spring 2013

RECAP—sketchXchange with Jolby

This month’s sketchXchange was very special for a couple of reasons. 

Our awesome guests, Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols of Jolby joined us for a second time since WeMake’s very first sketchXchange last year. We were so thrilled to have them back and hear what they’ve been up to.

The evening consisted of a behind-the-scenes look at their latest children’s book Monsters Under Bridges: Pacific NW Edition. They shared sketches, step-by-step process, anecdotes about how some of the creatures were born, and most of all about how much fun they had while putting the book together. Also, as a bonus treat the author Rachel Roellke Coddingon joined in the fun!

We were so pleased to see many familiar faces—and several new faces this month. We can’t wait to see you again next month for our special edition sketchXchange with Gary Baseman at the Hollywood Theatre. Thank you so much for continuing to make sketchXchange such an incredible time to be inspired, make new friends, and just have a jolly good time. 

Thanks again, Jolby for sharing your work with us! Congratulations on another beautiful book release.

You can see more photos on our Facebook page, and be sure to watch the rad video by Robert Woodwardin this post!

The Door is Always Open, An Interview with Gary Baseman

We are thrilled and honored to have Gary Baseman join us for a night of inspiration and drawing in a special sketchXchange.

Gary will be personally sharing his process from his latest exhibit, his art, and book. You’ll have a chance to skim through his sketchbooks, talk with him and be inspired by his energy and body of work. 

Each attendee will also receive a limited-edition sketchbook with Baseman’s art provided by Scout Books

DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday, June 7, 2013

TIME: 6:00-9:00pm

PLACE: The Hollywood Theatre

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW

Proceeds from this event will help WeMake’s efforts to support arts and music education, as well as Hollywood Theatre’s Animate It!

I’ve admired the work of Gary Baseman for many years. His sweet characters and distinctive style have become somewhat iconic in the world of illustration. The surface of his work may portray toy or doll-like creatures with bright colors of pinks and purples, but if you look deeper you will find strong narratives of the human condition, stories that reflect traces of pop culture, mythical creatures, dreamlike landscapes, and his personal life.

Photo by Timothy Norris

His latest endeavor, The Door Is Always Open, is a reflection and exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center. Based loosely on his book, The Door is Always Open, Baseman not only explores the influences of his Jewish family heritage within this retrospect, but has created a house within the walls of the museum where eight different rooms represent the different themes of his work. 

Photo by Timothy Norris

What gave you the idea to create The Door Is Always Open as an installation?

GB: I would see how people came into my home, the smiles on their faces, they would notice that I have an eclectic taste. Walking into my home is like walking into my personal Disneyland. I’ve always collected interesting things, from old advertising displays to mannequin heads. Because I produce performance art, I keep a lot of costume heads from my characters around my home. I saw how people would immerse themselves into my world when they visited. I thought that’s what I wanted to do in this museum exhibition. I wanted to create an environment that’s like my home. I wanted my space to be engaging. I didn’t want traditional white walls where people felt unattached to the work, or where the viewer had no right to be a part of. 

Lots of times viewers go into gallery space and are made to feel unwanted or even stupid. If you have not already known the artist history or have an understanding of the art, you’re perceived as an idiot, and you’re just there to experience someone else’s brilliance. For me, that is not what I think art or life is about. I wanted to create an environment that allowed people to connect and give them an introduction to my work within the last 25 years of my life. This exhibition is mixed with a bit of family history, and in many ways is a love letter to my parents and to the Fairfax community I grew up in. 

Do you have a favorite room?

GB:I don’t know yet. I am trying to live in each room. Every room represents a theme of my work.  Just like the book we produced with Rizzoli, every chapter in the book represents a room which represents a theme.

The rooms are filled with my family’s real furniture which lived in our home my entire life. It is the first time it has been removed from the home in 48 years, and now it has been embellished by my imagination. People can come sit on the sofas, relax, and interact with my world. When they walk into the den, they can sit down and watch Teachers Peton my parent’s TV, or sit at the game table and play Cranium.

It was a challenge to create these rooms while looking at my body of work, and trying to understand why am I the way I am. Why did I grow up as I did, why do I draw the way I do? Why do I even draw at all? How have I allowed myself to be a living breathing artist for my whole life? How did my parent’s nurture me to be this way, and how did their past allow this to happen? 

Did you get any of those thoughts answered with this retrospect, did you get anything out of it? 

GB:The Skirball is a Jewish Cultural Center and although I’m not very religious, I am proud of my heritage. When they asked me what my art had to do with my heritage I first said nothing. I always joke that my art is about girls, in reality many of my themes are about discovery, breaking down boundaries, acceptance, desire, longing, and passion. 

Looking closer into my work, I discovered a lot of themes that run parallel to my heritage, to my parents’ story and my background growing up in an environment of Holocaust Survivors. I noticed many of my characters would run and hide off into the forest finding freedom in the protection of the trees, like my parents did. If it wasn’t for the forest in Eastern Poland, my parents along with most of the survivors would be dead.

You did a collaborative poster with Shepard Fairey for the event. That’s awesome.

GB:Yes, It was important for me to tell my father’s story in the exhibit. I was grateful for Shepard collaborating with me on a special print that honored my father.I chose a photo of my dad as a partisan, sitting on a tree stump, holding a papeshka (a Russian machine gun).Partisans were freedom fighters in the woods of Poland during World War II against the Germans.

My father told me many things about survival and sacrifice. Later after he passed, I learned even more about his heroism, which he never told his family. It warms my heart to create an image that celebrates his heroism. 

I love your sketchbooks, how many do you have? Do you use them only for sketching or do they have themes?

GB: I have completed 135 of them in my life so far. I use them as a process of creating my themes for my exhibitions now. Sometimes I write my thoughts and ideas in them, it all depends on what I am working on. They have gotten more and more involved, I have been drawing with colored pencils and every page is filled from one side to the other. For me, the sketchbooks have become a type of “work of art” in their own right. They and the characters are part of the fine art process, much like a painting. 

Toby is such a re-occurring character and somewhat of an icon, what’s his story?

GB:I’ve been drawing my whole life and creating my own characters. When I was a little kid, the first characters I created were Morris Mouse or the Blah Blahs. It wasn’t until I moved away as an illustrator that I started drawing somebody like Toby— who became like my alter ego. I didn’t name him until I wrote an unpublished children’s book called, TheFish Tale Hat and he was a character in it. That was the official beginning of Toby. I didn’t use Toby again formally for 12 years because I felt he was too precious to me. He was me, but I did not know how I wanted to present him, until I produced the For the Love of Toby exhibition in 2005.

Gary Baseman is a very interesting and dynamic person who has explored many genres of of creativity— from illustration to animation, painting, and performance art. WeMake is excited to have him come share his story, his passions, and his sketchbooks! We hope you will join us in welcoming him back to Portland!

DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday, June 7, 2013

TIME: 6:00-9:00pm 

PLACE: The Hollywood Theatre

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW

Proceeds from this event will help WeMake’s efforts to support arts and music education, as well as Hollywood Theatre’s Animate It!

Each attendee will also receive a limited-edition sketchbook with Baseman’s art provided by Scout Books

Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment by Entertainment Weekly, Baseman is best known for his work on the Emmy-winning ABC/Disney animated series Teacher’s Pet and for his design of the best-selling board game Cranium. Baseman’s work has also been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Time, and Rolling Stone.

Beam & Anchor Discovery Workshop

Beam & Anchor is home to a talented crop of makers and designers. It is a workshop. It is a retail store. It is a craftsperson’s dream come true. Come explore this inspiring space, learn from high-caliber makers including Matt Pierce from Wood & Faulk, Leland Duck from Revive Designs, and Robert and Jocelyn Rahm who are the founders of this creative initiative. 

This WeMake discovery workshop includes a studio tour and hands-on activities to spark your creativity. We’ll learn about working with different materials including leather, upholstery fabric, and wood (just to name a few). Join us for an evening of shop talk, collaboration, and hands-on fun.

DATE: Thursday, May 16, 2013

TIME: 6:00-9:00pm  Check-in begins at 6:00pm, doors close at 6:30.

PLACE: Beam & Anchor, 2710 N Interstate Ave.

COST: $25

PROJECT: We will be using leather and upholstery fabric to create a unique iPhone or iPad case, as well as a wooden stand to hold your device.

REGISTRATION BEGINS: Monday, May 13th at 9am

RSVP on Eventbrite

When you walk in the front door at Beam & Anchor, you’re welcomed by a beautifully curated retail shop. Everywhere you look there is a hand-crafted, locally made, or thoughtfully designed product. Many of the goods are actually made upstairs in the Beam & Anchor workshop which is home to a diverse group of craftspeople making everything from soap and leather goods, to cabinets and reclaimed furniture. 

Beam & Anchor is the brainchild of Robert and Jocelyn Rahm who wanted to create a space that could celebrate and support local makers. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Matt Pierce from Wood & Faulk and one of the residents of the Beam & Anchor workshop to learn a little bit more about this creative space.

When you started Wood & Faulk you were primarily working out of your home. How did the opportunity to work at Beam & Anchor come about?

Robert and Jocelyn reached out to me and asked if I’d ever thought about taking part in something like what they were creating. It was the perfect time for me because my business was growing. It was really wonderful to get into a space where I could be around other people and work in a space that could grow with what I was building.

Beam & Anchor currently lists nine makers on their website. Read more about them all to get an idea of the collection of people that have come together under one roof. With so many different projects taking place in the workshop, collaboration among the makers is a common occurrence.

Do you find yourself naturally crossing paths project-wise with anyone else in the shop or do you seek each other out to collaborate?

It’s been a really organic way of working together because everyone has very different disciplines. We all have our own ideas about how things should look. We seem to chat about new projects amongst the other people in the building and it’s been great for sparking ideas. 

How have you been inspired by the community of makers here in Portland? What is is about this city that makes it special?

It’s a wonderful little pocket of creativity. Cool people doing cool things. You can get inspiration from all types and all angles of the project. I don’t know why the magic occurs. But whatever it is, it’s been perfect for me and what I’m doing. I don’t think I could have started this and had the same success out of any other city.

For many designers these days, our work lives in a digital space. However, many people crave the experience of making something tangible. What is it about physically making a product that is so satisfying?

I think the satisfaction comes from making something that will last. Technology is always changing, campaigns change, and I don’t think any [digital] project that I’ve ever worked on lasted longer than a nine-month cycle. So as much as I love graphic design and web design, it’s nice to make something that you know won’t be a gone in less than a year. 

Does that effect the type of materials you choose as well?

Yeah, a lot of the materials we use are heavy-weight and long lasting. Things that age with the user or how they’re being touched, bent, or held. Leather and the way it changes with use is how I got into using it as a material. It’s very tactile and ages with you. 

The future of Beam & Anchor looks bright. The retail shop recently had its one-year anniversary and the collection of makers continues to produce stellar products that are favorites among the Portland community and beyond. 

How do you see Beam & Anchor growing and evolving in the future?

I think it’s going to turn into an incubator type of scenario. Many of us are growing beyond what can be contained within the building. It is an interesting idea to think about new blood coming through the building and launching new businesses. Our individual successes could never be replicated if we weren’t collectively working together in a space like this. It’s a really neat way to operate and exciting to think about what new things could develop. 

Beam & Anchor celebrates community, innovation, friendship, and quality goods—something WeMake is very passionate about as well. We are so excited for this opportunity to come together and see the shop, talk about collaboration, and spark new ideas.

If you’d like to join us, be sure to register for this event on Monday, May 13th at 9am. As always, space is limited so grab your spot early. 

DATE: Thursday, May 16, 2013

TIME: 6:00-9:00pm  Check-in begins at 6:00pm, doors close at 6:30.

PLACE: Beam & Anchor, 2710 N Interstate Ave.

COST: $25

PROJECT: We will be using leather and upholstery fabric to create a unique iPhone or iPad case, as well as a wooden stand to hold your device.

REGISTRATION BEGINS: Monday, May 13th at 9am

RSVP on Eventbrite

WeMake Presents: sketchXchange with Gary Baseman

Special Event June 7th at Portland’s Hollywood Theater

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Portland, OR – Creative non-profit WeMake is proud to announce a special edition of their monthly design event, sketchXchange, featuring the renowned Los Angeles artist, animator, and toy designer Gary Baseman. This interactive and inspirational gathering is open to the public, and will take place on Friday, June 7 at the Hollywood Theatre.

Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment by Entertainment Weekly, Baseman is best known for his work on the Emmy-winning ABC/Disney animated series Teacher’s Pet and for his design of the best-selling board game Cranium. Baseman’s work has also been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Time, and Rolling Stone.

Earlybird tickets are available NOW at the Hollywood Theatre box office.

We hope to see you there!

http://www.wemakepdx.com/handouts/Baseman_Press_Release.pdf

About sketchXchange

SketchXchange is a monthly WeMake event that gives students, creative professionals, and curious community members a peek inside the creative process of Portland’s favorite artists and illustrators. Presenters share their sketchbooks and answer questions from the group, while participants bring their own sketchbooks to swap drawings and exchange ideas.

Proceeds from this event will help WeMake’s efforts to support arts and music education, as well as Hollywood Theatre’s Animate It! program, which organizes affordable animation workshops for kids ages 7-18.

RECAP—sketchXchange with Adam Garcia

We loved having Adam Garcia for sketchXchange. It was rad to see his sketchbooks filled with an incredible amount of work, to-do lists and a sense of wonder. It was an evening of great conversation and a fantastic show-and-tell. 

As a special treat, Adam set up a collaborative poster that participants attending drew on. He and intern Ryan Bush, will be silkscreening the exclusive poster for everyone who attended in the night’s sketchXchange. They also took a series of shot’s to be used in a stop motion video. We look forward to seeing the process come to life, and the final product.

Thank you Adam and everyone who joined us, it was an incredible evening!

You can see more photos here via Ethan Allen Smith. As always, thank you Robert Woodward for the great video!