failure. discounted.

come fail typeFailure is part of the human condition, yet many people are paralyzed by the thought. What do mistakes teach us? What is a beginner’s mind? Plazm’s Joshua Berger and Niko Courtelis lead a “Come Fail With Us” workshop at the Bend Design Conference which features Ashley Shaffer, Brad Cloepfil, John C Jay, and Victor Saad, among others.

Friends of Plazm may use the following code to receive $25.00 off the full conference pass. Purchase by October 1. Code is: PARTNERBDC2016

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About this art

In 2008 I worked on an anti-John McCain poster, in 2012 anti-Mitt Romney art. I like to make political posters. To use my training in design for something important. But this year is different. More urgent. More personal.

As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I find Donald Trump to be deeply frightening. He has taken fringe racist and anti-semitic elements and given them a mainstream megaphone. This is very dangerous for our country far beyond this election cycle.

His rise mirrors that of the rise of Hitler and takes directly from that hate-filled playbook. This is not a comparison I make lightly. But I know my history. I can feel this threat in my bones.

I found myself recalling an anti-Nazi photomontage by John Heartfield entitled “Adolf, Superman” that I studied in design school. I have taken the liberty of updating it here to reflect the current peril we face as a nation.

Useful links

Register to vote—all US state deadlines
176 Reasons Donald Trump Shouldn’t Be President—Keith Olbermann in top form
This is How Fascism Comes to America—The Washington Post
Making America Hate Again—In an exceptional 30 minute speech, Hillary Clinton succinctly elucidates the danger we face.
John Heartfield—Wikipedia

Vote this election

I want to add that I worked for and supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries and that I will vote for Hillary Clinton in November. I believe it is important to vote for her. Staying home helps Trump. A vote for Jill Stein helps Trump. Republicans who care about their party might consider voting for Gary Johnson.

Yes, Clinton is an establishment candidate with vast corporate ties. There are things she stands for that I disagree with—and I will continue to actively work and organize against those beginning November 9, 2016. None of these are as evil as the violence and hate Trump is espousing.

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Urban Goats & Comic Sans

IMG_7255Although I have never personally been a user of the much maligned typeface Comic Sans, I recently found there are actually appropriate uses for the font.

Many Portlanders fondly remember the goats grazing over on Southeast Belmont Avenue. They were fun and quirky, yet thoroughly practical in keeping the grasses down—a great example of Portland doing things right.

Well the goats did their job, but now they are out of a job. Well, sort of. They are still all over the area—at least as marketing mascots for the various parties building this monster development.

There’s a lot of development going on these days in Portland. There is also much concern about the changing landscape—in particular the long-term affordability for the people that have lived and worked here for many years.

Back when Plazm started in 1991 the idea that people would want to come here in droves—let alone view Portland as a place of cultural influence and significance—was beyond the realm of possibility.

The developers, lawyers, and contractors have not been shy in using the goats to promote their project. There are goats on practically every sign in the construction site.

It turns out the goats have something to say about it all. And they typeset their comments in Comic Sans. 
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Free Tickets to Experimental Jetset in Portland 

Join us for a dialogue on design with Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers, and Danny van den Dungen of Experimental Jetset. The conversation will be audio-recorded for the Beyond This Point podcast.

FREE tickets available Wednesday, 2/10/16 at Noon PST at

Saturday, February 20, 2016 | 5:30-7:30PMDoors at 5 PM | Event begins promptly at 5:30 PM

52 Limited, 330 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd #1B Portland, OR 97214 BROUGHT TO YOU BY CIVILIZATION & DESIGNSPEAKS

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Announcing the First Annual Typewriter Jam

Typewriter_Jam_sqPart historical exhibit, part typewriter clinic, part art show–the inaugural Portland Typewriter Jam has everything a typewriter aficionado could wish for! Over 50 unique and exotic typewriters on display, and dozens of different typewriters to use. A typewriter clinic for cleaning and maintenance tips, ribbons and supplies–PLUS–you can and pull your own typewriter-themed art print–FREE!

The IPRC is proud to host Uppercase Magazine Publisher and author Janine Vangool selling her new book “The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine”.

IPRC Event details

Typewriter Jam
Saturday October 10th, 2015
1001 SE Division Street

• “The Museum” An exhibit of 50 rare typewriters,  (only for looking).

