summer 2013

Put A Bird In It—Featured Maker, Cinco Design

Cinco Design is a branding and product design agency that creates platforms, products, and experiences across fashion, sports, entertainment, and digital lifestyles. They’ve designed brand identity for Nike Baseball, brand campaigns for Microsoft, and product design for Nixon Watches and Logitech to name a few. Some of their other clients include: XBox, Dell, and NBC. This is their second year participating in Put A Bird In It and we couldn’t be more honored. I visited the studio and spoke with Creative Director Sean Barrett and Principal/Creative Director Kirk Jamesabout their approach and process for designing for the birds.

From the moment I walked up the stairs and into their large hallway I was captivated by a massive wall devoted to birdhouse brainstorming. A multitude of ideas and thought processes spanned the surface like a gallery of inspiration, delighting any onlooker. Sketches next to beautiful drawings and 3D renderings included traditional materials as well as other unusual forms. It was quite a sight to see.

With two creative divisions—traditional brand and product design, Cinco offers a unique client experience. This year, they decided to create a few birdhouses with each division developing their own ideas. 

YPE You have two teams and have decided to create a few birdhouses, did you start out that way? Are they competing against each other?

SB Currently, we are at the idea stage with plenty of cross pollination. Right now we’re trying to keep it team based but there’s a healthy dose of competition amongst the two divisions. We will be voting to determine which houses we make. 

YPE Cinco is among a couple of agencies having multiple teams, I think that’s cool and interesting. How many people are in the agency? Have they all been involved in the idea generation process or did you start out with teams?

SB We are pushing about 50 people in the agency now. It’s been an open call these first few weeks. Anyone who wanted to contribute could. I think that’s cool because then everyone who comes with their ideas feels included. From here we’ll see who is really engaged and then the teams will just sort of happen.

YPE So this is kind of a nice team building project.

SB Absolutely. This is the stuff we love doing between the cracks of client work, it keeps us fluid and fresh. 

When you rush into a new medium you start to find out where people’s skills lie, and what new things they can bring. We had no idea that our project manager could draw like this. Being able to work outside the box actually allows for that opportunity to happen. 

SB New mediums help inform new solutions. Once you break out of the rigid confines of how you’re used to working, all of a sudden you’re free. There’s a part of us that gets off of on the design aspect of this project, and another part that thinks of what the bird would want most in terms of functionality. What would they like in a dwelling? Some of these ideas are on the side of personal studio expression and some on the side of how do we make something that is made to be lived in.

At this time Principle and Creative Director Kirk James enters the room.

YPE What do you think about this project and this wall?

KJ I think birds will be happy! The intent here is to create a modern twist on the typical birdhouse structure—something that a bird might actually enjoy. That’s the fun we are having with this. We want to be imaginable but also look at it like any other project we do. There are some really cool concepts for how people have done this in the past. The approach is what we are trying to get at, something that could be a good experience for the bird—something treated in a thoughtful way.

YPE Because you often work in 3D what about this do you like, how is it different for you, Kirk? 

KJ This project is a great creative platform to do things we love to do. We love telling stories and using design as a tool to do that. In the case of all the different things you see out here [pointing to the wall], there are some that are unique in formal studies of what a house could be, but each of them has a slightly different kind of story. For us, that’s what a successful creative experience is. Ultimately, the birdhouse is an icon. it’s something we all understand and recognize, but it can become so many different things. There’s a certain point when it will break and stop being that. That’s a pretty interesting idea to see.

KJ With this project we are able to bring together many different things that we love doing: building, form, product, and user experience.  Making it fun and refreshing and maybe having it transform an environment, those are the things that come right inline to how we work and what we do. The fact that we get to do it in a way that is part of the community and share this experience is a bonus. It’s cool to us.

SB It’s been awesome that WeMake has included Cinco two years in a row. We feel super lucky and happy to be a part of this project. We are always trying to be more involved in the community, and this is a great opportunity to do that.

YPE Would you do it next year?

SB Absolutely. Or anything similar.

Cinco’s birdhouse last year was a simple but beautiful design. They constrained themselves by using wood from the kit provided.

We can’t wait to see which ideas they develop into their final designs. You can see from the brainstorming wall that the teams are thinking far beyond the scope of last year. I’m sure whatever they do, the birds and the new house owners will be awfully lucky!

You're Invited to WeMake Celebrates

This year we’re stepping up our game and putting on one hell of a party! WeMake Celebrates is our way to say thank you to the design community for an incredible year of inspiration. It is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic talent of the Portland creative community. Most importantly, it is all for a good cause!

