INTERVIEW : JOHN JAY, W+K GX : PART I
Does John Jay need an introduction? Recently named one of the top most influential art directors of the last half a century — next to George Lois and Louise Fili — he’s also one of the top most wonderful human beings we’ve ever met. John’s philosophies on making, collaborating and creating beauty in the world are a beacon in a plasticine era. With the launch of his new lab GX at Wieden + Kennedy’s Portland flagship, he’s pushed his canoe off into thrilling new creative adventures and relationships — fueled by his many nocturnal and extracurricular endeavors over the last few decades.
How do you reconcile beauty with advertising?
You can design a product beautifully, or you can design a product and be half-assed about it. You can art direct, write copy and concept with beauty and craft in mind. The world is a better place when there’s beauty, but beauty is most certainly subjective. In the sense of wabi sabi, the most fucked up, destroyed version of beauty is best — but of course, in that regard, nature is the best designer there is.
In advertising, we’re hired to solve a problem — a business problem. We’re really storytelling, with music, film, typography, graphics… elements that add beauty. I do believe that creating beauty is a contribution to society, it’s a way of giving back to the world.

You’ve spoken about GX as a means by which you can get the best work from yourself — it’s been formed from two decades of work with Wieden, and all the experience you’ve carried forward from other endeavours. Talk about your role as a creative director, and what GX means for you as a beacon of creating and doing.
My job is to be inspired. It’s not my client’s job, or my employer’s job or my team member’s job. It’s my job to stay curious. To be ambitious. The first job of a CD is to inspire. You might have this fat Rolodex with numbers from all over the world — well, what are you going to do with it? I was talking to a client in Berlin and he was asking about GX, what had motivated me to create GX, and I told him that selfishly it was so that I could work with him again myself. I’ve been orchestrating these connections between people and brands and artists, but what if could actually activate those connections myself? To actually do something, physically and creatively, with those relationships and ideas.
Dan [Wieden] asked me if they were still getting the best out of me — he asked how they could set me loose. His advice, “Free yourself.” To be honest, the way to get the best out of me is not for me to sit in meetings for eighteen hours a day. You know, I was co-executive creative director of the whole company globally — it was, and is, an absolutely incredible job, but it was no longer really the right fit for me. Every W+K office in each city also has two executive creative directors, and each account has a creative director team who then manages all the creative work for the account. I loved the IDEA of my job on the Global Management Team but truthfully… I wasn’t really making the kind of impact that was important to me.
I’ve always had a version of Studio J [John’s independent studio with his wife and creative partner Janet]. When I was at Bloomingdales, I still had a studio where I was working in publishing, restaurants, graphics. No matter what my day job is, I’m always creating a night job for myself, always creating these opportunities for myself.

I wrote a piece about George Lois the other day and I was talking to him about his Esquire covers — I said, “Not only were those covers masterpieces, not only were 30 of them just shown at the MoMA, but that was your night job!” You know, that was what he did after dinner.
You make your own energy — you have to be “selfish” in that respect, to figure out how you can generate your own energy. But somehow, when it’s done with authenticity and wonder, it always seems to become a more universal source — everyone working to keep themselves at their most inspired, their most energetic.
W+K Tokyo was like a dress rehearsal for GX. When we were recruiting for the team in Tokyo, I offered to hire all the management, but as I was giving this spiel about why Tokyo would be such a great job I thought, “Why would I give this away?” So I decided to open the Japan office and it ended up being an extraordinary time for me.
At the time, Dan said about Tokyo that we should make it the “hothouse” — a place where we could do experiments that no other company was able to do. Eventually, he asked me to bring that energy back to the mothership [in Portland]. And it was great, but you know, the air changes, you change, and you have to continue to feel actively creative. How can I continue to inspire people?

