Although she only took up residency in Portland, OR in 2009, graphic designer April Black is something of an unofficial ambassador for this northwestern city. In addition to creating identities for a number of Oregon businesses, she is also the creator of a series of posters and graphics dedicated to the landmarks and neighborhoods of her adopted city. We recently caught up with April at her home/studio with photographer Christiann Koepke. Check out all of the photos below + shop April’s prints on her website or at west elm Portland!
Please tell us a little about yourselves and your work.
I am April Black, owner of April Black [Co.] I am based in Portland, OR where I illustrate art prints and stationery. I grew up in Ohio before I relocated here in 2009. As an artistic goal, I started a Make Something Every Day Project in 2012 where I challenged myself to design a new graphic illustration every day of the year. This project began as a personal goal, and it ended up evolving into my brand of developing small paper goods.
I now live in a humble apartment where I practice my craft alongside my husband, two dogs, and cat.
What is it like being a maker in America right now?
Running my own business with little entrepreneurial experience has been challenging and rewarding. I have been figuring things out through trial and error; however, I am learning how to manage my time and delegate tasks in order to allow more time to create. I love that I work on my own time, and I feel fortunate to make my living through creating art.
Tell us about your studio space.
After four years of working in a shared creative space downtown, construction forced me out, and I started working from home. It has been an adjustment working in a smaller space and all the distractions of home, but I do enjoy spending my days working with my pup, Sophie, by my side.
My set up right now is pretty basic. I have a table that expands which comes in handy in the small space. I can work when I am just designing on the computer and then expand the table for packaging and production. I have my printers on a cart and a flat file which stores all my prints and paper.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I usually start out the day with a cup of coffee, checking emails, and making a list of things that I need to do before taking care of orders. Production and business can sometimes consume most of the day, so I began making a new project every day this year again to continue creating new designs and products. Taking a break in the middle of the day to take a yoga class or walk the dog also helps divide the day between business work and creative work.
Where do you seek inspiration?
A lot of my inspiration comes from what is around me—the city, nature, patterns, colors, and funny things I hear people say. I am also inspired by 1950s advertising illustration.
Why do you love Portland?
I have lived in Portland for about 7 years now. The city nurtures independent retailers and small business. Brick and Mortars, Street Fairs and great events like the Portland Night Market and Crafty Wonderland are just a few examples of ways to display and sell your goods. The community is also super supportive for shopping small and supporting local artists.
Portland is such an amazing city full of art, restaurants, coffee and bike commuting. And it is constantly changing and evolving. There is an abundance of nature and activities in the city limits and just outside of it. Oh, and I also don’t mind the rain.