• “Dr. Typewriter ” Matt from ACE Typewriter will be doing demonstrations, taking a typewriter apart, repairing it, cleaning it, etc.  He will also do some clinic/ walk-in diagnostics, and have ribbons, supplies (and maybe a few typewriter?) on hand/for sale.

• Try your hands at typing on dozens of different styles of typewriters.

• Think you’re fast? Enter the speed-typing trials and test your WPM.

• An exhibit of historical typewriter ephemera; vintage manuals, typing instruction books and poster, typewriter ribbon tins, advertising, and other miscellany.

• Hands on fancy print pulls of typewriter themed poster.

• Special Typewriter Jam swag

• Beer by Fort George Brewery

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If that’s not enough—Janine Vangool will be giving a public lecture at PSU!

Join the editor of Uppercase Magazine for a journey through the 150+ year history of the the typewriter through the graphic design and advertising that tells its story over the decades.

Janine Vangool: Typewriter, a History
Sunday, Oct 11 at 7pm
Shattuck Hall

Eventbrite tickets


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Art Chantry’s Heretical Design History

Art Chantry has a new book out and he speaks at Powell’s Tuesday at 7:30 pm



Art has shaped much of contemporary design with his hands-on, low-fidelity techniques and his unapologetic, poignant ideas. He is a design icon.

We’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with Art over the years in the pages of Plazm magazine and in two books we have authored. Below is the first fax he sent me when working on the cover for issue #15 (1997).



There are a few silkscreen posters of that cover still available.  Purchase at BuyOlympia if your interested.


The last time Art was here in Portland for an event was in 2007. Plazm put it together with PNCA. We designed the poster and companion matchbooks below. I remember a conversation over dinner before his presentation and Art talking in detail about design history. Not the kind you might have read about in history books, but a kind that exists in both ubiquity and obscurity. Since then I have followed along as he began posting on Facebook, sharing a similar conversation with the world—a personal view of history, shaped by being present and participating.

Anyone interested in the design history you couldn’t read about in books—until now—should check this out. Powell’s Tuesday at 7:30 pm


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The Sorrento Sessions: “Next wave graphic design & branding”

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 11.44.23 PM What is the role of graphic design in shaping culture and community of the Pacific Northwest? And how can designers make an positive social and ecological impact?

I am looking forward to participating in this visually-driven panel in Seattle next week. Not really sure what the title “next wave graphic design & branding” means. I guess I will learn from the other panelists. I like the description that they wrote though. Shaping culture. Doing things that benefit other living beings. I like those things.

The panel was put together by Gray magazine in partnership with Interior Design Show West and IDSA. EVENT DETAILS: At the Sorrento Cocktails in the penthouse-level Top of the Town at 6 pm. Panel discussion starts at 7 pm. Most of these events sell out. Tickets at Eventbrite. Join us! Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 11.46.05 PM PANELISTS (from top left): Michael Ellsworth, Civilization (Seattle) Jane Cox, Cause + Affect (Vancouver) Joshua Berger, Plazm (Portland) Gage Mitchell, Modern Species (Seattle)

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60 days to stop a war


In 2008 Thomas Bradley & I made this John McCain campaign poster. You might recall McCain gleefully sang “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys Barbara Ann. You can find that on YouTube.

It’s a shame to have to bring it out again, but at least we have the art ready to go.


Find an event with your member of Congress this month here.
Contact your Congressperson here.

We have 60 days to stop a war with Iran.

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Bud or Bud Light: Designing a Brand

plazm_bud_bud_light.030I will be doing a presentation at the Cannabis Creative Conference this Wednesday. It is an interesting time for this industry in Oregon with the maturation of medical and the birth of recreational categories. There are many challenges and opportunities ahead. I will discuss design, brand building, marketing, and communications best practices; what’s working and what isn’t in the Oregon cannabis category.

Wednesday, July 29
2:15 – 3:00
Portland Expo Center


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I did a PechaKucha presentation in Portland recently. The seven minute piece is now online, so I am sharing it here. 

The theme for the night was Survival.

I talk about surviving a bike accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury and about how a magazine that has never made any money can survive for more than 20 years. 

If you are not familiar with the format—it’s 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide.


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