Sitting down to write or review your resume is daunting. Believe me, we know. Especially when you’re hoping to make a change in your career and go after a role that’s different than all others you’ve had, it can be an intimidating thing to wrap your head around. Here is one page of blank space…and you’re supposed to fit your career history there, along with the skills you’ve acquired? That’s hard enough. What if what you used to do, isn’t directly related to what you want to do?

We meet candidates looking to change the direction of their careers and it is possible to do. By reassessing the direction you’d like to go in, acknowledging your transferrable skills, and arranging how to best present them to prospective employers and clients, you have the ability to make a change.

Here’s how to approach the goal without losing your head.

1. Breathe

Do you think every high-level director (or even CEO) had in mind the direct path they thought they’d go to get in their position? No, of course not. They got there through a maze of side steps and their GPS redirecting them at different corners. It’s okay to decide to make a change, the key is to be strategic about it (which is where Creative Circle can help). Remember that you probably know more about what you’re doing than you think.

2. Use Your Resources

Thanks to the world wide web, there are so many resources available to people in the job market. It goes far beyond sites that are clearly only for job seekers. If you’re interested in a new role in an area that is something different than what you’re doing now, do your research! Hop on to Google and see where searches take you. Search job descriptions, reviews of roles at specific companies, and even people’s personal descriptions on their LinkedIn profiles. Search until you’ve practically overdosed on informational content. Get to know what it is you’ll be expected to do, what you’ll need to learn, what types of people you’ll be expected to interface with (and what their skills are), and what the current challenges and goings-on of this industry are. Just as it’s important before an interview to get excited about the company you’re meeting with and know as much about them as possible, think of your new industry that way as well (whether or not you have an interview there or not).

3. Read and Apply Your Words

Look at job descriptions of the roles you want to be in and remember that not only does each company write their job descriptions in a specific way, but specific industries have nuanced terms they use when discussing a specialty or role. As Jocelyn, a senior recruiter at Creative Circle NY says, “There can be seven different ways to say the same thing.” Pay attention to the language used, and apply it to your resume and cover letters. Buzzwords can be a great way to catch the eye of the person tasked to pool the most well-matched applications.

4. Remember: Skills are Transferrable

When you’re looking over your resume and your skills, don’t take your skill sets for granted. All skills are transferrable (another great point made by Jocelyn) and you can almost always find a way to apply skills you used in one role to the role you’re applying for or the new direction you’re headed in your career. Use the buzzwords mentioned above to describe your responsibilities at previous positions and in your cover letter, explain how your acquired skills can be applied to your new role.

All in all, when you’re focused on making a change in your career, keep in mind that it is going to be a learning process. Do your best not to get frustrated. Instead, use the resources at your disposal, and remain inspired. Think about how far you’ve come, what you know, and how you can use that to your advantage in this next chapter!

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

This month’s morsel is about numerals.

Proportional and Tabular

Did you know that there are two ways to set numerals? You know uppercase and lowercase letters exist, but did you know there are also ‘uppercase’ and ‘lowercase’ figures? In addition to lining and old-style, there’s also two different spacing formats, proportional and tabular.

So much to know about figures, so here’s how it breaks down.

Differences in Height

Old Style numerals (otherwise known as text or lowercase figures) have varied heights in a fashion that resembles a typical line of running text. They follow the ascenders and descenders of lowercase letters. If you set body copy, use old style figures for dates, phone numbers and other uses. Whenever sentence case is used, set your figures in old style. It might look weird because you’re not used to it, but it follows the way people read.

Old Style
Notice how the old style figures here rise to the x-height and have descenders much like lowercase letters.

Using lining numerals (otherwise known as titling or uppercase figures) in body copy disrupts the flow of reading, in the same way that ALL CAPS SHOUT to your reader. Lining numerals work best next to all-cap height letters, or more commonly, in financials for accounting applications. Having all the figures line up at the cap-height makes them easy to read in a line.

Differences in Width

Proportional figures have variable spacing, which results in even color on the page created by horizontal rhythm and reading. The spacing around each figure allow for the width of each figure. Not only do I recommend old style numerals for body copy, I will also recommend them to be proportional. In order to implement, look for “proportional old style” numerals.

Notice how the tabular figures here line up vertically. The decimal points line up all the way down.

