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Inspired by Portland’s Green Space

Written by in #ClassicNeenah

Assume a Summer Day:
Portland’s Beauty Inspires Designer

Emily Brown, pictured above with husband Scott,  shows us that with the inspiration of the great outdoors, creative thinking, and the right paper, an artisanal technique can be replicated on a broad scale. In the Future Classic promotion, Brown invites us all to celebrate the summer solstice.

What inspired you to use this particular scene to represent Portland?
One of my favorite attributes of Portland is the city’s connection to green space. We have so many amazing parks and gardens. Forest Park is acres upon acres of forest and trails right at the edge of the city. I believe it’s even the largest naturally forested urban park in the U.S. Portland’s proximity to amazing hiking definitely inspires my love for this place, but even if I can’t make it to Mount Hood or the Columbia River Gorge, Forest Park is right here.

Forest Park

Describe the process of creating this piece. How did you approach the concept phase?

When trying to come up with a concept, I visited and photographed my current favorite places in Portland, and I knew it would be outdoors. When people think of Portland, they think rain, [but] truth be told, though we get a lot of rain, people here spend a ton of time outside. Hand-cut paper is my usual medium, and I love showing off the meticulousness and delicacy of it by layering it in shadow boxes. With this piece, I was able to make something in that style without the shadow box.


Shadowbox doodles

Did you learn anything new along the way, about working with paper or about your chosen technique?

I have been cutting paper for about 10 years, and I have become comfortable with a specific type and weight of paper. This forced me to cut paper of different weights; with paper cutting, when you change your paper, you have to alter your technique. This was a great exercise in learning to adapt my technique.

Hand-cut draft in process

Describe your favorite space in Portland for us — what do you love about it, and what do you do there?

Forest Park is my hiking place when I can’t get out of the city, and the place I walk when I feel like I’m in a rut and need some inspiration. It’s even a great place to feel a little better about humanity. People on the street tend to keep their eyes down, whereas people you pass on a trail will usually say hello (an observation my mother-in-law made while visiting.) Broadway Bridge – is only one of the many beautiful structures connecting the east and west sides of Portland and offers a beautiful view of the other bridges and the city.


Broadway Bridge

Aside from the beautiful forest spaces, what are some of the “hidden gems” you’ve encountered Portland?

This is a tricky one — we have great parks, gardens, restaurants, etc, but I feel like it would be difficult to keep any gem hidden in this city. I feel like I am just one of many in the sizable population who loves to explore.

Give us your ideal “24 hours in Portland” itinerary.

Let’s assume this is a late spring or summer day. I love coffee and so does Portland, so I would start my day by walking over to Barista for what is, in my opinion, a consistently great latte. Then, assuming this is the weekend, I would head down to the riverfront to check out the local art, music, street performers, and handmade goods at the Saturday Market. After sharing a vegan elephant ear while watching some breakdancers or a knife-juggler, I would head to the other side of the river to check out my favorite gallery, Land, and grab some vegan BBQ at Homegrown Smoker, my favorite vegan food cart. In the afternoon, I would head over to Sauvie Island for some blueberry and vegetable picking. I’d likely end the day with a backyard BBQ with friends. Seriously, people here love being outside — that skit from Portlandia, when people keep flocking to the one sunny spot in the city with their lawn chairs, may not be much of an exaggeration.

Sauvie Island

Describe the creative scene in your city. What do you like about it? What would you change, if you could?

Portland is a very DIY community. Almost everyone will try anything at least once, and it really feels like everyone is creating something — art, music, stories, ‘zines, food, beer. Everyone seems to be an artist in their own right, and I think that is generally true about those who apply themselves to something they are passionate about. And most of the time, it’s a hugely inspirational atmosphere. I suppose the only thing I would change is the shared instinct to say “I could make that.” I’ve heard it personally, I’ve heard it said in front of other artists, and I’m sure I’m guilty of uttering the words at the wrong time myself. Sometimes it’s great to just appreciate another person’s work without letting them know you think you could replicate it.

Lead Photo Credit
Emily Brown and husband Scott.
twitter: @birdmafia
instagram: @birdmafia


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