Celeste Rodero had us over to her studio located in the SuperMaker building to get to know more about her playful brand, DIGDOGDIG. Her studio was full of interesting oddities, mostly made by her personally, as well as, experiments, ideas and inspirtations. Leah Maldonado, Celeste’s assistant and Celeste graciously showed us what they were currently working on as well as some things they were thinking about for the future of DIGDOGDIG. We loved hearing about her home object line that she working on - the perfect home accessories to fill a space with. Celeste started DIGDOGDIG by making minimal jewelry that radiates modern design and function. She has created a brand that speaks more about a lifestyle and feeling rather that a specific product. DIGDOGDIG is as Rodero puts it “a platform for collaboration, creative outreach, positive thinking, and a virtual + physical space to be real.” Enjoy our studio visit with Celeste and Leah insightful interview to and learn more about DIGDOGDIG and Celeste!
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
I moved to Portland because I watched Portlandia and felt compelled to move here. SIKE. I moved to Portland last August for love. My college sweetheart had been living here for a couple of years and somehow we reconnected after almost five years apart and wanted to start anew. People will tell you to not get back with a past partner (sometimes true) but I say - relationships are difficult beautiful masterpieces, no matter how they happen, continue, end or start again, there’s no sense in perfecting what society has told you to do - just listen to your heart and trust the experiences you have learned from. When you find someone that cares for you unconditionally and supports you to be the best you - there’s no denying you did the right thing. I know I did. Violins please!
Portland has been wonderful and I feel lucky! I’ve moved a lot, from Hawaii to Arlington, Virginia, to California to Italy, to Baltimore, Maryland (MAD LOVE BALTIMORE, YOU DID IT) and Washington D.C. then to Richmond, Virginia and I have to say, this has been my best move yet. Because of my eclectic living experiences, I never quite feel like I belong to any one place or want to say any place is better than the other, but my time here in Portland has been healing and rejuvenating so far. The fresh Pacific Northwest breeze, the flourishing greenery, and that simple west coast kindness, I can’t say I don’t like it here. I’m not sure how long we’ll live here, but for however long we are, I hope to be a positive human in the community and do work beyond my own to be a part of the bigger picture.
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
As of right now, spring is coming through so I’d say my favorite thing happening right now is the sun sticking around a little longer, the flowers blooming, and seeing more weirdos out and about. I also love what Portland Garment Factory is up to, Brit and Rosemary are inspiring not only with their work, but also their fun spirit and energy. When I met them at Content for the first time, their warmth and sweetness were undeniable. I love their story and seeing women do whatever the fuck they want and killing it at the same time always inspires me. Speaking of women kicking ass - I’ve noticed a lot of women in Portland creating and thriving in their own businesses and makings. It’s awesome to be a small part of it all and I want to urge all the ladies to keep doing the damn thing! I also love stumbling upon new art gallery spaces in Portland, it’s always nice to see what’s happening in the local art community. And although it’s not that often, I like to stop in and talk to the guys of Tanner Goods and Self Edge - I appreciate their ability to speak openly about product (and life) without making me feel stupid, learning about the details of function and build and the brands behind them (off the internet and in real life) is pretty cool. I picked up a little fascination with menswear through my partner, David and I wish women’s fashion would take some cues, for real, but I’ll save that rant for somewhere else.
