Design Week and the Untold Fortunes of Going Out

We understand that sometimes networking can be intimidating, and as artistic folks it’s easy for us to stay indoors and tell ourselves that our art speaks for itself and we don’t need to network. However, as a professional in the creative world, networking is incredibly helpful to move you along on your career path. It’s also a great way to meet new inspiring, fun people who share your love for design. To help motivate you to get out there and network, we’ve asked the career path expert (and Typefest sponsor), Creative Circle, to collaborate with us to pen a rallying cry to inspire you to put down that stylus and come out to Design Week Portland.

There is no substitution for relationships. In life, love, and work, we are strengthened by who we surround ourselves with, and in Portland’s competitive and booming creative industries, one must forge and maintain relationships to stay relevant.

This city is growing, and along with expansion comes an increase in opportunities. Whether you’re job-hunting, building a freelance client base, a professional designer who wants to stay ahead of the curve, or simply on the perpetual hunt for collaborators, these are exciting times. In the last 10 years or so, we’ve seen a metamorphosis. Once a sleepy enclave with cultish appeal, the lid is off on Portland, and everyone wants in. The side-effects of this growth are not just increased competition for work, housing, and parking. This mass relocation of individuals has also brought an increase in startups and brought growth to established entities. In terms of the creative job market, it finally seems like there’s enough work here to go around.

Newcomers have as much to offer as established fixtures, bringing fresh, outside perspectives to compliment natives’ viewpoints and knowledge of the local ecosystem. This cross-section of new Portlanders and long-time Portlanders allows for new ideas to flood into the local creative industry. We are stronger, more present in each other’s minds, and more sharply attuned to opportunity when we communicate insights with one another to build a shared increase in creative intelligence. So how does a Portland creative go about that? You go out.

Once you begin to scratch the blurry edges of the city’s professional and social circles, you’ll find that under the surface is a network of events designed with these very principles in mind. There are small, myriad private and semi-private events occurring at regular intervals throughout the year, geared to various sub-specialties: female tech freelancer happy hours, book clubs for graphic designers, digital producers’ lunches, you name it. Before you can gain access to these smaller affairs, consider looping yourself in to events with larger attendances. First Thursday events will introduce you into a plethora of inspiring fine artists and design-oriented lecture series like Creative Mornings are excellent, unintimidating ways to get into the same room as your next creative co-conspirator or key professional connection. You might want to also sign up for newsletters with a few industry organizations around town who maintain calendars highlighting Portland creative events, like AIGA Portland or Creative Circle, and who will quickly get you feeling plugged into the community.

In our opinion, by far the most celebratory way to plug in to the social side of Portland’s creative workforce is to take advantage of Design Week Portland, an annual festival that speaks to a full range of design interests. The festival was originally held in early fall, but 2016’s edition is kicking off April 15 and runs through the 23rd. The weeklong citywide event is comprised of many smaller events hosted by companies and organizations that run the gamut from boutique retailers and small, nascent firms to international stars of advertising. Outside of AIGA’s opening Main Stage event, most other Design Week events are very budget-friendly, either moderately priced ($10-15 is typical) or completely free—including four evenings of not-to-be-overlooked open houses at creative workspaces, organized by neighborhood.

Rife with visual and verbal stimulation and a huge draw for of likeminded potential colleagues, a proper dive into Design Week can kickstart or expand your network in ways that are impossible to entirely anticipate. Who knows who you’ll meet? There’s no substitution for making yourself available to the untold fortune of new relationships, and for seizing this opportunity to meet other creative people who are likely to impact and enrich your life.

So what do you do? You go out.

For more information on Design Week Portland including a detailed event schedule, visit


About Creative Circle

Creative Circle is a specialized staffing agency representing innovative advertising, marketing, and digital professionals. The company connects creatives to agencies, brands and companies requiring creative, marketing, or interactive talent on both a freelance and full-time basis. With offices in 26 major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada, Creative Circle is strategically positioned to work with clients of all shapes and sizes, from the most innovative creative boutiques to the largest corporations nationwide. In 2015, Creative Circle’s efforts earned the company recognition from Staffing Industry Analysts as the #1 creative/marketing firm in the United States. To learn more about Creative Circle, visit

By Creative Circle
Published April 18, 2016
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