Jordan Metcalf's typography and lettering have appeared on the covers of National Geographic and O, the Oprah magazine and in The New York Times magazine, plus on walls, editorial pages, packaging, book covers and apparel for Nike and Reebok. His consistent mastery of emoting type is pushing boundaries in the design world, and this is a rare opportunity to meet and learn from Jordan himself.

The moderator for the evening will be Erik Marinovich, a San Francisco based lettering artist, designer, and co-founder of Friends of Type. Between client work, teaching and side-projects, you’ll find him on the road promoting Keep Fresh Stay Rad and Let’s Go Letter Hunting, two new releases from Friends of Type published by Princeton Architectural Press.

Hosted by WeMake, an avid contributor to Design Week (with two other sold-out events during the festival), we caught up with the non-profit's founder and director Yvonne Perez Emerson in advance of the April 17th event to discuss the topic tying WeMake's events together this year: typography.


DWP: WeMake is focusing on typography this year. What makes this topic both timely and timeless?

Yvonne: The art of Lettering is something that has been a focus in graphic design from it’s beginnings. It is one of the cornerstones of the field. Designers who pay attention to the rules of typography are the ones who stand out. What’s been happening in typography both in creating fonts and the resurgence of lettering has been awesome to witness. Letterers have taken queues from the oldschool days of drawing type by hand, and a lot of times these folks have no formal training. What they do have is an eye for design and patience of hand. It’s always been important for WeMake to showcase the creative community who pay attention to detail and create by hand. Lettering maybe hot right now, but that’s not why we focused this years design week celebration on it. We did it because we love typography, and we love the community that surrounds it.



Flow by Jordan Metcalf for WeTransfer


DWP: WeMake is featuring so many international and local designers this year. Is this common in your programming?

Yvonne: I wanted to curate a show that had designers from around the world and with different styles. But I also wanted to focus on local talent, because we make PDX :) The letterers participating range from skilled calligraphers like Masgrimes to sign painters like Travis Wheeler, and artists and designers like Gemma O’Brien from Australia, Pascal “KKADE” Flühmann from Switzerland, Martina Flor from Berlin, and local Brett Stetson to name a few. When I’m curating I always look at talent first, and how individually their work will be represented with the others participating. So yes, I guess it is common to have an array of skill sets whether local or not to highlight.

Out of the three events we are hosting, I’m going to say that the 26 Show on 4/19 happening at Tillamook Station it is going to be epic. The prints are all one-of-kind, and very limited, and only 40 prints per artists will be available. All of the proceeds will go towards arts education, I think that’s rad.

But I am also very excited about our sketchXchange at the Portland Art Museum on 4/17 with Jordan Metcalf, moderated by Erik Marinovich. Jordan has been doing amazing work in experimental typography for years, I would say he has been on the forefront of it. Jordan is originally from South Africa but now calls Portland home.

Of course if you were lucky enough to get a ticket to the Jessica Hische lettering workshop, you are stoked! The workshop sold out in a second and attendees will be treated to a hands-on experience that will be incredibly valuable. Jessica is a pioneer in lettering and just a super great person. I know the workshop will be a awesome.

DWP: What is your favorite part of the Portland design community?

Yvonne: The community of course. When I founded WeMake 7 years ago it was because I wanted to showcase the designers and makers here. There were so many of us creating what we love to make for a living, or at least trying to. There are so many risk-takers here, and people who are passionate about their craft. I love this spirit, and I wanted a place where we could support them. WeMake has been so fortunate to have the support of the design community as well, it’s because of them that we have been able to raise close to $100,000 for arts education. That’s both humbling and rewarding. I love that collectively the design community can make changes for good and give back. It’s pretty special.


Event Details

Venue: Portland Art Museum, Sunken Ballroom
Location: 1219 SW Park Avenue
When: Tuesday, April 17, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Organizer: WeMake
Cost: $15

Visit the event page to register.