fall 2012

Put A Bird In It – Featured Maker, LAIKA

The team at LAIKA and LAIKA/house joined in the fun for Put a Bird In It and created Halloween-inspired birdhouses that bring all the magic, innovation and creativity we’ve come to love from their studio. These pieces will be available for auction and raffle at our event on Friday!

LAIKA is an animation studio that produces feature and short films. Nominated for an Academy Award® in 2009, Coraline was LAIKA’s first feature film and was the first stop-motion feature to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3D. Their latest film, ParaNorman, was released in August 2012 to critical acclaim.

LAIKA/house, the content division of the company, is world-renowned for its skill in storytelling and character animation in any medium. They produce stunning designs and content that have garnered the attention of advertising agencies such as Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and Wieden+Kennedy and attracted clients such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Target and M&M’S.

We spoke with LAIKA/house brand manager, Alise Munson to learn a little more about the company and the artists working on these houses. “We love making dark, creepy things - Coraline and ParaNorman are evidence. In both divisions we are experts at working in miniatures since stop-motion is all about creating a reality in stylized animate-able worlds that tell a story through details. Bringing this design exercise to the ‘put a bird in it’ zeitgeist was extra fun.”

“Our success as a company is fueled by great design and innovation,” said Munson, “so the opportunity to play among some of the best talent in town was irresistibly enticing. Plus, proceeds from the auction go to a cause LAIKA fully supports - arts and music education.  WeMake put the cherry on the top by allowing us to evoke the spookiness of the best holiday of the year…Halloween.”

We have been blown away by the creative talent and artistry of the Portland community. Take one look at the collection of birdhouses on Flickr and it is obvious there is something special going on here. We’re looking forward to celebrating with all of you at Union/Pine this Friday at 7:30. Let’s wrap up Design Week in style with an auction to support a great cause. Enjoy some drinks, music and the inspiring people that make up our city. See you there!

Thanks for helping us take flight!

Back in November we started talking about all the things we love to do and why we love them. We thought how cool would it be to get together with a group of people to learn about making stuff, make stuff, and make an impact with stuff we made. There was just four of us in the beginning, myself, Lizy Gershenzon, Scott Baker and Darren Cools. While we formulated our approach, three attributes guided our direction: passion, process, and the spirit of community. With this focus, WeMake took flight—and we’ve been soaring since then, thanks to you.

We are happy to say that with this grass roots approach, the community has really embraced WeMake. After launching our first sketchXchange, we were fortunate to have some amazing new team members join our mission. Paul Searle came onboard to shoot video, Ethan Allen Smith to take photographs, Tiffany Jennings Ross as an organizer and PR rep, and Jessica Caldwell as a writer and workshop coordinator. We have hosted 7 sketchXchanges with our 8th featuring Draplin (happening next week), 3 discovery workshops (+ 1 in Nov.), and lastly, one design in action initiative—Put A Bird In It.

So why Put A Bird In It?

Passion, process, community, and to collectively influence social change by supporting a cause that benefits something close to our hearts.

Starting this week, all 96 houses will be installed at Union Pine

Get a sneak peek at them up close from 12-2pm, Tuesday through Thursday.

It’s time to party!

Friday, October 12th, at 7:30 the doors will open and the fun begin.

The auction will be divided into two closing times:

First round closing at 9:00pm

Second closing at 10:00pm

Throughout the night we will raffle off several houses and you will also have the opportunity to purchase with a BUY NOW feature.

Proceeds from this event will go to benefit arts and music education in our community’s underserved schools.

We hope to see you there!

This is your opportunity to own a unique one-of-a-kind piece of art. Some of the illustrators include: Mary Kate McDevitt,Amy Ruppel,Lisa Hildebrant and Yellena James, to name a few. Additionally Laika House, the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman, have stepped on board to create several haunted birdhouses, which could be yours by just purchasing some raffle tickets! 

But there’s more!

Light Troupe has crafted several digital experiences through the art of programming, and visuals graciously provided by Jolby and Friends. You can design your own virtual house, play with an interactive light wall, and take your photo in the digital Photo Booth. DJ Coast2c  will be playing beats all night long and she’s created a sampling of some of Portland music dating back to the jazz scene, sweet.

Food will be available from Koi Fusion and Voodoo Donuts and beer by Ninkasi

Of course, all of this would not be possible with out the help from our main sponsor Vitamin T and support from Union Pine.

Thanks to all of you who have made birdhouses, posted about the event, showcased the houses, and to those of you coming to the event. 

See you there!

Yvonne and The WeMake Team

Why Design Week Portland?

A lovely synopsis about Design Week Portland written by the ever wonderful Eric Hillerns. 


If we were to assemble a series of design events in Portland, how might we best reflect the culture here?

That was the question I had posed to Tsilli Pines over coffee one wet morning in early spring. Tsilli had recently launched the local franchise of the wildly popular CreativeMornings series and I was working — along with Brooks Gilley — on the latest volume of Designspeaks with Steve Sandstrom. 