And how does GX allow to you relate to your clients differently?
At GX, and at Wieden + Kennedy as a whole, we get to really make a choice about who we’re working with. Each brand expresses itself in a unique and personal way so to be in a position to choose clients, to be independent, to make our own decisions — this freedom is at the core of being able to do good work. To be able to say no is one of the most powerful things in the world.
When you’re running a business, you have to think about — yes, we need money to keep the company going, but you also need to be able to say “This would not be a good situation for us, creatively, morally, spiritually.” If you’re a publicly-held company, if you’re owned by the bank, you don’t have the power to say no to a poor fit. We can think selectively, as independents, and we can say no. Though you do have to be careful who you say no to — it’s a small world.
When you say no to something that isn’t right for you, that’s 10 more minutes of quiet, peaceful sleep you get to have each night, knowing you are doing work you believe in. That’s powerful.
Stay tuned for part deux, planted soon.
Photos by Wieden’s own, Hope Freeman

INTERVIEW : JOHN JAY, W+K GX : PART I

Does John Jay need an introduction? Recently named one of the top most influential art directors of the last half a century — next to George Lois and Louise Fili — he’s also one of the top most wonderful human beings we’ve ever met. John’s philosophies on making, collaborating and creating beauty in the world are a beacon in a plasticine era. With the launch of his new lab GX at Wieden + Kennedy’s Portland flagship, he’s pushed his canoe off into thrilling new creative adventures and relationships — fueled by his many nocturnal and extracurricular endeavors over the last few decades.

How do you reconcile beauty with advertising?

You can design a product beautifully, or you can design a product and be half-assed about it. You can art direct, write copy and concept with beauty and craft in mind. The world is a better place when there’s beauty, but beauty is most certainly subjective. In the sense of wabi sabi, the most fucked up, destroyed version of beauty is best — but of course, in that regard, nature is the best designer there is.

In advertising, we’re hired to solve a problem — a business problem. We’re really storytelling, with music, film, typography, graphics… elements that add beauty. I do believe that creating beauty is a contribution to society, it’s a way of giving back to the world.

You’ve spoken about GX as a means by which you can get the best work from yourself — it’s been formed from two decades of work with Wieden, and all the experience you’ve carried forward from other endeavours. Talk about your role as a creative director, and what GX means for you as a beacon of creating and doing.

My job is to be inspired. It’s not my client’s job, or my employer’s job or my team member’s job. It’s my job to stay curious. To be ambitious. The first job of a CD is to inspire. You might have this fat Rolodex with numbers from all over the world — well, what are you going to do with it? I was talking to a client in Berlin and he was asking about GX, what had motivated me to create GX, and I told him that selfishly it was so that I could work with him again myself. I’ve been orchestrating these connections between people and brands and artists, but what if could actually activate those connections myself? To actually do something, physically and creatively, with those relationships and ideas.

Dan [Wieden] asked me if they were still getting the best out of me — he asked how they could set me loose. His advice, “Free yourself.” To be honest, the way to get the best out of me is not for me to sit in meetings for eighteen hours a day. You know, I was co-executive creative director of the whole company globally — it was, and is, an absolutely incredible job, but it was no longer really the right fit for me. Every W+K office in each city also has two executive creative directors, and each account has a creative director team who then manages all the creative work for the account. I loved the IDEA of my job on the Global Management Team but truthfully… I wasn’t really making the kind of impact that was important to me.

I’ve always had a version of Studio J [John’s independent studio with his wife and creative partner Janet]. When I was at Bloomingdales, I still had a studio where I was working in publishing, restaurants, graphics. No matter what my day job is, I’m always creating a night job for myself, always creating these opportunities for myself.

I wrote a piece about George Lois the other day and I was talking to him about his Esquire covers — I said, “Not only were those covers masterpieces, not only were 30 of them just shown at the MoMA, but that was your night job!” You know, that was what he did after dinner.

You make your own energy — you have to be “selfish” in that respect, to figure out how you can generate your own energy. But somehow, when it’s done with authenticity and wonder, it always seems to become a more universal source — everyone working to keep themselves at their most inspired, their most energetic.

W+K Tokyo was like a dress rehearsal for GX. When we were recruiting for the team in Tokyo, I offered to hire all the management, but as I was giving this spiel about why Tokyo would be such a great job I thought, “Why would I give this away?” So I decided to open the Japan office and it ended up being an extraordinary time for me.

At the time, Dan said about Tokyo that we should make it the “hothouse” — a place where we could do experiments that no other company was able to do. Eventually, he asked me to bring that energy back to the mothership [in Portland]. And it was great, but you know, the air changes, you change, and you have to continue to feel actively creative. How can I continue to inspire people?

And how does GX allow to you relate to your clients differently?