By contrast, tabular figures have uniform spacing and have the same width. These numerals act more like monospaced glyphs, so where no matter what the actual width of the character is, the space in the glyph will be the same. Tabular figures are perfect for financials, price lists and setting math, because they will be aligned vertically when set into columns. For accounting applications, be sure to choose “tabular lining” numerals.

Why it Matters

When choosing a typeface, not only are glyphs important to the usage, but so are the numbers. Figure height and width spacing matters. If you’re setting long-form reading content, choose a typeface that has proportional old style figures. If setting financial-heavy documents, choose a typeface that has tabular lining figures. Choosing the right typeface for your project will help you design a great reading experience.

I explain more about numerals, letters and glyphs and all you need to know about choosing the perfect typeface in our online typography basics class, Type 1. Does your favorite typeface have old-style or lining numerals as a default? Let me know by tweeting us at @TypeEd. I’d love to see what type of numerals you’re using.

Michael Stinson is a co-founder and instructor at TypeEd, where he helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Get more typography in your inbox when you sign up for more updates about TypeEd.

Every presentation skills teacher and coach has their own perspective when it comes to building and using PowerPoint slides. I have come to the conclusion that it’s a waste of time telling people not to use slides. You’re going to use them, so instead of fighting it, I have come up with, with some influence from Garr Reynolds, my Ten Commandments for using PowerPoint slide decks:

1. Thou shall only use slides if absolutely necessary

2. Thou shall never use an old deck to build a new deck

3. Thou shall stop tweaking your deck 24 hours before thou presents

4. Thou shall beware the Bullet Point

5. Thou shall only use one idea per slide

6. Thou shall never, under any circumstances, read a slide out loud

7. Thou shall not use a slide deck as a hand out

8. Thou shall say “no” to animation

9. Thou shall only use high-resolution images

10. Thou shall not build a presentation around a deck but rather build a deck around a presentation


While most of these PowerPoint commandments make sense on their own, let me elaborate on a few.

2. Thou shall never use an old deck to build a new deck

How many times have you opened an old deck to start work on a new presentation? It’s a common occurrence and you are not alone. There really is nothing wrong with this, chances are you are going to tell a similar story and use some of the same slides. If it’s a capabilities pitch then chances are 90% of the pitch is already built. The problem is that you are starting a presentation by using technology, and before you know it, you’ll be knee deep in slide tweaking and not focusing on building a storyline. Remember the Brain Rule to Unplug and Go Analog? This is where it comes into play. Your presentation is a story and your slides are to support your story. Figure out what you want to say first and then see if there is an old deck you can use.

3. Thou shall stop tweaking your deck 24 hours before thou presents

As I have said many times, a presentation is not a meeting; it’s a performance. In fact, your presentation is often a one-act play and it needs to be treated as such. Meaning, no edits or changes 24 hours before show time. Can you imagine the director of a play walking into the a lead actor’s dressing room 2 hours before show time with new dialogue? It would never happen and the same can be said for your presentation. Any changes the day before the presentation will mess up your timing, your cadence and more than likely throw you off your game. This is especially true when it comes to Ensemble Presenting.

4, 5 and 6. Thou shall beware the Bullet Point & Thou shall never, under any circumstances, read a slide out loud & Thou shall only use one idea per slide

Commandments 4, 5 and 6 go together. The main point is that the content on each slide should be minimal and focus on one idea. If you find yourself creating a bullet list with 3 points, then you should create 3 slides. It’s that simple. Two things happen when you put up a slide with multiple bullet points:

  1. Your audience reads ahead
  2. The presenter reads the slide

Basically, everyone in the room reads and no one is presenting. If you are going to read your slides, then just email the deck to everyone and cancel the meeting. With everyone reading, there is no time to perform and engage the audience. It goes against everything I have been saying.

I use these PowerPoint commandments every time I build a deck and present. They provide a solid foundation and remind me to take my time in preparing and to respect my audience.

Michael Weiss is Vice President of Marketing at Creative Circle. He is a digital strategist and presentation coach.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn here.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

This month’s morsel is about choosing and buying typefaces.

I am often asked what fonts one needs to have in their toolbox. I approach this topic from a viewpoint that we all understand; the process of buying a car. Choosing and purchasing typefaces is very similar.

Before you purchase a typeface, it’s best to test-drive it. When test-driving, you’ll want to check out capability, performance, and handling. Overall, it’s best to keep a library of fewer high-quality typefaces versus a lot of low-quality typefaces.

