OUR FRIEND: Adam Garcia has done it all. With an impressive resume to back it, one might call him a connoisseur of street culture and design. Although you may find him sketching at his studio in the Pearl District known as The Pressure, where he works as creative director, designer and illustrator, Garcia is actually a Minneapolis native. His path to Portland has been paved with creative endeavors spanning across the East to the West Coast. His early marks were made while attending Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Garcia was heavily involved in the Twin Cities independent music scene as a dancer, rapper, promoter, designer and supporter. Upon graduation, Garcia spent some time working with Philadelphia agency 160over90, before assuming the role of Art Director at Rhymesayers. In 2009, Garcia made the move to Oregon after being tapped by Nike to work as a designer in Nike Sportswear and Nike Global Brand Design. Over the course of his journey, Garcia has been both influencer and "influencee." A duality that allowed for producing unique and impactful bits of work that served to solidify his presence in the design world. Now based in our backyard, Garcia spends his time creating compelling work through his studio The Pressure, and doing his part to nurture the soil on which that studio was built. He and his team focus heavily on collaboration, community, and creative exploration. By immersing himself completely within the culture, Garcia has been able to provide clients with a unique take on their projects and brands. A combination of youthful excitability and refined artistic sensibility, he is making an impact that is hard to miss.
As an homage to his dancing roots back in the Twin Cities, Garcia has collaborated with Portland-based dance company 11: Dance Co to create an event that reflects those same characteristics. Taking place at the White Owl Social Club this Saturday (August 8th), LOOSE will provide a new kind of conceptual party experience. Stunning original visuals, produced and shot here at SERVICE, will be projected and manipulated live, all with a singular goal in mind - to get the people “loose”.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the man himself to talk about the road that led him to us, some of his influences, and how LOOSE went from concept to club night.
What’s your story? How did you get into creative direction/graphic design?
I'm originally from Minnesota, and my background is primarily within the Twin Cities hip-hop scene. Much of my life was spent dedicated to popping (a funk styles dance form) and traveling touring with crews to perform and compete. That energy transformed into a love for graf and rap and all things creative in the culture. I rapped for a few years, put some albums out, and the whole time threw shows in Minneapolis to support and collaborate with the scene. I worked at Rhymesayers as Art Director for a while in the mid-2000s, and we still work closely with them on their Soundset music festival every year. After working at an agency in Philly for a few years, I was recruited by Nike and moved to Portland. After being there for a while, I left to start my own thing. Graphic design and illustration kind of naturally fell out of a need for communication around events, and with a love for games and comic books as a kid, it all synthesized into the "graphic design" direction. Now, I use design as a filter / structure by which to not only run The Pressure, but go full circle and collaborate, create and make in any way that I can.
What would you say influences you and your design work?
The foundation of my design work was working with musicians and other artists to create visual identities and help them out, but I've always drawn and performed, and I see all of these things kind of coalescing recently. My influences are really from the people that are around me that are creative. Of course, I'm a fan of inspiration in any medium, and lately I've been looking to film production design in Science Fiction and Fantasy as a way to tell stories and create immersive experiences.
What motivates you? How do you stay inspired?
This doesn't turn off. I shut down physically and emotionally went not in the midst of creative process or a particular project. It's a constant absorption. Sorry if that sounds dumb. 'Tis true. On the other hand, I have employees, clients and run a small design studio, so there is that, and that is quite motivating as well. My friend Onry Ozzborn, a rapper from the group Grayskul and Dark Time Sunshine, has a line that I love. He says "All aboard. All of you bored. I was, too, until I found out what I'm for and what I'm not for." That really struck me. I feel like I know what I'm for, and it's to create and facilitate creativity in any way.
How do you see Portland evolving in the next few years? Specifically within the creative community
I love just the small transformation that I've seen here in the last half-decade that I've lived here. Much of it is about creating platforms for people to just be together and be themselves. I think that Portland is in a place where it is challenging itself, and this is good. I think that a bit of discomfort, and challenge going to make the city richer.
How did the LOOSE event come about?
A few reasons. One was we just wanted to throw a party. We also wanted to have said party be an extension of the studio's point-of-view around experiences, and just creating something that would be super fun if you wanted to go while out, but also visually arresting and incredibly memorable if you wanted to sit back and watch. And being a dancer myself, I know that sometimes it's hard to get Portland to get loose. This event is a conceptual approach to that idea. I reached out to Huy Pham of 11: Dance Co and asked if we could film some of the dancers and 11:, and they said yes. Service let us shoot in their space, which was amazing. And our close collaborator Ryan J Bush came on board to direct the video shoot, and Chad Ponticas of ThoughtCloud will be doing live manipulation of the footage. And everyone was just so excited about the concept. To me it's such a pure manifestation of expression, and unlike working on month-long projects like we often do with our client-based work, this is instant gratification via said expression. We'll see how it goes, fingers crossed.