1. Pizza Friday, An Interview with Tom O’Toole & Thomas Bradley

    Written by cre8tivegirl | June 30, 2014


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    Our July sketchXchange features two local young guns, Tom O’Toole & Thomas Bradley.  Both are illustrators, designers, and all around creatives who moonlight in their spare time as Pizza Friday. Their collaborative work is candid, humorous, and often type driven—with a little mischief thrown in on the side for kicks.

    We hope you will join us for this special sXc with Tom & Thomas as they share with us their sketchboks and inspirations, and if your attending ICON8 come have a drink and draw with us!

    When: Friday, July 11, 2014

    Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm
    Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

    Place: Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

    Cost: $5 suggested donation at signup

    Registration is now open!

    RSVP on Eventbrite

    Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

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    I love visiting studios of the artists we feature. The studio of Pizza Friday is not your average place, well maybe it is in a Portland way. Their studio is tucked away in the the 100+ year-old John Deere Plow Company building now know as the Portland Storage Company. Yep, a you-store-it building that also masquerades as art studios on various floors. Pizza Friday is located on the 7th floor and the freight elevator heading up is an experience all on it’s own. Once there, unit 7K stands out in a bold statement true of those behind the door.

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    I’ve known Tom for many year’s, but this was my first time to visit with Thomas and learn about the work they do together. Sitting side by side I could see how one compliments the other and although they are different there are many similarities—their names, their profession, and their history and influence in graffiti art.  

    YPE How did you come up with the name Pizza Friday?

    TB I think it was a combination of words that worked really nicely together, it evoked a sense of fun. We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously to begin with.

    TT We have always had a similar sense of humor and have always talked about stuff typographically— we like good words, not because of their meaning but because they look good together or have certain connotations that we like. There was some conversations floating around on other words, but then it was oh fuck, Pizza Friday! That’s great. 

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    TB We made sure that we didn’t want this to have anything to do with pizza physically…but actually the first few meetings we did took place on Friday and pizza was involved.  

    TO Everybody seams to have personal antidotes that are positive when it comes to Fridays and pizza. It’s just kind of a win win.

    TB I would much more gravitate towards the vibe of Friday than pizza personally because Friday is wonderful but it also brings to mind a celebration. In the graphic design industry a lot of us work that 9-5 or more, Friday is something to look forward to.

    TO Also pizza. Everyone has memories of being served pizza in elementary school on Fridays. Shit, you get pizza on Friday and you get the weekend.

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    YPE How long have you been Pizza Friday?

    TB/ TO We’ve been doing projects together for six years. The first project we did together was a wedding invitation and then the collateral for Dig A Pony. We call ourselves an art gang because it’s a way of being less formal than being a studio or a company. It’s more organic and not that official. We just like to work together.

    YPE How do you work full-time at your day job, then go to the studio to work afterwards?

    TB Sometimes it’s great and other times we can’t be bothered to do it. There are only few occasions when we have to come in to get shit done. 

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    YPE Do you use the studio for other things beside design projects you’re working on together?

    TO Yes, we both do personal projects and freelance work on top of all of our other “rent money” jobs. We also collaborate on projects with our other studio mates. We’ve done projects that involve apparel, products, and random shit. We work on the space together and also use it as an afterparty to hang out with friends sometimes.

    TB Sometimes we just come up here at night, get weird, drink beers, and carry on.

    TO That’s what the fog machine is for.

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    YPE How do you guys get projects together? Do you create projects to do?

    TB A lot of times we will be asked to contribute to an art show or one of us will be asked to do something and it will end up being a collaborative piece because we’ll just talk about it together, then end up making it together.

    TO There’s not really any hard and fast ways that it happens. It’s either somebody will come to us and want Pizza Friday to do something or someone will come to us individually and we will want it to be a Pizza Friday project. Or it will be one of our own projects and we just talk about it together so much that it will end up being a collaborative piece. We tend to do that often. Bouncing work and ideas off each other. It always ends up being a collaborative process even if it doesn’t end up being a PF production.

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    YPE Is that across the board for commercial work and fine art work? Are you mostly doing fine art or both?

    TB We try to blur the lines between both when we get the chance. For instance, this weekend we just painted a massive mural for a client and that was a combination of both.

    TO That was flexing fine art muscles for a commercial project which is obviously the most fun way you can combine the two.

    TB We love finding excuses to get paid to make art and dick around. 

    TO If it can come down to making letters and illustrating things and doing non-linear layout and graphic design we will absolutely do it. 

