December 19, 2012

2012 in Review: Books, Zines, and literary things

What do you do when you move in with someone who has a stunning book collection? Well, after drying the resulting sweat of moving 1,000 + books, zines, and magazines, you do some math and realize that even if you read a book a week for the rest of your life, you may never get through all the books in your home. 

It's a sad thought. So, in an effort to read more in general, and of course to encourage myself to explore all the wonderful reading material in my home, I set myself a goal of reading 30 books a year. 

For 2012, I am happy to say that I reached it (perhaps* exceeded it). A large number of the books are from small press and Canadian authors, which is perhaps my favourite result of the 30-book challenge: items picked up at small press fairs and passed along through friends no longer languish on the shelf, lost amongst the more attention-demanding best-sellers. Realizing that every book I read would help me get closer to my goal encouraged me to spend time with zines and lesser-known literature, which for the most part proved to be weirder and better than your standard bestseller fare.

*I counted audiobooks in this list as well (marked by an asterisk), so for the sticklers in the crowd perhaps I read 30 books and listened to 5. Whatever. I am happy to have plowed through a small portion of our eclectic collection of literature, and look forward to another 30 next year. 

TOP 10 + best magazine that is really kind of a lot like a book

Super Flat Times, by Matthew Derby
All My Friends Are Superheroes, by Andrew Kaufman
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
Crazy Like Us, by Ethan Watters
Berlin (both volumes) by Jason Lutes
Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden
The Middle Stories, by Sheila Heti
Unspent Love, by Shannon Gerrard
Elle-Humour, by Julie Doucet
$8.95, by Alan Resnick
Little Brother, Issue 1 (various authors, edited by Emily Keeler)

In (mostly) chronological order (except for the end where I added in all the ones I had forgotten to include):

1. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

Lots of people like this book. I am one of them. 

2. Coldwater, by Jamie Ross

An interesting debut from a young author. I think it shows a lot of potential but would have benefited from more editing.

3. A Long Way Down, by Nick Honrby

Just say no to Nick Hornby. Oh my god why did I read the whole thing. Must have been because I was in the country with little else to do. Big mistake. 

4. Red Light On The Prairies: the bonanza years when the wide open frontier was a hooker's happy hunting ground, by James H. Gray

So. Fucking. Great. A history of prostitution in the early days of the prairies - entertaining and informative. I think the subtitle says it all.

5. Dress Your Family In Cuorduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is great, though I couldn't shake the feeling that I had possibly already read this book. It's kind of bad not to remember, no?

6. Crazy Like Us, by Ethan Watters

A fabulous book about the exportation of the American definition of mental illness to countries around the world. Best book so far! A must-read.

7. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg * 

Meh. Okay. Glad that it was audiobook and I wasn't wasting my precious reading time on it.

8. Berlin, City of Stones, by Jason Lutes

FANTASTIC. Totally falling in love with graphic novels because of this.

9. Unspent Love, by Shannon Gerrard

A gift from the author and JP and I both read it within a few days of receiving it. So lovely and a little bit sad. Now we leave it on our coffee table and guests often read it when they stay with us. It's all part of our secret Shannon Gerrard fan-club recruitment mission.

10. Wheat Belly, by William Davis * 

Bleah. Repackaged Atkins diet mumbo-jumbo. Again, thank god this was an audiobook. I live with someone who can't eat wheat anyway. What was I thinking? Waste. Of. Time. 

11. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Of course you know that you must read this book and also see the movie. Not necessarily in that order.

12. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

A classic for a reason. Loved it. Ray Bradbury was a fortune-teller for sure. 

13. Berlin, City of Smoke, by Jason Lutes

Two down in the Berlin trilogy. I thought there was a third and am dismayed to discover that this was the final one. More Berlin books, Jason! Don't deprive us. 

14. Freakonomics, by Stephen Levitt * 

Meh. Pretty interesting at times, but I think my enjoyment of it was marred by the supremely shitty documentary based on the movie and some bad experiences listening to the podcast, which came across as surprisingly right-wing (see more on Levitt's politics here:

15. Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden

Beautiful and horrifying. A gift from my step-dad, who has great taste in literature. Would definitely recommend this frightful read about the horrors of the First World War and colonization. 

16. Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer *

The first audiobook that wasn't a total waste of time! Actually this guy is pretty smart and this was a good listen, even if it did turn out in the end that parts of it were made up. 

17. Log of the S.S. The Mrs. Unguentine, by Stanley Crawford

The award for weirdest book of the year (and therefore one of the most enjoyable) goes to this tale of a couple stranded at sea for a lifetime.

18. The Re: Visionist, by Miranda Mellis

I...don't really remember reading this. But it is on the list. Daaaamn. 

19. The Middle Stories, by Sheila Heti

A great collection of short stories. The one with the mermaid is probably one of my favourite short stories of all time. 

20. Art & Sexual Politics: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?, ed. by Thomas B Hess and Elizabeth Baker

I figured it was time to read this 1970s classic. It was utterly depressing. Not much has changed. Not enough, anyway. 

21. Younger Next Year *

The subtitle of this self-help book for baby-boomers is "How To Live Like You're 50 into your 80s". I very much enjoyed it. So there.

22. Super Flat Times, by Matthew Derby

From the story of the little boy who clings to the meat tower, to the war where the machines are built to hurt rather than kill, to the land where all food is made of meat…I want to crawl inside this man's brain and never leave. 

23. Self-Made Man, by Norah Vincent

Norah went undercover as a man for a year in an attempt to discover what the world is like when experienced through the eyes of the other gender. An interesting account, even if it ultimately fails to be journalism due to the highly personal nature of her experience. 

24.When All Our Days Are Numbered Marching Bands Will Fill the Streets and We Will Not Hear Them Because We Will Be Upstairs in the Clouds, by Sasha Fletcher

abstract / beautiful / sad / prose / poems

25. You Are A Cat! by Sherwin Tjia

In the vein of the choose-your-own-adventure books from the 90s. At once far more simplistic than the originals…and yet far more sinister. Really enjoyed it. Read ALL the adventures. 

26. Families Are Formed Through Copulation, by Jacob Wren

The title essay from this collection is absolutely, wonderfully, hilarious. I look forward to reading more by this author.

27. Typography Sketchbook, by Stephen Heller and Lita Talarico

A look inside the sketchbooks of some of the world's leading typographers. Eye candy. 

28. Upper Playground 2

A collection of art by some of the biggest names in the mostly American low-brow & graffiti scene. The kind of book I would have loved when I was 18 but ultimately, 10 years later, found rather disappointing. It was oh-kay. 

29. Elle-Humour, by Julie Doucet

A stunningly beautiful collection of Julie Doucet's collage-poems and images. One of the nicest examples of what a book can be that I picked up this year.

30. All My Friends Are Superheroes, by Andrew Kaufman

Possibly my favourite book this year. I can't get enough of how this man's brain works, and highly recommend reading his other stories, including the Tiny Wife and a story from the now sold-out first issue of Little Brother.

31. Traumstadtdenken, by Rupert Bottenberg

Comics on acid. 

32. Three Word Phrase, by Ryan Pequin

I read this sick as a dog, coughing up my lungs on my friend's couch. It is really funny and made me feel way better.

33. $8.95, by Alan Resnick

JP picked this up on the merch table at a Dan Deacon show. The entire book is transcriptions from Chat Support sessions with Bank of America employees. It is, surprisingly, very funny. 

34. Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky

Written by the founder of the Behance network, this is a self-help organization book for artists. On the organization front, I need all the help I can get. This book actually really helped me calm down about all the projects I have on the go, and yes, I bought the associated product (the Action Method). Don't knock it 'till you've tried it. So far it has helped me a lot. 

35. Little Brother, Issue 1 (various authors, edited by Emily Keeler)

I almost forgot to include this, since it is technically a magazine. But it looks and feels like a book, so to hell with it: on to the list it goes! Totally great content and layout from start to finish in this new magazine that explores the relationship of little things to big things. My favourite text was Andrew Kaufman's short story, though Chris Randle's text on the pressure Canadians face to situate their stories in America was a close second. Other magazines on my radar this year: Maisonneuve, Print, and Carousel. 


I rarely make collages but I just found these scans on my computer of 2 collages I made a year ago. I quite like them! Perhaps they will be the first of many...

