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Finding a Theme


Getting in the thematic groove. Image note: Getting in the thematic groove.

The Red Dot PDXTRAordinary show is just a few months away and our photos are due right around the corner. (Sept 10th. Eek!)

I love shows with themes. Themes get me out of my comfort range and get me thinking differently. Even this early in the curing of my artistic process, it’s easy to get into ruts. A certain set of colors. A certain set of poses. And while mostly that’s fine, it’s good to shake it up.

But shaking it up, can also cause some panic. I have a month to figure out how I’m going to approach the theme and then, well, you know, I still have to do the actual work. Stuck between a deadline and zero ideas is a recipe for stress. And that’s what I’ve been feeling. I love pattern and so much of my work is about pattern so I kept following the idea of tattoos. Portland being the delightful hipster city we are, is filled with tattoos. And tattoos are amazing patterns. So a tattooed owl? Tattooed octopus? (The latter is what got the most votes among friends and family.) Something with the Made in Oregon sign? A lot of ideas that might go some place eventually but right now sat uninspired.

Then I forced myself on a jog. Oh exercise. You are so good for us and how we fight you. But my headphones broke and I’m forced into my own thoughts. Today I thought a lot about PDXTRAordinary and nothing. I sorted back through all the various things I could tatoo but everything felt not quite right. But then it happened. I saw a woman on a bike. And her biking shirt had a beloved Portland print. The most iconic Portland pattern in the last 10 years: The PDX carpet.

BAM! PDX carpet. It’s got pattern. It’s got a palette. It’s got everything I need as a base. I still don’t know 100% how I’ll use it, but I’m excited about it in a way where I know it’s a good fit for me. I know I’ll have to walk the cliche line but that’s a line I’m a excited to maneuver. It’ll be a good challenge. And good challenges are the best kind.

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