Detail, Plazm №3, cover painting by Lyle Hehn

Our third issue of Plazm, published in 1993, was the first time that we had cover art made specifically for us. The first two issues we featured existing art. The cover artist for issue №3 was . He is most famous in the Portland area for painting walls, fermenters, and all manner of objects for McMenamins Pubs & Breweries.

I worked for McMenamins at the time. I hadn’t reached a point where I could pay my bills with design work alone and the magazine itself hadn’t made any money yet. Little did I know then that I would be…


Submit to Plazm brochure designed by Niko Courtelis, 1995

On the formation of Plazm

During the spring and summer of 1991 a handful of artists, photographers, writers, designers, poets, and assorted creative instigators in Portland, Oregon began gathering to form a media cooperative.

The Information Age was accelerating fast but only 7 million people had cell phones, which were the size of bricks and cost more than a used car. The Internet was mostly populated by scientists and programmers, though the public could gain access to it for $2 per minute. Mass media — the ability to disseminate information, entertainment, and creative expression to a substantial audience — was largely controlled by five corporations.


Detail of early Plazm flyer, “Drug megazine” by Donna Martin and Joshua Berger
Detail of early Plazm flyer, “Drug megazine” by Donna Martin and Joshua Berger

During the spring and summer of 1991 was when I first got involved with what ultimately became Plazm magazine. One of my housemates at the time, Andy McFarlane, heard about a meeting happening in a warehouse space in what is now branded as the Pearl district.

We talked about artists representing artists, about media control. We didn’t know then that we were making a magazine. There were artists, writers, photographers, poets. Each week we met. Some people came one time, others stayed for years. Andy and I both became part of the small group of early founders of Plazm. …


Flyer for a Plazm show at Hand Prints Warehouse

In memoriam

Saddened to hear of the recent passing of Clark Nickels, an old friend of Plazm, earlier this month following his battle with cancer.

Clark was one of our earliest supporters, hosting the first Plazm party / multimedia event at his screen print shop, Hand Prints, 611 SE Main Street.

These early events were a huge help in building momentum and getting Plazm magazine off the ground in Portland, Oregon circa 1991.

The first show we did at Hand Prints was between issues 1 and 2, so early 1992. We were making a magazine, but still figuring lots of things out…


Plazm magazine issue 28, cover design by Milton Glaser
cover design by Milton Glaser

We first met Milton Glaser at the AIGA national conference in Washington D.C. in 2002, which had been postponed and rescheduled due to 9/11. Glaser delivered a keynote and received a well deserved standing ovation. Plazm had a much smaller role (we ran a workshop and delivered a opening night).

One of the things Milton presented at this event was his , handed out on all the chairs was an “ethical test for designers.” …


Illustration by Carolyn Garcia for Plazm magazine, Spearhead interview with Michael Franti
Illustration by Carolyn Garcia for Plazm magazine

Michael Franti in conversation with Joshua Berger

Originally published in Plazm magazine issue 11, 1995

In the ten years that have elapsed since first picked up a bass guitar, he has started three bands, , , and now . Within a community of artists, and for a growing audience, he has created a diverse body of socially concious work. Evolving musically and personally, he continues to offer a view at once hopeful and critical of American culture.

Can you start by telling me how you got musically involved, what were your sources of inspiration?

That was the same time when…


Original print spread, Plazm magazine, . Interview & design Joshua Berger, photography Jeremy Bittermann

Originally published in , 2006.

Peaches is … what? How do you describe this one-woman, genre-bending, gender blending visionary? Rocker. Programmer. Sexual liberator for the new millennium. Who is Peaches? And why should you care? Read on to find out …

You grew up in Canada, geographically very close to America, and you live in Europe now. Could you talk about some of the differences that you see in expression and openness of sexual-ity outside of North America?

Well, openness is just more tolerated, especially in Germany. If you go to the lake, half the people are…


My annual bike accident anniversary letter

Thinking about writing my annual note on the anniversary of my accident, this year I felt frustrated. Disappointed. Lost as to what I would say. What have I really accomplished?

Then I took some time to reflect on the last year. It’s been full. , new clients, spending time with family and friends, living with no fixed address for months, traveling, immersing in the totality of a solar eclipse, buying a new house that was evacuated in the shadow of an enormous forest fire. There were innumerable things … layers upon layers…


Dear friends of Plazm ~

Many of you know my business partner and creative director Niko Courtelis who returned to Portland from New York a few years ago. But did you know he’s a passionate collector of stamps? An artist and designer in philatelica, he also collects the vintage equipment used to make stamps.

I’m excited to join Niko, our Chief Perforation Officer, in a new venture that revives a lost tradition: the poster stamp. Welcome to The Portland Stamp Company.

— Josh


In conversation with Rebeca Mendéz

Hard to believe, but I’ve now known Rebeca for nearly twenty years. Back in 1998 we asked her to design a cover for Plazm magazine. That was . We printed a series of postcards with her work to promote the issue, and she contributed a piece to the 1999 Plazm on Video VHS magazine. I recently had the opportunity to speak with her in advance of her upcoming participation at .

Méndez is an artist, designer, and professor at UCLA, Design Media Arts, where she is director of the CounterForce Lab, a research and fieldwork studio dedicated to…

Joshua Berger

artist, designer, creative director, maker of things. partner @plazmmagazine

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