1. Capability

Roman Faces
For reading copy, it’s best to have a few high-quality fonts that can handle many looks, layouts and information. Even if you only have one workhorse typeface, it should be able to handle any rough hierarchy terrain that comes down the page.

Your workhorse family is like an SUV, one in which you would pay a premium for. Roman faces with many fonts are made for hierarchy building and to lead the reader across the page, like for magazine design. Families with fewer fonts are built for long-form reading, i.e., for books.

You don’t need many Roman typefaces, but the ones you do have, make sure they are of high quality. Depending on the usage and the package offered, you can purchase Roman families between $200 to $1,200.

Typography Tidbits Roman and Display Typefaces

Display Faces
Decorative fonts are used for a very specific purpose, and it’s alright to have many than can create visual importance. These typefaces have fewer fonts in the family and therefore are less expensive. Display faces are best used large, as they typically have details in the letterforms that are not conducive to reading.

You may need more display fonts to help you address varied voices and achieve different styles in your design work. Decorative typefaces have fewer fonts in the family and range in cost from free to $100.

2. Performance

True performance is found in the Roman typefaces. Once you start typing or flowing in body copy, you’ll notice a difference in features that will save time and speed up your own design work.

Default Old-Style Figures
Some typefaces have built in old-style numerals as their default setting, which is perfect for reading body copy. These figures are also known as lowercase or text figures, and have varying heights and alignments, sharing the same x-height and ascenders as lowercase letterforms. When you find a high-performing typeface that has default old-style numerals, it will save you tons of time of playing the ‘find and replace’ game with your lining numerals and your glyph palette.

Language Support
If you’re thinking of translating your text into other languages, you may want to consider using a typeface that has broad language support. Pro (versus Standard) typefaces will offer large language support for Latin languages and more with additional glyphs. Check the type foundry websites that supply character set specimen sheets listing available glyphs.

3. Handling

Tisa is a high-performing typeface and what we call a “super-family.” It has a serif and sans serif typeface that are designed together with the same design proportions. In all, it has 28 fonts. With it, you can pretty much use it for any touchpoint within a brand. It’s easy to pair and create combinations.

Budmo is a free font. It has a very specific design purpose. Perhaps could be used for a circus flyer or a theater marquee.

Typography Tidbits Tisa and Budmo Type

My Chevy Tahoe of fonts might be Proxima Nova. Not all clients might be able to afford such a mechanical beast. If you have six kids, the Tahoe might be worth the $60k. The typeface Proxima Nova, a popular sans serif, has 140+ font options that can handle just about any project. This would be an example of a valuable high-quality purchase. Proxima Nova’s full family costs $734.

My Ford Fiesta of fonts might be Tahoma. The Fiesta’s $15k price tag is an affordable price for a basic vehicle that can get you from point A to point B. The font Tahoma is as limited in features as the Fiesta since it has only two fonts in its family. And it’s free. Tahoma is a typeface that’s used for a small amounts of information, such as titles, headers and sub-headers.

Typography Tidbits Proxima Nova and Tahoma Type

I assess capability, performance and handling to determine and create my library of typefaces. A great collection will have fewer high-quality Roman typefaces and more lower quality display typefaces.

What’s in your font garage? Let me know by tweeting us at @TypeEd. I’d love to see what’s in your typeface library.

Michael Stinson is a co-founder and instructor at TypeEd, where he helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Get more typography in your inbox when you sign up for more updates about TypeEd.

At Creative Circle, we have a great relationship with our clients and make sure that we keep in touch. We not only continue conversations about the creative industries over phone and email, but also in person. That’s of course, how it comes up that a team needs a hand from one of our talented candidates.

Then what happens? Well, eventually, just like we meet you and the client, we hope that they’ll also be able to meet you in an in-person interview. How do you ensure that you are remembered and your meeting is not forgotten?

A thank you note!

We mastered the art of verbal storytelling long ago but for centuries, our ancestors also passed along thank you notes; all the way back to Ancient Egyptian days to the Renaissance in Europe, the written word was utilized. Finally, a German gent named Louis Prang brought the greeting card to the U.S. in the 1850s. We still use it today! And no, not just when we realize Mother’s Day is coming up (but really, you guys, it’s this Sunday, go buy your mom a card). When we want to make an impression, we’ll send along a thank you note.

When working through a staffing agency, sending a “thank you” is a detail that may pass your mind. After all, you’ve got so much to think about when preparing to present yourself for a role. And while we do love representing you to our clients, it’s important to remember that we work as a team, and thank you notes are an especially great way for you to follow up an interview.

