Let’s talk about money!

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Freelance Breakdown

💵 In America it’s a rather taboo topic. As an independent designer for over 7 years, I often don’t have a good grasp of what my career looks like from a monetary perspective (leading to the yearly tax season surprise!). Without understanding and managing expectations about money, it’s hard to have a firm grasp on what a freelance career looks like. I put together this annual report in order to gain a better understanding for myself about the way time and money breakdown, as well as to educate/relate to other independent creatives. Being self-employed, like running any business, is about embracing the ups and downs, the good and bad. At the end of the day, it is my choice to remain indepependent despite the wild ride.

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Finding Light in Haiti

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Citadel of Henri Christophe, Cap-HaĂŻtien, Haiti

“Beyond the mountains, more mountains” Our guide, Eddie, gestures broadly to the horizon. “That’s a Haitian proverb. It reminds you not to think you are that important; there is always someone greater than you.” Looking out at the mountainous landscape surrounding the ruins of the Citadel of Henri Christophe, I find myself wondering about other interpretations. The land here is beautiful, lush and tropical. The mountains jagged in every direction until the land hits the sea, the Northern Coast of Haiti. Eddie points to where Columbus’s Santa María ran aground, the point of colonization.

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Portland Design in the 1960s: Marilyn Holsinger

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Marvelous Marilyn. That’s what they called her at Portland’s influential freelancers collective, Studio 1030, where Marilyn Holsinger was the group’s only woman artist in 1960. Marilyn was marvelous by all accounts, but also a serious career woman. She held 11 design positions across 40 years and three states. She worked for ad agencies, newspapers and universities. Her clients included: Meier & Frank, Viewmaster, Revlon, the San Francisco Examiner, Oregon State University (OSU) and countless others. The references on her resume are a list of who’s who in the Portland design scene of that era. She was exuberant and stylish, athletic and a natural leader. She was cracking the glass ceiling just by showing up and doing her best work with grace. “I don’t remember her feeling like what she was doing was groundbreaking,” reflects her daughter Joan. “If anything she was just a woman before her time.” Read More

How to Sell Yourself as a Designer in Portland

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portland_graphicCongratulations! You moved to Portland to start your career as a graphic designer. You’ve just joined the ranks of the young, gifted and under-employed. Before you thrown in your organic cotton towel and head to the barista stand, try these foolproof tips to achieving creative success in the weirdest city in America.

Forget all the portfolio rules and marketing guidelines you learned at that Midwestern state school. In Portland, we do things differently. We value the obscure, the weird, the artisan, and the independent. So ditch that insurance brochure from your portfolio and re-vamp your image Portland-style.

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Portland Design in the 1960s: Tom Lincoln

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“I had a crush on the Jantzen smile girl, Dolores Hawkins,” relates Tom Lincoln with a grin.

“One of my first assignments was for Pendleton, to help direct the photography for an ad in front of Robinson’s Department Store in Los Angeles,” Tom recalled. “In the ad, we were using a lamb as a part of the wool story. The photographer brought models from New York City. One of the models was Cheryl Tiegs, who went on to become the most photographed in the world.”

Tom Lincoln, now 76, is a man with kind eyes, a quick smile, and big ideas. I met Tom over breakfast (and multiple cups of coffee) in Eugene this summer to discuss his Portland beginnings, his influences, and his varied career successes.

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Portland Design in the 1960s: Byron Ferris

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If a council were formed to determine a list of the “Founding Fathers” of the Portland design community, Byron Ferris’s name would have to be near the top of that list. Sure, there were others who grew to be big-wigs in advertising, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone as talented, influential and well-loved as Byron.

2014-10-04-15.50.44Born in Portland in 1921, Byron’s creativity and organizational skills developed early; he drew his first cartoons for his classmates and for money at age nine. While attending Jefferson High School, class of 1939, he formed the Korny Kartoon Klub with fellow schoolmates which kicked off a lifetime of writing, entertaining, drawing and telling “korny” jokes. In the second entry in our series, Portland Design in the 1960s, we honor Byron Ferris, Portland’s “Dean of Design.”

