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The second annual Design Week Portland, set for October 7-12, does an admirable job of corraling and celebrating the City of Roses's diverse creative community without shoehorning presenters and speakers into preconceived formats. Organizers Eric Hillerns and Tsilli Pines gave wide berth to those heading up individual events, resulting in a mix of presentations, open houses and speakers that give voice to what makes the region so compelling. A letter press fair, Portland design auction, and the opening of the Portland Design Museum all run concurrently with an array of events, including "Blurred Lines," a exhibit of interaction design sponsored by the AIGA, and a speech by Etsy creative director Randy Hunt on design and entrepreneurship.

After talking with some of the organizers, here’s a list of a few of the events we’re excited about. The full list can be found at designweekportland.com.


Home Brewed by Design (October 10 at 6pm, One Grand Gallery)

"Most designers covet these types of projects," said co-organizer Jason Sturgill of his Home Brewed by Design showcase, which pairs 20 artists and 20 brewers to create custom labels for beers that, in some cases, didn't even have a name when they were first conceived. "We wanted to bring together two independent communites, design and brewing, and help connect other communities with Design Week." By the times the event occurs, each team's graphic treatment will grace 200 bottles of home brew, meaning there will be plenty of libations on hand to make connections. 



Brandcraft: Building a 21st Century Brand (October 10 at 4pm, Owen & Jones Partners) 

The challenges of branding mirror those of web design, as multiple format and continuity become keys to effective communication. Brandcraft, organized by Mark Rawlins and Rusty Grim of Owen Jones & Partners, convenes a panel of creatives to cover how traditional ideas of branding bleed over into everything a company does. "The world has set things up in silos," says Rawlins, "and we should torpedo those silos. Branding is everything you do." Participants include Nike's Global Brand Design Director Jeff Weithman, who talks about how to get smaller and relate to smaller tribes of consumers, and AJ Joseph, Executive Creative Director of Adobe Software, who talks about the emotional versus empirical measurements of how agencies perform.    


Domestic, a Showcase of American Design (October 9–13, The Janey) 

Curated by interior designer Jasmine Vaughan of design journal Made & State, Domestic pushes American products as a matter of taste, not loyalty, and wants to take a move beyond the "bearded and salvaged wood" to push a more modern aesthetic. Seven designers and stores, such as Beam & Anchor and Fig Studios, will each be given two rooms at the Janey, a boutique apartment complex in the Pearl, and free rein to decorate with American-made goods and clothing. The rooftop will feature craft cocktails and custom furniture by FIELDWORK, and a Saturday afternoon trunk show is being oragnized by Amanda Needham, Portlandia's Emmy-winning costume designer. 

Portland Design Week takes places at venues across the city October 10–12; find more info and register for events at designweekportland.com.   

Nearly every year since 1998, the nonprofit group known as the Society of Typographic Aficionados has presented the traveling TypeCon conference. This year's edition in Portland opens on Wednesday with a full lineup of workshops and lectures. TypeCon includes both a full-day course exploring letterpress printing of the Bodoni typeface (now sold out), and sessions to help independent type foundries market their work.

Ahead of the 14th TypeCon, nicknamed "Portl&," we traded emails with organizer Grant Hutchinson about the Emoji workshop, geographic typography, and what makes their type quiz so "infamous."

orangeyThere's a workshop on the type of Taiwan, another on type in South Africa. Is there a focus on geographic typography this year?
The focus isn't specific to this year's conference. We always try to include linguistic and cross-cultural topics in the program. For example, at TypeCon2012 in Milwaukee we covered topics such as Cherokee syllabary, South American beer labels, and Mayan writing reform. In 2011, there were presentations on Japanese typography, Turkish type design, and the connections between typography, text, and black identity in America.

Is the lecture on Friday the first time TypeCon will feature the Emoji?
We've had presentations cover the topic of symbol fonts and Emoji before, but this is the first time that the new color Emoji technology has been discussed.

Big -> SmallYou're a member of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, which presents TypeCon every year. Can you tell me a little about what kind of work the Society does?
The primary work that we focus on is producing our annual TypeCon conference. We're a small and very grassroots organization, and the conference reflects that. It's important to us that we keep the conference program jam-packed with relevant and wide-reaching variation of topics. We also focus on typographic education through the Type & Design Education Forum held during the conference, as well as our annual Catalyst award targeted at young designers.

Another ongoing project is our Font Aid fundraising efforts. We have organized six Font Aid projects so far, each bringing together hundreds of designers and typographers to create a typeface which is sold to raise needed funds for disaster relief.

Auto RacesWhat's one workshop no one should miss?
That's a difficult call. If it was me (and I had the time), I wouldn't miss the two-day, hands-on Brush Roman Majuscules workshop with John Downer & Paul Herrera. Otherwise, this year's special presentation with Alejandro Paul and the keynote by Adrian Shaughnessy should be killer. Of course, I'm biased. This year's entire program is pretty amazing.

What is the "infamous type quiz" all about?
Each year, Allan Haley of Monotype hosts a quick-fire trivia contest featuring some of the toughest typographic questions out there. It's amazing to witness how much geeky type knowledge (and minutia) some of the participants possess. Points are tallied; drinks are poured; prizes are awarded.

TypeCon kicks off Wednesday, August 21 in Portland, OR. All photos are embedded via the TypeCon Flickr Pool.

Photo by: Alex Steckly

Portland-based Alex Steckly is relentlessly creative. Upon walking into his studio loft you cross a threshold into his whole world, a wide and bright working space with a couple simple corners carved out for living, into what looks and feels like the surprisingly cozy diary of his brain spilled out onto the walls in various stages of completion.


His process starts with a loose wash in oil, keeping canvases visceral, allowing the colors to be almost aggressively bright, building organic layers and letting gravity pull the pigments around whichever way it wants. From there he begins a long meditative process of weaving a mask of tape into precise shapes and patterns in a process he describes as nearing sculptural, allowing him to work and approach the painting in a physical manner. Opaque layers of tone on tone automotive enamels in alternating finishes are then spayed on, as the masks are stripped away to form patterns. Working strictly in daylight, his timeframe for each day’s studio time is limited, and his process can sometimes take months as he lives amongst his works and allows their growth to come at a natural pace.

Steckly’s paintings are deceptive; standing five feet back from one it’s tempting to see the canvas as a silky smooth surface with barely undulating colors and textures. But with closer inspection you start to become aware of the almost overwhelmingly elaborate surface, the sharp lines fade with a soft feel that carries a reminder of a grainy film stock or an image shown just slightly out of focus. Steckly’s obsession with light and texture reveals itself slowly, the complexities unfurling the longer you allow yourself to stand and be drawn in to the abstract images, discovering tiny variations amongst the strict order in the geometric shapes. Rich velvety textures zap the light and look dead flat while the luminous sheen of the enamel lines strike hard and vibrate lying next to them. Steckly’s voice is heard loudly and clearly through his work, through the repetition, exploration, and controlled, but obvious, joy in the colors and patterns he weaves into his paintings.

See more of his work at alexsteckly.com