylings of Carmelo Blandino, a fitting end to the summer bloom. Carmelo’s singular obsession with flowers is evident in his numerous paintings exploring the beauty of peonies, lillies, and other floral arrangements in exquisite detail. His ’Single Flower Series’ presents parallels between the human and the flower, resulting in a beautiful and arresting expression of the human existence. Purchase Carmelo’s print here, and subscribe so you don’t miss future issues!

The poem ‘Flower Arrangements’ by Raoul Fernandes appears on Side 2.

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Hello Carmelo! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? 

I’m a fine artist, whose heart is Italian, raised in Montreal and transplanted myself into the US later in life. Currently residing in Naples Florida and working between Connecticut and Florida. Amazing feats of strength….my tenacity to push my painting abilities constantly. It takes physical and mental strength to not settle in one’s accolades. Besides, it seems to me that there is still so much I want to say through my paintings. This field is wide and vast, so rich: filled with constant turns and growth. What an incredibly complex language we have created as humans. Almost equal to that of nature. 

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You are an incredible painter. Where were you trained and how has your practice evolved over the years?

Thank you for the compliment. I am self-taught. I did go to illustration and design school for three years in Montreal but really my formal training came from working in the field as an artist. I had a successful international illustration career for twelve years and at about the same time managed to teach at Dawson College in Montreal. Those were highly productive years for me as I am very diligent about how I affect people around me. I had to dig deep and sharpen my skills even more to be able to teach drawing and painting skills to others. I knew it had to be done right if I was going to be taken seriously. Then one day as things were flowing nicely I realized I was at a turning point in my life and career. That point where you could settle and coast with a nice steady paycheck but little growth in terms of artistic sensibilities. So I suddenly stopped everything closed my studio and resigned from teaching to pursue my dream and turned around cold turkey to become a fine artist. That was a whole new school for me, approach to art and mindset. So once again I had to dig deeper and not compromise my work ethics when it came to learning new skills. Fine arts and illustration are worlds apart, contrary to what most artists think. However, there are no short cuts in either of these fields.

I studied all the great contemporary artists… found out who was doing what, why, and – most importantly – how. I remained focused on one idea. To better myself constantly as an artist.  carmelo-blandino-montreal-florida-canada-artist-painter-painting-single-flower-series-affordable-art-print-mail-canada-post-subscription

You have lived in many places. What prompted your most recent move from Montreal to Naples, Florida? Has the change of city affected your artistic production?

Very much so. I moved here because I needed to get away from city living and the climate. Living in the US has affected me in so many ways, especially in regards to business and fine arts. Another great school is the American way of business. It’s a whole other approach than Canadian’s. More direct, less formalities and very fast. The speed at which business is made here is amazing and the friendliness too. I know Americans don’t have the best reputation from the other side of the borders internationally, but you’ll never really know what it’s like until you live here. It’s a very open minded free enterprise world of potential sustained purely by your desire to create something substantial. I came here and had to get acclimated to the system and speed of thinking. More clipped as they say. There is more opportunity for exposing your work, but more importantly to the right viewers.

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Artistically, I’ve had to hold my own as Florida is not a very inspiring state for an artist but it has many attributes that make living here easier. I’m ready for another move now. Currently I’m working very closely with my agent in Connecticut. He is highly reputable and has managed fine artists and a load of popular musicians. Can’t mention his name as he insists on being extremely private. The roster reads like a hall of famer. So I am very fortunate to be under his eye and tutelage in regards to my career. Together this time, we are looking at everything I’ve created with an objective eye and going through it with a fine tooth comb. Again, not an easy position to be in as one’s heart is on the line, but once the river has been crossed, I know that the work will be vastly different and what needs to be there will be truthful. It’s a great place to create paintings from. I paint from truth and that means to let go of what doesn’t serve the painting at that moment. I can see that a lot of painters today are more like showmen.. they look for that 30 minute FaceBook high, but those are trappings. I’ve been victim to it myself.

carmelo-blandino-montreal-florida-canada-artist-painter-painting-single-flower-series-affordable-art-print-mail-canada-post-subscriptionTell us more about your fascination with flowers. We are particularly intrigued with the notion that Buddhist monks meditate on a single flower.

