Kirk Crippens’s photo-series "Portraitlandia" tries to capture "the most interesting, iconic Portlanders" he could find, like Rose City Strip Club’s Rachael Reckless.

"I was just going from interesting person to interesting person," Crippens says about the project. (Pictured here: Karen and Sister Krista von Borstel)

He wasn’t really thinking too much about similarities between real-life Portland icons and characters on the show. (Pictured: Skip Carroll).

But then a group of Portlanders who previewed his project insisted that he name the series Portraitlandia. (Pictured: Drummer Sam Henry).

He suggested it as the "worst title you can give a portrait series made in Portland." (Pictured: Mary Kozlov)

Says Crippens: "The body of work, as it turns out, ended up being a diverse and eclectic group of characters." (Pictured: Nik Sin)

"I think it connected with the show in a subtle way, because part of the power of the show is that they really appear to love Portland and enjoy all the silly joyfulness that Portland has." (Pictured: Jedediah Aaker)

After completing the project, Crippens noticed that in a single Portlandia episode, three "Portraitlandia" subjects appeared in bit parts. (Pictured: Fred and Toody)

"It was a strange moment of life meeting reality." (Pictured: The Prime Minister).

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2013-07-18

Co.Exist

"Portraitlandia": Photos Of Portland's Most Portland-y Residents

If Portlandia were a photo series, it would probably look something like Kirk Crippens’s "Portraitlandia," which features iconic Rose City residents in their natural habitats.

Sketch comedy show Portlandia is meant to be a caricature of the city it portrays, but sometimes, it’s more reality TV than satire, inserting real-life Portlanders amidst actors into a show that playfully makes fun of the stereotypes about inhabitants’ obsessions with food, bikes, and political correctness. Now some of those same subject-turned-actors become subjects once more in Bay Area photographer Kirk Crippens’s photo-series "Potraitlandia," created during a five-week photography fellowship in the Rose City.

Crippens says the aim was to capture some of "the most interesting, iconic Portlanders" he could find--everyone from former Mayor Sam Adams and tech entrepreneur and former fugitive John McAfee to a nun, a mechanic, and a beekeeper. A ginger-bearded bartender poses for a photo in a lion suit. A tattooed stripper relaxes on her couch.

"I was just going from interesting person to interesting person," Crippens says about the project. He wasn’t really thinking too much about similarities between real-life Portland icons and characters on the show--until a group of Portlanders who previewed his project insisted that he name the series "Portraitlandia," after he jokingly suggested it as the "worst title you can give a portrait series made in Portland."

"They were insistent," Crippens says. He assumes they liked it "because it was silly and playful, because the body of work, as it turns out, ended up being a diverse and eclectic group of characters. And I think it connected with the show in a subtle way, because part of the power of the show is that they really appear to love Portland and enjoy all the silly joyfulness that Portland has."

Many of his subjects, it turns out, love the show enough to take cameo roles in it. After completing the project, Crippens noticed that in a single Portlandia episode, three "Portraitlandia" subjects appeared in bit parts, "transcending from a TV show to being a reminder of my experience over the past month," Crippens says. "It was a strange moment of life meeting reality."

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19 Comments

  • Dark Emeralds

    I'm a local and I think these stereotypes exist as a sort of thin skin over a basically pleasant, mild-mannered place. I'm glad they're around--they raise the bar on "normal" and help make it okay for me to be me in my much less grass-in-the-living-room way. But the idea that some photographer from LA can drop in and decide who's "Portland-y" is just dumb.

  • Scott Douglass

    Wow...easy to conclude that Portland is a place for those that feel the need to call attention to themselves via "alternative" or "hip"/"edgy" dress or body modification from this selection...

    One could easily imagine that the psychological counseling profession does well here, to help address all this angst being silently expressed....

  • william76

    When I lived in Portland, the uber "alternative" lifestyle in your face types always felt like the most oppressive, confrontational people to be around if you too didn't share the lifestyle. 

    Are you sure that's really yourself that you're expressing?  A uniform deviation still expresses a uniform.  It gets old, and fast.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    So this is what happens when a formerly working-class city gets californicated...That tattooed woman better be careful of liver damages, with all those inked-shut skin pores.

  • Grauwasser

    Just stumbled across this page when I was looking up oompa loompas - the joys of Google searching. Leaving a comment just to say that I'm actually more intrigued by the comments from actual Portland residents than by the photos themselves, even though they are quirky and entertaining. I might cop it for my next statement but... I'd also like to say that it was actually the series "Grimm" that put Portland on the map for me and makes me very much want to visit this city! Hi from Perth, Australia.

  • Grauwasser

    Just stumbled across this page when I was looking up oompa loompas - the joys of Google searching. Leaving a comment just to say that I'm actually more intrigued by the comments from actual Portland residents than by the photos themselves, even though they are quirky and entertaining. I might cop it for my next statement but... I'd also like to say that it was actually the series "Grimm" that put Portland on the map for me and makes me very much want to visit this city! Hi from Perth, Australia.

  • Dolores Darling

    I can't edit or comment on my post so.... I meant to say most people in Portland are boring LOOKING, NOT boring. Some of the most creative, amazing people I know are the least flashy. 

  • Dolores Darling

    While, sure, Portland is a safe place for people to let their freak flags fly, this isn't a good representation of the most-like Portland people here. The thing that makes Portland special, in my opinion, is the lack of judgment by most of the people in town, the encouragement for people to follow their bliss whether that means a body full of tattoos, riding a bike naked or just being part of the landscape in a less obvious way. The Portlandification of Portland is actually in contrast to the yumminess of Portland and is commodifying the uniqueness of the City.  While all these people are wonderful, they do not represent Portland. They are, like the rest of us, pieces of the whole. A lot of the glue of the City are boring, untattoed people who like to hike, drink beer and stand outside the spotlight. The most Portland-like people are the people who work their asses off as community volunteers - who spend tireless hours challenging corrupt city government ideas and who raise happy, healthy, Earth and art-minded kids. These people aren't flashy and would probably blend in anywhere in the world. But, to disregard them is a huge mistake when you are talking about what makes Portland awesome. We're all in it together. A better name for this photo show would be "Portland is a Place Where People Feel Safe to Live Out loud." 

  • Michael Richie

    Why? What happens when one matures beyond their present lifestyle. One friend sees a trend that with tats, that has a lifecycle of five years. then the person's mind set changes and faces unreality the the reality they forced themselves into. The Future for the images here is the present and not much change is allowed with the decoration of today's choices,

  • eliashickman

    I would like to visit Portland and possibly move there. This doesn't discourage me in the slightest.

  • Tracey Carter

    OK, so I'm from Portland and while we have some "characters" there.  However,
    there is this perception that we're all a little off the beaten path. 
    Most people in Portland don't look anything like this and this is a little overly dramatic.  Not everyone is tatted up, pierced or
    living an alternative lifestyle.

    Tattoo-less Portlandian

     

  • mcgdesign

    RE: Rising From the Ashes

    I too live in Portland and what you say is true, but I there needs to more respect for conservative viewpoints. A few months ago I met a lovely young woman at a party. As we got to know each other we discovered our common conservative views. We began to notice the dirty looks from another couple and we decided to break the ice and get to know them, and not talk politics. The woman walked away, again giving us a "look". I dare not put any political indication on my car for fear of vandalization. America is about liberty & freedom of choice. But I feel mine is diminished.

  • RisingFromTheAshes

    I live in Portland too and I agree that not every one is tatted up, pierced, or living an alternative lifestyle but I love that all those people CAN live here right beside the Tattoo-less Portlandians and there is now judgment or loss of respect for each others individual personalities and life choices.