Michael Buchino is a graphic artist in Portland, Oregon. Among other things, he designs posters for Portland Center Stage and blogs for AIGA. Sometimes he sells his own posters. Other times he just rides his bike. Here is his guide to salons, sites and society in sunny Portland, Oregon.
True to Pacific Northwest form, the creatives in Portland, Oregon are very supportive of each other. Events overlap, organizations collaborate, media collide and all are invited to participate.
I’m a graphic artist—I cut my teeth on book covers and layout but prefer illustrations and posters these days. My creative scene is informed by a wide swath of events, organizations and individuals across multiple disciplines, but I’ll stick to the designer-y side of things (mostly) for this post.
Just this past October, Tsilli Pines and Eric Hillerns organized a week of design events all over the city for the inaugural Design Week Portland. Presentations, workshops, film screenings, studio tours, portfolio reviews and other designer-y events abounded. Designers descended upon the events with a ferver I hadn’t seen before.
Pines also organizes CreativeMornings/Portland, a branch of the ever-growing, international, free morning talk series. Each month, the series inspires the city with presentations by designers, web developers, museum curators, podcast hosts, fabrication specialists, photographers and more. CreativeMornings/Portland is entering it’s second year, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Designspeaks, another speaking engagement, is Hillerns’ concept. At its peak, it was held quarterly to celebrate regional design and its rich history. Though held less often lately, it remains one of the best events to bump elbows with the Pacific Northwest’s most talented and thoughtful designers.
AIGA Portland helped launch Designspeaks. It has several programs of note, including Career Tools, Digital Dialogues, Portfolio Day and Studio Tours. My favorite, however, is dMob. It’s simply a monthly meetup at a bar, to network, boast or gripe about the biz. The informal setting is quick to build camaraderie.
WeMake also has two regular events of note: sketchXchange is a monthly night showcasing a designer/illustrator/artist’s process through their sketchbooks. It’s a vulnerable position for the presenter, but the intimate space and positive atmosphere eases any anxiety. The other recurring WeMake event I love is their workshop series. Field trips to a a leather studio, garment factory, screen printing house and custom bamboo laser cutter all piqued my interest. At each workshop, participants actually make something.
And finally there’s Show & Tell. Portland State University’s design program just keeps getting better. Hosted by Kate Bingaman Burt, Show & Tell is a weekly portfolio presentation and question-and-answer session with designers from all over. Sometimes the designer is local, sometimes they’re visiting for workshops, sometimes they’re presenting via Skype. Through this, PSU students gain access to some of the best minds in the field. And since it’s open to the public, so do I.
Headed up by Rory Sparks, Em Space Book Arts Center is a collective of letterpress and book artists. They offer membership to access all their equipment, host artists in residency and hold workshops on printing and binding. The world of letterpress fascinates me. I’ve been lucky enough to print a few pieces with Em Spacers, including Kyle Durrie of Moveable Type fame.
The Independent Publishing Resource Center is another printmaker’s studio. Besides workspace access, workshops and a gallery, the IPRC is home to a library of over 6,000 self-published and independently produced materials that are not otherwise represented in public libraries—comics, chap books, novels, catalogs, zines, artists’ books, and more.
ADX is a maker’s playland. As their website says, its membership-based community is equal parts workspace and incubator in a 10,000 square-foot facility. I don’t know how to explain this in just a line. Sometimes you sign up to use their facility and make a bike or giant sign or boat or whatever your next project is. Sometimes you contact the ADX folks to hook you up with a member to make your project for you. And sometimes you just go check out their gallery or take a workshop to learn a new trade. There are more ideas at ADX than rain in Portland.
Beyond those three, Portland Center Stage, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Craft and YU Contemporary all have a constant stream of interesting events, exhibits and performances throughout the year.
Oh, and it’s worth noting Andy Baio and Andy McMillan’s inaugural XOXO – an arts and technology festival celebrating disruptive creativity – lived up to the excitement and already has creatives in the tech world salivating for next year. And Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival, having just completed it’s tenth year, takes over Portland for ten days each autumn for a convergence of contemporary performance and visual art.
Whew. After all that, I like to keep tabs on what Portland designers and artists are up to. Some are contemporaries, some are folks I’ve had the pleasure to work with and some I just admire from my afar. They’re always working on exciting projects.
Here’s just a few of the locals I dig in no particular order, but who you should know: Carson Ellis, Aaron Draplin, Santiago Uceda, Meg Hunt, Always with Honor, Brooke Weeber, Adam Garcia, KeeganMeegan & Co., BT Livermore and Mary Kate McDevitt.
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