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People of the Port: John Biddinger

How long have you worked here at the Port?

I have worked here 13 years, 6 months.

What led you to work here at the Port?

John designs a new wayfinding sign for the Airport Parking GarageJohn prepares a new wayfinding sign for the Airport Garage

I worked with the Port for many years for two architectural firms: NBBJ and TRA. I was a project manager for the STEP (South Terminal Expansion Project). It was perfect timing—we had just finished up the installation of the signage in the STEP program, and I was moving on to other projects. The sign manager position at the airport opened, and I applied for it and got it. Before then, I had spent almost 20-25 years designing airport signs for architecture firms. It seemed like a natural transition from a designer to a user.

Tell us more about your role here at the Port?

As manager of AV Signage and Graphics, we do airport wayfinding signs, graphic design, and support Capital Projects in developing temporary wayfinding systems for projects and integrate them into our existing sign plans.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is when you are working on a project, and it all clicks. I love it when the information is consistent from one sign to the next and it is also visually the same. When you are working on a project and it all comes together, it is very satisfying.

What are some of your favorite things you have gotten to do in your role?

One of my favorite things I have gotten to do is a scholarship golf tournament that the Port collaborated to host with the Highline School Foundation. I have been doing that for the last 14 years and it has been very fun and rewarding. It does not take a whole lot of time but there is a lot of planning involved. Another one of my favorite things was being able work with Sound Transit on the arrival of Link Light Rail to the airport.  A collaborative effort, this project was high profile, with trains running north from the airport through the Rainer Valley to downtown Seattle. 

What’s your favorite sign you ever created for the airport?

Sign Painter Jayme Harris and Sign Painter Crew Chief Neil Sherk print the sign and prepare it for mounting.Sign Painter Jayme Harris and Sign Painter Crew Chief Neil Sherk print the sign and prepare it for mounting.

This is not necessarily a sign, but one of my most creative and favorite designs.  The Port purchased and fit out twenty-four (24) 40-foot low floor buses to support the consolidated busing operation between the Terminal area and the remote consolidated Rental Car Facility.  There was a friendly competition within our group to design the new buses, in which we submitted two or three designs each to the Stakeholders.  My design was selected based on inspiration from the RCF building design and providing a distinct Port of Seattle brand.  It was 2009, when the new Port’s brand was unveiled.  The new brand colors were the inspiration for my design.

Any events or fun activities over the years that have been particularly memorable?

When we had the 30th millionth passenger come through the airport, it was a big deal. There were balloons, prizes, and it was a big celebration. A family of 4 won but they decided that the official 30 millionth passenger would be their 6-month-old child.

Do you have any points of your career that you would consider milestones?

Jayme and Neil install the sign in the garage.Jayme and Neil install the sign in the garage.

Getting this job was a milestone.  Early in my career I worked with several architectural firms designing sign systems for hospitals, education facilities and airports.  So after designing 6 or 8 sign systems for airports it was only natural to actually work at an airport.  As a designer whether a sign is meant to help viewers navigate their way or identify what’s in front of them, and regardless of whether it captures people’s attention with its beauty and interest, it’s vital that its information be communicated clearly.  This is a principal that I learned early on and continue to communicate throughout the airport. 

What about future career goals?

My future “career” goal is to travel more and explore different avenues to be creative, whether it is in my art, drawing more, photography, or painting. I have been fortunate to travel around the world: I have been to South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, and Australia, to name a few. I would like to go on a Rhine Cruise and explore Austria and Eastern Europe. But for right now, I plan to stay close to home and do car trips.

Tell us more about you, have you lived your whole life in Seattle?

I was born and raised in California but when I was 24, I moved to Las Vegas and started working for an architecture firm. It was at that firm where I really branched out. My training was in graphic design, but working in architecture, I was hired to do renderings. Realizing that buildings need signs, I started designing signs. I have been in Seattle for 30 years. I moved here because of the job opportunity and I wanted to stay on the West Coast. I would come to the Puget Sound area when I was a kid and have always love the mountains and the water.

When you’re not here at the Port, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m a home body so I love just hanging out at my house and doing home projects. Taking small trips whether by car or airplane and spending time with family. One of my favorite things to do is take photographs throughout the year of family and trips, and then create a photo year book of my adventures.  It’s an interesting way to display your work and create a timeline of your life.

Tell me something that no one else knows about you.

I have circumnavigated the world twice: once clockwise and another time counterclockwise. On one of my trips I was traveling from Sydney, Australia to London, England. I stayed up all night, tracked the GPS, and wrote down the coordinates so I could mark where I had been.

New wayfinding sign in the airport garage

Published Date
Sep 19, 2018

The Port of Seattle is an equal opportunity employer M/F/D/V and is committed to diversity in the workplace.

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