In my Graphic Design Explore class we went to visit a printing resource center in Portland.
The Independent Publishing Resource Center is a place where anyone in the community can come and use the equipment for making prints/publications, with payment of a user fee. There are also workshops to help in learning how to do various printing methods, and for graphic design and bookbinding.
When we first came in, we saw a vending machine for "zines"-- it looks like there weren't any zines in it at the time, but it looks very unique and spiffy.
In this resource center for artists writers, and anyone else interested in using it, printing can happen in several different ways. There is a large area for letterpress -- type cases with many fonts, presses, and supplemental tools such as a "corner rounder" and stack cutter.
Here are some photos of the letterpress area.
Besides letter press equipment there was an area for making silk screens, and also an out-dated form of copy machine, a Risograph. The Risograph uses actual ink, not toner powder. So only one color can be used at a time, such as with silk screen.
Here is the silk screen area:
And to help with preparing projects, or to make prints using a photocopy machine, there are a few computers and a scanner available for use.
We were given a tour of the IPRC, including taking a look at their large library of "zines." Our tour guide explained all the opportunities at this resource center-- besides using equipment there is also education available for how to use these various printing methods.
The Independent Publishing Resource Center, in Southeast Portland, is open Tues through Thurs 12 pm - 9 pm and Friday through Sunday 12 pm to 6 pm. I think it is a great idea, to have a place where these graphic design tools can be accessed by community members at low cost, and training is available for how to use the printing methods. They are not as often used for art and desktop publishing as laser printing is, but using them could be just what is needed for a certain project.
This term I'm taking a class called "Professional Practices." It is for students who are pursuing degrees in either web development/web design or graphic design/art. And the beginning of our term happened to coincide with "Design Week"-- which is a Portland annual event where a myriad of designers and artists "show their stuff," network, and learn/discover what others are doing, or explore deep topics of interest to the art/design world (such as "empathy").
Our teacher encouraged us to go see what's happening at some of the Design Week events, and to make it even easier to do that, he planned a visit during our class time to one of the events-- and we didn't even have to go across the bridge to Portland to attend, because it was an event held right in our area, Vancouver, WA. Yes, this was an official Design Week event-- not a wannabe or competitor-- and at first many people in our class thought it would be in Portland, but we were pleasantly surprised--and rejoicing-- to know that it was right here (no, we didn't have to drive in busy traffic on the freeway to Portland and wander the maze of big city streets).
And I think we may have felt just a tinge of local pride . . . hey, there are some pretty awesome artists and designers in Vancouver, too, so we liked being at a local graphic design company.
The name of the company is "Gravitate." It is in downtown Vancouver. I took a lot of photos, so will put some of them here, and try to also tell about what happened during the event.
The first thing when you go through the door is this impressive entrance area . . . I like it! It has an interesting appearance and the wood brings a warm feel; it is spacious and I wonder what is up there ; it will be fun to go up and see . . .
At the top of the stairs were my fellow classmates and teacher . . . and the professional designers at Gravitate . . and a collaborative art project set up on tables.
What could be better than to have an opportunity to draw and make designs, while being introduced to this graphic design company?
I didn't read the instructions . . . the tiles were calling to me . . . so I just started in-- and unfortunately found out quickly that pressure on the pen makes a tear in the painted surface. However, the hosts at Gravitate were not too worried about this . . . they said they will repaint/patch up things if needed. I loved doing the drawing, and was happy that they had set up something like this that we could all take part in.
There are lots of kinds of drawings . . . loose, organic, and also more geometric.
Lots of opportunity to mingle . . .
And the Gravitate people were giving tours of their workspace . . . I went on one, and here are some photos of various parts of their building. My thoughts on leaving later on were, if I were to work in an office I'd really like to be in an office building like this!
You can write on all the walls in this room . . . it's made for using dry-erase markers.
One of the guest panelists for this event was Dene Grigar, from Washington State University, Vancouver. She teaches emergent technology, creative media, and digital culture, and brought along a project from her class. Anyone at the event could try out this virtual movement set-up, manipulating virtual objects that you could see using the goggles, with hand controllers.
I'm guessing that the workers at Gravitate have some opportunities to take exercise/play breaks, since they do have a ping-pong table, and also some workout equipment.
I'm glad we could go together as a large group of friends (our classmates). It was also interesting to meet some new people. After the opening artwork and visiting there was a great panel discussion, with four panelists-- who were associated in different ways with design. Besides Ms. Grigar from WSUV, the other panelists were David Hackney, Creative Manager at Hewlett Packard; Rebecca Kennedy a Vancouver city long range planner (with vision, and problems to solve for the future); and Tony Kuypers, Senior Art Director at Cinco, an advertising agency in Portland.
I enjoyed hearing the discussion and also doodling and taking notes. While listening I made a drawing of the four panelists, but unfortunately, that sketch has since disappeared (with some of my other belongings that were in a now-missing backpack).
The event at Gravitate was a good opportunity to learn more about what this graphic design firm is like. I hope they do this again for Design Week. Maybe this event can continue to creep across the Columbia, and Portlanders will be joining the Vancouver commuter traffic to come see the amazing artistic events over here . . .
Gravitate specializes in web graphic design work, for use in marketing online. This is a very useful type of design; if you need some help with your web graphic design, you could inquire here: www.gravitatedesign.com