I liked Tsilli immediately. Our paths had crossed a few times by that point and when news spread that CreativeMornings would be coming to Portland, there were whispers that our respective events would ultimately compete for the time and attention of Portland’s relatively small creative community. We felt differently. We went on to discuss how we could further support one another and how we could provide real benefit to the community. We talked about how that benefit could be realized by highlighting the world-class programming that Kate Bingaman-Burt was bringing to Show and Tell at Portland State University; that Brad Smith was sharing with WebVisions; that Yvonne Perez Emerson was building with WeMake; that Namita Gupta Wiggers was creating at Museum of Contemporary Craft and in conjunction with PNCA. And the list went on and on. Film, industrial, food, digital, fashion, typography. We weren’t really starting anything new. It was already here. 

The answer to the posed question ultimately took a series of turns over time. It landed somewhere between let’s keep it organic and see how it takes shape and let’s continue to reach out to those people and organizations who are already producing amazing events and experiences. A single week, we agreed, could provide a snapshot of what is happening here and now. We reasoned that in whatever form it took that we would strive to be inclusive and we would approach design with a capital D. That meant celebrating all design disciplines. We weren’t selling anything except the local culture of design. 

Above all else, we would put a stake in the ground and do it. 

So we asked them all — Kate, Brad, Yvonne, Namita, and a committed all-star band of others — to join us in making something big and loud. Design Week Portland would be the platform but the value was in the individual events, how they were different, and how they would inform the topic of design. 

And they all said yes, when do we start? Not who? Or what? Or how

Just when? That’s Portland for you. 

Read More

Get on the Tour, An Interview with Aaron James Draplin

As I headed into the studio of Aaron Draplin, I really had no idea what to expect. You see I missed the two back to back Creative Mornings he spoke at earlier this year, which people are still talking about. Sure I know the guy is a big deal and all, but why all the hype about Aaron James Draplin?  Why do so many people love this guy? I can now attest, it’s not just the work that makes him special. However, his work is mighty awesome, with a style that’s simple, bold and somewhat nostalgic. For me though, it was his sincerity and the way he spoke with conviction about design. It was heartfelt and suddenly clear to me why he has a way of pushing so many inspirational buttons!

I have to say, when I first saw the Design Week Portland video by Paul Searle, with Draplin casually saying, “Fuck I’ll be in Buffalo”, I yelled WTF?! Yet another fine quality… fucking joker. Look even writing about him makes me want to drop f bombs….check out his @draplin sometime, you’ll see what I mean.

Aaron has a great studio, it’s like walking into a curiosity store filled with ephemeron. Hell he gave me a nail file, some field notes, a toothbrush and a guide to fang hygiene!  There were drawers filled with odds and ends, collections and assortments of just cool things, plus neatly stocked shelves piled with t-shirts and Field Notes! I LOVED it…and my toothbrush, or “cuspid cleaner”.

We had a pretty casual talk. He worked on a sweet logo design for his little sister’s Etsy store, we talked about music, family, his new heavy metal inspired “TOUR T-shirt, (which WeMake is proudly featured on), and how he would rather work everyday in his underwear if he could. He also played a little acoustic guitar..by then I was a Draplin groupie. Check it out-

Yvonne: So what are you working on right now? 

Draplin: Toy packaging for Mattel, icons for Ford, two logos for software developers, a logo for a company that makes mobile sites, a shoe brand poster and kinda whatever else I’m scheming up. I’m also making a fuckin’ tour t-shirt. I’m going to do a t-shirt of me ripping a dachshund in half!

Y: Ahh, thats your dog!

D: Oh, it’s okay. He’s dead as shit. I’m never going to be in a band, so this is as close as I’m going to be to making a heavy metal t-shirt of my own. It’s going to be cool.

Y: So what’s up with the touring, how did that come about?

D: In 2009 I got a call from a friend to replace David Carson at an event he asked me if I could come down and if I had something to say.  I thought, I do have something to say!. I can serialize my talks and make them about the place I’m visiting. I go and celebrate something or some dumb thing I know about the town, like Iowa….I love Iowa! It’s fun to go to these places, there is no sense of entitlement, it’s my opportunity to go and tell stories and I get to go to a record store there. That’s my treat. I have a monster record collection at the house. Growing up, I didn’t spend on the usual bullshit, I spent my loot buying records. 

Y: How do you balance tours with graphic design.

D: I don’t use the “B” word too much. This is about how much can I pull off…this isn’t just a job…in the end I’m out entertaining kids but, I feel so lucky to go to that place. I’ve tried hard to be available for all these things around Portland. I just remember those guys when I was in college, and how cool it was. It’s an obligation. Least I can do.

Y: You know we are opening up sketchXchange to 100 people just for you, do you know what you signed up for? 

D:  Oh the pressure! Yeah, I know. I’ll be flying back in town at 4:00pm to go. 

Y: What?!