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    YPE What do you have to do to become a member? Is there an initiation into the art gang?

    TO You just have to be our friend and want to do work with us, and we want to do work with you. All of our studio mates are honorary Pizza Friday members even if they are not on our website. 

    YPE Have you ever thought about quitting your day job and doing this full-time?

    TO We came to the conclusion that this is supposed to be the fun stuff—maybe it’s what our business model is.

    YPE Yes, only work on fun stuff. 

    Tom O’Toole’s full-time day gig is at Cinco Design where he works as a senior designer. His clientele includes working with VANS, Nike, and Cover Oregon to name a few. Thomas Bradley is currently working as an independent designer. His clients include NEMO, W+K, Roundhouse, Nike, Plazm and more.

    Together they are Pizza Friday! They work on fun stuff that is type and illustration driven. Be sure to check out their shop for your Pizza Friday swag.

    Some photos courtesy of Pizza Friday.

    We hope you will join us for this special sXc with Tom & Thomas as they share with us their sketchbooks and inspirations!

    When: Friday, July 11, 2014

    Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm
    Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

    Place: Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

    Cost: $5 suggested donation at signup

    Registration is now open! 

    RSVP on Eventbrite

    #pizza friday #pizzafriday #thomas bradley #tom otoole #wemake #wemakepdx #sketchxchange #Portland Designer #pdxevents #pdxevent

    12 notes


  2. Ink, Paper & Magic: An interview with Pinball Publishing founders Laura and Austin Whipple

    Written by chloeameliam | June 2, 2014


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    Housed in the cheerful yellow building on the corner of SE 10th and Grant is Pinball Publishing, a design, print and manufacturing facility, and home to Scout Books. Scout Books are customizable, pocket-sized notebooks that have taken on an array of forms – you’ve probably seen the 33 Books series at your favorite wine bar or bottle shop, or picked up a pack of blanks for your own doodles and grocery lists. Pinball also has an editorial design branch called Good Ink, and is home to Outpost, which produces custom screen printed wooden signage.

    We’re excited to be taking a field trip to visit the Pinball team on Thursday, June 19. We’ll tour their facility, learn about what they produce and see our custom WeMake Scout Books being bound. Our summer workshop will start at the Commons Brewery for a quick tour and beverage, and then continue around the corner to Pinball. Participants will contribute a drawing which will be part of a collaborative cover on the books we take home!

    Date: Thursday, June 19
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
    Registration begins at 5:30 at the Commons, located at 1810 SE 10th
    Place: 1003 SE Grant Street
    Cost: $20, includes custom Scout Book

    Registration is open now, and space for this workshop is very limited.

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    How did Pinball get started?

    Pinball Publishing grew out of our desire to be involved in our own design projects from conception to final printed manifestation. We were editing and designing a Literary Journal called “eye-rhyme” in the early 00s and wanted to print it ourselves. This desire to make our projects happen led to the investment in letterpress equipment, which then led to the commitment to leasing a commercial storefront on SE Clinton Street where Pinball was born. We’ve recognized this pattern of combining excitement and tangible commitments in our evolution as company. We call it the Project Practice. Pinball is really a series of ongoing projects, all rooted in the pairing of design and manufacturing.

    What are your educational/creative backgrounds? When did you get involved in print?

    Austin has a BA in Graphic Design from PSU, and I have a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Willamette University. I took graphic arts classes and journalism in junior high, and that was the extent of my “formal print training” until I took a letterpress class after college. Austin took on many print projects during high school and college, and taught himself screen printing, letterpress printing, and eventually offset printing, while studying graphic design. We got involved in print together when we bought our first two letterpresses and paper cutter, and started making projects.

    Where did the idea for Scout Books come from?

    Scout Books are pocket sized books and notebooks made with 100% recycled papers, vegetable based inks by the talented Scout Books team. We have a retail line and also offer customization through our “make your own” ordering process.

    The original idea for Scout Books came during a research and development session in the winter of 2009. We were prototyping and testing print items that could work well with our equipment and take advantage of our favorite papers. We had been avid fans of chipboard since day one of Pinball Publishing. We knew that notebooks were experiencing a renewed popularity with the rise of Moleskine and other brands. We thought the world might like an option that was easy to customize and 100% recycled. As a business model, we knew from first hand experience that offering infinite variety with print formats, ink and paper options could lead to manufacturing headaches. So we wanted to have a fixed format to offer that was tested, flexible in application and efficient. We wanted guidelines.