Yes, they do. However, through my own meditation practice I had the physical understanding that we are the flower.  At a deeper energetic level the energy that propels us to move and live is the same as the one that allows the flower to grow. No difference except that the form changes. Grass, birds, flowers, nature, and animals including us are all here because of this life force. That is our grace. We and nature are one. As long as we allow this life force to direct us in our daily activities, it will always steer us right. That is what it means to live by the Grace of God. It’s that energy you see. It’s just such a beautiful thing. There are no physical words to describe it. It lives in the space between your breath and these words.

The flower holds many attributes that are parallel to the human form as it spawns from a seedling to a pod, grows into a form and eventually as this grace leaves the form, it slowly curls unto itself as it wisps into the ether its matter returns back to the earth to repeat the cycle again. Sounds familiar.

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What is on your horizon for the next year?  

Create more paintings.  Projects and exhibitions will always be on the horizon, but really I just want to create more and more. I don’t make any plans whatsoever just for the record. I live my life from moment to moment as I’m directed to do so, and withhold from making any decisions or choices ahead of time. When the moment presents itself I act. It takes practice to live this way, but its liberated me from any stress or thoughts of worry. The future holds too much anxiety. We would be better off if we left it alone. It can’t be relied upon anyway. However, I know I can rely on the Grace of God, or the universe or Om or whatever you wish to call it, to lead the way.

I paint with the same approach. Never planning ahead of time what type of flower or composition will be painted and allow life to direct me. I enjoy this spontaneity. It feels real to me.

I would like to thank you and your subscribers for this opportunity. You have a great magazine and concept going. Art needs to reach the hearts of our society as its a strong force for change in the direction of what is right.

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Carmelo Blandino is our September 2014 artist.

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Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.

$69 in North America, $99 Internationally. 

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See past issues here.

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Congratulations to PHOTOMASS contest winner Tara Forbes!

Tara Forbes (@taralforbes on Twitter) took a stunning photo featuring the beautiful Detroit skyline and April’s Papirmass print. Thanks Tara! You will receive a copy of Guillaume Morissette’s new novel, New Tab.

Just a reminder that we have new rules for our Photomass contest! Next month’s prize and theme will be announced on Tuesday.

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Photo Contest

Every month we choose our favourite photo and send the lucky winner a great prize! Stay tuned for monthly themes!

To enter your photo, simply post it to InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.
Just tag us and you’re entered – it’s that simple.
Tag #papirmass or @papirmass.

We will choose the next winner on September 30. Get snapping!

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Raoul Fernandes: Writer Interview

“The challenge of taking a very well-worn poetic image
and trying to approach it in unusual or startling ways.”

Our September issue has a floral theme, revealing perhaps our reluctance to say farewell to summer and transition to fall. Raoul Fernandes is an exciting figure in the West Coast literary scene, an editor of The Maynard, and a finalist for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award in 2009. A collection of his work is forthcoming from Nightwood Editions. His poem ‘Floral Arrangement’ appears alongside the art of Carmelo Blandino. Subscribe by August 20th to receive this issue.

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Hello Raoul. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I was born in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to parents of Indian descent. Moved to Canada with my family at age 14, and currently reside in East Vancouver with my wife and 2-and-a-half year old son. I work as a maintenance worker. I’ve dabbled in painting and photography and composed electronic music under the moniker “Goodnight Streetlight.” I do most of my writings in cafes these days, often while my son naps in the stroller beside me.

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Your piece, Flower Arrangements, uses a number of cinematic techniques, like montage and juxtaposition, alongside postcard snapshots to capture a series of fleeting moments. Is this an approach you often use in your writing?

It’s an approach I use often in the early generative stages. I’ll free-associate around an image or idea and write down whatever comes to mind. It rarely stays as that, but for this poem I decided to keep it as a collection of distinct pieces that connect through a common subject. Perhaps it made sense to see it as a kind of a bouquet. I also enjoyed the challenge of taking a very well-worn poetic image and trying to approach it in unusual or startling ways. I’ve resisted using flowers in poems, but I think my wife and our garden has allowed me a deeper appreciation of them.

