regional roundup

regional roundup: portland, maine [part 3 of 3]

by anne

with two regional roundup features under my belt now, i can honestly say i freak out a bit at the start because i don’t know what i’m going to get. but each (first iceland, now portland) has magically come together through the kindness, guidance and energy of the amazing designers i encounter in the process. the portland designers have wowed me with their collaborations, creative use of materials, the influence of natural elements and their ability to thrive as creative couples in several cases. i hope you’ve enjoyed being transported to portland as much as i have (in case you missed them, parts 1 & 2 are here and here). there’s one more special portland tribute coming up at 2pm, so stay tuned. as for the next roundup, you’ll just have to wait and see . . . [thanks again to all 15 designers who participated!]anne

click here for the full post or just click “read more” below

{photo by ron harrity. . . read his feature after the jump}


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am from Michigan originally and now I live in Portland, Maine.

2. Describe your work:
My work is simple, understated and calm. I adore the natural world and images that border on fantasy (as if you could actually float around in the clouds). Everything I do rotates based on what I am feeling or inspired by at the time.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I live on the ocean and that plays a huge part in my inspiration. My world is full of tactile pleasures and I try my best to bring those representations to the paper products I work on. I am very excited when I see artists merging several techniques such as applying their illustrations to fabric or the like. Right now I am enjoying layering, richness of color and seasonal imagery.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
I love to go to the beach, of course, but I also just go out to eat a lot or go to our farmer’s market. Sometimes, for inspiration, I crave silence so that is where the woods or ocean come into play. And sometimes I yearn to be around people and have good conversations or just be around noise and that is where finding a nice spot to eat/drink comes in. It’s a combination for me.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
There is a lot of art going on here in Portland and with every year I am here, I see the arts events growing. I think the “scene” is open and interesting; there is something for every type of art-lover and there are lots of opportunities to get involved.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
In Portland I like to go to the open, empty beaches that we have in the wintertime. If you mean travel, lately I have been craving a trip to France; Paris in particular. But I am really open to travel … every time I see new places and meet new people I learn something; that is important to me.

{images: co-curator of lines & shapes (w/ lena corwin), 3191: A Year of Mornings (w/ stephanie congdon) (due out fall 2008), the card society, limited edition cards, photographs & drawings project (w/ elizabeth dunker)

For more about Maria check out Port2Port, 3191 blog, mav on flickr, lines and shapes.

Strong Arm Bindery

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I grew up on the South Shore of Boston, and now I live in the West End of Portland, Maine. There were pit stops in Cambridge, Oxford and Chicago.

2. Describe your work
The books I make at Strong Arm Bindery are based on traditional Western binding methods and materials, and I take a lot of cues from the production work that was coming out of 19th Century stationery binders. I’m making durable goods for daily use and it’s all handwork—from sewing the text block to setting the type that will print the covers. I put a lot of effort into the utility and durability of the books, but like my 19th C counterparts, I also incorporate printed images, decorative elements and lovely papers solely for the delight of the person who uses the book every day.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

Portland has a lot of tangible history and it was booming in the 1800s. You still see signs painted on brick walls for ‘stable goods’ and ‘crockery’, and a lot of us either live or work in buildings that are at least 100 years old. Given my fondness for production bindery work from the 1800s, Portland provides a very reassuring environment – it lets me believe there’s still some relevance and need for the production of quality stationery and printed matter.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
I get a good dose of inspiration from the two-mile walk between my apartment in the West End of town and my studio in the East End. It cuts a wonderful path through a couple neighborhoods, past a school, some gardens, through downtown and along the waterfront. It’s the best way in the world to clear my head, organize my thoughts and see what everyone else is up to while I’m at it.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?

Very busy at work. And very generous.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Anywhere I could see the Northern Lights.

{images: hand-sewn/bound books, lily notebooks, scull & hook book, rat bastards book

For more on Martha click here or check out her etsy site.

Henry Wolyniec

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m originally from NYC. I made the move north to Portland about 14 years ago.

2. Describe your work
I’ve always been a collage artist, no matter what the medium. For the past 8 years I’ve been working almost exclusively with paper.
Working with eccentric geometric-ish shapes and dots, I cut, paste, overlay, manipulate, print, and enhance the work to a point of balance and beauty.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I’ve always been more influenced by the history of art than by contemporary artists or my location. This probably makes me old school, but in fact I’ve always found my work to share a commonality with what’s happening in todays art world.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
The Maine coast is all about access to the water. That complex, serene, honest landscape does wonders for the cleansing of the artistic ego.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
Portland is emerging as a city that attracts designers and the people who appreciate them.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I would clone myself for each of the following locale:
Venice, Patagonia, NYC, anywhere in Scotland, Montreal, Sienna, New Zealand, Portland, Maine. We would all meet back up, re-congeal and make art.

For more of Henry’s work click here.


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in California, and I moved to Vermont when I was 9 years old. I recently moved to Rangeley, (located in the Northwestern mountains of Maine) with my squeeze Justin Richel, and our kitty boy Theodore. Prior to our move to the country, I happily lived in the “big city” of Portland, Maine for 15 years.