We are continuing our mission to raise awareness and funds to support music and arts education in Portland’s underserved public schools through All Hands Raised.


The Details

- When: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the close of Design Week Portland

- Where: Sandbox Studio, 420 NE 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97232

- Cost: FREE

Official event page


The Lineup 

sketchXchange with LAIKA

Join us for a special edition of our monthly design event, sketchXchange featuring the award-winning animation studio LAIKA and director Nelson Lowry. Discover how they handcraft and transform everyday materials into living creatures infused with dimension and soul. It will be an night full of magic, inspiration, and sketching with friends! Registration will open for this event soon. See the official event page for more info.


Put a Bird In It Auction

A select group of makers have created one-of-a-kind, uniquely crafted birdhouses to be auctioned off for arts and music education. These houses are sure to WOW more than just the birds! Click here to see this year’s participants.


Curated Poster Show

We’ve gathered together ten amazing artists to create exclusive designs for our event. These limited-edition prints will be available for one night only, and all the proceeds go towards All Hands Raised. 

The Artists: Adam Garcia, Alberto Cerriteño, Blaine Fontana, BeeTeeth, Dan Stiles, Jolby, Keegan Wenkman, Mary Kate McDevitt, Maryanna Hoggatt, and Meg Hunt


Music, Interactive Art, and More!

We have more awesomeness planned than we can even say!

- Leather crafts with Tanner Goods

- Screen printing with Golden Rule Design (bring something to print on for FREE or purchase an item on-site). Artwork by our friend and talented artist/designer Santiago Uceda.

- Play with Wacom Cintiqs and enter to win a Wacom tablet.

- An interactive art installation by Nick Stokes & Eric Trine.

- Performances by School of Rock and music by DJ Coast2c.

There are even more surprises in store from our WeMake family, so you’ll just have to come and see for yourself!

Awesome Sponsors

Finally, we couldn’t pull off this event without our amazing sponsors. We want to send a huge thank you to them as well! 

Vitamin T, Sandbox Studio, Woodcrafters, Muse, MC Laser Labs, Portland Garmet Factory, The Study, Tiny Creative , Con Cor DesignNinkasi Brewing, and Orange.

Sticks & Stones—Announcing September's sketchXchange with Amy Ruppel

Like a modern day Snow White, artist and illustrator Amy Ruppel brings the charm and magic of nature to life. Join us on Friday, September 6th at Fashionbuddha to mix, mingle, and sketch with Amy and the Portland creative community. 

From clients like Target, Converse, Logitech, Burton Snowboards to her latest project with the Seattle Children’s Hospital, Amy brings a unique style that bridges illustration and fine art. Don’t miss your chance to hear more about her process and see the work (and sketchbooks) up close. 

Date of the event: Friday, September 6th, 2013

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm

Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

Place: Fashionbuddha, 240 N Broadway (in The Leftbank Project)

Cost: Free, however, a $5 donation is appreciated

Registration Begins: Friday, August 30th at 9am

As always, space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite

Originally from the Kettle Moraine woods of Wisconsin, Amy drew plants and animals, dug up fossils, and went for endless walks among all her forest friends. Her love for nature and science still influence her work today, making the Pacific Northwest the perfect place to call home. Let’s find out a little more about Amy and what makes her tick. 

How long have you been in Portland?

18 years

Did you go to school for art?

Yes, I finished college with degrees in Printmaking-Lithography and in Poetry, but I have been doodling all my life.

What type of clients do you usually work with? Are there a few projects you can share with us? 

These days, it’s children’s hospitals with a smattering of packaging projects for wine labels, Cilf Bars, and mineral makeup (to name a few). I have also been doing some regular work with Logitech and Whole Foods. I love the return client!

I just signed up with Blik (the awesome wall graphics folks) to do murals for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Also, I have been working with Seattle Children’s Hospital on their new building, called Building Hope, for the past 2-3 years and they just rehired me for another two. I’m making nature themed imagery, all vector for vinyl output, for the patient rooms, meeting rooms, etc. It’s a LEED certified building, and everything I make gets applied to glass walls and doors in different transparencies and layers of white. It’s rather beautiful and light, creating a calming, hope-glowing atmosphere for a sick child and their families.

What are some of your favorite materials for making?

You name it, I’ve used it. I prefer painting with acrylics on wood panel over canvas. I am returning to relief wood carving. I have a wood shop, but I don’t use it enough. The computer is a good vector tool for me. I like to apply digital work to non-digital mediums, such as in my wax paintings of the past, and printing onto cloth. You can run cloth right through an Epson printer. It’s awesome.

