State of Grace – Volume 1 Issue 5 – Creative Portland 2016

First An


In This Issue:

Where Have All The Artists Gone: A note about Portlanders losing their shit and why it’s all going to be ok. 

Creative Portland 2016 Round Up: Interviews with real live creatives still doing their thing in Portland.

The Creative Portland 2016 After Party: You can’t have a fancy photoshoot without a party to follow it up.


Where Have All The Artists Gone?

wherehavealltheartistsgone

The Mercury, Willamette Week and OPB are all sounding the alarms- Portland is losing is creative lifeblood at unprecedented rates. Rising rents and tech bros are shoving the painters and writers and musicians out, paving the way for the “Silicon Forest”. To the dismay of natives and less recent transplants, it seems like the city is hemorrhaging talent. The comedians are leaving; the old guard musicians are protecting their living rooms with axes, and the artists are being unceremoniously dumped out of their low rent studios in favor of high-rise condos. Amid calls to “Make Portland Shitty Again” and crowdfunding campaigns aimed at tossing out the dread Californians, I wonder sometimes if they are right.

I cannot claim I have been immune to the mini-nationalist feelings overcoming many Portlanders- condemning the Californians for ruining our fair city, nevermind that I am one of them (but seriously dudes, please do update your plates, you’re making the rest of us look bad). We love to sound alarms. We like to sit with our fear sometimes- it’s comforting, like a bristly little lapdog that doesn’t like anyone but us.

There is no denying that Portland is changing at a fast clip. It is changing just as the rest of the country is changing- most of us are navigating our way out of one of the largest financial calamities to happen in our lifetimes. We are dealing with city zoning policies that were written before the drought in California made this Pacific Wonderland a fine proposition for thousands of its water starved residents, and countless others from across our nation who saw a spark of something beautiful here.

Portland is going through some intense growing pains- that is certain. That doesn’t mean that wonderful things can’t come out of this growth spurt. In this issue of State of Grace, I want to highlight the bright sparks I see in Portland now. The creatives are far from gone- who we are is just changing.

In honor of the creatives who are still hanging in, I present the First Annual Creative Portland Issue, celebrating a diverse group of fantastically talented folks that call the Rose City home. This is only one small cross section of a huge number of writers, painters, artisans and designers who are still surviving and thriving here. There is hope for us all yet.


Creative Portland 2016 Round Up

creative-roundup

I sent 9 fabulous people several questions and asked them to pick 3 to answer. I was pleasantly surprised at the open and raw answers I received back, I was also happy to laugh out loud at a few of them. I of course also shamelessly threw myself into this to make it an even 10.

sara2Sara Thomas, Ad Copywriter for Cash, Creative Writer for Fun

What did you want to do when you grew up?

Astronaut. Then veterinarian. Then marine biologist. Finally someone told me you needed to be good at math to do all of those things and I am very much not good at math so my dreams were crushed. FUN TIMES. BUT I can write sorta good so here I am, decidedly NOT in space. FUCK YOU, MATH.

What is your biggest fear as a creative?

Writing ad copy happens in such a defined space–reach X people using Y strategy. Those guidelines provide a degree of safety/comfort that just isn’t there when it comes to creative writing.When you take away that safety net shit gets real spooky real fast. You’ve got a hundred different worries in your head: is this boring? Is this hack? Has this already been done… but BETTER? It can be intimidating as hell to try and write something worth reading, but on the other hand it’s usually more fun than writing radio scripts.

What is your dream job/commission/assignment?

All-fart-joke stand-up comedian. Staff writer for Difficult People. The person that mists Chris Pine with a spray bottle when he needs to glisten with fake sweat.

 All of a sudden, we’ve flashed back 100 years, what would you be doing in 1916? Riding around on a scooter, kicking ass in the name of women’s suffrage. http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/autoped-was-worlds-first-scooter.html

marieMarie Castorini, painter

 What is the strangest thing you’ve been hired to do related to your creative medium?

The strangest painting I’ve been commissioned to do was for an Italian family I nannied for. The mom took a photo of her 5 and 9 year old sons in very sincere “macho” poses with their shirts unbuttoned and bought me a 4’x5′ canvas to paint it on for their living room. I love doing brooding portraits but that felt a little silly.