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“Having a large part of one’s consciousness materialize into a tactile form.”

 

How has your experience editing The Maynard and attending the SFU Creative Writing Program informed your writing, and what role has the West Coast Canadian literary community played in your development?

The Writers Studio at SFU was a big lift for me. I was becoming a bit too isolated and unfocused with my writing. I needed some guidance and, yes, a community. There’s a small friendly group of poets here in Vancouver – It often feels one meets half of them at any given reading. Some poet friends have helped me in very direct ways through reading/feedback, book clubs, or just hanging out and geeking out about writing. More indirectly, being in a community of writers makes you identify more as one. And then it’s like,”OK, you’re a poet. Time to get to work, kid.”

Working on the Maynard has been fun. Reading a lot of poems, especially the weaker ones, can make it really clear what you value in poetry, and what can make a poem go flat. My co-editors are excellent readers and give a lot of time and attention to the poems. I’m learning from them. It’s also a privilege to be in a position of supporting other writers, and perhaps even bringing some non-poetry readers into our weird little world.

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What’s on your plate for the next year? Any new developments and exciting events?

Funny you should ask! The most exciting development is that one of my favourite presses, Nightwood Editions, has picked up my poetry manuscript. I’ll have my first book out next year and hope to do a little flurry of readings and such. I’m pretty thrilled. It feels a bit vulnerable too - having a large part of one’s consciousness materialize into a tactile form that can be thrown across rooms, have coffee spilt on, and, of course, connect with other consciousnesses. But what an incredible thing to get to do. I feel so entirely lucky.

 

Raoul Fernandes is our September 2014 writer.
This is a taste of what’s to come when we release his print at the beginning of the month.

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Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.

$69 in North America, $99 Internationally. 

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See past issues here.

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Issue 56: Special 4-piece Postcard Set by Chris Foster!

Featuring stunning illustrations by recent Halifax-to-Toronto transplant Chris Foster, issue 56 is here, and we are absolutely in love with it.  This 4-piece postcard set is sure to make you swoon as well. Take these cards on the road with you and send sweet messages home.

Chris Foster’s illustrations of makeshift dwellings grafted onto modified cars, trucks, limousines, and public buses can be read as immediate responses to the rising cost of real estate, gentrification, and the housing crisis that has swept across North America. Themes of escapism, transience, self-sufficiency and retreat from the urban are situated in the histories of frontier culture, heroic exploration, and freedom. His dark humour sheds light on collective anxiety rising out of the cultural inactivity in the years following economic collapse. Rendered in a vintage illustration style, the apocalypse has never looked so sweet.

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4 spot-colour Offset Lithography on coated cardstock, white fronts/kraft backs (yes! white on the front and kraft on the back!).

Purchase it for a mere $10 at papirmass.com/products/56-chris-foster-4-piece-postcard-set
Read our interview with him here: papirmasse.com/art/2014/chris-foster-artist-interview
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Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year featuring fresh art and writing.

$69 in North America, $99 Internationally. 

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See past issues here.

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PHOTOMASS: Win a copy of Guillaume Morissette’s new novel, New Tab!

In Issue 13 & Issue 21 of Papirmass we published work from author Guillaume Morissette. We are happy to announce that the prize for this month’s Photomass contest will be Guillaume Morissette’s novel, New Tab. Set in Montreal, New Tab is a contemporary tale that recounts a year of a twenty-six year old video game designer’s life as he attempts to reinvent himself. The novel chronicles the dark, hilarious, self-destructing and gripping experiences of one man’s life.

NEW PHOTOMASS CONTEST RULES: As always, entering is easy! We will pick our favourite photo – of anything! – at the end of the month. Share your own photos, images of art or things that inspire you, or a photo of a Papirmass print. Just tag us to enter: #papirmass or @papirmass. Get snapping!

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Photo Contest

Every month we choose our favourite photo and send the lucky winner a great prize!

To enter your photo, simply post it to InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.
Just tag us and you’re entered – it’s that simple.
Tag #papirmass or @papirmass.

We will choose the next winner on August 31. Get snapping!

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