Willamette Week

In 1990, Will Vinton wanted to attract more creative types to Portland—so he launched a conference, creatively titled the Creative Conference, which drew thousands of local and out-of-town entrepreneurs for an annual weekend of lectures through the 90s. It was partially selfish, admits the Academy Award-winning animator, who coined the term Claymation.

"I liked building my studio in Portland, this smaller area that wasn't considered a hotbed for such things," Vinton said. "We wanted to give back to that community, and to build a bigger talent pool that we could tap into."