December 11, 2012

City of Craft was amazing!

THANKS SO MUCH for the INCREDIBLE response to our work, Toronto! This weekend blew us away. We disseminated several hundred of our prints and calendars out into the world, and had a great time doing it. Montreal - see you this weekend at Puces Pop. Toronto - see you at the City of Craft spring show!

Photo by Celine Kim

December 5, 2012

City of Craft! December 8 & 9 with Paper Pusher

I will be at a table with my partner in crime Paper Pusher (aka Jp King) this weekend. We have a million billion new prints on the go. We can't show you just yet because, you know, they are totally still being made, but I promise it's going to be good. I've done a reprint of my classic ampersands (though act fast - I did the reprint for Expozine and they are almost sold out!), and will be making new owl, deer, and dog prints (arf arf!). Details are above; below is a shot of JP's great 2013 Risograph Calendar.

October 24, 2012

New Exhibition - Arbor Gallery

I have a new exhibition opening at Arbor Gallery in the small town of Vankleek Hill, halfway between Montreal and Ottawa. On view will be a ton of new drawings, almost all from 2012 and never before exhibited. I have 8 small abstract works that are an exciting departure from my usual style. A few sneak peek pics below.

Arbor Gallery – Centre for Contemporary Art

36 Home Ave, Vankleek Hill

Opening reception Saturday November 1, 12:00 - 4:00 pm


The day that whole plagiarism thing happened I went to go make a new risograph print of the owl (who is almost all sold out!) and this is how it came out. Coincidence?

More prints coming soon courtesy of Paper Pusher. Thinking of doing a run of green as well as blue.

October 18, 2012

Whoa - did I just get plagiarized?

Hey everyone,

I am editing this post because I have been in contact with the artist in question and she is a very sweet person who admitted to having come across my work online. A few days after seeing my owl she drew one of her own, and, as happens to all of us when we wade into the vast imagery of the internet, a little bit of what she saw stayed with her. She had no intention to copy my work or to make a profit from it - after some friends saw her drawings they urged her to sell them. Her drawings are really good! I'm glad she has friends who support her.

The internet is a really tricky thing. It has upped the anti on our already-imagery saturated world (from billboards, to TV, to ads in washroom stalls, on buses, in bus shelters...we see a lot every day), and made it really easy for artists to see each other's work. This is an amazing thing! We live in the best time ever to be an artist. There is endless inspiration at our fingertips and it is so easy to make contact with each other. We are able to sell our own work without relying on others. The downside is that it is easy for elements of other's work to make their way into our own a little too unadulterated. I am sure that I have been guilty of this in the past. I hope that I am coming into my own more as an artist and looking to others less for inspiration. 

Someone wrote to me and pointed out that it's not like I have a claim to this style, and I couldn't agree more. I actually really liked her take on the form - I think she has a lot of great ideas that have not occurred to me before. Who knows, an element or two from her brain might creep in to my work some day. She's making really cool stuff. That's what happens as an artist when you see work you like - elements of it stay with you.

I probably went overboard in putting this blog post up before I had contacted her, but I have to say, I really was not expecting her to be so humble or so kind. I guess I've heard too many bad Urban Outfitters-type stories (and had several friends have major plagiarism problems this year). If the work had only been on a website I hope that I would not have reacted so harshly (I really don't think I would have but it's hard to say). Seeing the print for sale for 47 Euros bothered me. I've put a huge amount of my life into creating a platform for accessible and affordable art. I try to keep the price of my own prints low. It was such a shock to see something that bore such a resemblance to my own work being sold for so much. Add to that my insomnia from last night and some other stuff that's been going on lately and I can attest to the fact that I definitely was not in the best mood today when I came across this. 

I'm leaving my little guy up at the bottom but have taken her name and all her work down. You know, at the bottom of my heart through all of this was a voice saying, "Who cares, the world is big enough for two patterned owls, isn't it?" But at the same time my heart was racing all day and I definitely felt upset, as much as I didn't want to. It's a tricky line to walk: wanting to be constantly inspired by others, wanting to adapt and grow your own style, wanting to not be too attached to the things you make because at heart you do not agree with the concept of originality, but then also being offended when you see your stuff riffed on a little too hard. I appreciate all the comments and the feedback. I think I can say with certainty that this has been a learning experience for both of us. 

xo - K

Owl by Kirsten McCrea

u & i, new drawing

I'm trying to look on the bright side of insomnia... Less sleep? More blog posts! Seriously, insomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but I thought that I had finally vanquished it this year. Nope. It came back with a vengeance earlier this week. I have never had the kind where I wasn't tired and was just W I D E  A W A K E, but here I am. Wide awake at 4 am after laying in bed for 3 hours getting progressively less sleepy. 