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    We started sharing the initial samples (designed by our staff) with our friends and clients, and the business of Scout Books began by word of mouth. We added a dedicated website in 2010, and growth has been gradual over the past five years. At this point the business of Scout Books has overtaken our shop, and we now focus 90% of our time on Scout Books, and the other 10% on our custom sign business, Outpost and a few custom projects. Finding our focus was the best thing we could have done as a print based business.

    When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    I wanted to be a photographer for the National Geographic, and also a travel agent. Austin wanted to be a veterinarian. In some ways, we do get to those activities in our adult lives, which is funny and great. I typically book all the travel for the Scout Books team, have recently taken a bigger role in the photography needs for the business, and we have nine animals at home (3 chickens, 3 cats, 2 goats, and a new dog).

    Why is Portland a good fit for your business?

    Portland has a wonderful quality of life, and offers us infinite inspiration from the creative community. We have many talented friends and clients rooted here, and their successes have fueled our success and vice-versa. We’ve been assisted with grants, training opportunities, and loans over the years by many of the institutions in Portland, such as RACC, Literary Arts, Mercy Corps Northwest, The PDC, SBDC, and local banks like Albina. All of these resources have contributed to our ability to grow and thrive.

    How do Scout Books facilitate making?

    In my opinion, the best part about Scout Books is that people can “make their own” either through designing the artwork and content and having Scout Book manufacture the project for them, or by using our DIY line and customizing it with stamps, screen printing, letterpress or other methods.

    Here are links to Case Studies showing all the amazing ways our clients use the Scout Book format.

    Scout Books are fundamentally tools for encouraging and capturing creativity and ideas. It’s important to draw, write, sketch, and doodle with a pen or pencil on actual paper. Scout Books are the perfect companion to the creative process.

    People say “print is dead”, what are your thoughts on this?

    We don’t think that print is dead, but it’s certainly an industry in transition. We feel fortunate to have grown each year, and work hard to find new ways to make print relevant in a changing world. I think printing companies that are successful in today’s marketplace have been creative and nimble, and found ways to use the internet to their advantage.

    Our goal with Scout Books was to augment the digital world with physical objects of lasting quality and usefulness. We created a simple ordering process that gives easy access into our Portland, OR based manufacturing. We print, bind and ship Scout Books using all American-made, 100% recycled papers and soy-based inks to our friends and clients worldwide.

    The tangibility and beauty of print ensures its continued relevance, but its role and importance has shifted dramatically.

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    What do you make in your “free” time?

    Right now, Austin’s building a wood working studio in our back yard, he’s also making dandelion wine, rose petal wine, and wild start bread. I’m growing a garden, making preserves, pickling, and taking photographs. We have two daughters, ages 5 and 8, and with them, we love to make messes.

    Thanks for your time, Laura and Austin! Looking forward to visiting you later this month. Join us for an evening of paper, ink and magic!

    Date: Thursday, June 19
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
    Registration begins at 5:30 at the Commons, located at 1810 SE 10th
    Place: 1003 SE Grant Street
    Cost: $20, includes custom Scout Book

    Registration is now open.

    #wemake #PDX #workshops #print #pinball

    4 notes


  3. Dig Deeper: An Interview with Keegan Wenkman

    Written by sunfeet22 | May 27, 2014


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    Our June sketchXchange features local artist, Keegan Wenkman. Keegan is an illustrator, printer, and designer. He is also the co-founder of the letterpress studio, KeeganMeegan & Co. Join us on Friday, June 6th at Tillamook Station to chat with Keegan and learn more about his creative process, printmaking, and the art of letterpress.

    When: Friday, June 6, 2014
    Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm
    Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.
    Place: Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227
    Cost: $5 suggested donation at signup
    Registration Begins: Friday, May 30th at 9am.

    RSVP on Eventbrite

    Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

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    We had a chance to sit down with Keegan and talk shop a few weeks ago. He told us about his process, what inspires him, and gave us some insight into how he creates some of his fantastic linocut posters for bands including The Flaming Lips, Florence + the Machine, and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

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    Did you go to school for design?

    I went to school for web design. I hated it. I went in the heyday of Flash and everybody was pushing the all-in-one web designer. I was a painter at the same time, doing oil paintings and showing in galleries. I was doing a bunch of sketching for all the oil paintings and then I started to push more into doing actual drawings and illustration.

