Back in 2010, I got my very first design job at Eat Well Drink Better, a group of bars in Chicago. I was just a college kid making art with no design experience, but after a night of drinking together in one of their bars, I got the job. I made flyers and posters for various specials and events at three bars - The Grand Central, Angels & Mariachis, and The Bar Celona.
I couldn't have done it without the help of their Director of Marketing and Promotions, Scotty Gorham. He was the first person in my career to give me a chance and believe in me. I have learned a lot on the job, but none more than with him. Both he and that first job always hold a special place in my heart. It was one of the funnest jobs I've had and really team-focused. I loved working so closely with the other people there in our little office above the bar, and I especially loved all the 'team building' that took place when we'd go out together after work and get free drinks and stay way past closing time.
Scotty and I have kept in touch over the past 6 years as we have both zigzagged back and forth across the country. After that job, I went back to New York to finish up my undergraduate degree at NYU. I then moved back to Chicago and eventually Portland, bringing my creative mind with me every step of the way. Scotty has a fine art background just like me, and in the past few years he found his way back to that. He also went back to school, ultimately receiving an MFA in Spacial Art and Digital Media Art from San Jose State University.
Nowadays, Scotty is traveling around the country making art. His main focus is neon, showcasing minimal shapes and clean lines. He finds industrial spaces, cleans them out, and highlights them with neon. He also recently traveled to Scotland to juxtapose his neon with a more natural (or questionably natural?) setting, the Callanish Stones.
I am happy to be here for every installation and piece from Scotty. And happy to always offer my thoughts and critiques - and there have been a lot. As a serial website tinkerer, Scotty is always texting me in the middle of the night asking for my opinion on another part of his site or another piece. It feels so comfortable, though, to be back in an art setting. I really enjoy delving deeper into his work and hearing all his thoughts behind it. It reminds me of art history classes, where you learn about the artist and his or her whole body of work, how each part informs the others. Its even more exciting to be experiencing that as the artist and work are progressing. That backstory and conversation are something you don't usually get when you go to galleries or museums. Makes me want to just give up everything and be a professional art critic sometimes (Clement Greenberg, lets go back in time and be friends? Okay.)
I have been employing my design skills to make show cards for Scotty. Lucky for him, those skills have greatly improved since 2010. He is currently finishing up a 6 month residency in Navasota, TX, and I just made the card for his big last show there. Its coming up in just a few days as part of Navasota's Texas Birthday Bash. In an old building on Railroad Street, it is appropriately titled 'Neon Railroad'. I wish I could be there to see it in person!
I also made the card for a previous show he had along with the two other Navasota Artists in Residence. I gave that one a more Texas-y feel with the font choice. It's been nice working together on design again, just like old times. I guess its true that you never forget your first (career-based) job. I'm so lucky to have a lasting friendship from mine.
Next up, Scotty is headed here to Portland this summer for a 'Bartender in Residence' program at Likewise. It is a bar that is also an art gallery/installation space, with the artist playing the role of the bartender. I'm looking forward to this neon drinking experience, again bringing us back to where we first met. Its funny how life goes.