MEET #1935 AARON RAYBURN
Art Director • Portland, OR
WNW Member #1935 Aaron Rayburn is a Portland-based designer & art director. Previously at Wieden+Kennedy and Nike, Aaron now runs a practice based on cultural research, design direction, branding and environmental design. Aaron spoke to WNW about all of the most inspiring hideaways in Oregon & beyond that spark his creativity. In his own words, "I like the hidden corners of my home state, home town, and the internet."
1. How long have you been freelancing?
Just over 3 years. Wow that makes me old. Sorry ADC Young Guns, you can't touch this.
2. Is there a time or place that you feel most creative/have the best ideas?
Directly after drinking a sugar-filled cup of coffee, I get pretty emotional and think up the biggest, most terrible ideas that will have no impact on humanity, or the cosmos, in any manner. If I sit at my desk, however, and watch a few YouTube videos and play a little Janet Jackson, I can usually come up with something.
As for specific places though, for me, our supercluster of galaxies called Laniakea is a pretty inspiring spot. I like to think on scale for a bit before engaging in the act of work. It helps me get out of my own head, which is mostly full of confetti and rhinestones.
There's this place up the mountain from Portland called Top Spur, a pretty short hike for the reward of watching our sun cast colors across the NW face of a peak called Wy'East - it's my personal inspiration spot. Full-on majesty/wonder/cosmic love/full spectrum sparkle.
3. What's your ideal Working:Not Working ratio?
I always have to have something cooking. That being said, I find my humanity in being able to offer it to others. That means I can't over-work for anyone for very long.
My most productive self is one that is fully engaged in the context of my homeland. For an Oregonian that means standing in a cold ocean, having dirty feet from mountain caves, and fresh sage from the desert, every month or so.
I've tried to do otherwise, to work like a busy little bee, and guess what, all I end up doing is stinging the shit out of everyone. Bees are cute though! Just not my jam. I think I'm more of an orca. This little orca is in the studio 6-7 days a week.
4. Do your parents understand what you do?
I feel like this is a question for a killer.
Yes, they understand, it took a while to get past the "you make business cards?" phase. But now we are here, and we're all better for it.
But to be honest, I don't really understand what they do all day either. I think they have meetings? Pretty sure they have meetings.
5. What scene from a movie makes you laugh just thinking about it?
Are you into Disney? OK great, in Emperor's New Groove, Yzma plots to kill emperor Kuzco in her secret lab with her henchman, Kronk.
She goes on this evil death plot monologue, which I can fully recite in character. It kills me. EVERY TIME. After this fully complex plan she just says "or to save on postage, I'll just poison him."
Amazing. Eartha Kitt. Double amazing.
6. If you were stranded on a desert island, with your computer, what 3 websites would you take with you?
Obviously WNW, because I'd need to update my AVAILABLE SOON status as soon as I got stranded.
Netflix. I need my travel documentaries and science series (let's be honest Disney films).
Desertislandsingles.com. Everybody needs some lovin.
7. What do you do when Not Working?
I have installed a clear plastic bird feeder on my studio window. So I look at birds.
Beyond the studio setting, I am a mental traveller, and a corner finder. I like the hidden corners of my home state, home town, and the internet. Weird, unmarked exits off the freeway are my favorite sort. Hiking and gasping at waterfalls is pretty much my entire summer routine, winter is for the Oregon coast and giggling for long hours on the misty, cold, lonely beaches. You've got to come to the Oregon coast in winter, it's dream-town.
8. Do you have a hidden talent?
I can play the didjeridoo and circular breathe.
9. Any tips or advice for fellow freelancers?
Yes! Find out whom you can trust, and trust them.
Engage with your community every day.
Build strong and long-lasting relationships.
Don't freak out. Ever. You are a professional.
Get told you are too expensive, otherwise you are not asking for enough.
Realize that nothing helps you enjoy a balanced life, like a period of unbalance.
Take notes during movies.
Don't wait to be inspired.
Take on more work than you think you can handle.
Wake up early.
10. What's your favorite thing on the internet this week?
I've been watching a lot of Fiddler on the Roof. My father used to play Tevye in college, so it's like watching a time warp made of joy.
Tradition! - for the love of your entire community. The bakers, the daughters, the fathers, the everyone.
Wedding! - for the exceptional moments of joy we can experience as homo sapiens.
This is wonderfully nourishing stuff for me.