Jolby & Friends

Recap: 2017 WeMake Celebrates: A Design Conference About The Process of Making

This year we explore Experiments in Process. 
"Before there is ever success or failure, there are experiments."
2017 WeMake Celebrates_132.jpg

Photos by Rowen Bradley & Megan Gex

On Friday, Oct. 13, the WeMake team hosted our third conference – WeMake Celebrates – at The Armory in Portland's Pearl District. This year, we explored the experiments instrumental in the creative process.

On stage, six speakers told about their experiments and shared their successes and failures while the emcees Jolby (Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols) guided the journey and recapped the day with cleverness.

The Line-Up

Artist and author  Adam J Kurtz (Toronto/Brooklyn) told us to feel all the feelings and not to be precious with anything. 

New Portlander and illustrator and designer, Mauja Waldia (India/Portland) spoke about her young career on stage for the first time.

Brilliant designer and science lover Kelli Anderson (Brooklyn) showed us that experiments will lead you to new discoveries and ignite curiosity. 

Nicholas Misani experiments with letters and type in his studio in Brooklyn and makes beautiful fauxsaics, which capture the spirit of cities around the world.

Experimental artist Craig Winslow makes everything an experiment - it's in his job description. He taught us that light can change everything and introduced us to lost history. 

Australian graphic artist Luke Choice (aka Velvet Spectrum) bring motion and color to his visual experiments. He also weaves in generosity and positivity into the elements of his success. 


5 minutes, 5 slides with local creative entrepreneurs: 
Anthony ScottAsa Bree SierackiTyesha SnowSaul Koll and Ian Williams


"Nobody in the world ever wrote their own song. You have inspiration from all the people around you, from your life experiences, to a person next to you who cracked a joke."

Ural Thomas, musician & storyteller,  has uplifted his audiences in Portland and all over the world.

B. Frayn Masters, writer, storyteller and producer, shared her wicked humor and love of the absurd. Catch more of her round Portland with Back Fence PDX and The Moth. 

Helping Arts Education

From ticket sales, we raised $7000 to give to non-profits making a big difference on a small budget. Thanks to you, we helped:

  • MARROW, a radical education, arts, and activism space, centering young people
  • p:ear builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives.
  • Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls builds girls’ self-esteem through music creation and performance. 
  • Schoolhouse Supplies is an award-winning nonprofit that supports public education in Portland by giving students and teachers free classroom supplies.

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Wieden+Kennedy, Wacom, Aquent, The Study, Klum House, Widmer Brothers, Scout Books, HouseSpecial

Finally, remember the questions that started the day's experiment? Above are the results of your selections. Squares are a rare breed and green is the most favored color. What does that mean? More expereiments. 

Finally, remember the questions that started the day's experiment? Above are the results of your selections. Squares are a rare breed and green is the most favored color. What does that mean? More expereiments. 

Adobe Shape Battle with Jolby & Friends


The eye of the tiger would be the theme song for this workshop. As usual, Jolby & Friends rock the house with a fun and interactive workshop in collaboration with Adobe for the WeMake 2015 celebration conference.

The workshop was actually a hands-on design competition with attendees teaming up to battle live in order to create original drawings and wow the judges using Adobe's Shape app. 

Attendees were guided through the process of using Adobe Shape, Color, and Brush to create assets on the fly and see how they can be utilized on the desktop. After the workshop, attendees split up into 2 teams to use what they learned in a battle against each other for prizes from Adobe and Jolby & Friends. It was super fun, fight songs were playing, taco's were ate, and beer fueled the creative process. Good times, had by all!

See more photo here!


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!

Monsters Ink: Announcing our May sketchXchange with Jolby

The 2013 sketchXchange roster has been packed with incredibly talented artists—and it’s only April. Well, we’re not letting up for a second! WeMake is happy to announce our May sketchXchange will be an evening with Jolby to discuss the process and creation of their newest children’s book, Monsters Under Bridges: Pacific NW Edition

Join us at the headquarters of our community partner, Sockeye, for an evening of sketching and inspiration from Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols.

DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday, May 3, 2013

TIME: 6:00-9:00pm

PLACE:  Sockeye, 240 N Broadway, Suite 301 (The Left Bank Building)

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

COST: FREE, however a $5 donation is appreciated

REGISTRATION BEGINS:Friday April 26th at 9am

RSVP on Eventbrite

A lot can happen in a year! It’s hard to believe, but Jolby was our very first sketchXchange event way back in February 2012. Since then, the guys have been crazy busy and we want to hear what they’ve been up to. 

Jolby is a collaborative design and illustration studio based in Portland, Oregon. Founded by Josh Kenyon & Colby Nichols, the studio has definitely made its mark here in PDX and across the country. Their client list includes top brands like Disney, Intel, and Google as well as local favorites like Hopworks, Urban Airship, and XOXO.

We’re psyched to have you guys back for another sketchXchange. What have you been up to since the last time we saw you? What project was your favorite from the past year?

J: It’s crazy that it’s been a year! I feel like we’ve evolved a lot since then. When we spoke at the first sketchXchange we were doing a lot of illustration projects, but this last year we have been focusing our studio on taking more design work. We are doing a lot of branding work with a good mix of illustration projects as well. My favorite project was the branding we did for Brunch Box’s new restaurant (which opens in April).

You’re getting ready to release your next children’s book, “Monsters Under Bridges: Pacific NW Edition.” What can you tell us about it? Did you learn a lot about the publishing process after "The King’s 6th Finger" that was helpful for the new book?