At GX, and at Wieden + Kennedy as a whole, we get to really make a choice about who we’re working with. Each brand expresses itself in a unique and personal way so to be in a position to choose clients, to be independent, to make our own decisions — this freedom is at the core of being able to do good work. To be able to say no is one of the most powerful things in the world.

When you’re running a business, you have to think about — yes, we need money to keep the company going, but you also need to be able to say “This would not be a good situation for us, creatively, morally, spiritually.” If you’re a publicly-held company, if you’re owned by the bank, you don’t have the power to say no to a poor fit. We can think selectively, as independents, and we can say no. Though you do have to be careful who you say no to — it’s a small world.

When you say no to something that isn’t right for you, that’s 10 more minutes of quiet, peaceful sleep you get to have each night, knowing you are doing work you believe in. That’s powerful.

Stay tuned for part deux, planted soon.

Photos by Wieden’s own, Hope Freeman


I’VE GOT A HOLE IN MY SOUL : BEYONDADOUBTRON BUFORD & URAL THOMAS : DEEP SOUL PT. I
About ten years ago, there was a very well put together woman selling a few 45s out of a plastic bag on street in Portland. She said they had been her father’s but that she had no turntable. She only wanted what seemed like a few bucks for the whole tattered bodega bag. In it I found some of Seattle’s holy grail, hard soul gems, namely, both Ron Buford on Camelot.
The singer on the stand-out track is Ural Thomas, who she said still lived in the neighborhood. Deep Soul Part 1 is still one of the greatest, high-energy tracks of the era, and to our amazement Ural Thomas is still performing it around PDX. This Saturday he’s headlining Downtown at Star Theater and the platters will be turned with the assistance of me, Danny Dodge (No Tomorrow Boys) and DJ HWY7. And I’ll be getting my record signed at long last.

This is the second chapter in our new rare vinyl series with Beyondadoubt, a Portland-based producer, beatmaker, DJ and collector.

I’VE GOT A HOLE IN MY SOUL : BEYONDADOUBT
RON BUFORD & URAL THOMAS : DEEP SOUL PT. I

About ten years ago, there was a very well put together woman selling a few 45s out of a plastic bag on street in Portland. She said they had been her father’s but that she had no turntable. She only wanted what seemed like a few bucks for the whole tattered bodega bag. In it I found some of Seattle’s holy grail, hard soul gems, namely, both Ron Buford on Camelot.

The singer on the stand-out track is Ural Thomas, who she said still lived in the neighborhood. Deep Soul Part 1 is still one of the greatest, high-energy tracks of the era, and to our amazement Ural Thomas is still performing it around PDX. This Saturday he’s headlining Downtown at Star Theater and the platters will be turned with the assistance of me, Danny Dodge (No Tomorrow Boys) and DJ HWY7. And I’ll be getting my record signed at long last.

This is the second chapter in our new rare vinyl series with Beyondadoubt, a Portland-based producer, beatmaker, DJ and collector.


Sexiest man of the year and friend to animals Chris Johanson is also an artist. Meet him and some friends to celebrate his new Phaidon Contemporary Artists’ Monograph at Monograph Bookwerks on Alberta in Northeast Portland tonight. Chris says: “Jonathan Raymond the Portland writer who is a contributor to the book will be there. Sun Foot will play 3 songs. And we are going to have a really good time.” You can see all the details on Monograph’s blog.

Sexiest man of the year and friend to animals Chris Johanson is also an artist. Meet him and some friends to celebrate his new Phaidon Contemporary Artists’ Monograph at Monograph Bookwerks on Alberta in Northeast Portland tonight. Chris says: “Jonathan Raymond the Portland writer who is a contributor to the book will be there. Sun Foot will play 3 songs. And we are going to have a really good time.” You can see all the details on Monograph’s blog.


A throwback to Ace Hotel Portland's early days — a spread in Coastal Traveler with room muralists Amy Ruppel in room 304, Ryan Jacob Smith in 404 and Evan B. Harris in 225. As it happens, Evan was the focus of our first ever Thinking Cap video — you can see it yonder.

A throwback to Ace Hotel Portland's early days — a spread in Coastal Traveler with room muralists Amy Ruppel in room 304, Ryan Jacob Smith in 404 and Evan B. Harris in 225. As it happens, Evan was the focus of our first ever Thinking Cap video — you can see it yonder.


