winter 2014

Balancing Act—An Interview with Blaine Fontana

I just adore Blaine Fontana. I love his style, his personality, and his openness. He’s married to the fantastic, Eugenie Fontana, and their studio is just down the street here in NOPO Junction. When ever I see his work, I automatically recognize the distinct style. It’s organic and architectural, painterly, graphic, and lovely. He’s a wood worker, a designer, a fine artist and so much more.

Please join us for a night of inspiration and fun with Blaine on Friday, March 7th as we explore the multiple facets of his work.

Date of the event: Friday, March 7, 2014

Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm

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

Place:Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

Cost: $5 Suggested donation at signup

Registration Begins: Friday morning at 9am, Februrary 28th

Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite

Forest for the Trees Mural Project

YPE

Your influence in graphic design and fine art is a nice blend. When I first met you I thought your focus was just fine art, but as I discovered, I realized you’re so much more. Often, graphic design and fine art are disconnected, would you agree?

BF

Each discipline has a way of frowning on a multidisciplinary individual. Sometimes the gallery scene will not get involved with artists who are doing commercial work, and vice-versa. 

However, there’s something to be said about the phrase, “Jack-of-all-trades”. There’s pros and cons to it, but for me I like to say that I am just trying to master my life. It keeps me sane and helps with all the different genres I do, and industries I work with—from project to project, they inspire each other.

It wasn’t until after we left LA that I started to push the design work. I had had been doing it privately the whole time and decided to bring it to the foreground and say fuck it, I’m doing this too. 

YPE

A lot of your older work has been inspired from metaphysics. This new body feels different, more typographic and lots of layering. Are you in a new series or is this your style now? Has it evolved into something different?

BF

What I’m doing now is sequential bodies of works. Series after series- and they overlap sometimes. One of the first series I did was the “I Dream Series.”  It integrated design with a multimedia approach. That’s winding down, and now I’ve started doing these board panels. I call it, “This Perversion of this American Cultural Cannibalism.” It’s still work in progress, there is still a very heavy process, now it’s more calculated.

This series is introducing a very pragmatic approach, they are graphic but have a very painterly quality at the same time. I’m always challenging myself to make a piece that creates a reaction in an audience—where they look at it and ask themselves, how was that done (formally and technically). For me, that’s an incredibly successful piece, especially in the fine art sense.  

YPE

You’ve done a lot of books. I love your personal book, Amalgamate

BF

I collaborated with Derrick Brown, a brilliant poet on that book, he’s a good friend, and one of the most charming man I’ve ever met (he even married Eugenie and I). Derrick was around when my career in LA started blossoming. It was perfect for him to write the book. He’s been a very integral figure in my work. 

Kirk Pedersen is the publisher who runs Zero + Publishing. We work together when selecting the artists for the books. Often he handles the in-house design of them. However the ones that require heavier design, body copy and custom graphics, I create. Kirk is another very inspiring person and after the last four years of working together, we’ve developed a two way mentor-mentee relationship. 

While I was designing my book, I started working on another book called Heroes and Villians- a photo collaboration by Tatiana Wills and Roman Cho. They managed to shoot artists all over the world of different movements—post graffiti, pop surrealism, and urban contemporary, to name a few. They shot around 300 artists in wide format film. 

The Heroes and Villians book was my first time designing a large scale project on a large scale timeline. It was an incredible challenge to suspend myself and my ego. I am so used to putting my own style, stink and funk onto everything, but for this book, I did completely the opposite. 

After I designed the book, I finally felt I could consider myself a designer, even though I had been designing for over a decade. That’s when I was comfortable enough to say “I do fine art and I do design.” It’s not some hobby thing I do on the side or because I have to, I choose to do design, I choose to do illustration, and licensing, and fine art. I choose to do all these things. I have the same passion for design, layout, and typography as I have for the process of a painting. 

YPE

So you just finished up an immense fucking awesome mural project with Vans. It was so great to see it unfold on Instagram. How did that project come along and how many pieces did you end up doing?

