PORTLAND, Ore. — If Portland’s maker movement had a royal court, Kelley Roy would be its queen. She’s the benevolent ruler and creator of ADX (Art Design Portland).

At the ADX warehouse in Southeast Portland, anyone can sign up to use the workshop, take classes or just get together to create and connect.

The surprising part is the whole idea came from a geologist. Roy’s parents didn’t want her to go to art school.

“So I did the really practical thing and studied geology,” Roy said.

It was a rocky path that led her to Portland and eventually to what she was really meant to do: Offer other artists the support she longed for.


“So you want to be an artist? A designer? Cool,” Roy said, “How are you going to make a living? It’s possible. Let’s just figure it out.”

The expensive tools and expansive resources at ADX also offer a chance for a happy reunion. No overseas factories are needed. Here, design and manufacturing are back together again in a refreshingly open way.

“A lot of people come in and say, 'What about intellectual property? What about people stealing your ideas?' And you just don’t do that,” Roy said.

In just a few years, ADX has grown from three people to 40, and is now expanding to a nearby warehouse.

Roy has written a book about the movement and is about to launch a quarterly magazine — all signs that small manufacturing is thriving in Portland.

Roy is quick to share the credit.

“Here, survival is working together,” she said, “ and survival is helping each other out.”

An ADX concept that’s turned out to be more than good practice, it’s also good business.