C: Yes, our new book comes out on May 7th and we’re really excited for it to be out! The book is about the monsters that live under our bridges in the PNW and their unique habits and attributes. We got to work with our friend Rachel Roellke Coddington who wrote “The King’s Sixth Finger” and the book is being published by Sasquatch Press. I think the biggest thing we learned from our first book was how hard it is to sell and market a book on your own. 

J: That was the big reason for why we wanted to try working with a publisher on a title of our own. It was also great to have editors and people who really understand the children’s book market. It helped us shape the book better than we could have on our own.

A running theme through your recent presentations and workshops has been about collaboration. How do you collaborate when you’re sketching and developing initial ideas? Do you share everything you’re working on from the very beginning or do you take time to work on ideas individually before showing each other?

C: Collaboration is probably most evident in our sketching and conceptual phase. We really lean on each other to push the ideas and question what we are creating. There are times when I’ll sit on a sketch or an idea before sharing it with Josh, you know, until it’s just right. But, most of the time we share things immediately.

J: Every project we do, we start together. Even if it’s just talking about the project and then going off on our own to sketch, the communication is key for our process. We spend about 10 hours everyday together talking and working together. Then, we will go home and call each other to talk and show our ideas, too. We are always thinking about ideas and projects so collaboration and communication in our studio goes beyond what most people think of those processes. 

What do you do when you hit a creative block? Any tips or tricks for getting over that hump and back to work?

C: We talk, show each other what we are stuck on and see if the other can help us out of it. The two of us do this and our designer, Lea Loo as well. The three of us can stop what we are doing and just talk, sketch or help push the person that’s stuck. 

J: I would say that method works 90% of the time. Other times we do things like break boards, go get coffee, blast metal or just stop and joke for a bit (breaking boards is real life).

Are there any artists/designers/rad people who inspire you right now?  

C: Right now, I’m super stoked on this dude, Bee Teeth. I really like what he’s doing and his aesthetic. I also most recently finished a video game called Ni No Kuni by Studio Ghibli (a famous animation studio in Japan). The character and world design for the game were so good are really inspiring.

J:Geoff McFetridge is my ongoing inspiration. He recently spoke at The Walker Art Center and that talk has gotten me super pumped as of late. Also the chefs at Boxer Sushi. Might seem weird but the stuff that they are doing with sushi has really made me think about our work and how to push it. 

What advice would you give a new designer just starting out in the industry? Is there something you wish you’d known when you started?

J: Work really, really hard. This industry is amazing, but hard. You get out what you put in. Be confident but also willing to never stop learning. I wish we both would have taken some business classes, though. That side has been the hardest for us. I’m really glad that it has been the two of us being able to split the duties and learn together what it takes to run a business.   

C: I would say the first thing to do is to stop thinking of work as “work” and your life as a designer/creator will become 1,000 times easier. We’re all really fortunate to be doing what we do everyday and teaching yourself early on to stay humble and work hard will support you until the end of time.

Thanks, guys! We’re excited to have you back for another round of sketchXchange and to hear all about the new book. 

As always, space is limited for this event so make sure to grab a spot when registration opens on Monday, April 29th at 9am

DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday, May 3, 2013

TIME: 6:00-9:00pm

PLACE:  Sockeye, 240 N Broadway, Suite 301 (The Left Bank Building)

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

COST: FREE, however a $5 donation is appreciated

REGISTRATION BEGINS: Friday April 26th at 9am

RSVP on Eventbrite

RECAP—First sketchXchange with Jolby & Friends

WeMake’s sketchXchange with Jolby

Our first sketchXchange with Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols of Jolby was awesome! About 30 people gathered last Friday night to be inspired, sketch in a few books and mingle with other illustrators and designers from the community.

The night started with drinks and food at The Sting Ray Cafe on the first floor of The Left Bank Project. It was leisurely moved up stairs to the modern industrial setting of Sockeye  where Josh & Colby’s illustrations and sketches adorned several walls from top to bottom.

A captivated audience sat comfortably around a table that was piled with a mountain of Jolby’s sketchbooks, and it didn’t take long for guest to reach for the bounty! You could tell by the smiling faces that what they discovered was worth being one of the few and lucky participants who helped launch the first night of sketchXchange. Some of them even grabbed their own pens and began sketching into the pages. I’m sure the guys will be pleasantly surprised the next time they open their books!

The characters of Josh and Colby not only shine through the work they create together, but also when they talk about the process of creating. It’s collaborative from the onset and they are quick to move on if something doesn’t work. Colby usually draws the larger shapes, objects and characters, while Josh will later come in to create the patterns and textures. From then they both work together to finish a piece.

One of the highlights for me was their discussion on creating their first children’s book, “ The King’s 6th Finger”. The book was launched during a Kickstarter campaign and has since been published in hard back. It is a lovely collection of illustration and whimsy. During sketchXchange, the original sketches covered an entire wall, and participants had an opportunity to see the process unfolding in the various sketchbooks throughout the room.

The guys also talked about the balance of graphic design and being illustrators and how they are true to both. Just recently they had a show in San Diego at the Subtext Gallery titled Shapes and Smiles, an exploration in storytelling through drawings, paintings, wood-cut shapes, screen prints, plush, home goods and more. It was so great to see many of the ideas unfolding in the sketches they brought.

Thanks again Jolby  for making WeMake’s first sketchXchange a night to remember!

PS: Their next show, Triforce Tribute (celebrating Zelda!) is a collaboration with Always With Honor and takes place at the Land Gallery March 9th-April 21st.

Photo’s courtesy of Jeff Freeman Photography, more coming soon!