    I started getting small gigs doing illustration for bands. That led me into trying to reproduce my own drawings. So I learned how to do silkscreening and that basically launched me into printing. I got a job at a large-production screen printing house doing gig posters in Minneapolis. I met Katy at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, which is a letterpress mecca in Minneapolis, and she showed me the equipment and the techniques.

    I got really hooked on the history. The two of us moved out to Portland about eight or nine years ago and shortly after we actually started our business.

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    What has it been like for you guys in the Portland creative community? Do you feed off of the creative vibe here?

    It is really supportive. People like to support their neighbor, and kind of spread the work out. If you’re not the best fit for a job you know someone who is. The community is really encouraging about doing your own thing and doing your own style.

    It seems like there are a lot of things like WeMake or Hand-Eye Supply that encourage your own niche and learning from others. Especially for what we do.

    We’re apart of the creative community but we’re very much a service. The perk of it is, because we are so supported, at the end of the day we get to do whatever we want with the equipment and materials. We’re able to take those leaps and bounds to do big prints, and really experiment to find our own voice.

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    Can you tell us more about your shop, KeeganMeegan & Co.?

    We are a full-service letterpress shop, but we also do design and illustration which sets us apart from a lot of other shops around the country. We can be a one-stop shop from logos and illustration, typesetting, and custom type for clients and then follow the process all the way through to printing.

    Since we know how to do that really well, we also have clients come straight to us with their own designs and their own take on the letterpress process. We can use thicker papers that other printing processes can’t use, and we can really push the medium to see what can happen. We can push their designs so that it is exceptional in the end.

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    What kind of machines do you use?

    We have piles of machines. Every machine has a different job that it excels at. We have everything from a large paper cutter that can handle whole parent sheets of 40” and we have poster presses that we can do large posters on.

    Our largest press can take a whole 40” sheet, which is pretty rare. We also have automatic presses where we can pump out 10,000 prints in a day. That same machine we employ for dye-cutting, shapes, scoring, and perforating—like for raffle tickets and so on. We also have smaller presses that we can do short-run stuff on. Easy to set up and take down.

    What’s the oldest machine you have?

    It’s all subjective due to the documentation of the industry, which is dubious at best. But we believe our oldest machine is from 1910. We’ve had older presses in the past, but we’ve since dispersed those.

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    Can you describe your design process?

    It’s always different for every job. A lot of it is assessing what the person wants on a visceral level and what they’re trying to say to their clients or acquaintances.

    A lot of it starts out with thumbnails and doing sketches, and I do a lot of work on vellum. I’ll draw stuff out and then I’ll redraw it, and redraw it, and narrow it down to a final version. Most things start out on paper, end up on vellum, and go through several rounds.

    Then it ends up on the computer at some point. Just to do a couple of corrections or layout colors. I try to do the majority of the work off the computer. If I work on the computer too much I start to spin my wheels. It looks too standardized.

    Where do you get your best ideas? Where do you feel most creative?

    It depends on the situation. For my personal work? It just happens. It’s the idea of just meditating on it. Rarely ever is the first idea what ends up being the end product. Half the time I’m not even thinking of [the idea], it’s just in the back of my mind and after awhile I’ll have an epiphany. I’ll be like, “Oh, I should use a tiger.” Or, “I should use that skull I’ve always wanted to use.”

    Random acts of inspiration happen. It’s rarely a formula.

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    Tell us about your linocuts and how you got started with that?

    The process of doing a linocut is a ridiculous way of doing printmaking these days—especially for bands. For art, it definitely makes sense, but for bands it’s too elaborate and painstaking. I’m going to start doing a lot more art prints over the next couple of years.

    I do reduction linoleum cuts. So what happens is, I buy a 6’x3’ piece of linoleum. I take that and cut out the size of the poster that I want on it. I’ll do drawings and sketches and figure out the final rough format of the poster. Then I’ll scan that into the computer and fool around with it. I’ll take that entire image and flip it over backwards. Because everything in a printmaking method is backwards, it’s mirrored so when the press hits it, the image prints out readable.

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    I’ll print it back out tiled on 8.5”x11” paper that I have to tape back together. So now I have a big chunk of paper taped together with my design. Then I take that and tape it onto the linoleum with carbon paper behind it and I have to redraw the entire thing using the carbon paper to transfer it to the linoleum. That gives me a really rough guideline to where the type is, thickness, and stuff like that. Then, I just start carving.

    The reduction part is that I’ll take the same linoleum block out of the press, carve more out of it, and that opens up spaces for the color to come through. Through the process I’m destroying the block. There’s no going back, there’s no correcting mistakes. If something’s backwards it’s now permanently backwards (unless you can figure out something very, very creative).