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Artifact of Left-wing Parisian Bohemia

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Browsing a tiny vintage shop in the 7th arrondissement  in Paris, France I found this magazine dated December 17, 1904, and titled, L’Assiette au beurre. It was bursting with loose, expressive, caricatures that are clearly politically-minded. Some quick research provides an interesting back-story. The following is the ROUGH Google translation of the Wikipedia article about L’Assiette au beurre.


“L’Assiette au beurre is a French satirical illustrated weekly newspaper open to designers and sensitive to the socialist and anarchist ideas. The first series ran from April 4, 1901 to October 15, 1912 and the title was taken, on a monthly basis between 1921 and 1925. L’ Assiette au beurre differs from most other humorous magazine in its composition. Each issue includes mainly cartoons and caricatures in two or three color and full (or double) page spreads with a minimum of 16 illustrated pages. Sometimes an artist is entrusted with the implementation of a number on a specific topic, making each delivery a real album.”

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1920s German Numerical Typography Porn

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I geek out over antique papers, so it was really exciting to find a slew of 1920s German calendar papers tucked inside an old book in a used bookstore in Munich, Germany. The book (8 euro, quickly purchased) was a German school textbook from 1918 and is itself a work of art — filled with gorgeous illustrations. This collection of inserts was just a bonus. For your drooling pleasure:

May 1October 30 Read More

Suits. Cocktails. Talent.

By | Culture, Design, Inspiration, Portland | No Comments

The 1960s design scene in Portland had some things that may seem familiar to designers today: passionate creatives, a small community, and a collaborative work ethic. Out of this creative pool emerged Byron Ferris, Bennet Norrbo, and Charles Politz, three men whose careers overlapped, who influenced each other and yet left their mark in distinctly different ways. They worked to develop some of Portland’s biggest brands like Jantzen and Pendleton — defining the city’s stake in outdoor and athletic wear.

Charles Politz (standing left) planning the Oregon Centennial exhibition

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Portland Designers in the Mad Men Era

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

7:00 PM
Pacific Northwest College of Art
1241 NW Johnson St

Buy Tickets

Before the swoosh there was the Jantzen Diving Girl.

Against the backdrop of political unrest, women’s liberation, and the sexual revolution, a new creative industry began to rise in post-war era Portland. Advertising agencies and commercial artists worked with local brands such as Jantzen, Reed College and Pendleton to lay the groundwork of the design profession for generations of creatives to come.

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Our Portland Story Volume 2 Published

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Our Portland Story Volume 2 has finally arrived, and we are honoring this creative collaboration with a book launch party!

The event will feature readings from 10 of the 77 authors who contributed and a social hour with drinks, music and lots of book browsing. Swap books with your fellow citizens of Portland and write yearbook-style messages. Meet the contributors of the project and exchange ideas for future story submissions.


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Brain Food Served to Schools

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I am thrilled to announce that Brain Food, an exploratory creative activity deck for kids, has landed in the hands of Portland public school teachers. Brain Food is the result of a three year partnership which I lead between The Right Brain Initiative and AIGA Portland when I served as Design for Good Chair on their Board. Brain Food is a tool to help teachers and parents ignite creative thinking.



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Our Portland Story Summer Expo

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The Museum of Contemporary Craft and Our Portland Story (my story project) announce an exhibit and event series in celebration of community storytelling!

The exposition kicks off with the exhibit, “Cabinet of Curiosity” on view July 23rd – September 7th. “Cabinet” will feature wild, weird and familiar objects pulled straight from the pages of Our Portland Story Volumes 1 &2. Follow up events include everything from an improv show based off Our Portland Story narratives to an investigation of stories associated with place. With all events, we hope to use the power of story to see our city through another’s eyes.

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The Slogan & NYC

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The Slogan

On this May trip, we took shelter from a spring rain in the New York Historical Society. A fantastic collection of items large and small from New York’s history. A history rich with war, high society, ethnic diversity, food, and political strife. Some of the more tame political relics are from a time of more civilized democratic discourse, or so we may believe. Campaign buttons, pins and ribbons showcase these political defining points. At the intersection of design and politics we are reminded of the era of the slogan. The word slogan deriving from the Scottish Gaelic word meaning “battle cry”.

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