2. Describe your work.
I am an interdisciplinary artist in search of connections among geography, anatomy, and botany. I combine the visual elements of maps, anatomical illustrations, and natural forms to explore themes of travel, healing, and time.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

Portland is filled with all sorts of vibrant creative characters, so you can’t help but be inspired by the unique people who live and work there. Their creative energy is flourishing and contagious, and it seems as though more and more artists are becoming unwaveringly committed to their work, which is hugely inspiring! . . . When it comes to the surrounding beauty of nature, the inspiring colors, patterns, and the tranquility here in Maine, it is undoubtedly a huge influence on my work!

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
When I was restless, I would take a long walk, or ride my bike exploring some new corner of the city. Inevitably, this led me to the beach, where I’d lay amid the rocks and watch the clouds float by. . . When I needed a quiet or secluded place to get away to, I would spend an afternoon in The Wadsworth-Longfellow House garden, or long hours in the library with a stack of reference books at my fingertips. . . These days, I’m wrestling Alders in our “soon to be” garden, and walking meandering paths through the woods; patiently waiting for the blueberries to arrive.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
It’s growing so fast, and there are so many uniquely talented artist, designers, craftspeople, and musicians. It’s a thriving, and supportive community! (Even though I love my new home, I won’t hesitate to say… “Sometimes, I sure do miss Portland”. xo)

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Iceland, Nova Scotia, Alaska, Hawaii, and New Zealand

{images: [madagasgar] hands map collage, anatomy map collage, embroidered [heart] map collage, radiolorians}

For more on Shannon click here and check out her flickr page too.

ferdinand & peapod recordings

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
RH: Born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up in Kansas City, KS, and now live in South Portland, ME with Diane.
DT: Originally from Oakland, CA, and now live in South Portland, ME with Ron.

2. Describe your work
RH: I’m a graphic designer for Angela Adams, and run an indie record label called peapod recordings. Also a guitar player for the band Honey Clouds, and an amateur photographer.
DT: I run a shop called ferdinand, which is a vehicle for things I make and things I like — constantly evolving. Lately I’ve been making tons of letterpress & screenprinted cards, and barrettes made from feathers.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

RH: The quality of life is very good in Maine, clean air, beautiful landscape and very supportive communities. This makes it easy to create work and pursue new endeavors. The design community is getting more & more interesting in Portland, and while there has always been great music here, the number of amazing bands seems to be growing exponentially in the past couple of years.
DT: Portland is fresh and clean, living is easy. Even with the harsh, long winters I feel incredibly productive here.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?

RH: We lived near the eastern promenade when we first moved to town, and I loved being out there in all seasons. I still go there basically every saturday morning for breakfast, listen to npr and watch the ocean.
DT: I love to visit the woodchucks at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth. Power meetings with various girlfriends. Also flea marketing in the summer, and seeing live music whenever we can.
RH: I also love those woodchucks.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?

RH: One thing I was struck by when moving to Maine was how many people were working on incredible projects in a quiet & modest manner. Another thing I love about creative types in Maine is that they tend to have their hands in lots of different mediums & projects. Our friend Martha Kearsley has a book binding studio in the East End, but also does screenprinting & letterpress printing. David Wolfe, probably the most well known letterpress printmaker in town, is also an amazing photographer.
DT: My world tends to be more crafty than design-oriented. There seems to be a lot of Portlanders who do printmaking, jewelry making, sewing, selling all kinds of things on etsy. I do see a lot of great looking fliers for rock shows & dance parties. Plus the first friday artwalks are always a zoo. I guess that kind of stuff goes on all over the place, but here it seems like a lot considering what a small town Portland is.


6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?

RH: Uncharted areas of the ocean floor. Or wherever it is the Teletubbies live.
DT: Bigger city or a tiny village. After a long winter I just want to be outside.

{images: girl and giraffe card, album covers designed by ron (letterpressed by diane), ron’s photos, apollo lady card, i’m in love with you card, drumming squirrel tee}

For more of Diane’s work click here or visit her etsy shop.
For Ron’s work click here. (and listen to a couple of his favorite recordings, here and here)

Suggested For You


  • as a mainer who came back home after years of moving around for work and play, i’m delighted you chose to delve a little into my too-often-ignored-but-no-less-worthy-of-admiration home state…we’re up to some good, good things here.

  • I was wondering when Diane Toepfer was going to show up in the round-up – I love Ferdinand! I bought my favorite t-shirt ever there and make a point to stop in whenever i make the visit from out of state!

  • I moved to Maine in 1993, after living much of my life in NJ. I absolutely love this state, the quality of living is the best. Portland is a charmer. There is always something interesting going on and the art scene is great. Thanks for showcasing two of Maine’s very talented artists: In this issue, Shannon Rankin, and in the Portland part 2 issue, Justin Richel. Two very talented and beautiful people.

  • it is inspiring and comforting to see both friends of mine and family in this amazing round-up of local talent in my sweet city. thankyou for being role models for us fellow creative types!

  • thanks for the great interviews with Portland artists! I went to school here, and definitely miss the area (and Ferdinand!). David Wolfe is great as well. If you get the chance, you should take a peek in his studio and interview him.

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