Mad Science transports artists to the year 2045 to conquer planetary and social issues as scientists. On July 12 at 7pm, the Mad Science laboratory hangs a shingle at Gallery 135 in Portland. If you’re in town, stop by to witness the verdant intersection of art and science and a bunch of people having fun. Featured creatives include friends from Wieden, Nike, iDL and a ton of freestylers, plus music by Jaeho and Gemo Wong. Proceeds from the show will benefit CHAP, a nonprofit organization supporting children in crisis through healing arts programs in Oregon.

Mad Science transports artists to the year 2045 to conquer planetary and social issues as scientists. On July 12 at 7pm, the Mad Science laboratory hangs a shingle at Gallery 135 in Portland. If you’re in town, stop by to witness the verdant intersection of art and science and a bunch of people having fun. Featured creatives include friends from Wieden, Nike, iDL and a ton of freestylers, plus music by Jaeho and Gemo Wong. Proceeds from the show will benefit CHAP, a nonprofit organization supporting children in crisis through healing arts programs in Oregon.


Isamu Noguchi was a dreamer, a renegade and a sort of self-ordained formalist, following the idiosyncratic logic of the physical poetry to which he devoted his life and mind. Born in Los Angeles to a poet and an editor, his inspiration came from the spaces between meaning — using his formidable talent and his willingness to risk, he created a new bone structure for the physical and emotional atmospheres in which we live. Pictured here, the artist as a young man (and a crush-worthy one at that), and his sketches, Worksheets for Sculpture, 1945. Noguchi’s We are the Landscape of All We Know has migrated west temporarily from the Noguchi Museum in Long Island to the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, on view through July 21.

Isamu Noguchi was a dreamer, a renegade and a sort of self-ordained formalist, following the idiosyncratic logic of the physical poetry to which he devoted his life and mind. Born in Los Angeles to a poet and an editor, his inspiration came from the spaces between meaning — using his formidable talent and his willingness to risk, he created a new bone structure for the physical and emotional atmospheres in which we live. Pictured here, the artist as a young man (and a crush-worthy one at that), and his sketches, Worksheets for Sculpture, 1945. Noguchi’s We are the Landscape of All We Know has migrated west temporarily from the Noguchi Museum in Long Island to the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, on view through July 21.

Isamu Noguchi Ace Hotel Japanese Garden Portland


Roadside existentialism by Hope Reynolds of Folk Studios.

Roadside existentialism by Hope Reynolds of Folk Studios.


A genderless society, political intrigue and a journey across 800 miles of ice… Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness was (and is) a groundbreaking, gender-bending 1969 novel that tracks Genly Ai on a trek across the cold, isolated planet of Gethen — a place where human beings are neither female nor male, and society is (in theory) not defined by gender. This weekend is your last chance to see the world premiere of a stage adaptation by Portland Playhouse and Hand2Mouth, with director Jonathan Walters and playwright John Schmor — get tickets at Portland Playhouse.
Portland Playhouse hangs its shingle at a petite, converted chapel in Northeast Portland. Their mission is to continually reinvent the means by which plays are heard and spoken.  We’ll keep you updated on Season Six which includes Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, The Other Place by Sharr White and Jitney by August Wilson among others.
You can also catch our interview with Ursula K. Le Guin from October, 2011.

A genderless society, political intrigue and a journey across 800 miles of ice… Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness was (and is) a groundbreaking, gender-bending 1969 novel that tracks Genly Ai on a trek across the cold, isolated planet of Gethen — a place where human beings are neither female nor male, and society is (in theory) not defined by gender. This weekend is your last chance to see the world premiere of a stage adaptation by Portland Playhouse and Hand2Mouth, with director Jonathan Walters and playwright John Schmor — get tickets at Portland Playhouse.

Portland Playhouse hangs its shingle at a petite, converted chapel in Northeast Portland. Their mission is to continually reinvent the means by which plays are heard and spoken.  We’ll keep you updated on Season Six which includes Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, The Other Place by Sharr White and Jitney by August Wilson among others.

You can also catch our interview with Ursula K. Le Guin from October, 2011.


HOW DO YOU MEAN? CULTURE IN TRANSLATIONPICA SYMPOSIUM, JUNE 7 - 9, PORTLAND, ORE.

