Find Work Find Talent
Portland Creative Conference

Portland Cre8Con Recap

Written By Hannah Risser-Sperry | Oct 10, 2018

A couple weeks back, I went to the Portland Creative Conference (aka Cre8Con), a full day of talks from creative luminaries. Film, television, advertising, shoe design, game design, music, and writing; all were represented.

Cre8Con thoroughly impressed me with its lineup, first and foremost, but also with its organization – contained to one stage, there wasn’t a chance to miss that one talk you’d come for, and breaks were frequent enough to keep everyone from feeling a slump. I’ve been to some pretty bad conferences in my day; those ones that feel like a waste of money or like one long advertisement for a particular product or industry.

Instead, Cre8Con had a great balance of inspiring speakers, compelling musical performances, and meaningful sponsorship shout outs. Plus, each of our tickets helped to fund arts education in schools all over Oregon through Keeping the Arts.

Since I can’t bring you, dear reader, through each moment of the conference, I’ve distilled the speakers I saw into a few points each. They deserve much more, but I’m aware you have a job to do and a life to live. Take away what you can:

Alice Bird of LAIKA

  • Alice worked as an Art Director on a bunch of moves you love: Corpse Bride, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Kubo and the Two Strings, etc. Her behind the fold stories of building sets and recounting of odd moments (did you know that Fantastic Mr. Fox’s suit is based on one of Wes Anderson’s own orange suits?) were delightful.
  • When she became the AD on Kubo, her daughter was four months old. Her boss told her “you’ll do it all, just a bit worse;” AKA there’s no doing it all perfectly, but there is a chance to do it all.

Richard Ting of R/GA

  • Design Thinking is all well and good, but Richard wants to move beyond it and into Design Humanism: how can we optimize design for humanity, not just for capitalism?
  • In design, don’t start with the end solution; “walk to the solution” so you can validate along the way.

Kiki Wolfkill of Halo

  • She definitely wins the award for best name of the conference / perhaps best name of all time?
  • Kiki is obsessed with visual storytelling and looks at play from a child’s POV – back then it was centered around literary worlds and characters – and thinks it still can be, as an adult, through the Halo saga, since she fell in love with the universe, not just the game.
  • The future will combine real and fake, just as the present does. Our society is getting more and more comfortable communicating and interacting with robots (think Alexa and Siri); we know they aren’t real and we’re okay with that.
  • My favorite quote: “Just ‘cause you can do everything doesn’t mean you should”

Portugal. The Man // John Gourley and Zach Carothers

  • They credit their home state of Alaska as an influence: “There’s not a hip hop bar and a metal bar and a country bar. There’s just a bar. There’s a lot of fights.”
  • On their early music, filled with experimentation and unwieldy key changes: “We just didn’t know what we were doing.”

Raamla Mohamed of Shondaland

  • Don’t we all wish we were TV addicts who managed to make a career of it? Raamla (a TV addict herself) worked her way into the company of one of TV’s most prominent and prolific creators, Shonda Rhimes.
  • She was an assistant on Grey’s Anatomy before becoming a writer on Scandal, and taught us that successful TV writers manage to mimic the show runner’s voice while still integrating aspects of their own lives and imaginations into the show.
  • My favorite quote: “I’m a bougie ass black girl. No matter how annoying you think we are, we’re very misunderstood. We stay ready.”

Ronnie Wright of Nike

  • A Portland native! We found one!
  • His creative journey started with a Casio and a sketchbook, two tools which remain important to his process today.
  • On the early days of the sneaker boom: “Back then, streetwear was streetwear, sportswear was sportswear, and the two didn’t mingle.”
  • Ronnie found that collaboration is the only way for a project to come to life; creative potential is so much more powerful than individual potential.
  • He also performed for us (he’s also known as Bespeak, and has been number one on the UK Soul charts): “I had never let go of music, I just had to have a full time job.”

Chuck Klosterman

  • Chuck’s was the most freewheelin’ presentation of the day, covering everything from his four year old’s idea (“He’s a businessman who’s going to steal the Internet”) to how he approaches fiction (the goal is to “write a book I’d want to read that doesn’t exist”).
  • He sees ourselves as the obstacle to our best ideas; as adults, we talk ourselves out of the best content because we live exterior lives and know there will be feedback from others.
  • My favorite quote: “What do you do if you have a computer but no friends? Well, you write a book, right?”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.