Part of an ongoing series highlighting the amazing people in the Portland creative community.

Kate Bingaman-Burt is an educator, illustrator, organizer of events and workshops, and the author of three books on obsessive consumption (Princeton Architectural Press). Among the various amazing things Kate has her hands in, she’s an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University. Her clothing mind meld tweet from Jennifer Armbrust’s talk last month caught our attention.

See Ashley Courter’s photos in all their glory on Flickr and check the interview below.


You were the very first presenter for CreativeMornings Portland three years ago. What are some things about your practice that have evolved in that time?

TIME ZOOMS. I gave the first CM talk in October of 2011. Amazing! A few change highlights since then.

MORE of everything, it seems. More drawing for myself and others, more speaking and workshop engagements, more planning and organizing events, more responsibilities and new roles at Portland State too.I think the area of my life that truly ramped up the most is planning and organizing experiences as well as taking on more leadership roles both in the community of Portland and at Portland State University. I am so happy to be on the board for Design Week Portland as well as the IPRC…these two organizations contain so much energy and do so much for the community and I am honored to be a part of them moving forward. This fall I step into my new role at Portland State as the Associate Director of the Art + Design School. The A+D School is in a STRONG upward momentum and stepping into this new position will be challenging and exciting. Personally, it’s one of the more nerve inducing things that I have said yes to in awhile, so I think this is a good thing. Looking forward to digging in and helping to continue to make good things happen!

You’ve talked about rule systems and automated structures within which you are held accountable for the work you continue making. What is one favorite (creative) rule or structure you’ve created for yourself?

Little things add up to a lot. The foundation of a lot of my rule structures is to develop a concept and then just do one simple and small thing that pushes that concept forward on the regular. Repetition combined with practicing in public is a powerful thing.


What’s the best advice you’ve received?

“Being bored is for boring people”. My grandma told me this. She also told me “More is More” (I don’t think these things are the greatest advice or even advice, but she said it, and it rattles around in my brain). She also was an elegant swearer and wore clashing patterns. So I have a tendency to trust people who swear well and wear loud clothing.

also: “Surrounding yourself with good people” is good too. I also like “Being kind is better than being nice.“ God, advice is weird. I am sorry that you had to read this.

My advice to you a few seconds ago would have been to skip reading question three.

And your favorite advice to give?

I probably tell my students that doing things that make you nervous is a really good thing. Saying yes to new experiences usually always leads to growth. Most of the stuff I tell my students I need to also tell myself. Over and over again. GIVE ME ALL OF THE ADVICE. Still looking for the answers. Always.


What are you obsessed with right now?

Today’s Obsessions: Scheduling software. Money. Haves and have-nots. Crafting the perfect email. Making sure people feel valued. Not getting bogged down by frustration because systems don’t work the way you think they should. Finding the perfect soft-serve cone. Effective meeting running strategies. The balance between young and old. Finding all of the The Smiths and REM on vinyl. Pens. Keeping my plants alive. Post-it notes. Making sure what I am saying makes sense outside of my body and not just in my head. Speaking up. Being Calm. Cool. Collected. but also energized. Making spaces and places. Finding the best notebook. Dogs.