At Scout Books, we pride ourselves on being one of the kinds of businesses Portland is known for: small, independent, fueled by big hearts, great coffee, and lots of ambition. When Travel Portland got in touch with us about doing a series of Scout Books to be used at their local and international tourism campaigns, we were thrilled to get the opportunity to represent some of the values of our hometown. We spoke with Holly Carman-Fujioka, marketing coordinator at Travel Portland, and Elena Cronin, the designer of the books, about collaborating to make this project a reality.
We’re excited that these notebooks could go in passport holders created by our friends just down the road at Spooltown. They source their leather from one of the last US-based tanneries, who provide them with vegetable tanned leather, which is healthier for people and the planet!
How are the new Travel Portland notebooks being used or shared?
Holly: These books were originally created for our international team but once people saw the designs, other departments wanted some as well.
We stuffed them into passport jackets that were produced for us by local sewing factory, Spooltown. Then they headed to a big international trade show where they were handed to hundreds of people from all over the world. Our ambassadors use them to explain that we are city of makers that produce beautiful – and useful – products like the one they are receiving.
Otherwise, they are used regularly for visitors – many tour operators – that are here to scout Portland in hopes that they will bring back folks on vacation, or in the case of Convention Services, large groups for meetings. International’s main markets are the UK, Amsterdam, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. You may have seen the recent stories about where the international visitors are coming from… well, those are the markets we’ve been working in!
Working with Elena on the designs for these was just a delight. She knows our brand enough that on projects like this I like to give her carte blanche. She continues to amaze us with every assignment!
Elena, can you tell us a bit about your illustration process? Do you start with analog tools, or go straight to the computer?
Elena: It really depends on the project. My background is in fine art so pencil and paper is definitely in my comfort zone, but if it’s easy for me to envision how I want it to look digitally I’ll just jump straight to the computer. Some projects combine both, like drawing on paper and then scanning the drawing and tracing it on the computer with a tablet.
A love of Portland really come through in your designs. What do you love about living here?
Elena: I love that quality is life is valued above all else here, including playtime and creativity. There are so many forms of play and fun for fun’s sake, and it really fuels the imagination and experimentation of the people living here. There are so many ways to tap into the creative and playful atmosphere of this city, and it’s genuinely prized and nurtured rather than being considered frivolous or at odds with more conventional values.
What is it like to work with Travel Portland on a project like this?
Elena: Travel Portland is the kind of client every illustrator hopes to get: one who hires you because they like your style and is happy to give you creative freedom to do what you love doing best. They always know exactly what they want, but they’re very open to letting me use whatever creative means I like in order to get there. Not only that, their graphic needs are always evolving so there’s always something new and different to tackle. I’ve meandered my way into more than one completely new (to me) illustrative styles just through pushing my work for them to different places. And perhaps most importantly: they are always a joy to work with and they know how to make a designer feel truly appreciated!
Did you find anything unique about designing with the Scout Books format?
Elena: Well, one thing that’s surprisingly challenging–but also part of the fun–is that the design parameters are wide open (at least in the case of this project with Travel Portland). I didn’t set out with specific starting point like “make a picture of Portland” or “design something using these colors.” The starting point was “What would be the coolest thing you can think of to put on a Scout Book?” Which is surprisingly hard! Just when you think you’ve come up with the coolest thing, you think of something different, and then something else completely different after that. You can choose to let the kraft paper of the cover play a starring role in the design, or you can choose to cover it up with artwork. You can go overstated or understated. You can go type-based or illustration-based. In the end I sent Travel Portland three completely different designs to choose from, all using the medium in pretty different ways, and they just decided to print all three!
Sincere thanks to Holly and Elena for speaking to us about creating these books! You can find more about Travel Portland on their website, and more about Elena, including inquiries on illustration work, via her portfolio website. We’re so excited to be a part of this campaign to help share what makes this city such an amazing place to live and work!
CMYK printing for Mount Hood book, standard gold, red, and blue on other styles
Kraft, gray, and black covers
Pink, red, and black staples