Kate Bingaman-Burt lives in Portland, Oregon, and is a professor of graphic design in the Department of Art at Portland State University. She is also the author of a new book called Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today? which documents in ink drawings all the things she bought over a three-year period. Here we talk to Kate about her workspace and the joy of color.
First tell us about your workspace. I love making piles and I love surrounding myself with work from other people that I admire. My primary workspace is in the apartment that I share with my husband and dog. I take up a big section of our first floor with my drawing table and flat files. My workspace aesthetic is pretty eclectic, but mostly bright colors, found ephemera, and work from talented friends layered on top of each other. My personal aesthetic is one of excess and also of restraint. I like to make rules that I then follow to the extreme. I mostly draw in black pen, but my installations consist of bright colors, vintage fabric, and, well, piles!
Does anyone else use your home office? I am the sole user.
How do you organize the space? Not very well. My flat files give the illusion of being organized. The piles are colorful, but in the end, they are still piles.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? HUGE. White walls drive me insane. I make work that is BRIGHT, FUN, RIDICULOUS! My drawings are all black and white, but the rest is, well, over the top on purpose. I like using candy colors and hyperactive patterns to correlate to the craziness of consumerism. These are also pretty accessible to a lot of different viewers, too — kind of like consumerism. I am always exploring different color palettes; this decorative side of my work is really fun for me, since the other side is more concept based.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My hot pink stapler. My cups and cups filled with pens.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? I would love to replace the table top of my desk. It is just a piece of MDF covered with a sheet of dry-erase board. It is easy enough to replace…I just haven’t gotten around to it. I love the structure of my desk. I love sitting high, having a large surface area and a large space for storage underneath.
Is there anything you’d change about your space? I wish that I had a door. Living with your work has definite benefits, but I sometimes wish that I had a door to close. Eventually!
What or who inspires you? Big permission-givers to me have been: David Byrne, Tibor Kalman, M. Sasek, Saul Steinburg, Ray and Charles Eames, Joseph Beuys, Walls of Sound (Galaxie 500, Deerhunter — music that fills up and overwhelms and how to translate that into artwork), Fluxus, and Zine Culture to name a few. Also: yard sales, thrift stores, objects that look like a designer didn’t design them, and teaching my rad students.
What was the last thing you bought? An iced Americano from the cafe downstairs!
Photography by Anthony Georgis