Your work mainly features nature and the creatures that live there. What is it that draws you to that theme?

I think it stems from growing up in the woods on 57 rural acres in Wisconsin. Sticks and leaves, rocks and plants were wondrous toys. I ran into many a forest creature while doing so (NOTE: deer are pretty, but very MEAN animals). We also had an absurd amount of pets. We had a huge garden, but I only remember growing carrots in my personal plot and picking tons of raspberries.

The woods were my escape, my playground. I relate to it, am most familiar with it. When I moved here, that longing for nature just increased exponentially because Oregon rates insanely and gorgeously high on the geographical features scale. I can’t get enough of hiking and camping. Even after eighteen years, I still marvel at the Columbia River Gorge. In thirty minutes I can be there hiking in crazy, vast, natural beauty.

Tell us a little about your creative process. Do you sketch and plan your pieces out before you start, or do you build as you go?

All my sketching is done in my head, or on a piece of scrap paper while talking on the phone with the client. I can already see what I am going to draw as the client is asking for/describing it. My wheels are spinning. I have learned that in the world of vector work it’s just best to do the ‘sketch’ in the final format, which for me is always vector. Most of the time, my draft sketch becomes the final art. Saves a lot of time. I prefer efficiency, and the client appreciates this too. I’ll save the hand drawing for my own personal work.

Who are some designers or artists that inspire you?

As far as illustrators go, I am adoring the work of Mar Hernandez, Lizzy Stewart, Ping Zhu…there are so many. I am a huge proponent of knowing your art history, and can’t stress studying classical art enough, especially for designers and illustrators. Light. composition, design…it’s all laid our for you there, and in nature, in perfect form. 

I am a huge fan of the German expressionists, and Milton Avery. I own a museum quality Wertheimer painting at home, that I stare at incessantly…that I need to get into a museum! It was a major score at an antique shop. I like having a classic painting I can touch and study closely without alarms going off!

You have an ongoing series of U.S. state prints. How did that get started and how many states have you done so far? 

It all started with wanting to do an image of Oregon, just to make a print to sell in my Etsy shop. Then California came, and Washington, and my home state of Wisconsin. Their popularity took me by surprise. Right now I’m figuring out licensing for getting the Washington state image on some wine labels. The Oregon state image has been used elsewhere as well. I need a good lesson in licensing, though. I feel clueless about it sometimes. 

You’ve also thrown a few countries in as well, do you plan on eventually painting the world?

I wait for people to request the states/countries, and then I draw them. Right now I have a roster going…New York is on Deck!

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist looking to make their mark? 

Just do the work, and be a good person while doing so. Dig into books, the internet, art shows. Absorb what it is that you like about the work that attracts you, and use that knowledge to create your own body of work. And you don’t have to stick to one style, or one medium. Go nuts! 

What do you think it is about Portland that creates such a creative atmosphere? 

The field is noncompetitive here. No one is trying to outdo one another. Everyone is accepting and encouraging. I love that if I can’t find time to do a job that has come my way, I can hand it off to someone else here and feel really good about it. The artists keep pouring into Portland. The more the merrier!

Mark your calendars and be sure to register early for this awesome evening of inspiration. See you there!

Date of the event: Friday, September 6nd, 2013

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm

Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

Place: Fashionbuddha, 240 N Broadway (at The Leftbank Project)

Cost: Free, however, a $5 donation is appreciated

Registration Begins: Friday, August 30th at 9am

RSVP on Eventbrite

RECAP—sketchXchange with BT Livermore

Our July guest was the one and only, BT Livermore. He brought us stories, inspiration, and so many of his wonderful sketchbooks—and we enjoyed every minute of it.

"I am happiest when I am busy, and when I am working."

It was great to hear about his journey as an illustrator, sign maker and owner of a mustache wax company. One of the things that really stood out to me was the curiosity that surounds his process and how it comes across in his work. 

Thanks to all of you for joining us and spending another evening full of great people and inspiring conversation.

As always, enjoy the recap video from Robert Woodward and browse through the photo gallery here, by Ethan Allen Smith

We look forward to seeing you next month!


Steady Discipline and the Tale of Two Styles: An Interview with Rory Phillips

There are often times when we meet people in our lives whom we know we will always remember. Rory Phillips is one of these people for me. It could be that I have a soft spot for Irish accents, or maybe it’s his boisterous voice and charming demeanor. Mostly I believe it’s his confident energy and discipline as an artist/designer that stands out. Of course, I LOVE his work, with it’s bold color and keen detail—strongly visible within the two diverse styles he creates. I’m really happy to have Rory come share his work and process with us for the August edition of sketchXchange and hope you will join us for a night of inspiration and fun!

