Posts Taged design-week-portland

Passion, Practice, and Teachability


I had the opportunity to check out a number of cool events during last week’s 2016 Design Week Portland, and especially enjoyed hearing Dana Tanamachi’s talk, “Perfectly Imperfect” on Wednesday night at PNCA. It was inspiring to get a glimpse of her background in design, her unexpected successes, and to hear her thoughtful reflections on her evolving work and processes, as she continually explores new avenues within her passion for design and typography.

From chalk to children’s books

Much of Tanamachi’s recognition came from what started as a fun hobby, and soon became an in-demand, signature style. Her impressive chalk lettering style has inspired many designers and artists, who have tried to duplicate her approach with varying success. She’s since moved into new kinds of media, and continues to explore her passion and skill for design, typography, and illustration in beautiful ways.


Chalk lettering for one of a series of wine labels for Nagging Doubt winery


Children’s classics book cover designs – lettering and illustration


Phone case design for her Target line and Tanamachi’s recently released book, “DIY Type”


On being “teachable”

It’s essential for designers (and really for anyone pursuing their passion): stay teachable. Tanamachi’s account of her own experience with this important lesson is a great reminder of how easy it is for our love and skill for something to blind us to necessary improvement. We convince ourselves we’ve achieved expert status and settle into doing what we know best…at the cost of continued growth and improvement. However subtle they may be, there are always ways to examine an existing skill from new angles; to push ourselves to explore our abilities outside of our comfort zone, whether through a new medium, within a new industry, or at a different scale.

I appreciated Tanamachi’s humility and thoughtful self-reflection; it’s clear that she’s focused on maintaining an authentic and grounded artistic voice, despite sometimes feeling pulled in many directions. Her commitment to her craft through years of dedicated practice shows, and I really enjoyed hearing her perspective and seeing some of her amazing work. Check out more of her work at

2016 Design Week Portland


It’s comin’ up quick! Design Week Portland is “a week-long, city-wide series of programs exploring the process, craft, and practice of design across all disciplines.” April 15-21, all four corners of Portland will see a flurry of design-related talks, events, workshops, studio tours, and shows. This is a huge week for designers, but also offers a ton of interesting content to non-designers. And many of the events are low-cost, or even free.

Taking a new format this year, there will be a main stage with interesting talks and presentations from a variety of creatives. Aside from purely design-related talks, check out talks around public space, even food culture:

Who has the right to the city?
Design, Justice, and Public Space
By Reiko Hillyer, Lewis and Clark

How does food shape place?
The Renaissance that Remade Portland and America
By Mike Thelin, Feast Portland

Maybe you’re curious about the letterpress craze? Check out the Letterpress Printers Fair (free admission, family friendly!) Learn about Digital Storytelling with the Oregonian, or gawk at some beautifully designed homes on the AIA Portland Homes Tour.

I haven’t decided what I’ll sneak away from my desk for, but a few of the events have already sold out, so we’d all better hop to it.

See you there!

Design Week Portland

by Lettie Jane Rennekamp

by Lettie Jane Rennekamp

Are you ready for Design Week Portland? It’s coming, and it has something to offer everyone, designer or not.

From October 4-11, a series of events, open houses, installations, talks, and parties will take over spaces throughout Portland, all in celebration of design. As the website states, “Design Week Portland is a weeklong series of interactive events, installations and conversations showcasing the evolving state of design in our city. Do your part to shape our future by engaging with some of today’s brightest creative minds. To achieve full enjoyment, we recommend jumping in headfirst.”

Check out all the offerings at the Design Week Portland website

Check out all the offerings at DWP’s website

With 157 open houses and 193 events, you are sure to find something fun to check out. But sign up soon—lots of the events (including those that are free) are filling up fast.

I never have the time to explore all I want to, but this year I’m excited to attend AIGA’s big event: a talk by Stefan Sagmeister: Design and Happiness. I look forward to reporting on the experience.

Now go—explore Portland’s design climate and be inspired!