How to Sell Yourself as a Designer in Portland

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.

Design a Hipster Logo

You pretty much have to do this first thing. Stop what you are doing right now, get out your protractor and get to work on a hipster logo. Portlanders LOVE those all-black logos that are rough around the edges with rugged type and text on a curve. Your logo should be contained in a seal shape or oriented around an “x”. Stuck? Visit any number of artisan coffee shops for inspiration.

Obsess on the #PDXCarpet

That’s right, the best airport carpet on the planet is in your hometown (or WAS in your hometown). Now that it’s being replaced with a new pattern, it is time to get serious about your affection for the ORIGINAL PDX Carpet. Not only does this floor covering pattern come with its own hashtag and social media accounts, but a myriad of products exist to excite and delight you. Share these products and all carpet updates excessively across all of your networks. Wax nostalgic about its removal to your soon-to-be-numerous fans. Bonus points for creating your OWN #PDXCarpet product (wrapping paper, lamp shade, branded beard wax).

Brand your Dog

Your dog IS a part of your family and most importantly, your BRAND. Illustrate your dog in whatever illustration style is trendy right now, and give that pup the fandom he deserves by setting up his own social media account. Start a web comic series devoted only to him and don’t forget to hashtag all your cute photos. #SparkyPants. You don’t have a dog!? You DO know about the Oregon Humane Society’s call to End Petlessness don’t you? Cats, birds, rabbits, and lizards are also completely acceptable and may get you extra “weird” points.

Let the Fucks Fly

Portlanders are really fucking comfortable with cursing. To show how comfortable you are with the fucking f-word, integrate a “fuck” into at least one personal design piece for your online portfolio. Some sample choice phrases are: “Fuck Haters,” “Cool as Fuck,” or “No Fucks Given.” Ready to commit to Portland? Tattoo that fucker!

Identify Yourself

What’s in a name? Well, as it turns out, not much. In Portland, naming your design business is as easy as picking two of your favorite things that have nothing to do with each other and pair them up! Curry Summer. Parade Roses. Rain Balloons. Be sure to call yourself “a studio,” even if it is just you and ol’ Sparky Pants in your pajamas all day.

Share Little About What you Actually Do

Portlanders prefer that their profiles describe themselves by their food preferences and/or an 1800s profession. Your goal is to share little about what you actually do, and if possible, be contradictory. If you feel you must identify with some creative professional field, try on “maker,” “tinkerer,” or “disruptor,” for size.

Examples: Vegan Butcher or Bacon-loving Disruptor

Love Outdated Art Forms

Find the most obscure, impractical, and financially ruinous method of printing, drawing, or painting and make it your own. Find an old machine at an estate sale, grease it back to life, and let the accolades roll. Your Summer & Spice hipster logo hand-pressed into a woolen business card is sure to win over all folks at the networking events that you won’t be attending because, shit, people come to YOU!

Write a “Think Piece” on Medium<

Not an expert on anything? Hardly grasp the English language? No problem! If you publish your opinion, people will assume you’re a real smartypants. Easily digestible lists telling other people what to do is a sure formula for success.

Now, recent transplant, you are on the right path to score that dream job with Nike, only to leave two months later and start your own studio. Congrats!

Author & Designer, Melissa Delzio, has a dog with a hashtag, and really fucking hates the PDX Carpet.

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