My version of the PTA.

It’s been a busy spring picking up projects here and there. Many creatives go through projects that help pay the bills and fill up extra bandwidth with personal projects (that don’t pay much or at all). I try to work on projects that have a significant personal connection to keep me engaged. It helps me do better work if I'm interested in.

The two projects that I recently worked on tie closely to local public schools. I am of the opinion that schools and students flourish with a large amount of volunteer help from parents and teachers. It’s an easy way to watch over the kids and to help mentor a lucky few who are open. One project was for a school art auction and the other was designing materials for an old high-school classmate to help tell his own personal story.

Project 1:
I was delighted to help and co-create an art lightbox and set of limited edition posters (pictured above) for the neighborhood school. Both items were auctioned off with 45 other class art pieces to raise capital funds for the local school. The art project leads and I teamed up with a 4th grade class to create our works of art. We used student's hands to created a heart shape. Then they were photographed in front of brightly colored construction paper and collaged together.

The resulting image was then placed in a donated black shadow box with a custom built back-lit LED light setup. It had been a while since I picked up a soldering gun but it was great practice to put together the LED lights.

I asked two talented friends to help collaborate. Aaron Lee Photography photographed the colorful images of the 4th graders. Walker Calhall hand silkscreened 50 beautiful, full-color posters.

Both elements turned out nice and showed the charm of each of their respective mediums. A big thank you goes out to all the students that participated and the parents who donated their time.

Project 2:
I reconnected with an old classmate from high school, Mitchell Jackson. We partnered up in designing and producing promotional materials for his novel, The Residue Years.

Mitchell grew up in Northeast Portland, went to Benson Tech for a few years (where we had met), then transferred to Jefferson High. Later he got a scholarship to go to Portland State University on scholarship. After his sophomore year at PSU, Mitch served over a year in prison for drug possession. He started to work on his first novel while doing his time in prison. Eventually, he ended up earning an MA in writing from PSU and an MFA from New York University where he now teaches creative writing.

I’ve been helping him work on various promotional projects and designed art for his Literary Arts presentation, held at the Schnitzer Concert Hall. I was happy to support him in his talk to engage readers and inspire new writers.

These two projects helped me get out of the usual routine and reconnect with the community. But more importantly they reminded me to pay it forward in my own small way. I do love these projects and would like to get more of them. These community oriented projects help creatively influence the paying projects.