We experience the world through continual acts of translation. To be sure, we often carry meaning between languages, but that process isn’t limited to the spoken dialects of different cultures. We turn thoughts into actions, and experiences into conversation. Translation is difference made visible. Translation is experimental. Translation is generous.
Artistic practice is a necessary process of translation, from intangible ideas to concrete forms and decisive gestures, but also between disciplines and bodies, between the artists and their audiences. What possibilities exist in the spaces between kinesthetic and verbal language, visual art and dance, traditional and contemporary expression, local and global styles?
The PICA Symposium is an interdisciplinary weekend of art, performance, and conversations, investigating the complexity of constructing and communicating culture in contemporary art. It’s an update of a classical model for our hyphenated culture, weighing experience and activity equally with lectures and panels. It is driven by your involvement, it’s propelled by your movement.

See featured events, more information and a schedule here.

HOW DO YOU MEAN? CULTURE IN TRANSLATION
PICA SYMPOSIUM, JUNE 7 - 9, PORTLAND, ORE.

We experience the world through continual acts of translation. To be sure, we often carry meaning between languages, but that process isn’t limited to the spoken dialects of different cultures. We turn thoughts into actions, and experiences into conversation. Translation is difference made visible. Translation is experimental. Translation is generous.

Artistic practice is a necessary process of translation, from intangible ideas to concrete forms and decisive gestures, but also between disciplines and bodies, between the artists and their audiences. What possibilities exist in the spaces between kinesthetic and verbal language, visual art and dance, traditional and contemporary expression, local and global styles?

The PICA Symposium is an interdisciplinary weekend of art, performance, and conversations, investigating the complexity of constructing and communicating culture in contemporary art. It’s an update of a classical model for our hyphenated culture, weighing experience and activity equally with lectures and panels. It is driven by your involvement, it’s propelled by your movement.

See featured events, more information and a schedule here.



Meet the people who wash your dishes.
The Dishwasher Project is an intimate portrayal and tribute to the men and women behind Portland’s celebrated culinary scene. The paintings seek to honor the individual, their lives in the back of the house, and humanize the grueling work of keeping the restaurant service moving. Our hope for this project is to plant a question in the minds of patrons of these restaurants with rock-star-status chefs who, truly, are only as good as their team. We took the most unsavory of these positions, the individuals who see the aftermath of a meal and live in the steam, soap and waste of an otherwise glorious experience. We hope to give a face and history to the hands that hold our dishes. We are humbled to have their stories to share, and hope that the next time you spend a Sunday afternoon indulging in a five-star brunch, you’ll consider the people for which there is no James Beard Award, but should garner your esteem.

Natalie Sept began this project in 2010 during her time at Papa Haydn restaurant where she was a pastry tech, and began to take notice of the dishwashers who often times where coming from another job and leaving to the next after their time washing dishes. Israel Bayer joined Natalie in 2012 and began taking photographs for the project. You can view it tonight for a one-night-only show in The Cleaners at Ace Hotel Portland.
Pictured here in order are Efrain, Katrine, Maestro and George.

Meet the people who wash your dishes.

The Dishwasher Project is an intimate portrayal and tribute to the men and women behind Portland’s celebrated culinary scene. The paintings seek to honor the individual, their lives in the back of the house, and humanize the grueling work of keeping the restaurant service moving. Our hope for this project is to plant a question in the minds of patrons of these restaurants with rock-star-status chefs who, truly, are only as good as their team. We took the most unsavory of these positions, the individuals who see the aftermath of a meal and live in the steam, soap and waste of an otherwise glorious experience. We hope to give a face and history to the hands that hold our dishes. We are humbled to have their stories to share, and hope that the next time you spend a Sunday afternoon indulging in a five-star brunch, you’ll consider the people for which there is no James Beard Award, but should garner your esteem.

Natalie Sept began this project in 2010 during her time at Papa Haydn restaurant where she was a pastry tech, and began to take notice of the dishwashers who often times where coming from another job and leaving to the next after their time washing dishes. Israel Bayer joined Natalie in 2012 and began taking photographs for the project. You can view it tonight for a one-night-only show in The Cleaners at Ace Hotel Portland.

Pictured here in order are Efrain, Katrine, Maestro and George.


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