BF

I have had this awesome relationship with Vans for about seven years. I was introduced to the VP of Vans at a surf tournament in Hawaii. He became a big fan of my artwork, and over the years I’ve done multiple projects with him, primarily fine art.  This project was a total of 23 boards and the piece in it’s entirely put together was 4 feet tall and 96 feet wide. It took 3 weeks to get the project pushed through, and then I was left to my own, to do my thing. I just had to represent Vans ethos, and lifestyle of So Cal culture of surf and skate. The project was finished in 2 months.

YPE 

Something this size must have been awkward to work on?

BFT

The work had to be created in a certain way in case they moved the final piece again. I also was limited by my studio walls and could only work on 12 foot sections at a time.

This whole process had to be streamlined to ship down there, but it had to function as a whole. I have not seen the piece put together in it’s entirety— I’ve only seen sections of thirds, because that’s all we could line up outside of the building here.

YPE

Two months is a tight deadline, and not much time to process the end results. How did it make you feel?

BF

I crated it up and gave them a care package of materials to help them install it. The crates aren’t fun at all.  Being so “in” the work, it’s a little depressing to send it off after it’s done. For a short while, you’re so involved with this kind of child of yours. You see it grow up, have it around for about a week then off it goes. That whole high and adrenaline of getting it done is just gone—you’re coming down and packing it up and thinking, crates suck. It’s sad, but it was amazing project.

Blaine has designed and licensed work for a number of companies including SCION Installation Art Tour, Patagonia, Nike, Vans, Toyota, Kid Robot, Upper Playground, Supreme Being, Quiksilver, Ocean Pacific, KFC International, Arbor Snowboards, and Hop & Vine. 

Please join us for a night of inspiration and fun with Blaine on Friday, March 7th as we explore the multiple facets of his work.

Date of the event: Friday, March 7, 2014

Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm

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

Place:Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

Cost: $5 Suggested donation at signup

Registration Begins: Friday morning at 9am, Februrary 28th

Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite

RECAP—Discovery Workshop with Jessica Swift

It was a packed house at Tillamook Station for our first workshop of the year. Many thanks to the talented and engaging Jessica Swift for sharing how she came to become a surface pattern designer, and answering all our questions about licensing and trade shows.

After Jessica shared her insights, we got to work drawing images for the collaborative digital pattern and carving those images into rubber blocks. The blocks were used to print onto muslin for furoshiki (Japanese cloth gift wrap) and onto paper and envelopes for stationary sets.

We scanned the drawings and Jessica demonstrated how she digitizes drawings and creates patterns from them. She used the group’s drawings to create a collaborative pattern.

Check out the recap video and see more photos from the event here and on our Facebook page.

WeMake Workshop I Jessica Swift from WeMakePDX on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Tillamook Station for hosting, to Ethan Allen Smith for photographing the event, to Robert Woodward for creating the recap video, and to Jessica for so generously sharing her insights and demonstrating her processes.

February sketchXchange—Vance Feldman

What if an artist had an infinite canvas? What kind of worlds could they create? ForeverScape by Vance Feldman explores this very idea, and the results are extraordinary. Join us for our Feburary sketchXchange with Vance and experience a slice of his 740+ page lifelong masterpiece that is still growing!  

Date: Friday, February 7, 2014

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

Place:Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

Cost: Donation at Registration

Registration begins Friday morning, January 31st at 9am.

RSVP on Eventbrite

Vance Feldman is an artist and software developer living in Portland, Oregon. He is as kookie and colorful as his drawings, and can often be found sketching in local coffee shops. ForeverScape began in September of 2009, when he took a familiar ream of 8.5” x 11” paper to create his canvas. After filling the first page, Vance decided to keep going and before too long he had filled the entire stack of paper. That was over four years ago and he is now 740+ pages deep in the project that can span the length of two football fields.