So here I am on my partner's computer at 4 am (my computer, unfortunately, lives in our bedroom, and we have a guest staying in the living room which is where the books live - oh what a week to not be able to sleep!), and what do I come across but a scan of a drawing made for my friend Sandrine a few month's ago that I never posted. She had the great suggestion after seeing the Creative Type ampersand I drew to use a colour less harsh than black for the lettering, and I think it worked out really well. 

u & i, ink on paper, 9x20 inches, 2012. Click to enlarge.

October 12, 2012

En Masse at Hamilton SuperCrawl

I got the chance last month to hook up once again with En Masse, who I have really miss painting with!  It's been waaaay too long since I got to jam with these fine folks, and as always with En Masse, there were friends new and old. We headed over to Hamilton for the SuperCrawl, which is an awesome art festival that takes over the downtown core. En Masse was painting on the wall of Dr. Disk. If you're in Hamilton, the mural will be up for 6 months or so.

Here are some photos courtesy of Jacqui Oakley, a fantastic illustrator who joined us for the day (I hope for the first time of many!). Head on over to her website to see more photos of the day.

September 28, 2012

SPiN Art Show Tonight

I have art in a ping pong bar tonight. Yes, you heard that right. Toronto has a ping pong bar. Here is a shitty late-night photo of what turned into a portrait of Patti Smith. I covered up a lot of the craziness with her hair, but looking at this I wish I had retained a little more of it. Next time!

I am not sure who the artists are this time around but last time it was a strong crew of Toronto street artists and I am sure the latest batch of art will be just as good. Photos from the last show are here.

Here is the event info:

September 29, 2012
10:00 PM – 4:00 AM
Join us as we celebrate our 1 year anniversary this Saturday September 29th! This will be one blowout of a party from 10pm to 4am–yes FOUR EH EM!!
DJ Sets from JayC, Island Riot, Brendan Canning, and Polaris nominated Cadence Weapon!
Artwork from the Plywood Group Show

Polaris Prize Recap

The Polaris Prize gala happened on Monday. It was really great seeing some of Canada's best musicians play a few songs, meet Kathleen Edwards, and even though I am generally not great at keeping secrets I got to sign the winner's name on a giant cheque and totally kept that secret like some sort of mafia badass. Here are a few pics by Dustin Rabin that I snagged off the Polaris Prize facebook page. See more at

My handiwork (kind of wanted YAMANTAKA // Sonic Titan to win
but was also relieved to have a shorter name take the prize)

Best part of the night: the amazing pole dancer Gary with Grimes

All the posters framed. Such good work by all of the artists!

September 11, 2012

New Work + Live Free Show at the Hellion Gallery in Portland

Three new drawings never before seen by the internet are at the Hellion Gallery in Portland this month for the LIVE FREE show, put on by Mike Maxwell. And now they are also here, on the INTERNET, for your cyber-viewing pleasure.

I'm pretty happy that the Hellion Gallery is so on top of things because I did not scan these drawings before I sent them off, so many thanks to the fine folks there for taking care of that. You can see more photos of the show here and at Mike Maxwell's blog and you can purchase works from the show online here.

I kind of felt when I made the Hand drawing (below) that it was a bit derivative of Mike Giant, so how weird is it that it ended up in a show WITH Mike Giant?! Ah well, that's life. Plus, his stuff is so in another realm of awesome that it's not even possible to really be similar to him, try as one might.

Polaris Music Prize Poster 2012: Kathleen Edwards | Voyageur

It's up on their website so I guess I can officially announce it: I made the poster for Kathleen Edwards' nomination for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize. The PP celebrates the best in independent music in Canada with a sweet reward of $25,000 for the winning artist. They further add to the awesome by getting 10 artists to make a custom screen printed poster in celebration of each nominee on the short list. The prize is awarded September 24 in Toronto.