Why do you create what you do?

I paint portraits because I enjoy exploring the concept of identity. I have always been inspired by unconventional forms of self expression and how gender is performed. I like to reevaluate what those things mean to me and feel each piece is a self portrait in some sense.

What is your dream job/commission/assignment?

My dream project would be to make elaborate, high-concept costumes for stage. I have always loved musicals, drag and burlesque and would love to create over-the-top couture pieces that have an element of humor to them.

madisonMadison Russel, animator & illustrator

Tell me in a tweet why your medium matters to you:

I love the frantically meditative process of animation. Creating beautiful, moving stories from paper, pencil, and ink is my favorite thing.

What is your spirit animal?

I’ve always been a big fan of Sagittarius Serpentarius, or the secretary bird, not only because its extremely cool scientific name includes my astrological sign, but because it makes a pale face and red rings around the eyes look fabulous. Also, besides being gorgeous, secretary birds are awkward and sometimes a little klutzy, and I can relate to that.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was in sixth grade I spent hours and hours copying all of Glen Keane’s Tarzan drawings before I had any idea who Glen Keane was, so I suppose it’s no surprise that I became an animator. This followed many years of wanting to be Jim Carrey when I grew up.

You can see Madison’s work here.

karen2Karen Martwick, editor

What work are you most proud of?

TravelPortland.com and Travel Portland magazine.

What is your dream job/commission/assignment?

I’ve always dreamed of one day editing in Spanish, preferably in Spain. I’d need to build my language skills significantly to make it happen — but moving to Spain would help a lot!

What did you want to do when you grew up?

First a teacher, then a magazine editor.

kenKenneth Gordon, Writer

Why do you create what you do?

I write scripts because story is how I interface with the world, so it is the best way I can contribute and create change. My drive is to innovate within the collaborative visual media (film, comics, TV, video games, and theatre), whether it be to delve deeper into a given genre or to re-frame how a given demographic is portrayed.

What is your dream job/commission/assignment?

One dream of mine is to helm large-scale collaboration between the animation and comic industries of Japan and the USA.  

What is your spirit animal?

One spirit animal that’s particularly dear to me is the penguin. Besides being awesome, I see penguins as apt representations of the often invisible creative process. They do not soar in the sky or run fast on land like other birds, but instead they are masters of the subconscious depths of the ocean. They posses great patience and sense of community, which is so important for creative individuals to harness.

brianBrian Joines, Writer

What work are you most proud of?

Probably IMAGINE AGENTS.  I feel like that book really represented a lot of who I truly am as a writer/person, beneath the tectonic plates of sarcasm I usually wear. 

What is your dream job/commission/assignment?

Yikes…there are so many properties/characters I’d like to get my hands on, or ideas I’d love to have an opportunity to explore.  For the sake of this, let’s say THE DOOM PATROL.

All of a sudden, we’ve flashed back 100 years, what would you be doing in 1916?

Ideally, writing for the pulps.  Realistically, probably lashing out in a syphilitic rage.

Brian tweets thing here.

graceGrace Anderson, Illustrator & Designer

What is the strangest thing you’ve been hired to do related to your creative medium?

A couple years ago I was approached by the editors of The Devastator, who I’ve worked with in the past, to create illustrations for an article called “Rejected American Girl Dolls”. I was a huge fan of the franchise as a kid, I loved the historical aspect more than the dolls, and the illustrations bring back fond memories. I took the job. It featured a little bootlegger, a member of the Donner party, and a few other gruesome scenarios. It’s one of the only things I intentionally leave out of my portfolio because it was just so dark. I do still laugh when I think about it… but I’m an adult- I never want a little kid to stumble onto those because I put them in my portfolio, they’re much better left in unambiguous issues of The Devastator, which is clearly marketed to adults. 

What is your biggest fear as a creative?