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    The reason why I started doing linocuts in the first place is because at our old studio we had a silkscreening setup which I donated to the IPRC. I had run my course with silkscreening and I was more enthusiastic about this.

    I needed a way to keep doing posters for bands that I knew who were coming to town and wanted help. The first one I did was a huge poster for our studio mate. He’s the manager of The Flaming Lips and they needed a poster, so that was the first one where I just tried it and figured it out. I had no idea what I was doing and it went fairly well. That was almost three years ago now.

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    Is there an art of embracing imperfection with linocuts?

    With our day-to-day in the shop, everything is perfect. We use really minute amounts of measurements. All of our colors are spot-on. There are no inconsistencies and that’s how we built our shop, and why I think we’ve stayed around. It’s a very Type-A job. Nothing slides through that isn’t up to our standards. It is a non-negotiable process.

    But when I’m doing the art prints, I would never call it fine printing, I would never call it perfect. And that’s what I like about it. The ink I use is whatever ink is around, the colors—I’ll mix ink on the press—which you never do for a job. Basically everything that I’d never do on the day-to-day, I’ll do on the art prints. The beauty comes through in the process.

    So do you see it more as experimenting?
    That’s how it all came to be in the first place. I think art is experimental no matter what. Design is not experimental in my opinion. Design is for function and art is for romanticism and beauty, and I think that is experimental.

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    What is your favorite part about letterpress printing?

    The actual process. It’s not about a philosophy. You can’t run out and buy books that have diatribes about the printmaking method or printmaking in general. It’s always open to interpretation.

    It’s been perfected to a degree in terms of the machines, but it’s always up to the operator no matter what. To me, it’s really the problem solving and getting into the minute details. Losing yourself in it. You become part of the machine, in a way. It’s being one with what you’re doing.

    With drawing, everyone has a favorite pencil, everyone has a favorite pen or piece of paper. I have favorite presses that I’m really in tune with when I’m doing certain things. So it’s about finding that symbiotic nature with what you’re working with.

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    Did you have mentors when you started learning about printmaking who taught you the ropes?

    Katy is how I know how to do this. If she wasn’t around, I wouldn’t know how to do this at all. She gave me the initial setup, gave me the loose bolts, and kind of let me go—which in hindsight was kind of brave on her behalf.

    When we first started the business, we had Stumptown Printers who are good friends that we knew from before. We actually approached them and asked what would be a good niche for us. Ironically enough, they completely nailed it and told us exactly where we needed to be, which is what we do now—working with other designers and doing our own designs for small businesses up to larger operations. So they were really integral, and they still are, in our day-to-day.

    There is a pretty thriving community of older printers who are now retiring that we’re kind of tapped into in Portland and the West Coast area. There are people that we know in Minneapolis that we still call on occasion.

    The network is pretty strong, you just have to know where it is. It’s not based off the internet, or based off of meetings. It’s meeting one person, and then meeting their friends. You slowly find out that there is this huge population that is vastly knowledgable and are willing to help if you ask the right questions.

    Do you have any advice for students or creatives who are thinking about getting into printmaking and letterpress?

    Don’t do it. If you want to make money, don’t do it. If you want to be happy, maybe. Take classes. There are places like IPRC, PNCA, OCAC. Don’t just run out and buy something off the internet. Take your time, be patient. Seek out education. Learn the printing process.

    Even as someone who has been doing this for quite awhile, it’s going to take me the rest of my life to keep growing, learning, and finessing the process.

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    What are your thoughts on creativity and finding inspiration?

    I think I’m the odd one out in the design community. Instead of buying design books, I buy books that have design in them. Get outside of that box. When you walk into Powell’s, don’t just go to the design section where it’s been curated and picked through and everyone is buying the same books for inspiration. There is a plethora of stuff out there that is really interesting.

    Dig through history and find the interesting parts. It’s not just a straight path. Take the winding path.

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    Thanks for your time, Keegan. We look forward to hearing more from you at the June edition of sketchXchange. See you all there!

    When: Friday, June 6, 2014
    Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm
    Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.
    Place: Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227
    Cost: $5 suggested donation at signup
    Registration Begins: Friday, May 30th at 9am.

    RSPV on Eventbrite

    Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

    #sketchxchange #wemakepdx #wemake #portland #letterpress #illustrator #gigposter #keeganmeegan

    19 notes


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