Recap | Wemake Conference

Designers and creatives gathered at the Armory on October 2nd for a day of show + tell from a versatile collective of design thinkers. In addition to six keynote speakers, the WeMake conference featured a Maker Panel, a musical performance by the one-man rock band, Rentz Leinbach, and product demos from Patrick Triato of Goodwell, and Ian Coyle of Huge-King Coyle.

In case you missed out, here’s a recap of the day!


The Maker panel, which consisted of Host April Baer of State of Wonder, Ben Klebba (of Phloem Studio), Betsy Cross (Of Betsy & Iya), Lisa Jones (of Pigeon Toe Ceramics), and Sam Huff (of Tanner Goods)

OMFGCO (The Official Manufacturing Company)

Jeremy Pelley and Fritz Mesenbrink of The Official Manufacturing Company opened the show by offering insight into “How to Make an OMFGCO.”  With their agency based in Portland, these guys have worked with top clients like Ace Hotel, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Beam & Anchor, Google, and Portland Meadows. The legalization of marijuana in Oregon inspired OMFGCO to debut The Quill —  a recyclable vaporizer pen filled with pure CO2 marijuana extract. The audience got an exciting insider look into the design process and final packaging and branding of this cool new product.




Veronica Corzo-Duchardt

Cuban-American artist, designer, and printmaker Veronica Corzo-Duchardt was the next keynote speaker of the conference. She runs Winterbureau, a Chicago-based design studio that creates work in the arts, publishing, and wine industry. Her personal work focuses on unarchiving the memories and stories behind physical objects. Her project “The Neche Collection” was directly inspired by her grandfather who was a Cuban exile of Lebanese descent, an accountant, and collector of things. The Neche Collection, which ran for several months, documented a total of 149 possessions of her grandfather and 29 screen prints that were inspired by these objects. Learn more about the Neche Collection here.





Timothy Goodman

After a break for lunch, Timothy Goodman —  Sharpie illustrator, designer, and New York City art director, took the stage. Goodman has gained attention for his personal projects “Instatherapy” and “Memories of a Girl I Never Knew,” both of which are handlettered series that deal with vulnerability and putting his thoughts out into the public via Instagram. Another personal project called 40 Days of Dating (done in partnership with close friend and NYC-based art director, Jessica Walsh) has gained millions of followers online; it became a book, and recently sold film rights to Warner Bros.


Spread from the Timothy Goodman’s instructional book, “Sharpie Art Workshop”

Leah Noble Davidson

This Portland-based design researcher, author, and poet is known for her bestseller, “Poetic Scientifica,” a book that scientifically analyzes written language and gives readers a new perspective on poetry. During her keynote, Leah Noble Davidson recited one of her personal poems, incorporating experiential interaction with the audience as she did so. As a storyteller, she emphasizes the importance of perception when it comes to design. “There’s what I’m saying and there’s what you see.”



Paul Octavious

Paul Octavious is a designer and photographer based out of Chicago. He spoke of the emergence of Instagram and its importance in helping him gain exposure and kickstart his career as a photographer. Heartstrings got tugged as Octavious shared never-before-seen images of his Grandpa Jed (who has since passed). His grandfather, under his care while dealing with Alzheimer’s, helped Octavious hone his photography skills as the subject of many of his photos. Among his many clients are the Academy Awards, Nike, The New York Times Magazine, and Wired.


Paul Octavious’ water droplets photo taken with the iPhone 6 appeared on billboards in LA and Tokyo.

Gemma O’Brien

Last but certainly not least, was Australian typographer, letterer, and illustrator, Gemma O’Brien, otherwise known on social media as MrsEaves. She studied design at the School of Fine Arts in Sydney, Australia and has worked as an art director for Animal Logic, Fuel VFX, and Toby and Pete. Among her American clients are Volcom, Adobe, The New York Times, and Smirnoff. She stole the show as she displayed her whimsical, pun-filled series of illustrations on airplane spewbags. The next time you are flying, O’Brien invites you to think of your best pun and illustrate on your spewbag. Make sure to leave it in the seat for the next unsuspecting passenger and post pictures on your social feeds! #spewbagchallenge



Featuring a wealth of talent that spanned locally, nationally and even internationally, the conference made for a uniquely insightful day. We listened. They inspired.

Check out more of what’s going on at WeMake.

By Monica Mo
Published March 3, 2016
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