The designer, spotted in his native habitat, the wild woods of the Willamette Valley.
I think of visual art as a prism that I can use to focus my energy. Not in like, a woowoo spiritual crystal healing sort of way, more like a Pink Floyd album cover sort of way. My greatest gift is the ability to transform your ideas, no matter how vague, into reality. It’s very satisfying to be given a list of phrases or concepts or feelings, and through a process I’ve honed over the last ten years, accurately represent them in a logo or illustration. At the end of that process, nothing makes me happier than hearing “Wow, that’s exactly what was in my head, I just didn’t know how to describe it.”
I like to think that my work says more about me that words can, but a bit of backstory never hurts. right? I feel extraordinarily lucky to have found my path as a graphic artist relatively early in life. It started in high school, being introduced to Photoshop. I floundered in college until attempting to take a course in the Adobe suite, only to find I had to be enrolled in the Graphic Design program as a whole in order to sign up for that class. That opened the door to whole worlds of branding, package design, traditional and digital illustration, web design and so many other facets of design that I had never considered. Suddenly my ADHD self had something to focus on.
I graduated in the height of the recession, but was able to find a full-time job at a locally owned sign shop in Salem, SignWorks of Oregon. While the day-to-day orders weren’t always creatively fulfilling, I did get to help multiple new businesses get off the ground, guiding them through the daunting process of branding, and then helping them apply it across a wide range of collateral. I was the main point of contact, answering phones and helping walk-in clients, creating designs, sending proofs and guiding production to ensure expectations were met. The owners of the company were also young and creative, and together we developed a fun and unexpected brand for the shop, using our shared love of comic books as inspiration. From there I moved to Portland and continued working in the sign industry until finding the right time to make the jump to more artistic endeavors.
I’m currently employed at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, where I’ve been since 2015. I loved being in theatre in high school, and getting to work every day in support of large-scale professional artistic collaborations can, at the best of times, feel like a dream come true. Being trusted to make decisions that can potentially impact a large group of people took some getting used to, but as I get more comfortable with that idea, I find myself continuing to try and push boundaries whenever possible. I’m proud of my efforts to unify our brand, while continuing to help it evolve to match our mission statement. On any given day, I’m editing and animating actor photos, collaborating with a team to develop social media campaigns, building Spotify playlists that represent the plays, updating our website, and figuring out how to draw people into a world of theatre that they may not believe is for them. Our building occupies an entire city block in downtown Portland, and I utilize my background in sign design and fabrication to keep our lobby space looking fresh. My work has been seen on billboards, busses, the MAX lightrail, local television, Willamette Week, The Portland Mercury and The Oregonian as well as in national magazines including The New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair. I’ve also contributed to the productions themselves, with designs making cameos in I and You, Small Mouth Sounds, and most recently contributing to the costume and set design for the modern adaption of Richard III set in high school, aka Teenage Dick (maybe don’t google that one).
I’m always striving to maintain a steady stable of freelance clients, and as an artist I’m always seeking to learn and grow through collaboration with others. I love the research I get to do for the wide variety of projects I’ve been a part of. I’ve designed competition uniforms and floor graphics for the Sherwood High School drumline. I’ve also designed multiple full vehicle wraps. I’ve created custom etched pint glasses, beer bottles, and t-shirts both for fun and for money. I’m teaching myself AfterEffects to add motion to my graphics, I recently started using a CNC machine to carve my designs into wood, and I believe in the beautification of otherwise boring surfaces across Portland through the careful application of stickers. I would love to educate others on what I know so far, and I’ve started speaking annually at local high school career fairs. Have an idea that you need help with? Let’s grab a coffee or beer and figure it out!
"Jeff's professionalism, attention to detail, and excellent communication made a daunting task into a pleasure. Imagery is a big part of a business identity, and Jeff's insights made all the difference. I look forward to working with him again."
-John Coleman, Malheur Carpentry and Woodworking
"Jeff possesses an unusual combination of impressive creative ability mixed with strong organizational talent not often found in the field of graphic design. A good listener and communicator, he is able to create designs that perfectly meet the needs of various types of clientele, matching their vision with great accuracy. I would highly recommend his services to anyone in need of quality graphic design work done in a timely manner."
-Jeff Parsons, Owner, FastSigns Clackamas
"Jeff was my head designer for a number of years at my sign and design company. His boundless creativity, enthusiasm and respect for design, along with a keen eye for aesthetics consistently impressed and excited both myself and our clients. One of Jeff's strongest skills is his ability to collaborate with clients and/or other artists to bring vague concepts into reality. In my own experience, his final product is often times more exciting than the image I originally had in my mind. This is a hallmark of a great designer and one of the many reasons I still go to him for my own projects as well as refer him to others."
-Scott Lucas, Owner, SignWorks of Oregon