"Often people ask if it is a graphic novel or a comic book. It is not. That’s not to imply there are no stories or plot arcs. I spend a great deal of time pondering the story—I have a general idea of where I want to be in one-hundred pages, five-hundred pages and I even have specific ideas about where characters, motifs and style will be after the next thousand pages. I won’t tell you though, it would spoil the surprise," said Vance.

The artwork is surreal, spanning vast landscapes, fantastic environments, and a variety of inhabitants for each of these worlds. Some of the subject matter is playful and funny, while other pieces address a subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) social commentary on the world around us.

Vance’s talents span multiple dimensions. He is an artist, programer, animator, and even lists ‘rapper’ to his credentials! ForeverScape was recently funded on Kickstarter and will be developed into an app that allows you to explore the worlds that have been created. There will be a gaming aspect to the app and the artwork creates the perfect place to play.

So come play with us on February 7th. Hear from Vance, explore his worlds, and sketch with friends. See you there!

Date: Friday, February 7, 2014

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

Place:Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

Cost: Donation at Registration

Registration Begins Friday morning, January 31st at 9am.

RSVP on Eventbrite

RECAP—January sketchXchange with Maryanna Hoggatt

Hello WeMake family, and happy 2014 to you all!

We are so thrilled for what this year has in store for us, and we couldn’t be happier that you’ll be coming along for the ride.

With that excitement, we began our 2014 sketchXchange series earlier this month in the company of the lovely Maryanna Hoggatt. We had a packed room at our new location in Tillamook Station, and we were so happy to have all of you come out to see Maryanna share her work and stories.

A handful of sketchbooks were filled with pages and pages of explorations, process, lettering exercises, and adorable sketches which were passed amongst the crowd. Maryanna covered the walls with a great number of her projects. They included commercial work for Willamette Week, pages from her “Adult Babysitting” comic, artwork for the “Animal Battle” series, and even the original drawing for her WeMake Celebrates poster made an appearance, amongst many other projects!

Undoubtedly, Maryanna is one of the greatest artists around and what’s even more wonderful about her is the love, passion, and curiosity she has when creating and developing each project. I specially love her “Animal Battle” story and characters, and I can’t wait to see how her venture into 3D models evolves! Make sure to check out her blog, and follow Maryanna in what looks to be a fantastic new year ahead! 

Thank you to Robert Woodward for the great video, and to Ethan Allen Smith and

Susie Morris for the photos!

Thank you all for coming! See you next month!

Surface Pattern Design Workshop with Jessica Swift

We’re excited to feature surface pattern designer and author Jessica Swift in our first workshop of 2014. Jessica’s work is bright and joyful, and her patterns grace a myriad of items, from rain boots to fabric to phone cases. Her work has been featured by Design*Sponge and the New York Times, and she’s been brought in to create designs for TeNeues, Pier 1 and T Mobile, among others.

Please join us for a night of inspiration and fun with Jessica on Thursday, January 23rd at Tillamook Station.

Date of the event: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm

Check-in begins at 5:30pm. Doors close at 6:15pm.

Place:Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

Cost: $25 includes supplies

Registration is now Open- Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite

A respected business creative entrepreneur, Jessica recently released the second edition of Jump Trust Repeat, a guide for aspiring artists working towards making their craft financially viable.

If you’re an illustrator or designer, this workshop will be an excellent opportunity to learn about placing your work onto products. In this workshop, Jessica will demonstrate how to create a pattern from drawings and then print it onto paper using linoleum blocks. Participants will create their own handmade stamps and prints, and the stamps will be used to make a collaborative print as well! Attendees will take home their linoleum blocks and cutters. Jessica will also share insight on the process of licensing ones’ artwork.

Please join us for a night of inspiration and fun with Jessica on Thursday, January 23rd at Tillamook Station.

Date of the event: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm

Check-in begins at 5:30pm. Doors close at 6:15pm.

Place:Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

Cost: $25 includes supplies

Registration is now Open- Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

RSVP on Eventbrite