The Design Issue 2016
DESIGN WEEK is filled with events that are informative and interactive, and it can be difficult to sift through and decide which educational installments to check out. That requires research and really, who has the time? I do. I stalked the major players on the discussion panel events and found one that just might be the most valuable to attend if you're a designer/artist/creative entrepreneur.
Overshare: PDX, presented by Working Not Working and Scout Books, appealed to my struggling artistic self, because as a freelancer the hardships and self-doubt can overshadow the success and contentment. I like to hear highly successful creatives open their hearts and spill their emotional efforts. We've all heard stories about how highly recognized brands, companies, and artists "made it," but we rarely hear about the problems they encountered along the way and, in most cases, still face.
Moderator Justin Gignac co-founded Working Not Working in New York City. He's about to release a podcast and event series called Overshare. This Design Week (DWP) event is a Portland-focused installment of that podcast, and it should reveal some not-all-unicorns-and-butterflies stories from three highly talented and revered artists who call Portland home. I get the feeling it'll be both relational and inspirational.
The first participant I cyber-stalked was Kate Bingaman-Burt. One visit to her website (which is extremely impressive and jam-packed with content) made me want to hang out and draw with her. It's apparent she's a live-breathe-dream-your-art kind of human who never stops creating and teaching (sometimes even for free). Her modern illustrative style focuses on objects in our daily lives, especially those pertinent to consumption and money. My favorite is a hand-drawn copy of a credit card statement that sold for $140, the balance still owed. Making money off of the debt that's been acquired while being a struggling artist?! Mic drop.
Also on the panel is Adam R. Garcia, the man behind the Pressure, a multidisciplinary creative studio based in Portland. Garcia's involvement in the design realm spans everything from brand-identity development to event coordination.
The final panelist is Rich Tu, an award-winning artist with an extensive portfolio who recently transplanted from NYC and shares my confusion about certain Portland styles. Here's what they told me about Overshare: PDX:
MERCURY: Kate, you've worked in a few other cities as a creative professional, so what do you like most about Portland?
KATE BINGAMAN-BURT: I have been a design educator in a few different cities, but Portland really is a fantastic place to learn about design. So many real-life examples to dive into and so many practitioners who are generous with knowledge and opportunities. Also, the events! So many things to see and do, and if you don't see what you are looking for, Portland is a great place to start those conversations that you feel might be missing.
You're a strong pillar in the art/design/creative community. What are some improvements you'd like to see?
BINGAMAN-BURT: More reading. More writing. More reflection. More about the why versus the how. These are also notes to self, by the way. We want to avoid monoculture, but we are heading toward it. I also have a love-hate [relationship] with the influence of the internet on our visual culture. This isn't just a Portland problem, but a design problem in general. It's so easy to see "cool stuff" and to like "cool stuff" and to make "cool stuff," but it's hard to dig deeper and go beyond just cool. I would love to see more active and critical voices (constructive, of course). I would also love to see those active and critical voices able to support themselves, because it's nice to eat.
Adam, can you tell me more about what to expect from this event? Why you're participating?
ADAM R. GARCIA: As far as what guests can look forward to from the event, it's going to be a lot of talking. Good talking. Talking about vulnerability and fear and hope and anxiety. Life as process. Being a human. Trying. Failing. All that good stuff. Overall I think it's about connection. Maybe?
Rich, have you done any DWP events prior to this? What made you interested in participating in this specific conversation?
RICH TU: This is my first DWP event ever and I'm excited to be involved. Justin Gignac from Working Not Working is a good friend from New York and he approached me about being involved. In a freeform discussion format, it is important to trust the participants around you, and Justin was instrumental in making me comfortable enough to jump in. His format is pretty loose, and [he] lets the participants go off on a topic, which is great if you're an audience member and want to see fireworks.
You've worked and lived in a few different cities in your life so far. What could be improved in Portland's design community?
TU: Until very recently I've only admired the Portland design scene from afar and I'm honored to be a part of it now. So far I don't have any gripes with the Portland design community, but I have observed what I refer to as the "lookbook look." So many creatives here dress straight out of a catalog, and I'm more used to a freeform sartorial aesthetic. I love pins, patches, weird pops of color, etc. I'm like Anthony Bourdain with my style. Serve me up some Balmain with a side order of street meat.
XOXO Outpost, 419 NE 10th, Tues April 19, 7 pm, free