A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I took a road trip to good ol’ Portland, OR. After two full days of driving, 6 cups of coffee, 2 boxes of Thin Mints, a stay at an Airbnb, and a dinner in a particularly unfriendly rural Montana diner, we arrived at my sister’s apartment to stay for the week.
I had never been to Portland before, and we spent the week wandering about the city escorted by my sister Andrea and her friends. Being a designer, however, I quickly became obsessed with the logos, design, and public art of Portland (weird, yes, I know, but you can’t control when inspiration strikes).
Bridgetown definitely lives up to its creative, spirited reputation — you can see that spirit reflected in the design and art of the city. Bridgetown definitely lives up to its creative, spirited reputation — you can see that spirit reflected in the design and art of the city.
The brick-and-mortar logos I saw in the city had a beautiful minimal aesthetic.
Above: Logo for outdoor outfitter, Next Adventure
Above: Pie Spot logo and mural. Who doesn’t love flamingos?
Above: Wall mural logo for a local t-shirt design shop. And, my sister Andrea.
Above: Oregon State Lottery logo. The thing shows up everywhere, and, I can’t explain it — I’m obsessed.
I know that hand-painted building signs are making a comeback, but Portland has really embraced this trend — it’s got some killer signs.
Above: River City Bicycles painted sign, mural, and sculpture. All kinds of cool going on here.
Above: Aladdin Finishers, Inc. hand-painted sign and garage mural. Furniture companies aren’t exactly known for artistic branding. Portland furniture companies, however, are.
Above: Coffee Time Cafe and Diner hand-painted window decal.
Above: Hand-painted menu and wall mural inside Boxer Ramen. Any potential inconvenience about “substitutions [being] delightfully declined” is mitigated by the fact that they’re declined by an adorable illustrated whale.
Every wall in downtown Portland worth it’s salt is covered in a beautiful artistic mural. Here are a few.
Above: Andrea thought this particular piece was “every hipster mural cliché crammed into a single wall.” I still liked it.
Above: We had been walking all day by the time we came upon this one, so this mural was a welcome encouragement to call forth the strength to make it home.
Above: It did rain quite a bit while I was there, so a mural depicting reaching out to touch a drop of water falling from the sky seemed fitting.
Above: Concert posters adorning the wall of a local design firm. Not a public mural per se, but still very cool.
Above: This is a web design company. Inside a wicked-cool grafittied train car.
I’m just going to let that one sit with you for a second.
Plus, it’s right across the street from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which is double awesome. One day, I hope to have an office as weird and fantastic as this one.
Have a favorite?
Let’s talk about that. Or if you’re a Portlander who thinks I missed “the quintessential Bridgetown design example,” snap a photo and tweet it to me @nickrosener.
Where should I go next? It’s been an interesting experience getting to know a new city by seeking walking around photographing it’s design and branding. Convince me to come to your city next.