About Cre8con - The Portland Creative Conference


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Cre8con, the Portland Creative Conference, is an exploration and celebration of the creative process across all creative industries.  We feature keynote presentations from leading creatives who take the audience inside their creative process and talk about their projects, influences, inspirations, and challenges.

Value for Attendees: As a result of this program, most attendees become inspired and motivated in new ways, viewing their work world with a fresh perspective and new ideas.  It’s like a vacation for your brain. The event also facilitates opportunities for networking with professionals from a variety of creative industries.

Steve Gehlen is the Chairman of the Conference, driving the Speaker and Sponsor selection, and leading a team of dedicated volunteers who help to market, plan, and execute the event.  The goal is to deliver a program that professionals from any creative industry will find valuable, inspirational, and motivational; while also giving them an opportunity to grow their professional network.

Cre8con, the Portland Creative Conference is a non-profit fundraiser for Keeping the Arts, a 501(c)3 public charity that provides financial support to youth (K-12) arts education programs in Oregon, with a focus on underserved rural communities. As of February 2020, Keeping the Arts has granted over $160,000 to such programs.  The organization was co-founded by Steve Gehlen and Valerie Day of Nu Shooz fame.

Will Vinton at the 2000 Portland Creative Conference

Will Vinton


The Portland Creative Conference was founded in 1990 by Will Vinton (founder of Will Vinton Studios, now known as LAIKA) and a core team of creative leaders in Portland at the time. The goal was to put Portland on the map as a place where uniquely creative work was happening.  By the mid-90’s the event was being attended by people from up and down the West Coast (and New York) and was a key foundational component to developing the creative reputation that Portland enjoys to this day.

The event featured some of the top creative talent of the day from film, television, advertising and digital media.  It was produced and managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, led by Vinton and Executive Director CJ Glazer. Steve Gehlen, the current event Chairman, was on the original Board for 10 years.

The original Conference run ended after 9/11. The Conference was supposed to happen on 09/14 that year and as a result of the disruption the original non-profit organization went bankrupt and the Conference went dark.


Steve Gehlen at the 2015 Portland Creative Conference

Steve Gehlen

In 2008 Steve Gehlen—an original Conference Board member from 1991 to 2001—brought the Conference back with Vinton’s blessing, this time as a fundraiser for Keeping the Arts, a 501(c)3 public charity Gehlen co-founded.  Keeping the Arts provides financial support to youth (K-12) arts education programs in Oregon, mostly in underserved rural communities.

The new edition of the Conference is still focused exclusively on the creative process, but the number of creative industries that speakers and attendees work in has expanded.

Gehlen assembled a team of key volunteers, including some original Board members, to produce and manage the event.

After taking a break from 2012 – 2014 for personal reasons, Gehlen brought the Conference back again in 2015.