I am thrilled to be back at the drawing board after creating a poster for Patrick Watson in 2009. Below is this years version, this time for Kathleen Edward's album 'Voyageur'. The screen printed poster will be available in limited number at my Etsy shop soon (my shop is currently on hiatus but will come back once the posters are in). I only have ten, so don't delay: reserve your copy by e-mailing me at

Special thanks to Bianca and Mike at Kid Icarus for screen printing it!

See all the posters here:

September 6, 2012

Croft Laneway Revitalization

Here are some pictures from a scorching hot day at the end of June. 10 artists descended on Croft Lane near Kensington Market in Toronto to revitalize a stretch of road that was covered in some pretty sorry graffiti. Big thanks to Adrian Dilena of Whippersnapper Gallery and the Kensington Market Community Association for organizing the event and providing piping hot Mexican food, cold drinks, sweet tunes, and all the paint and supplies.

The alley from a distance

People in this neighbourhood have style

Lemon Bucket played some great music

Painting starts

Javid's killing it

Jp goes isometric

Yours truly perhaps picked something that was a little too labor intensive!

Here it is at the end of the day, still in need of a bit of work. The alley faces onto an elementary school playground.

Jp King's bold mural.
Nic Robins' bright colours pop.

The alley looks amazing now!

August 24, 2012

Live Free Show at Hellion Gallery in Portland

I've got 3 brand new drawings in an upcoming show at the Hellion Gallery in Portland, OR. This is the second time I've sent work to Portland this year (earlier for a print exhibition at Portland State University in conjunction with Open Engagement, a conference on the topic of art and social practice). I've yet to visit this amazing city but it's high on my list!

This time around it's for the Live Free show, put on by the truly awesome Mike Maxwell. The show features artists who have been on Mike's Live Free podcast, and I'm in good company alongside the likes of Mike Giant, Greg Simkins, Kevin Peterson, and many, many others (including En Masse pals Jason Botkin, Fred Caron, and Kevin Ledo).

If you're in Portland the show opens September 6 at 6pm.

The Hellion Gallery is located at 19NW 5th ave, suite 204.

You can listen to En Masse on the Live Free podcast here:

May 23, 2012

New Website and Free Desktop Wallpaper

I have a new website that I am pretty damn happy with. Fourth time's the charm, right? 
Head on over to to check it out. 

And while you're there, snag yourself one of 3 nifty free desktop wallpapers in the 'Free Wallpaper' section (you'll see it in pink type near the bottom on the left sidebar). 

April 2, 2012

Upcoming Craft Fairs

JP King and I will be sharing a table as Paper Pusher at two upcoming craft fairs this April in Toronto. Hope to see you there!

1. Gladstone Hotel Artists and Fleas (love that font so much...)

April 7 at the Gladstone Hotel in the ballroom. Free to get in. 11am - 4pm. We'll have a huge selection of posters, prints, and cards!

   2. City of Craft

       Saturday, April 21, 2012
 Trinity St. Paul's United Church
      427 Bloor Street West
      (one block West of Spadina)

February 25, 2012


Hey Halifax! You've probably already got your calendars marked to check out the ever-awesome Reshelving Initiative at Eyelevel Gallery - who could resist the heaps of fantastic independently produced artist multiples, books, and zines?

Well, somewhere in that heap is my postcard book, along with 2 copies each of the 2009 and 2011 Papirmasse folios. Links are below :) If you're not in Halifax these little books are available online at Paper Pusher, and in Montreal at Maison Kasini and Monastiraki.

The exhibition runs from March 1 - 31, 2012 at 2159 Gottingen Street in Halifax. More info at

The Eyelevel Re-shelving Initiative is an international biennial exhibition of artist books, multiples, and printed matter, refreshing Eyelevel Gallery’s Bookstore collection with works from close to 80 established and emerging artists.

February 13, 2012

Patterns for Schwiing

I've jumped into the world of repeating patterns lately, making some all-over prints for Montreal clothing company Schwiing. I'll post a photo of the fabric when I get my hands on it, but in the meantime here are some photos of the prints in action! My little owl made it onto a shirt too :)