D: No, the plane lands at 2:00pm. I’ll be there, the show must go on!  Besides I’m glad I can help with the event, it’s a good cause. 

Y: It’s clean and orderly in here with all the stuff you have.

D: The chaos that’s behind you is just my little way. (It’s totally tidy.) Hopefully the work looks good. I really take pride in that I can take my pants off and relax in here. Why does it have to be any different from home? My dad never had pants on when we got home. 

Y: You’re a family man. When is it your turn, are you married?

D: Oh no, I have a serious girlfriend… I give her a lot of credit for dealing with my hours, and my face. She’s tough and she gives me a run for my money. She’s a beautiful specimen of girl-ness!

(It was hard to sit still in his place, too much cool stuff to look at.)

Y: What’s this Canada poster?

D: Cool stuff from up there! 95% of these are old dead logos, some of this is still kinda going, but I just put it out there. It’s more just to celebrate my humble dipshit opinion when design was just better.

Y: When design was better?

D: Yeah because there was restraint. We didn’t have a hundred million colors and fonts. (Pointing to a logo.) It has thick lines. It looks good, small and big. This was how they used to have to think. It had to be legible. We have lost those principles of design. In the past, there were limitations, and you weren’t going to make something with a digital print. You would spend your time with it. I try to respect that stuff in my own work.

We are super stoked to have Draplin for our next sketchXchange and to help us celebrate Design Week Portland. The event will take place before the Put A Bird In It auction at Union Pine, from 4:30-7:00pm. If you’re lucky you can grab the last remaining tickets!

Some of Aaron’s Client work includes:  Coal Headwear, Union Binding Co., Richmond Fontaine, Field Notes, Esquire, Nike, Wired, Timberline, Chunklet, Red Wing, Incase, Giro, Cobra Dogs, Megafaun, Burton Snowboards, Ford Motor Co., Hughes Entertainment, Chuck Prophet, and even the Obama Administration, if you can believe that. 

Put A Bird In It—Featured Maker, ADX

When it comes to teamwork, the crew at ADX is the perfect example. ADX offers up an amazing facility with wood and metal shops, co-working desks, and big open areas for large projects. They provide the opportunity for makers of all types to explore their craft, prototype products, and enlist the support of industry experts.

Two Portland/ADX makers, Jon James Staton and Alexandria Cummings put their heads together to create this well-crafted and creative birdhouse. Let’s hear a little more about what makes them tick and see how this project came together. 

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Jon has been working as a commercial woodworker and in carpentry for years. He started out in central Arizona at a local cabinet shop and moved to Portland on a whim in 2011. Moving through the ranks of ADX, Jon started out as a working member, then Project and Facilities Manager. He is now with Orange Design and Construction

Alex attended Western Michigan University where she studied ceramics. She has shown her work throughout northern Michigan and has worked in ceramic studios and wood shops for most of her life. Alex moved to Portland about four years ago, lured by the OPA, one of the biggest potters associations around — and of course the Portland atmosphere, bikes, woods and rivers.

Jon and Alex met through ADX as co-workers and grew to become great friends. The two have enjoyed getting together again and making art for Put a Bird In It, combining wood with ceramics and even laser engraving. “It always feels good when we get to make that one art piece like the birdhouse,” said Alex.

What are your influences and inspirations? What excites you about design?

Growing up in Arizona, Jon was exposed to Frank Lloyd Wright at an early age and was impacted by both the control of and subjugation by nature that was present in his work. Jon is constantly pushed forward by materials themselves, allowing them to dictate process. He enjoys the constant challenges of working with raw materials and trying to make them work within the confines of his imagination.

Alex is very inspired by her family’s art practices. Working in various studios at a yong age has pushed her into the world of craft and design. She is also very interested in architecture, structure, form process of construction and making was seems like the impossible, possible.

What did you find interesting or challenging about creating this birdhouse?  Please give us a little detail about your process and approach to the project.  What have you enjoyed about it?

“Honestly, working out of a co-working space definitely poses some challenges. We couldn’t find our WeMake Put A Bird In It bag with our materials and had to start almost from scratch. Luckily, the originals were cute at ADX and we were able to round up a few pieces,” said Alex, “ We definitely wanted the birdhouses to reflect our first series of work using live edge pieces of wood and ceramics. We spoke briefly about the project, figuring out materials, finishes, glazes and just got to making. Each little bird says the word ‘bird’ on it as a play on words ‘Put a Word on It’. We figured two birds were better than one!”

We think so too! Thanks for your hard work, Alex and Jon. Your birdhouse is a great addition to our auction and will help raise money for art and music in Portland’s public schools.

So here’s the plan: we are throwing two events back-to-back on Friday, October 12th. There are still tickets available to see the one and only Aaron Draplin speak at our sketchXchange event so grab those while you still can. After hanging out with Draplin, stick around for our Put a Bird In It auction and party to celebrate! The party is free and you can RSVP on our Facebook page and get all the info. See you there!