3. How did your brand start?
I’m not quite sure how to answer this question simply, especially since I believe the DIGDOGDIG brand is still forming. DIGDOGDIG started as a blog (digdogdig.blogspot.com) in 2009, more or less a quiet virtual platform where I placed inspiring visuals, my own work, and some “poetry”. It was an outlet that I stuck with for years, not necessarily for any other reason than for myself. I started to experiment with jewelry making around 2010 and in 2012 while living in Richmond, Virginia - DIGDOGDIG’s jewelry was picked up by Need Supply Co. This past summer DIGDOGDIG was approached by Urban Outfitters, which I at first thought was a joke. It was definitely a connection I was skeptical about, but I learned a lot from my experience working with them and I am thankful for that. I think DIGDOGDIG has a pretty unique story as it is still in the beginning stages of becoming what it truly is. I feel like every step is a new beginning.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
My biggest obstacle - I believe my biggest obstacle is sharing my artwork as products. My art comes straight from my soul, whether people get it or like it or not and relating it to the business side of things has been a very interesting and humbling experience. DIGDOGDIG is allowing me to explore so much more than I imagined. It’s important for me to step away from comparing myself with others and just learn as I go, doing what I think is best for right now and moving forward. From the models I use, to compositions, to even my product - I have no interest in being apart of an industry that has fueled insecurities, isolation and those ideas of what it is to be a woman or human in a way that I don’t and have never identified with just to make money. And because of that, I know that it will take time to create what DIGDOGDIG truly is, it is still forming and maybe always will be. All the while, I am completely transparent about my journey as I share what I am doing and making consistently on Instagram or Facebook. Social media is such a wild and deeply intricate web, I think it’s naive to look at it as purely superficial. I am completely vulnerable to interpretation and judgment through those platforms, as is everyone else, but I am aware of that and okay with that. Although my feelings have been hurt through social networking, DIGDOGDIG is much more than what other people think of it, even if they like my work, my ego can not rest on that. DIGDOGDIG is a platform for collaboration, creative outreach, positive thinking, and a virtual + physical space to be real. It’s a lot of work, but I am most definitely motivated for all the challenges ahead and am excited this is just the beginning. It has been a very exciting ride trusting instincts, making mistakes, trying new things, and having FUN! I am in no rush to finish first, I like being a turtle.
5. What or who inspires your design?
I am inspired by so many things, I don’t think I’ll share them all. But for sure, I am inspired by art. I studied Art History in college (graduating with a BA in Arts and Culture) and that has really encouraged my visions and understanding of my work. By understanding the processes and stories behind art work, a depth that goes beyond the surface of the art piece itself can provide enlightenment and knowledge. I love learning about the human behind the art I love and hate, and the pure chaos behind the surface of a visual.
I grew up about ten minutes outside of Washington D.C. and it's free museums and was lucky to have the free VMFA in Richmond while I was living there. From the time I was in middle school and still today (I became a member of the Portland Art Museum a week after living in Portland), going to museums, especially art museums has been a priority in my life. Alone or with friends, but mostly alone, I enjoy walking around and finding inspiration from Native Peruvian weavings, to a Frank Stella piece (but, damn it can they bring a better one to the PAM?), to the way hands are painted in a Renaissance piece. No matter how often, even if it’s the same work up - there’s always something new to see and be inspired by. I never feel lonely in an art museum, it’s almost a second home to me. Art is my self-love, art is my humanity.
Oh and I really love (everything) Michael Jackson and rap music, lots of rap music, always.
6. What are your favorite things about Portland?
David Michael Begin, my partner in crime / Supermaker, where my studio resides / My alien in residency/studio assistant : Leah Maldonado / NEW FRIENDS / Aalto’s Happy Hour / No Humidity / ALL THE FLOWERS / Behind the Museum Cafe / Living in a growing + progressive city : the public transportation is on point, even if it's running late sometimes + bike friendly roads are super cool / Portland Art Museum (duh) / Drinking water from the mountain! / Endless hikes and nature opportunities / LEGALIZED WEED / The independent boutique + business game here / How almost everyone has a cute fucking dog / Walking everywhere / TAP Plastics / Uno Mas / Being able to see Mount Hood from my apartment - have I said enough?
7. What is your favorite part of your studio?
I love my studio because it can be transformed on a daily basis. Whatever project I want to do, I can change my studio space to host it and I’ve never had that luxury working from home. Having a studio space is something I am still getting use to. It is truly a gift to be able to have a designated space for my makings, thoughts, and also just a space to share with friends who also want to be creative. I also love that my studio space is apart of a bigger space known as Supermaker, where there are a great group of people who make and create all day, every day. It’s a nice community to step into and learn from - everyone’s very chill and open to one another and I am so happy to be there.
8. Tell us two truths and a lie!
1. On my birth certificate it says I am : Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, German, French, Mexican, Spanish, and Native American Ute.
2. I hate animals.
3. I wish Rick Owens and Michele Lamy were my parents.
9. 5 things you can’t live without.
1. (drinking) WATER
2. THE OCEAN
5. NATURE (with no people around)