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Kate Bingaman-Burt
Kate Bingaman-Burt

FEARLESS IMAGINATION

Every picture tells her story

While still in school, professor Kate Bingaman-Burt started tracking consumption by photographing everything she purchased. After graduation, that awareness led her to hold herself accountable for her spending by drawing her credit card statements.

"I picked drawing because I didn't feel comfortable with it," says Bingaman-Burt, now a graphic design professor at Portland State. "Debt was crazy for me and drawing was punishment."

Or so she thought. She found she enjoyed the repetitive nature of drawing and shifted her consumption tracking to daily drawings of items she bought. As it turned out she was a skilled illustrator with a distinct style that caught the eye of Target, Baby Gap, Real Simple MagazineThe New York Times and additional companies that hired her for national advertising campaigns.

Bingaman-Burt says her consumption research and illustration work feed her teaching. She recruits students to work on illustration projects that push them creatively and allow them to navigate the design landscape.

"I share a lot of work I do to bring those experiences to the classroom," she says. "I try to be an active maker and an active educator."

Three illustrated books about personal consumption and a TED Talk later, Bingaman-Burt encourages her students to push themselves like she did to pursue interests.

"Whenever some opportunity presents itself and makes me nervous, I tend to take it," Bingaman-Burt says. "Being open to those experiences has led to some really fun stuff."

In April 2017, Bingaman-Burt opened Outlet, a studio located at 2500 NE Sandy Blvd. that features workshops, pop-up events, an extensive zine library. The studio also gives artists access to two Risograph machines. 

Read more Fearless stories.