By taking the time to write a thank you note, you:

1. Reiterate Your Interest

Sure, by showing up and talking to the client about your past experience and how you hope it will all culminate to make you a perfect fit for the role, it never hurts to give a little postal nudge post meeting to show your interest, whether it’s via email or snail mail (yes, all, the USPS is alive and well).

2. Demonstrate Your Tenacity

Writing a thank you note on LinkedIn or via email is always a great idea and it shows that not only are you willing to reiterate your interest, but it also gives you a chance to mention a particular part of the interview you enjoyed. Go the extra mile, if you’d like, and ask us to forward along a hand-written note.

3. Get to Demonstrate Your Creativity

Writing your own thank you note gives you the opportunity to use your craft. If you’re a designer, use your own choice of color, typeface, or iconography (via email, make it into a file and attach it). If you’re a copywriter, use your own particular language and make it uniquely you. Get creative with it and make your note stand out from other generic versions that may be printed by defining your brand.


Candidates can, and have, sent us here at Creative Circle a thank you note and while it’s not something we expect every time we meet someone, it’s certainly appreciated and helps demonstrate the three points above for us as it would any client we’re representing you to.

In the end, sending a thank you note to someone for their time shows consideration for others, which is something that even in this day in age when we mostly collaborate via text and email, goes a long way. Not only does sending a thank you note ensure that you’re not forgotten, but that you’re remembered amongst others who are also in the running for an opportunity. And no matter what work you’ve done on your brand at this point, that’s always a factor that’ll make you stand out.

Good luck, and you’re welcome (wink).

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.

The day that I crushed engagement for a post I did on the fly for my company’s Facebook page was one of the giddiest days of my professional life. I was working for the The Salvation Army Midland Division and I posted something about Cardinals’ opening day (which is a de facto holiday in St. Louis) with a picture of Stan Musial (a Cardinals’ legend) ringing the bell around Christmas time. It BLEW UP and set the stage for more followers and better connection with potential donors and volunteers. I had a little extra strut in my step that day.

Similarly, when I went to SXSW in 2015 with my fellow Creative Circlers, I jumped up and down with Creative Circle’s social media maven when we were the top followed group talking about SXSW—we reached so many people and fostered future relationships that could be built upon.

So when I started the best job of my life at Creative Circle recruiting my fellow passionate social media marketers, I noticed something kind of icky…

Most of us don’t have any kind of social media portfolio to show off our work.

“But I’m not a designer,” you might say. Or even worse, “Here is the link to my Twitter feed.” Have you ever tried to digest that fire-hose? Twitter (and Facebook, and even Instagram) is an epic stream of consciousness, and a hiring manager does not, and will not, want to filter through a long history of posting to find the gems of what makes you good at what you do.

Follow these five tips to improve your social media portfolio and make sure you’re not glossed over for your next application. Also be sure to check out our Portfolio Guide below for more tips like these, or hear what my New York counterpart has to say about portfolios.

1. Screen grabs are your friend

Learn to love the Print Screen/Snipping/Screen Capture Tool. Any time you write a quippy masterpiece, take a screenshot of it to save for later. A hiring manager is basing your skills on your ability to write solid copy in a limited amount of space as well as the engagement metrics that are shown (likes, retweets, etc). And once you get a handful of your favorites, you have enough content to justify landing that next great position.

2. Organize by campaign

Social media is part of a larger, integrated strategy, so talk about the campaign objectives and how social made an impact. Choose one or two screengrabs that showcase solid engagement and denote the metrics that followed: 15% increase in follows, 20% conversion rate to the denoted landing page, anything that shows that what you did caused something positive to happen that met your team’s goals.

3. Analytics, Analytics, Analytics

When I was putting together my portfolio, I took screen grabs of analysis metrics that I felt showed what I contributed and why when I was running the social media ship good things happened. Remember, while it’s good to know what your team did, when you’re being considered for a job, they want to know what YOU did as part of that team. Whether it’s Facebook Analytics, Sprout, Google Analytics or other programs, dive into the numbers and look at engagement and conversion spikes so that you can show that you can not only get things done, but you can read the data to forecast what can work next. A natural at social media has great gut reactions, but if you can’t back it up with data, then it’s much harder to justify. Reserve a page or two in your portfolio for analytics and showcase your “sexy stats”. Whether you worked for a small business or a multinational corporation, if you increased engagement and conversions by X%, then that gets attention.

