Kelli Anderson

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."
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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. 

Kelli Anderson and the Magic of Lo-fi

There are mysteries imbedded within the simple things.

When we are children, it is easy to feel the magnitude of the world. New mysteries unraveling everyday with only more discoveries ahead in the future. As time goes on, this sense of wonder seems to shrink. Our days become ritualistic, and the unknown and the strange are foreign. Adulthood makes our world seem small. This is something designer Kelli Anderson would like to change.

As studious and successful as anyone could be, Kelli Anderson managed to hold on to a childlike perspective of the world. This is what makes her work so wonderful and real. “There are mysteries imbedded within the simple things, like a piece of paper,” says Anderson. “On an intellectual level, things that seem magical but scientific consistently inspire me.” Because our daily experiences shape our reality, Anderson’s goal is to uncover the hidden talents of everyday things. “We all hold a lot of assumptions about how the world works. And these assumptions almost always oversimplify things,” Kelli says. “I think my best projects show that amazing things are often hidden in plain view. If I can make something handheld and humble that sneakily challenge these misconceptions, I feel like I’ve done my job.”


From her infographics for solar popsicle trucks to her incredible counterfeit news project around activism and democracy, Anderson delivers design projects that help uncover wonder in the commonplace experience. Her well of creativity overflows into personal projects too, including a seriously sentimental wedding invitation where she crafted a record player out of paper.  “I do my best work when I have a hunch that can only be confirmed by making. That’s the definition of ‘experiment’, right?” Says Anderson. “I suppose I’m selfish—I really want to learn something new when I’m working. Also the determination to figure it out helps pull me through the tough parts of a project.” Her drive to expose and experiment with the wonders of life is what makes Anderson’s work so extraordinary.

Before embarking on a life as a freelance designer, Anderson spent five years digitizing photographs at the American Museum of Natural History. In their archives she held photographs of Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions in Antarctica and Charles Darwin on his deathbed. Even after she left the job to pursue design full time, it’s clear that  the time spent at the museum time helped shape her attention to history and the legacy we all leave behind. You can see this in the immaculate detail of her infographics and her incredible branding work for clients like Russ and Daughters.

A fearless drive to create thought-provoking and shifting work has turned Anderson into a wealth of information. She documents her projects and creative tinkerings in immaculate detail on her blog. In her spacious loft-style apartment in Brooklyn, New York, Anderson becomes a wizard of reality. Amped up by indie-pop, she dives into her projects by seeking out new inspiration. Operating as a one-woman-shop, Anderson is constantly taking on new skills. “If you really want to force yourself to learn something new: raise the stakes,” says Anderson. “Being a designer differs from being a doctor in that—it isn’t an entirely crazy-irresponsible idea to learn on the job. I know that I often do my best work when figuring-stuff-out the first time—whether that is a new technique or technology or piece of equipment. It brings a lot of exciting energy to a project and forces me to think through the fundamentals rather than past-assumptions.”


Today, Anderson describes herself as a ‘a designer/paper engineer who uses humble materials to expose invisible forces at play in the world.’ Her latest project is This Book is a Planetarium, an interactive pop-up book of functional contraptions, including a planetarium dome, a musical instrument, a message decoder, and more. “I think it is exciting because it proves that a lot can be done with very little. Because each pop-up works despite exhibiting no apparent technology, the book enables an intimate, firsthand vantage point on invisible forces at play in our world,” says Anderson. “My hope is that it gets other people excited about building things and experimenting with materials.”