I was ambivalent about the Portland Creative Conference this year.  Having been part of two major conferences in the last 3 months, I was feeling a bit tapped. But hey, the ticket was affordable, I’m building my business, and it was a good networking opportunity, so I went.

And at the end of the day, I was glowing with inspiration and affirmation.

Dan Wieden inspired me from the beginning with his tales of failure, inspiration and success. He shared the evolution of the new Levis “Go Forth” tv ads which feature sound recordings of Walt Whitman and other American poets, not the first idea I would have had, but they are riveting.

He brought tears to my eyes with tales of his family, his work with the kids at a camp called Caldera and with the video W & K created for The Girl Effect, a stunning typographic movie that was presented to world leaders at the Davos conference.

Watch the Girl Effect >>

Jennifer Jako, who is an inspiration on many levels, shared her creative approach in designing the coolest restaurant interiors in the city including Doug Fir, Nostrana, clarklewis and PorQue No.  Her firm is working on a new interior for Genoa, one of the SE Belmont’s original gems, which had always been a rather dark cave of a restaurant. I can’t wait to see how that turns out!

Teresa Drilling’s talk about her stop motion process on movies like Coraline and Chicken Run was fascinating. It was good to hear someone talk about how the subconscious is a part of the process and the need to let ideas percolate there, which takes time.

So many times I have had critical creative insights into a design or process while in the shower or on the verge of sleep.

Several speakers mentioned the zone, the focused state of mind that happens when the creative juices are flowing. And how elusive it can be to get there. Finding a way to focus and stop procrastinating was also a common theme.

Jerry Ketel talked about synthesis of opposing ideas and layering, coining the term “crossdresser thinking”, which he illustrated at the end of the talk in ways I won’t go into here.

Seeing Emek’s work made my heart sing. His rock posters evoke the classic psychedelic originals of the late Gary Ewing and others from the 60s. He shared his inspirations and process on poster for bands ranging from Ravi Shankar, the Grateful Dead to Everclear. I love the fact that he main medium is silkscreen printing. That he was still cutting rubylith until just a few years ago and creates unique fonts for each project is an impressive dedication to craft. Emek’s art is fantastic and he has a store on Zazzle.

Those were just a few of the highlights, but it was a day well spent. No matter what your creative endeavor is, try to reserve a spot in your calendar next year to take a break and get inspired with other creatives. The event helps fund Keeping the Beat, a non-profit that helps fun arts education in rural Oregon.


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