4. Did you do anything else digital?

This is up to your discretion, but I know plenty of passionate social media connoisseurs that have other responsibilities of managing website content, deploying email marketing, or even doing some hands-on design for posts. Include that! You don’t want it to dominate your portfolio if you are seeking a primarily social position, but put it towards the back to show that you have other skills that can bump up your candidacy. In the same vain for my portfolio, I took screen grabs of emails that I had deployed, spreadsheets I made for project management tracking, and some scrappy designs that I made just to show that I can definitely dabble in those other areas.

5. How do I lay it all out?

Some people prefer a simple PDF, like I did (totally effective!), or to use a portfolio site such as Squarespace, Wix, Coroflot, Cargo Collective, Carbonmade, Issuu or others if you want to be publicly searched. The benefits of hosting it publicly is that you can tweet a company or hiring manager while showcasing your skillz in communication, ya know? The frameworks are the same—upload the image of your work and write a description beside it with those sexy stats and campaign descriptions. Just like anything else, the people who put in more work on this initial presentation will garner more attention from hiring managers. If you put a solid amount of thought and effort into your portfolio, the perception is that you will go above and beyond for your next position, so really put in some time to craft this. If you do make a PDF, keep it under 5MB so that it can be easily emailed and shared to prospective companies.

Also remember if you create a portfolio site, always include the website on your resume—and make sure it is hyperlinked! I have had to do much copying and pasting in my tenure as a recruiter and it can be a surprising time-suck for those reviewing resumes.

Have you seen something that attracted the attention of hiring managers or anything that we missed? Send it to us! And of course, if you lay out a slick social media portfolio, we gotta see it. Apply on our Talent page, and if a company with a need has your name written all over it, we’ll get connected!

Until then, check out our Resource Guides for more ways to make yourself the best candidate you can be.

Dana is a Recruiter in Creative Circle’s Denver office, after starting with the company in St. Louis. She is a social and digital geek, passionate networker, and always getting at the root of what makes people tick to land them in the right positions for their skills. She can be found breaking out into song unannounced, recreating Tennessee Williams or Shakespeare monologues, exploring Colorado with her dog Frannie, or impersonating Bubbles from the PowerPuff Girls.

Food Desert, Idea Jackpot: The Design Week Open Houses of NW Portland

I may have spoken too soon when I declared that there was no need to plan for dinner during Design Week Portland’s series of open houses. In contrast to Tuesday night’s tour of N and NE Portland offices, where giant tamales, Mediterranean BBQ, and pizza abounded, the scene in NW was a relative food desert.

Nevertheless, it was a welcome excuse to check out Citizen, a truly remarkable company that concerns itself primarily with the intersections of design and technology, performing research and analysis of market and culture trends to find new ways for tech advances to integrate into our lives—and they create some seriously elegant flowcharts in the process. They also have one of the coolest office spaces in the city, tucked away on the fringe of where NW starts to become primarily industrial. Upon arrival they had Purple Rain projecting on the wall (respect), a few paces away from a ceiling pendant that had been fashioned out of Apple earbuds.

Design Week Portland Alternate Usage for Earbuds at Citizen Inc

At this point, we’re so deep in Design Week that you can’t help but start to recognize people who are working the same circuit you are. Such was the case with Luke, an architectural consultant I had also seen at Wednesday night’s party at NORTH. Mutual recognition demanded we introduce ourselves, swapping notes about the other events we had already attended, and those we planned to. It was pleasant enough that I stayed longer than I meant to, but eventually I pulled away, on to the next adventure.

Big Frog Custom T-shirts has been hidden in plain sight on W Burnside for four years, though I’d never heard of them. They’ll digitally print a design of your, or their, making with no minimum, on tees that come in an array of colors and sizes and… that’s pretty much it! But they did have snacks.

Design Week Portland Big Frog T-Shirts

The simplicity of Big Frog afforded me more time at Hand-Eye Supply, a shop that specializes in the best versions of tools for all kinds of projects. There’s a global selection of writing instruments, notebooks, tools, axes, and workwear—a curated retail haven for the fetishization of creative supplies. They are the retail arm of Core 77, an influential design site whose job board, Coroflot, is having its new office built within the adjacent Hand-Eye warehouse. It’s actually on wheels, and began as a planned tiny house by Laurence Sarrazin of Los Osos design studio, built with wood milled on the property it was originally slated for. I’ve met Sarrazin once before—she’s brilliant, and I enjoyed sharing a beer and conversation with her, though my stomach was starting to rumble by the time I finished ogling the Italian-made staplers on my way out.

