A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Melissa Delzio, a fellow freelancer, creative adventurer, and serving as the Design for Good Chair on the Board of Directors for AIGA Portland. Her client list (Coke! Nike! Fox!) and portfolio are impressive to say the least, and I’m quickly becoming her design groupie. (Nerd alert!)

Turns out, she’s working on a very cool side project in its second volume titled Our Portland Story, and she wanted me to design a spread for it. What is Our Portland Story? As she puts it:

“Our Portland Story is part coffee-table book, part yearbook, and part insider’s travel guide, but is all about Portland by Portlanders. Our Portland Story (OPS) sought submissions of text and images from Portlanders of all walks of life that together capture many different aspects of the city at this place in time. With this project, we seek to create a greater sense of community identity and pride in Portland and capture the spirit of the city. The final book will be a cross section of community views and values told through personal stories and images. A side goal of the OPS project is to encourage creativity and promote Portland designers.”

Though chronically buried in current work, side projects and my own creative endeavors, what’s one more to tack on the list? I emphatically agreed to participate in the project, upon which she sent me my story. And, oh boy. It was a doosey.

Who here has heard of Claire Phillips? Or her other name, High Pockets? Yeah. Me neither. And it’s a shame, because her story is nothing short of jaw-dropping. A brief synopsis from the the author, Sig Unander:

“Imagine you’re a civilian from Portland living in Manila during the Japanese occupation in World War II. You’re posing as a Filipina of Italian descent, running a classy nightclub where you work as a singer/hostess. Every night you entertain senior Japanese military officers who, if they suspected you were American, would have you arrested and tortured. You get them liquored up, tease out their military secrets with a bit of coquettish flattery, and send the intelligence to General MacArthur’s headquarters in Australia. All goes well until a slip-up reveals your true identity…”

Taking visual cues from the time period, the provided photo and the story, my concept quickly evolved into a 1940s, WWII-esque adventure movie poster, complete with retro typography and treatments to the text and images to make the composition appear aged.

Our Portland Story: Claire Phillips


I can’t begin to explain how soul-fulfilling this was to design, and further illustrates the value of side projects and their ability to renew your sense of creativity.

I can’t wait to see this puppy in print, be featured on the website, and go to the launch party! There’s so much talent in this city, I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.

Natalie McGuire
Natalie McGuire is a Web Designer + Digital Strategist for purpose-driven solopreneurs because she believes the world is a prettier place when people make money doing what they love. Want to make more money with your website? Get my FREE 3-Day DIY Websites That Sell Mini-Course!

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