Date of the event: Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm

Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

Place: The Left Bank Project, 240 N Broadway

Cost: Free, however, a $5 donation is appreciated

Registration Begins: Friday morning at 9am, July 26th

As always, space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite


We are excited to have you…especially in this space. You have been a big supporter of WeMake, coming to a ton of our sketchXchange events. People look forward to seeing those red sketches in their books, you know.


I’m glad to have this opportunity to share my work. I feel so young in my career, especially when I see other people’s work and how much they have done.


So what are you doing with yourself right now?


I’ve been doing a few things with a couple of companies in New York— illustration, animation and design work. I’m also teaching in the graphic design department at Portland State.


What are you teaching?


Currently I’m teaching Illustration and an Introduction to Design. I really like the illustration class.


Do you teach old school illustration styles or Adobe Illustrator?


I’m teaching both. Half the time in class I teach students the technical stuff (stuff that I didn’t learn in school) and the other half is conceptual. Josh Kenyon, who also teaches illustration at PSU suggested I have my students keep a Pinterest board. Every week we go through it as a class. We look at why they are responding to the illustrations they like, what’s working and what’s not, and why the illustrators are using color the way they do. It’s a real teaching tool for me, but we also do a lot of reading on illustration and design theory.


Are you teaching the class from a designer or illustrator’s perspective?


I try to teach 50/50 because I understand that most of the students are primarily designers. I always tell them everything about their illustration studies can be applied to design. The things that are missing in your illustrations are the same qualities you want to look for in your design.  The same way you use color to draw attention, or texture, or the density of line and negative space in illustration—how you can focus the art is the same thing when laying out a page or designing.

I read something once by Saul Bass. He talked about how important it is for designers to be able to draw, because its the quickest way to communicate your ideas. If you don’t learn to draw and communicate your ideas then you’ll never learn. You’ll find a way around it, you’ll handicap yourself and get to a certain level and plateau. You won’t be able to go any further because you’ll be held back by your lack of drawing skills or you’ll feel like it’s too late. So in school I have the students do the analog work first and use a sketchbook.

I’ve seen it happen many times. You have an idea and sketch it out really quick, the client gets it right a way…because a picture is worth a thousand words. So I am trying to get that idea across in my classes. It all begins with a sketch.


How long have you been a freelancer? 


Eight months. It should have been a long time ago though. This quality of life is really important for me now.  I have a daughter that just turned one, so it’s nice to be flexible for her. I can’t imagine having to work a full day, plus commute and then have to pick her up at daycare. Now, I can always grab her anytime. 


Do you have a community outside of your own head when you’re at home working?


I don’t. I miss that, but I guess we’re all searching for the perfect work/life thing. I respond well to collaborative environments though. That’s one of the reasons I like sketchXchange so much because it gets me engaged with people. Twitter is good too, but it’s more like a, “get back to work Rory” thing. I see people like Meg Hunt, she’s always making tons of awesome stuff all hours of the night. (YPE: Yeah she is!)

You get this observer’s bias, at any one time someone is always putting something up.  It just seems like everyone is accomplishing more than you…that can be a motivator I suppose.


You have some great stuff on your website. What I see in your work now is what attracted me to you when you were just out of school. I really love the sci-fi stuff and the mid-century work is great, but it’s such a vast difference. What’s up with these two approaches?


I have two very different distinct styles, in fact I name them—Gogo Picnic and Tijuana Picnic.

The sci-fi stuff is more adult-like and edgy, it’s Tijuana Picnic. The mid-century stuff with the flowers and birds is more Gogo Picnic or Peppermint Picnic style. (YPE: Peppermint Picnic?)

My site is called but originally it was going to be I was inspired by this record cover I saw called, Colonel Sanders Tijuana Picnic. There was a time in the ’50s where Tijuana was cool, it was a fun place that meant adventure. When I saw the album it reminded me of the mid-century time where people would go to this exotic place over the border.  

People told me that Tijuana Picnic sounded like a sex act. So I was like OK, I don’t want that as my URL. But I wanted to bring it back. I wanted to bring the old style Tijuana back! I really liked the idea of using picnic in the name. It’s fun, whimsical, and a break from the ordinary.  


What do you do more of? Tijuana or Gogo Picnic stuff?


I think it’s about 50/50. I know you’re not supposed to have two different styles as an illustrator so art directors know what their getting, but I feel as a designer you don’t specialize in one style. When I look at the mid-century style illustrators I admire, I see that they evolved and rolled with the times. I take a lot of inspiration form that. I get bored really easy having to do just one style, so I bounce back and forth often.