Design Week Portland Hand-Eye Supply

My last open house of the evening was Anthropologie. I’d been curious about how they’d activate the store for the occasion, and thought they might use the opportunity to highlight their collaborations with independent designers. Nope! They were simply open, business humming as usual. It worked out since I needed to price out a duvet cover, but I didn’t dwell long before walking the few blocks to the westside tomboy headquarters of Wildfang.

Presented by Sockeye creative studio, the event at Wildfang was accompanied by—finally, hooray!—freshly cooked up dim sum treats by Boke Bowl, which just about saved my life. It featured Piers Fawkes, founder and editor of PSFK, a site that specializes in future-thinking news, inspiration, and forecasts. The night’s topic was “The Future of Retail”—basically a breakdown of the latest technology tools being used by companies to communicate with customers, maximize the availability of product information, and streamline their overall systems in ways that are both admirably efficient and depressingly capable of eliminating human employment. It was on the dry side for a jovial, dim sum and canned wine kind of crowd, but it got my juices flowing, and I drove home thinking through the inspiration it gave me for my billion-dollar startup idea.

And no, obviously, I’m not telling you what that is.

Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate and your guide to the open houses/events at Design Week Portland.

Still on the fence about attending events or open houses?

Read our blog on why it’s important.

Can’t attend?

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates and recaps.

Points NORTH: The Power of a Good Party

The description was vague but intriguing for “Further North,” a Design Week Portland event being hosted by NORTH, an advertising agency known for its work with Columbia Sportswear, Pacific Foods, and Cover Oregon (not their fault!). Would it be a panel, a lecture… ? Turns out, it was mostly just a party—a really good party—albeit with opportunities to make your own poster in the spirit of NORTH’s handmade methods for creating fonts and label designs. There was also a booth (where you could ask a NORTH employee anything), free burritos, beer on tap, and a display of how the creatives at NORTH go from literally doodling with ink and paper to creating some of the most recognizable package design on the shelves of the grocery store.

Creative Circle_Marjorie S_North Relatable Art

Full disclosure: I knew there would be some familiar faces in the crowd. One of NORTH’s Creative Directors is an old acquaintance who dates one of my good friends, and an art director I’ve worked with for years produces his outdoor adventure magazine, Stay Wild (to which I also contribute writing and copyediting), under NORTH’s custodianship. Since I was rolling solo, this took the edge off potential awkwardness, but instead of limiting me to interactions with people I already knew, these associations served as a bridge to get to know other, looser contacts.

Standing in the same conversation circle as the aforementioned CD put me in position to strike up a long conversation with the NORTH’s Executive Producer—who I’d technically met previously, but only slightly knew. The arrival of a freelance photographer I knew led to an introduction to a Portland-based wardrobe stylist whose work I’ve been following. I didn’t know that Kelley Roy, founder of the ADX manufacturing hub and Portland Made advocacy center, would be there, but I ended up talking to her for most of the last leg of the evening, and I even met, IRL, the owner of a modeling and talent agency before we realized we’d already corresponded over email months ago.

Creative Circle_Marjorie S_North Plans for Cans

I was surprised to check my phone and realize that I’d stayed for almost the entirety of the three-hour event, floating from conversation to conversation, and getting an impromptu tour of NORTH employees’ desk collections (including a ticket stub from Dollywood, a sea monkey terrarium, and a preserved baby shark), their hilarious “email treadmill,” and the dark, upholstered booths hidden throughout their offices for private phone calls (though they look like they’re for making out).

In an industry where relationships and personal chemistry are a bedrock, NORTH set the tone by being welcoming and curious about its guests. There may not have been much formality or structure involved, but I left the event feeling fulfilled, connected, and as though the time—though about twice as long as anticipated—had been well spent.

Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate and your guide to the open houses/events at Design Week Portland.

Still on the fence about attending events or open houses?

Read our blog on why it’s important.

Can’t attend?

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates and recaps.