Doing it wrong. I’m always a little nervous that I’ve completely misunderstood the brief, or perhaps I’m the only one that thinks it looks good- I’m very nervous that somehow I have some blinders on and can’t see some glaringly obvious problems in my work.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I definitely wanted to be a mermaid for a good chunk of kindergarten, but mostly I think I’ve just wanted to do what I do now, which is really lucky. I remember getting a book on Toulouse Lautrec as a kid and reading about how he had to fight his wealthy parents to allow him to be an artist- I felt very fortunate even then that I knew I would never have to have that fight. My entire family is made up of creatives of some sort, so it was never even taboo to think I could make a living off my art- my grandparents did it, my dad did and does do that. It’s a lucky thing to be an artist and be able to figure out how those before you did it and trust that it will work out.

tabithaTabitha Donaghue, Writer & Jack of Several Creative Trades

Tell me in a tweet why your medium matters to you:

Writing expels the carbon dioxide from my soul so the oxygen can rush in

What is the strangest thing you’ve been hired to do related to your creative medium?
Once I made a line of nerd themed underwear called Galactic Understatement. I just hand painted nerdy things on them, like ‘aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper,’ and pacman with ghosts. Nobody hired me to do it, but I was astounded by how many people are willing to buy cute (new!) handpainted underwear from someone sitting on the sidewalk at Last Thursday.

What work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the short stories that gush spontaneously, entire and finished even as they emerge for the first time, that somehow sometimes strike me like lightning from a small concept or flash of inspiration. My favorite is always the last one that happened.

Also I really damn love those murals I left outside my windows in San Francisco.

What work are you least proud of?
I guess I have issues. I couldn’t think of anything here. There is a lot of stuff I’ve done that turned out unyieldingly crap and I just got rid of it after a decent mourning period…but all of it was and continues to be important to my development and finger reaching as a maker and a human. I’m a firm believer in failing until you get it the way you want it or until you fling it against the wall and leave it forever.

Tabitha writes here.

mckenzieMcKenzie Baird, Architect In Training

Tell me in a tweet why your medium matters to you:
Everyone deserves great design.

Why do you create what you do?
My work methodologies are underpinned by a broad and evolving set of ethics. I strive to understand the existing physical and social context of the project and create a space that responds to those conditions in a way that is simple, yet unexpected. I want my architecture to empower those that inhabit it, to be flexible to their needs and evolve over time.

What is your biggest fear as a creative?
My perfectionism.

clarkClark Young, Leather Worker & Man of Mystery

Clark is the creative mind behind Corvid Designwerks, his interview will be updated very soon.

I’ll just fill this space here until then.

And here too.

So hopefully it all aligns right.

Until I can fill this in. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.

clementBONUS ENTRY: Clément Bessette-Tyler, host extraordinaire, master of the pun porch and impromptu photographer

Clément declined to be included in the cover photo, but he had the most important hand in the game- he pushed the shutter button. This whole shebang would have been nothing without his help and support and I like him a lot. Plus I wouldn’t know half of these people if it weren’t for him, he is a magnet for good company. So. Thanks Clem!


The Creative Portland 2016 After Party

This whole exercise began as an excuse for me to invite people to get dressed up and eat many different cheeses together- I truly am a master of justification. Also, you can’t ask a bunch of people to sweat it out in gowns and suits for some photos without feeding them, that’s really why people hate courthouse weddings, after all.

Many different cheeses!
Trader Joe's finest.
Trader Joe’s finest.
More cheeses!
More cheeses!
This was supposed to be a cannoli cheeseball. Cheese bowl worked fine.
This was supposed to be a cannoli cheeseball. Cheese bowl worked fine.
The night ended with a view of the critically acclaimed* reboot of Pointe Break, not starring Keanu Reeves or Swayze. *It was awful and we got a noise complaint. Thanks for nothing Not Keanu.
The night ended with a viewing of the critically acclaimed* reboot of Point Break, not starring Keanu Reeves or Swayze. *It was so awful that we got a noise complaint. Thanks for nothing Not Keanu.

I am going to end this article with some advice you won’t regret taking:

Throw a party for people you like.

Go all out, just because.

Put on fancy clothes once in a while just because they make you feel good.

Don’t ever watch the new Point Break.

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