It’s more of a continuum, sometimes I don’t know what style it is. I’m really influenced by Mary Blaire and that really graphic mid-century work or Swiss and Scandinavian style. On the other side it’s pulp covers and artists like Boris Vallejo. Maybe there’s a duality in it.


So do you listen to heavy metal when you’re in the sci-fi mode?


I listen to punk rock when I do sci-fi and and stuff like French Ye’ Ye’ music when I’m doing the Gogo style. Look in my Pandora list and you would see this really weird mix of music, like Roots, Reggae, and The Specials. Then there’s old mid-century bluesy pop and fun Cambodian music form the ’60s. Music has always influenced me. I did gig posters for friends starting out. It was some of the first design I ever did before I really knew what design was. 


Let’s talk about your history. You’re from Northern Ireland and then you came to the US and enlisted in the Marines. They just let anyone in?


They begged me to join. They definitely shanghaied me a bit!


How long were you in the Marines?


Six years. I got out and started bartending but I was always doing art. You know, everyone has their own unique voice–something original inside. Something that makes you who you are. It can inform all the decisions in your design. I see it all the time. Everything about my life from growing up in Belfast, coming to Portland or the Marine Corps., all have taught me stuff. I bring that stuff everyday. A lot of people don’t think of the military this way but in the Marines, especially my MOS, really valued the mantra: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.  Creative thinking was really valued, and I bring that. I was a good problem solver and they fostered it in me. I use it all the time.

The bartending was great when I was young, but I wanted to have a family and settle down. When we were in London, my wife and I were kind of like ships passing in the night. It was time for me to make a change in my life. I had some opportunities left over from the military that allowed me to go back to school. I had already gotten two degrees, one in Zoology and one in History. I never worked in the fields. I went right into the Marines out of school.

I was also pre-med, but I didn’t want to go to med school.


What? Back it up. BA in Zoology and a BA in History. And then you thought med school?


Yes, I was accepted to a few colleges. (YPE: I bet your wife wishes that you went to med school.)

I didn’t want to go to med school, and I didn’t want to go back to Belfast, but I had an opportunity to join the military and I did. I really loved the Marine Corps. but I got injured (non-combat related) so I didn’t make a career out of it.

After Key West, Poland, Nantucket, Philly, then London I came to Portland.


Why did you come to Portland?


The internet told my wife and I to do it. We were in London and wanted to come back to the states, so we took a quiz online. (YPE: Ha! yes, we did that too! I totally forgot about us talking about this!)

Our other choices were Austin, and Boston. Clearly our answers were a bit hipster. Even though I don’t consider myself a hipster.

My wife and I did everything from London. She got a job, we bought a car, got an apartment, and I enrolled in school all online. Then we rolled into our internet life in Portland and we have been here ever since. As far as I know I think we are going to stay. It’s the only place where we both have lived, where we are not talking about the next place we’re going to go.


Tell me about your sketchbooks. You told me that you used to throw away your sketchbooks. Why?


I moved around a lot and at first didn’t really think that they were important to bring with me. When I was in the Marines I couldn’t have a lot of personal gear so they got pitched. When you’re young you don’t think of too many things as being precious. I also never carried a camera with me. I had this idea that I would rather live life than view it thru some aperture. But now I wish I had some photos from when I was younger.


So when did you stop throwing the sketchbooks away?


When you asked me if I would do a sketchXchange last year. 


Shit, really?


I had made a conscious decision to stop throwing them away but hadn’t really stopped until a few months before. Traveling around you can’t carry them all. Recently I was going through one and saw a bunch of ideas that I didn’t even remember doing—they were good ideas. This is valuable. When I was young I never forgot anything…but now I usually always have three or four sketchbooks going at one time. I do everything in them, bills, thought process, to-do lists, final stuff. I see a lot of value in them now.


Do you paint?


Yes although since I’ve been designing I haven’t really painted that much. I’ve gotten more into screen printing as a production method. When I was painting I would charge $500-$600 per painting, but I don’t think the people who purchased them really valued the work.  With screen printing I can sell prints for $20 bucks and lots of people can have them. I might be a marxist guy at heart. I want art to be for everybody, and for the people.

Please join us for a night of inspiration and fun with Rory, Friday August 2nd at The Left Bank.

Date of the event: Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm

Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

Place: The Left Bank Project, 240 N Broadway

Cost: Free, however, a $5 donation is appreciated

Registration Begins: Friday morning at 9am, July 26th

As always, space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite