It’s no lie: Be Honest Showcase celebrates design

On April 30, Portland State’s graphic design students will display their work at the seventh annual Be Honest Showcase, a combination of portfolio show, open house, alumni reunion, award ceremony and variety show.

“It’s our program’s prom,” said Kate Bingaman-Burt, the associate director of the School of Art and Design. “It’s a party.”

The event was started to give students an opportunity to share their work with one another and the public. It began as a small affair and has steadily grown since then. This year, 133 students will show their work to family, friends, alumni and working professionals in Portland. It’s also used as a recruiting tool, drawing local high school students.

Unlike most portfolio shows, this is not just for graduating seniors. Students of all levels will be displaying and discussing their work. Bingaman-Burt said this is very important to the faculty because they don’t want students waiting until their senior year to talk about their work.

“I’m a big believer in the more you talk about your work, the better you’re going to be about talking about your work. The less scary it’s going to be when you talk to people you don’t know,” Bingaman-Burt said. “It’s just a good habit to get into to share what you’re doing.”

For the third year in a row it will take place at Wieden + Kennedy, a Portland advertising agency, where it will occupy four full floors. The first three hours of the evening consist of students showcasing their work followed by local designer Adam Garcia hosting a variety show including other designers and a dance troupe.

The theme of the performance will revolve around what Bingaman-Burt calls “good nervous,” which is the way students feel when they’re preparing for an event like this and doing something they haven’t done before. “Students get nervous,” Bingaman-Burt said. “But it’s a good nervous.”

The showcase itself also has a theme: Best in Showcase. Hallie Walker is a senior in the graphic design program and one of the primary organizers. “It’s a real dog show themed event,” Walker said. “There’s going to be lots of ribbons and medals, lots of fun tongue in cheek dog puns.”

In addition, there will be a market called Good Market, a pop-up shop where students will sell work they’ve made, from prints and cards to t-shirts and buttons and other original artwork.

The event also strengthens the program’s relationship to working professionals in the community. “It’s events like this that really help lay the groundwork for that,” Bingaman-Burt said. “We do a lot of public, forward-facing community events that involve the creative community of Portland.”

Bingaman-Burt believes that holding the showcase off campus is also important because it allows students to see their work in a professional context. “By talking to people and showing their work in an inspiring agency setting, that makes it feel real and makes it feel even more special.”

Walker said it’s one of the best experiences to see what students at every level are producing.

“There’s such a high caliber of work coming out of our program and you don’t ever get to see it all in one spot until we get to this event,” Walker said. “It makes it so much easier to connect with your peers and connect with professionals and the rest of the community.”

Doors open at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.