Open Houses and Oversharing: The Design Week Portland Meal Plan

Good news: No need to make dinner arrangements during these few days that Design Week Portland’s open houses are in effect. This year, the studios, agencies, and retailers who are opening their doors have really kicked it up a notch with the hosting duties. Show up early enough and you may well find a full dinner awaits. In fact, if I’d wanted to, I could have eaten three dinners last night, between attending four open houses and one well-sponsored event.

I began at Beam & Anchor, an out-of-the-way gem of a design shop on N Interstate that traffics in beautifully curated housewares and one of the best selections of accessories in the city. Above the retail space are a few studios occupied by makers of various sorts, who welcomed the public upstairs for a rare glimpse behind the scenes.

As a serial DIY-remodeler, I’m a magpie for all things home-oriented, so I was immediately drawn to the corner of the space occupied by Current Collection, a not-quite-launched line of pendant light fixtures designed by Nash Martinez. There’s no website or official list of stockists yet, and Current’s Instagram is claimed but unused, but you can glimpse a few of the pieces exclusively downstairs in Beam & Anchor should you be in the market for an illuminating conversation starter. (Note: there was hummus and grapes and that sort of thing, but the gustatory highlight of this open house was definitely the bottle of limited edition Spanish red wine Martinez opened for the occasion.)

Design Week Portland Beam Anchor Current Collection Open House

Moving on, around the corner I had to check the address twice to be sure I had arrived at The Brigade. The black door leading up to the spacious, whitewashed offices of this young digital agency is marked only with their logo, a pair of crossed swords. It’s an agency with a musical bent—they’ve worked extensively with Spotify, and helped create the Nike Women Move Mix app, which curates athletes’ playlists based on taste, type of workout, and pace—and a young, friendly staff, who gathered around an enormous spread of tamales from Tamale Boy, which is set to open a new location in The Brigade’s neighborhood. After downing an enormous vegetarian version, I set about making new friends, including super-nice Brigade partner Zeke Howard, with whom I connected over a few mutual contacts and swapped email addresses.

Design Week Portland The Brigade Open House

Dining and networking needs addressed, it was time to move on to 534, the shared studio space of Spacecraft, Merkled Studio, New Refined Basics, and VINCAdesign, where there was a casual, family friendly Mediterranean-style cookout underway. Used mainly by people working with wood and metal for furniture and jewelry, the space has a garage-y vibe, littered here and there with intriguing evidence of ongoing experimentations, like a giant egg-shaped tree burl that’s been polished smooth for no apparent purpose. There I bumped into a few familiar faces from Portland’s independent retail and fashion design scene, sampled an unlikely sounding cocktail involving spicy black pepper, pomegranate, and cucumber infusions (unique, delicious), and took a peek at furniture prototypes inspired by tree shapes and midcentury aesthetics.

Design Week Portland Tree Burl

The last open house of the evening was actually more of a group sale featuring the work of students from the MFA in Applied Craft + Design program created as a collaboration between the Oregon College of Applied Craft (OCAC) and the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). Students, alum, and faculty offered an array of work priced at $50 or less, spanning hang-able art, wearable art, ceramics, handmade books, and more. A few clever items, like the grapefruit drinking vessels by Cat Chidester Brown, made me wish I had as much space in my cabinets as I do love for discovering new ceramics designs (read: limitless).

Design Week Portland Cat Chidester Brown Ceramics

I ended the night next door, in the spacious XOXO Outpost warehouse, where I passed on dinner opportunity #3 in the form of free pizza from Roman Candle. Worry not—it was decimated without my help by fellow attendees of Overshare, a panel discussion and podcast taping hosted by the creative freelance network Working Not Working. The Portland-centric panel featured illustrator and educator Kate Bingaman-Burt, The Pressure’s Adam R. Garcia, and newly minted Nike designer Rich Tu. Beginning with a round of white wine shots (ewwwww) to break the ice, WNW co-founder Justin Gignac set about grilling his panel on everything from their feelings about Portland past, present, and future to admissions of their worst professional anxieties.

Design Week Portland Overshare

Billed as a casual, unguarded exercise in real talk, plenty of F-bombs were dropped as the panelists proved themselves generously forthcoming about their methods of self-preservation, early days of struggle, and the ongoing work of staying inspired (turns out maintaining a state of perpetual dissatisfaction may be a sign you’re doing it right). There wasn’t a lot of prescriptive advice, but it helped serve as evidence that those who pursue a creative career path share the same struggles. Not only is that struggle real, but in the long run, it’s also the point.

Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate and your guide to the open houses/events at Design Week Portland.

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