Portland, Maine

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Jessie Lacey

tailor made visual arts & design

Job Creative director / Dirigo Design & Development

Lives In Bay Side

I am a youngish professional hailing from way up north (Bangor), escaping to Portland six years ago with my dog Twobit and very little money. When I moved to Portland I joined a start-up called Maine Home+Design magazine and worked there as art director until 2010. Currently I work as creative director at a small web marketing agency called Dirigo Design & Development designing the look and user-interface for responsive websites, iPad & iPhone apps and other mobile applications. Clients include Angus King, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Community Dental, and Maine Health.

I tend to bring a lot of my creativity into all aspects of my life (or perhaps I bring the creativity from all aspects in my life into my career and work). My life is a lot of DIY. While others talk about "curating" their surroundings, I create my surroundings. I design and make dresses, furnishings, lights, art, crafts... My interests include creative cocktails, the fine restaurant offerings filling up Portland and the art works and creatives I find myself surrounded by in this little city.

When I am not creating for myself I am creating for others. The new NOSH light sign? I made that. Their new menus too! Slab Sicilian Streetfood will feature my design work as well (logo and menus). LFKs (have you had the LFK burger? amazeballs) logo is another of my creation, using a hand-drawn silhouette of Mr. Longfellow himself.

Why did you choose Portland? Bangor seemed tapped-out in the creative field and had a tendency for big-fish-little-pond syndrome, that, and I have always just loved Portland. The size seemed perfect, its urban feel, small enough to feel a great sense of community, big enough to have a lot going on in terms of music, culture and arts.

Who are Portlanders you admire and why? There are quite a few who have those qualities of both creativity and drive in perfect unison that I find myself completely in awe of. Some people who I have had the great pleasure and luck to work with and those whose work I have admired from afar. Those include Erin Flett, David Meiklejohn, Sean Wilkinson, LeAnna Grosso, Alex Steed, Peter Bissel, and Jennifer Muller.

What do you like to do with out-of-towners? When I have out-of-town visitors, one of the most important things to do is drag them out to experience many of our very best restaurants. It is something that you cannot get anywhere in cities this size or in the rest of the region. We are very lucky to have this incredible pool of talent.

Where's your "happy place" on the peninsula? Longfellow Square has several things going on for me. My favorite bars and venues are right there, and several of my best friends live right there as well. My happy place though, is my home, as I am located a block from downtown, places like Nosh, Empire and the Space Gallery (and maybe some supply runs to Renys happen, don't judge), and its so nice to wake up and walk outside and be right in the center of everything.

What's the most surprising thing about this city? I am still surprised we have no decent Chinese restaurants. None. That just makes no sense. *UPDATE* We now have a good chinese restaurant! Get yer dim sum fix at Empire. Tod and Teresa who own the place are amazing people and have built such a wonderful place, and I find myself there at least once a week.

What's your favorite indulgence and where do you find it? Oysters at Eventide. It becomes an indulgence when I end up eating two dozen.

What's the most under-appreciated place or thing in town? Portland Museum of Art. I feel there are always so many incredible pieces that not enough people are seeing. Yes, maybe PMA gets a lot of visitors but each time I am there, I see something new and think "everyone should see this."

Describe your perfect night—and the following morning—in Portland. Starting off with a really crowded and amazing show at Space Gallery then walking down Congress for drinks at a quieter place like Boda, eating small plates from there, or Pai Men skewers, and drinks with a large group of friends at LFK then dragging friends back to my place to continue cocktails. The next morning meeting up with the same group of friends for brunch at Hot Suppah or Local 188, basically depending entirely on what the wait times are. Bloody Mary's for everyone.

Do you have a serendipity spot? Where do you always bump into good people? Nan'ls. shhh Lately, any place I go to and run into the likes of Brett Johnson or Chris Kast. I feel like I am not at a Portland event unless I run into those guys.

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