summer 2016

Into the Wild with Sam Larson


Sam Larson is a Portland based illustrator and designer who's unique style captures a glimpse into America's past. His ink illustrations are filled with details that embrace complex and meticulous attention. Sometimes the artwork is no bigger than a penny, with elaborate scenes intertwined within scenes—telling stories of wanderers and native American animals. His work also focuses on lettering whether with a brush or a pen. In either case it garners attention worldwide, and sometimes it even get's ripped off. 

Having Sam in to share his process was awesome, but inviting his friend Nathan Yoder in to moderate the talk was priceless. Nathan and Sam once shared a home and a workspace, so it was natural that their talk unfolded like friends having a conversation. We were lucky to witness and get an up-close look into the process Sam uses to create. He is a super down to earth guy and Portland is lucky to have him.

WeMake Celebrates 2016



WeMake Celebrates design-in-action with our second annual design conference on the process of making and two days of creative dialogue with inspiring design thinkers known locally, nationally, and internationally. This curated group of diverse speakers have been chosen from the design and maker communities because they are forging their own creative paths and making a mark in their respective industries.

6 Keynote Speakers, Panels, Demos, and Hands-on Experiences 

Gather at THE ARMORY for a full day of creative dialogue with a diverse panel of makers, designers, and illustrators. WeMake Celebrates sets the stage with local, national, and international design thinkers to talk about process and what inspires creativity. 

Keynote Speakers: Jean Julien, Lotta Nieminen, Bowen Ames, Britt Howard, Andy Best, and Bibi McGill

"Small Scale" maker panel featuring: Scout Books, Caravan Pacific, Wood & Faulk, and 33 Books. Moderated by April Bear

Demo's by: Instrument, and Dyrt

Performances by: Anis Monjgani, and The Norman Sylvester Band

See the whole line up here

Different Strokes—A Hand Lettering Workshop with BT Livermore

This summer, Portland said goodbye to one of its beloved sign painters, BT Livermore. But before he headed off to Big Sky Country, he hosted 30 lucky letter-enthusiasts at our WeMake Discovery Workshop on June 10. Students braved the Rose Parade traffic to pay respects to BT and spend three hours exploring letterforms under his expert instruction.

Before class began, each student received a custom mega Scout Book with one of BT's catchphrases: "Be the right tool for the job." This quote launched the class into a lesson in selecting calligraphy nibs. "First you have to know what tools make different marks," BT explained. First he shared the classic A nib is squared off at the tip for broad strokes and a B nib is rounded for curved lines. The C nib is a basic square shape for classic thick to thin strokes. The D nib is good for chunky serifs. 

After some exploration in calligraphy nibs, BT broke out the brushes. His collection featured tools made of synthetic materials as well as the fur of sable and squirrel. He showed us how to saturate and form the brush in order to create rich, fluid strokes. 

As the letters began to flow from everyone's chosen tools, BT shared his career story and insights into how he came to love letters. After gaining a degree in Web Design from Minneapolis Community and Technical College, BT moved to Portland in 2005. After taking some time off from school, he started writing letters and just couldn't stop. His studies picked back up at Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he started integrating letters into his design and illustration work. His love for creating letters continued to grow when he found sign painting. He enjoyed that this typographical artform separate his work from the digital space.

While BT has left our City of Roses, his handiwork can still be seen across Portland. Look for his work in coffee shops, art studios, and other crafty spots around town and get inspired to find your own love of letters.

Check out more photos here. All images by Susie Morris.

RECAP: WeMake Design Week 2016 sXc with Josh Higgins, moderated by Aaron Draplin


I am always moved by the kindness in peoples hearts, and  Josh Higgins is a man with a big heart. We were thrilled to have Josh join us for a night of inspiration at our biggest sXc to date (who knew we'd go from a conference room back in 2012 to an art museum for an intimate night of sharing process!) The Portland Art Museum made that happen when they collaborated with WeMake to host 350 people hear Josh's story on going from punk rock, to designing for Barack Obama, to currently leading creative teams at the Facebook Factory. 


Of course having our friend Aaron Draplin in to moderate the talk was an extra bonus. I have seen Aaron talk many times and always love his in-sight, but I have to say hearing him on the other side of the microphone was just as epic. The dynamic between the two of them, friends on stage just shooting the shit was a real treat. Maybe they should take this on the road, it was that good! 

RECAP: Making the Cuff—A Workshop with Jewelry Maker Betsy Cross

Hosting a jewelry workshop on Mother’s Day weekend was a great way to bring generations of makers together. A handful of crafty daughters and sons brought their mothers along for a morning of creative community-building with designer Betsy Cross of betsy & iya.

As soon as we opened Tillamook Station’s large yellow garage door, our workshop was buzzing with over 30 attendees, ready to create their own wearable piece of jewelry. After a round of introductions, it was clear the room was full of creatives of all kinds. We had metalsmiths, and also apparel designers. There were sculptors, as well as ceramicists. Everyone was there to make, and also to hear straight from the inspiring Betsy Cross, who started one of Portland’s most successful jewelry brands from the ground up.


With no real training in jewelry, Betsy chose to devote herself to the artform in 2008. “I am a prime example of the ‘just do it’ mentality,” said Betsy. “I am always forcing myself to learn.” In the early days of betsy & iya, Betsy often worried about how to turn her artistic visions into actually pieces. Once she started meeting with industry experts, they told her to not to let fabrication details get in the way of her creativity. “Design is the hard part,” a caster once told Betsy. “Don’t be afraid of the manufacturing. Focus on the design.”

Today, Betsy is always open to inspiration. For example, one of her lines of cuffs is based on Portland-area bridges, and her latest Unu collection is simply inspired by classic, everyday pieces. As we began to explore ideas for our cuffs, she asked us to dream up a memory of when the world seemed easy. “Perhaps it was when you were out walking and saw flowers on a wall. Or maybe it was climbing Machu Picchu,” said Betsy. “Keep the cuff in mind, but let’s just see what shapes come up.”


During the rest of the class, we hammered away, turning raw sheets of metal into unique cuffs. Some people stamped letters or Native American symbols into their cuff. Others pounded in texture with just a hammer. In the end, each participant created at least two bracelets and also the courage to indulge in creative adventures and seek out inspiration wherever it may be waiting.


Check out more photos here. All images by Susie Morris.