spring 2016

betsy & iya: The Beauty Behind the Brand

betsy & iya describes their customers as “the woman who laughs a little too loud in the fancy restaurant, talks her way out of speeding tickets, and watches strangers kiss.” On May 7, we're calling all bold and bright individuals to join us for a Discover Workshop with the gifted and gracious mind behind this brand, Betsy Cross. This is a rare opportunity for jewelry makers and design enthusiasts to hear and learn first hand from one of our city’s most successful makers. Not only will you leave the workshop with a personally crafted cuff, you will also gain a greater sense of how to approach jewelry design from the mastermind of betsy & iya herself. Click here to sign up (seats are going fast)!

Beyond the gorgeous pendants, cut-out cuffs, and bold earrings is a brand that defines every meaning of success in our local maker scene. They have the right materials, an esteemed mix of craftsmanship, an arsenal of fantastic jewelry lines, and a heartfelt company culture. Betsy and her husband and partner Will Cervarich are the beating center of this thriving brand, and they aren’t afraid to be transparent and genuine.

Betsy’s interest in jewelry began at a bead shop where she worked during graduate school and blossomed during her time abroad in Mexico City. When she found her career at a crossroad, she decided to devote herself to her passion. “I was pretty broke at the time and felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. I put everything into it then opened up a really small studio,” she said in an interview with us in 2014. “No good things come from timid steps.” Today, they have a bustling brick and mortar where Bety’s ideas turn into wearable works of art, handcrafted by nine in-house makers. 

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At our WeMake Celebrates Conference last year, Betsy sat on our "Small Scale" panel and discussed she balances national success while still remaining the neighborhood shop around the corner that makes everything by hand. "I have the most success as a designer when I make mistakes and let those mistakes show me where to go," she said during the event.

Betsy is a great resource for the makers in our city. She is a brimming well of inspiration and positive thinking. Whether you follow betsy & iya on instagram or peruse their Youtube channel, there is so much to glean from this great brand. Whether you are a budding jewelry maker, or just want to get your hands dirty, we hope you will join us on Saturday, May 7 for a great day of making with Betsy Cross.

betsy & iya Jewelry Workshop
Saturday, May 7 from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Place: Tillamook Station
Click here for more information and to reserve your seat!

OPEN HOUSE- For birds and people

We had a great time at our Open House and appreciated everyone who came out to celebrate with us—eat taco’s, make prints, drink pints, and buy a birdhouse!

If you missed the event there was a nice right up in the Oregonian about the event. Plus you can check them all out here, along with information about the makers and their inspirations.

Thank you to all of the makers who participated this year! During the night, 36 custom birdhouses crafted by local artists, makers and designers were auctioned off with proceeds benefiting The Right Brain Initiative, a Portland-based arts education advocacy program supporting K-8 students. $2500 was raised. Whoot!

And the winners are...

This year we let the people vote on a winner and Highrise by Emmanuel Carrillo won, he also won the Bird Brain Award (Most Original Concept).

Other winners included:

Home Sweet Home (Most Functional/Best Place to Live) - by Elizabeth Goss

Most Fly Crib (The Over-the-Top Award) - by Rory Phillips

Cuckoo Award (Craziest Contraption) - by Dave Selden & Thom Schoenborn

Peacock Award (The Best Use of Color/Illustration) - by Keith Carter

See birdhouses from years past here, here, and here

A big thank you!

To the Judges:

Rilla Alexander, Designer, Illustrator, Author

Eric Hillerns, Designer, Advocate, Author, Angler

Rebecca Burrell, The Right Brain Initiative: Outreach Specialist

Joseph Blanchette, Contemporary Fine Art Painter, Art activist

Ann Takamoto, Development Director: Portland Audubon Society

And these rad guys:

 Jeremy Pair Photography & Golden Rule Design.





Student Spotlight — Colin Laurel

Hello Makers! So happy to bring you our latest installment of Student Spotlight, the talented Colin Laurel. You will absolutely enjoy his work, and what he has to say about his process. So, lets get to it, shall we!


I'm extremely excited for you to meet Colin Laurel, an illustrator/fine artist extraordinaire, currently studying at PNCA. He's currently in his second senior term, defending his thesis, with plans to graduate in May. 

Earlier this month, I got in touch with Colin to get some insight on his process, his passions, his work, and what he's all about. It was such a wonderful treat to hear about his development as an artist, his background and its influences, and his hopes for the future with his art. Read on and enjoy!


How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?
I'd lend that discovery to my naivety, because when I was young and copying the images I admired, I wouldn't necessarily know of the methodologies that went into them until much later. So when I saw an old film poster with these rendered areas and flat shapes and bold text, I tried to emulate it with the limited materials I had on hand. Then I found master works where you've got these highly detailed focal points against rougher line. Now charcoal and ink are my go-to media; you can sculpt and cut into the both of them and have a good time—just get filthy, really. I nearly fainted when I was first taught that traditional and digital media could live harmoniously. In essence, it's been a long string of doing things horribly wrong and loving it: crafting a game without knowledge of code, or piecing together a book with excess staples. I still don't know printmaking nearly as well as I'd like!

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always wanted to be an artist when you were a child?
My parents! I always had those grandiose art-related dreams as a kid, but I was lost as to how elevate that pursuit beyond a hobby. Even if commercial art isn't guaranteed to be lucrative (much to their worry), they've gradually come around as I start to cast my net to the world. I still can't convince my mother that I'm not Disney material anymore—I just went down another avenue!

Outside of your illustration work—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?
Music, the hip-shaking kind. Video games, though when it comes to competition, joy may vary. Company, company, company. I can't express how thankful I am for my company. I'm part of a group called Sour Candy Illustration, and it's been so rewarding to be involved in a like-minded collective working together, encouraging one another, and sharing that feeling of being a sleep-deprived husk.

And recently, the outdoors. I was a bit of a recluse growing up; there's some metaphor about finding myself lurking in here. Very best selling memoir. But really, drawing onsite has been incredibly therapeutic. I try to sketch wherever I go.

[In your bio, you write:] "Expression is key, as are narrative arcs." How do you hope your personal expression and narrative will reach others, using your art and with your heart?
I hope my art sparks a moment, however brief, of radiance within the viewer, and that it lingers on the mind, and that it brings joy to your day. My thesis is rapidly becoming the subject of social outreach. And this is tangential but somewhat relevant: Blackness and queerness have not yet been prominent in my work, nor are they at the height of my agenda (not yet), but I wish to motivate people of similar backgrounds—along with everyone else—to pursue their creative practices. Making is a tool that bolsters the love of myself and the love of others.


THANK YOU Colin for taking part in our Student Spotlight. It was such a pleasure to learn more about you as an artist, as a human being, and to see the brilliant work you're creating. Best wishes on your thesis work, and continue sharing your light with others.

To see more of Colin's work, visit his website at colinlaurel.com 
(Pro tip: you should also follow him on Instagram).

The Power of Design, An interview with Josh Higgins

When I was finding design I was lucky to have a professor that used the term ‘the power of design’ and would often show examples of how design solved problems for business and in society. Design as a means to effect change has always been a part of my practice and something that naturally felt right. At one of my first design conferences (before I graduated design school), one of the speakers, Terry Marks spoke of how he dedicates a percentage of his time to causes he believed in. This completely resonated with me and I decided to apply the same thinking to my own life and career. I have done so ever since.

Josh Higgins, a San Diego native, is well-known for consistent, clean, and deceptively-simple designs driven by a powerful aesthetic and fearless attitude wrapped in social awareness. His design activism led him from the role as design director on President Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign to becoming a creative director for Facebook’s in-house agency, The Factory.

Please join us and Josh along with friend and moderator Aaron Draplin on Thursday, April 21st at the Portland Art Museum for a night of inspiration and Design Week Portland Fun.

Many opportunities arose for Higgins to effect massive change through his career as a designer, but for him it all started with music. Like many of us, he collected flyers and posters from shows he attended and hung them on his bedroom walls. Eventually he began to design his own, when his career took a turn, posters became one of his more common and successful mediums of design.

I have always been drawn to poster design for two reasons.
One—it was one of the first means of communication I remember before I knew what design was. Two—one of my biggest design heroes, Art Chantry used this medium a lot and I when I made the connection that this was design I wanted to try my hand at it. I fell in love with both the design part and the process of pulling ink through screens. I like the challenge to express big ideas in a limited space.

His best-known work has been influenced by this love. In 2008 his involvement with President Obama’s campaign started from a collaboration with Rafael Lopez, an illustrator in San Diego. The poster “Nuestra Voz” is bold and emotes hope with sunshine yellows and a confident, forward-looking profile of President Obama. The poster, which became an official poster for the campaign, went on sale and was purchased by thousands of fans including Oprah Winfrey—funds from the sale went directly to the campaign.  

This collaboration between Higgins and Lopez embodied the sense of change they wanted to see in the world and resulted in a commitment to a cause important to them. It also got Higgins an invitation to be the creative head of Present Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

This official poster for the 2008 campaign went on sale and was purchased by thousands of fans including Oprah Winfrey. It also got Higgins an invitation to be the creative head of Present Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

In 2015, Josh worked with Eric Olsen of Process type Foundry to redesign the facebook logo.

Design is Everything.
A poster started with type legend Doyald Young and finished with the help of Jessica Hische.

We asked guest Elea Davidson, a student at Portland State University’s School of Art + Design, to interview Josh on the power of design. Below is a sampling of her questions and perceptions, as well as Josh’s thoughtful reflections.


What was your first reaction after receiving an offer as design director for the 2012 campaign? Did you have any reservations about entering such a huge position of responsibility over such a large group of people, especially, since this was your first time working in a position of responsibility for a political campaign?


My first reaction was that someone was playing a trick on me or that it was a fake email. I was very happy and honored to find out that it was real. I didn’t have reservations about taking on the job—I chose not to think about whether I could do it, but rather, this is how I will do it.  After it settled in I started to think of how I was going to approach everything from building the team to designing the logo.


Did you feel like your creativity was limited designing under rapid deadlines and an assumed seriousness of politics and campaign content?


It was for sure the hardest job I have ever had and ever will. The speed and pressure to produce at a very high level, both in strategy and craft was like none other. I didn’t look at the constraints as limiting, just another design parameter.

The biggest thing we had to keep in mind at all times was our audience. It was not like a normal project where you have a target demographic of 18-30 year olds. Instead it was everyone—from people in college to grandparents. Designing something that resonates with a audience that large was one of the biggest challenges and successes I’ve had.



You created tools for the people on the ground of the campaign, and personally spent a day as a door knocker with your team. Did interacting with this on the ground level effect you design direction moving forward?


Yes, in a big way. It was so smart of the campaign to require everyone at HQ to go out and knock on doors. Personally, it made me realize how important every piece of communication my team created mattered, however small. The door knockers for example are not a designer dream project. They were however an important tool for volunteers who were out knocking on doors in support of the president—this shifted our team’s thinking and its importance to our goal.

The most important characteristics of Higgins’ work are his own character and beliefs. He wants to impact the world and executes his goal with grace. Whether it’s a personal, non-for-profit or a massive international project, Higgins delivers work powered by authentic care for the cause.

Please join us for our Design Week Portland event. Friend and guest moderator Aaron Draplin will talk about process and the power of design with Josh on Thursday night, April 21st at the Portland Art Museum. 

Josh dedicates a percentage of his time to social causes. Finding creative ways to support them has manifested into exhibits and charitable projects, like The Hurricane, So-Cal and Haiti Poster Projects in addition to lecture series with photographers, designers and film makers with proceeds donated to various charitable organizations.

He has worked with an array of clients, associations, and has spoken about design often. Some of his speaking engagements include: TYPO SF, TYPO Berlin, AIGA Unite, The Y Conference, Converge Conference, and Creative Mornings. Client work includes: President Obama, Asics Footwear, HP, Yamaha, Fender Guitars, Tony Hawk Foundation, Perry Ellis International, Kyocera, Bolle & Serengeti Eyewear, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Life Technologies—to name a few. 



Recap: The Art Of Fly Fishing— A Workshop With Eric Hillerns

“Overcast days like this are the best for casting on the river,” said Eric Hillerns as he flicked a fishing rod back and forth across NE TIllamook Street. A group of twenty fly fishing novices had gathered for a workshop on the sport and a lesson on tying flies by hand. Eric HIllerns, a brand strategist at Ovo, shared over 30-years of fishing experience with the group over the three-hour workshop held on Saturday, March 5.

The morning session started with a thorough overview of the sport’s nearly 2,000 year-old-history. Hillerns shared Claudius Aelians writing from 175 AD, which touched on the Ancient Greek’s use of red wool lures. Next we heard about Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, which was updated over a 25-year stretch as the sport quickly evolved in 15th century England. Finally, Hillerns shared modern wisdom from Bernard ‘Lefty’ Kreh, the American fisherman who took the sport into saltwater in the 1950s.

Using flies instead of bait helps anglers catch as many different species as possible with a beautiful artificial lure. Dry flies appeared in the 18th century, and drastically changed the game. Unlike baited hooks, the fly sits on top of the water, allowing the fisherman to see the line at all times. It allows them to focus on the fish that prey on winged insects by presenting and imitating a meal right where the fish expects it.

Oregon is a mecca for the fly fisherman, and the spring season marks the hatchings of insects such as the stonefly, mayfly, caddisfly, and an assortment of midges. Hatches will ignite on the surface waters of the rivers across the state, attracting fish as well as anglers. Hillerns noted that the Deschutes River in Central Oregon is good for catching trout and steelhead. Around the same area, the Metolius is known for rainbow and brown trout alike. The McKenzie River near Eugene is where hatching mayflies attract local trout. Springing down from Mt. Hood, the Sandy River also has trout and steelhead that feed on surface-grazing stoneflies. On the Clackamas River, closest to Portland, you may find salmon and steelhead.

After understanding the duties of a fly, Hillerns showed us the art of tying one by hand. Selecting a fly depends on your location and target fish. These animals are use to seeing particular bugs on their waters, and Hillerns pointed out particular tools and resources to help ensure you come to the waters equipped with what the fish are hungry for. Just like any art form, HIllerns suggested focusing perfecting a few patterns first. The Woolly Bugger is a classic catch-all type of fly. Participants hunkered down on their vices, threaded their bobbins, and within 25 minutes had tied their very first fly.

Check out more photos here. All photos by Daniel Cole.