design in action

Lettering Love—Design Week Recap

This was our 7th year celebrating and supporting Design Week and it was one to remember.
— Yvonne Perez Emerson, Founder/Director
IPRC helped folks make their own screen print at our lettering show, 26.

IPRC helped folks make their own screen print at our lettering show, 26.

From a talk at The Portland Art Museum to a workshop and gallery show in our headquarters at Tillamook Station, our Design Week Celebration was full of Lettering Love.

WeMake typically has some sort of design in-action take place during Portland Design Week. For our first five years we did a little thing called Put A Bird In It, and then Pin That Shit. As part of our mission to give back to the community the Lettering Exploration was no exception.

We want to thank everyone who came out to support and celebrate Design Week with us. We are happy to say that we raised $6000 for arts education that helps to support underserved youth in our community. Our benefactors this year include:

Caldera Arts $2,000

Caldera is a catalyst for the transformation of underserved youth through innovative, year-round art and environmental programs. Caldera serves Oregon youth from both urban and rural communities with limited access to educational and economic resource opportunities. Our programs nurture individual creativity to ignite self-expression and transform the way young people engage in their lives, families, and communities.

Friendtorship $2,000

Friendtorship is built on a foundation of creative collaboration and strong personal friendships. The program aims to increase access to design and arts learning for underserved high school students, empowering them to engage in experiential creative processes that better their communities. The personal relationships that develop between the university and high school students are fundamental to the active engagement that drives the program.

Creative collaboration and positive relationships are the pillars of our program.

School House Supplies $2,000

Schoolhouse Supplies is an award-winning nonprofit that supports public education in Portland by giving students and teachers free classroom supplies.

The program serves classrooms in need by operating a volunteer-run Free Store for Teachers, which is stocked with supplies donated by the community. The mission is based on the belief that every child deserves school supplies and has the right to a quality education.

This brings the total of giving to arts education over the last 6.5 years to just over $100,000! We think this is incredible and it’s because of you that we can make it happen. 

I would like to personally thank everyone who helped this year. High -fives all around! If you volunteered THANK YOU! To our super talented sXc speaker Jordan Metcalf and moderator Eric Marinovich (who flew in on short notice to cover for Luke Choice, who got stuck out of the country before the event, yikes!) THANK YOU!  To the Portland Art Museum for graciously being our host three years in a row, THANK YOU! To the amazing Jessica Hische for coming to celebrate and share her knowledge so freely at our lettering workshop, and to all of the awesome artists who contributed their time, and talent to be in the 26 show. THANK YOU!

But most importantly I would like to thank our team, without their tireless commitment we could not have made it happen. THANK YOU! Alise Munson, Cinnamon Williams, Morgan Braaten, and Rowan Bradley. Lastly, I have to thank my husband Nathan Emerson. Nathan is a 4th grade teacher and rushes back to The Station every time we have an event to serve up drinks and smiles, but he also hangs lights, and art and supports me through everything. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

What a blast this year was! Be sure to check out the photos from the events and if you haven't picked up a print from the show we still have a few left! Grab them here.

Until next time, always be making!

Yvonne Perez Emerson, Founder/ Creative Director


Photos by Rowan Bradley & Yvonne

WeMake's Design in Action, Feels $6752.29 Good

1 Idea

7 People planning

8 Sponsors

100 Birdhouse Kits

95+ Makers

96 Birdhouses

15 Agencies/studios

38 Volunteers

1 Event space

2 Events 

1 Larger than Life sketchXchange guest

130 sketchXchange participants

Over 600 attendees throughout the night

1 top twitter trend #putabirdinit

$6752.29 Raised for arts and music education

It’s not too often you get a chance to see everyone you know from the design community in one space, at one time, but if you attended WeMake’s sketchXchange and Put A Bird In It auction, chances are you did. This event was brought together by a handful of folks passionate about process and the spirit of community. We were set on making an impact not by ourselves or for ourselves, but collectively with all the folks we consider to be a part of our design community. Put A Bird In It, was an opportunity to make a difference at the lowest level, to support future artist, designers, and musicians. It was an opportunity to engage an open dialogue about design through one simple medium. So to hell with Put A Bird On It, Portland people are way more capable of just putting birds on things and calling it art. WeMake art, WeMake connections, WeMake believe, and we did.

At every turn, you couldn’t help to smile at someone, or see people smiling. Everyone was happy, and why wouldn’t they be? We were there to celebrate our design community! The event space at Union Pine was used to its fullest and the creative energy was magnetic. I can not tell you how many people stopped to tell me how awesome everything was, how inspired they were, and how happy they were to be a part of the night’s festivities. I mean 96 beautifully designed birdhouses in one space was a pretty awesome sight, but it was more than that. We were celebrating design, being Portlanders, and embracing the notion of Design in Action.

It’s not just the money we raised that made this night special. It was giving a young designer a chance to buy a piece of art from someone who they admired, on a budget they could afford, for a cause they supported. Everything about the night from Draplin’s sketchXchange, all of the rad houses, each with their unique story, and even placing in the top trends on Twitter in Portland that evening was inspiring. We were reaching out to people and saying, “Hey you should see this!”, admire it, be a part of it, and share it. It was a good thing on so many levels.

I personally want to thank my team, the artists, makers, architects, industrial designers, graphic designers, agencies, and small design studios who took the time in their busy schedules to create something inspiring and to show their support for arts and music education. I also want to thank Vitamin T for all of their support with this event. They’re contribution allowed us to create the birdhouse kits and help to throw an awesome party. Of course we couldn’t have done it without the support of Union Pine who offered up their time, space and patience. Union Pine was the perfect venue to celebrate! 

Lastly, thank you to everyone who went to any Design Week Portland event. It was an amazing week filled with awe’s, ooh’s, and feel good inspiration. WeMake was happy and honored to collaborate with DWP and to serve as a member of the planning committee. We look forward to next year and to how we can get the community involved in another Design in Action project. Will there be birds? Who know’s, but there will be something that involves giving back to the community on a level that is grass roots. On a level that allows for so many different types of designers to contribute to. After Put A Bird In It, we have some big shoes to fill. 

Be sure to check out more photos here, here, here and here! ha ha! And special thanks to DJ Coast2c for the great music she spun all night!

PHOTO RECAP— Aaron Draplin + WeMake Celebrates

SketchXchange with larger than life guest Aaron Drpalin

We had an awesome time at sketchXchange with Aaron Draplin this last Friday night. With a 130 attending this was our largest xchange to date. Even being beat with jet-lag, Draplin entertained, inspired and charmed everyone. 

It was great night, he was back in PDX with his family by his side(mom, dad, girlfriend, and nephew), talking about his passions, and how the pen and paper saved his life. Not only that, Aaron signed and gave everyone attending a limited edition gocco-thermography Field Note and pencil. Folks swapped them and we also made a few especially for him. 

Thank you to all for coming and we hope to see you at our next one!

See more photo’s here

Put A Bird In It—Where to Find the Birdhouses

The birdhouses are in the wild! Each of them are installed throughout the city of Portland. Click below to see the birdhouses and where they will be living until the Put a Bird In It auction and party on Friday, October 12th. You can see them at Sidecar 11 , All Hands Raised , Muse Art & Design , The People’s Art of Portland Gallery , Redux , HiiH , Coava , Blackbird , Art Institute Gallery , Left Bank , Land Gallery, and OMSI .

We will keep adding birdhouses to this list as they come in.

You can also browse all of the birdhouses in this flickr set. We will be uploading more photos as we get them.


Chloe Miller + Simon Yuen

Installed at

Muse Art & Design


Ali Potvin

Installed at


Ali Potvin
Amy Ruppel
Always with Honor Birdhouse
Kolb Birdhouse
Burke Birdhouse
Ng Birdhouse

Brent Wick

Installed at


Wick Birdhouse
BT Birdhouse
Casey Ohngren Birdhouse
CINCO Birdhouse
Clutched Key Birdhouse
Crespin Birdhouse
Dan Lesage Birdhouse
arren Cools Birdhouse
Design Vessel Birdhouse
Design Vessel Birdhouse
Design Vessel Birdhouse
Emily Katz Birdhouse
Fashionbuddha Birdhouse
Fix Studio Birdhouse
FoGD Birdhouse
FoGD Birdhouse
Fred DiMeglio Birdhouse
Gravitate Design Birdhouse
Halle Cisco Birdhouse
HERENOW Birdhouse
HERENOW Birdhouse

Jeffery Frankenhauser + Nicole Marsh

Installed at


Jeffery Frankenhauser + Nicole Marsh Birdhouse
Jim Stadick Birdhouse
Josh Balleza Birdhouse
Kate Bingaman-Burt Birdhouse
Kathryn Alexander Birdhouse
Keegan Wenkman Birdhouse
Kelsey Worley Birdhouse
Leo Zarosinski Birdhouse
Lisa Hildebrant Birdhouse
Mary Kate McDevitt Birdhouse

Matt Ross

Installed at

Art Institute Gallery

Matt Ross Birdhouse

Meg Hunt

Installed at


Meg Hunt Birdhouse
Naso Birdhouse
Nemo Birdhouse
Nick Stokes Birdhouse
Patrick Woolworth Birdhouse
Storm Trooper Birdhouse
Peter Mclean Birdhouse
Pop Art Birdhouse
Pop Art Birdhouse
Pop Art Birdhouse
Britt Howard Birdhouse
Rosemary Robinson Birdhouse
Rory Phillips Birdhouse
Santiago Uceda Birdhouse
Scribble Tone Birdhouse
Sockeye Birdhouse
STRUCK Birdhouse

Team OR + Japan

Heath Korvola + Justus Wallen

Installed at

Art Institute Gallery

Team OR + Japan Birdhouse
The Glue Factory Birdhouse
The New Group Birdhouse
Theresa Arrison Birdhouse
Tim May Birdhouse
Tom OToole Birdhouse
Ziba Birdhouse
Ziba Birdhouse