Next Chicago speaker

Katherine Darnstadt

More info

February 27, 8:30am • Braintree • part of a series on Climate

If there was ever a Creative Mornings speaker to dress your best for it’s fashion designer Maria Pinto. Her collections walk the line between elegant and edgy, and have graced the likes of Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, the Joffrey Ballet, and many a modern women. A dress designed by Maria is even versatile enough to fist bump in. I’d call that a wrap!

If you still need more reasons to attend, Maria’s shared a few with us.

What drives your desire to create?
You know this is an interesting question. It is kind of like breathing, something you cannot live without.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
I have referred to Chicago as my incubator, it is a peaceful place to work from. Traveling, gathering inspiration and then coming back to your center to assimilate and express.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of any creative work I have had the privilege to do. From designing fashion to painting!

What does this month’s theme—ugly—mean to you?
I love the theme, to me there is beauty in everything, so even in the UGLY, I am inspired to see beyond that idea, searching for some other meaning.

How should we dress for your talk?

See you next week!

This morning was a fantastic farewell to 2014! Our hearts are warm from everything that’s happened this past year, and we’re thrilled to see what 2015 has to offer. See you next year!

Props to our Ben Derico for making this 2014 highlight video. #soamazing #sograteful

Yup, that’s right — we’ve got multiple this month! In fact, we’re wrapping up an awesome year of Creative Mornings with FOUR speakers instead of one. We figured what better way to do justice to the theme of Education than by inviting a few brave attendees take the stage to teach us all a little something. This Friday we’re having Sandy Weisz, Julie Schumacher, Stefani Bachetti, and Bryan Kveton each take 5 minutes to share what they know with us. 

In leui of the typical pre-show Q&A, we asked our gang of speakers to answer this: What are you going to teach us, and why is this something you’re excited to share with the Creative Mornings community?

: I’m going to teach the crowd how I build a puzzle hunt. It’s both specifically something that probably no one in the crowd knows about, and at the same time generally about the creative process, which everyone knows about. I’m excited to share it because it’s the thing I’m most passionate about these days, as I’m the early stages of turning this activity, which has been a hobby for 8 years, into a business.

: Classroom → Creative. Imagine spending 10 years in middle school. I did, and I liked it. After hanging with seventh graders for a decade I made a leap to copywriting. What felt like a pretty epic shift was made easier because of a handful of lessons learned in the classroom that I apply in my life as a creative. With the way people work changing and more people working for themselves or hoping to someday, figuring out how to use what you did to inform what you do is a pretty sweet way to build something new and differentiate yourself along the way. 

: I’m going to give the crowd a rundown on sketchnoting and the tricks and techniques to become master sketchnoters! I think the skill set and perspectives of the CreativeMornings community would yield some really dynamic visual notes, and am hoping to inspire a few to give it a shot at their next meeting (or creative morning?). Bonus points if they share their results. Everyone should bring their favorite pen so they can immediately begin to sketchnote everything, everywhere, all the time.

: I plan to teach the audience how to write a pop “hook” by breaking down what they often consist of. Because love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that pop songs and melodies resonate with a lot of people. I think the Creative Mornings audience might find the workings of pop music interesting because pop songs share parallels with design: they have formulas and constraints; and they communicate a message. So, I’ll demonstrate a widely-used tool in the pop music realm and offer some food for thought about why it’s effective.

Now that you know what you’ll be missing if you don’t snag a ticket, be sure to
register today at 11am!

Our small and mighty team of videographers are a breed of talented folk. So talented that once in a while they’re filming documentaries in other countries at the same time (true story), and can’t be here to film CreativeMornings.

To make sure we capture every minute of each talk for you guys, we’re looking to add a 4th videographer to our team, to step in when the others can’t be there.

Think you want in or know someone who’d be great? Please let us know by writing to

For the third month in row we are happy to say thanks to not one but two sponsors! It is very exciting for our chapter to have such wonderful sponsors to support our events each month, provide breakfast for all of our attendees, and help cover event expenses. So here is a big THANK YOU to this month’s sponsors, Gorilla Group and our on-going partner, Basecamp!


With their headquarters right here in the Windy City and offices across North America and Europe, Gorilla Group delivers innovative e-commerce solutions to B2B and direct-to-consumer brands. Gorilla is one of the fastest growing companies in Chicago and they are always looking to add talented people to their team and unique office culture. If you’re an agency professional skilled in design, development, or digital strategy, they want to hear from you! Check out some their award-winning work and learn more about their career opportunities right here.


Secondly, our partner, Basecamp, as you know is the handy project management tool that has become part of our daily lives and how we plan all of our events here with CreativeMornings Chicago. Recently, Basecamp has added a couple pretty nifty features to their products. For starters, there is now a “View on Basecamp” button in your Gmail inbox which eliminates several clicks to link to your Basecamp project pages. They also have integrated and archiving feature for old discussions within your project — things can get a little crazy sometimes! Finally, they are some new iOS 8 goodies for iPad that you all should check out in their newsletter, and take a look at the new story on their blog project, The Distance, about handling the art world’s most precious objects. 

We hope to see you all at this month’s event on Friday at Morningstar! Don’t forget to join the waitlist for the event if you haven’t registered yet. There is a chance you can still get it in, and we wouldn’t want you to miss the opportunity to listen to this month’s guest, FM Supreme. See you all on Friday!

We're giving our audience the stage in December!

Our audience is full of makers, thinkers and doers… so because our December theme is “Education”, we’re turning the tables microphone and having you up on stage to share your knowledge with us! We’re on the hunt for 4 speakers from our audience to each give a 5-minute presentation where they teach something to everyone. It could be anything (well, almost anything… let’s keep it PG-13).

Think you want to do it? Don’t be shy! We want to hear from you. Know of someone in the creative industry who would be great for this? Pass this on and peer pressure them into it.  

Submission details:
Nominate yourself by submitting the following information to

  • Your name
  • Your occupation
  • A blurb about you (a bio works well!)
  • Applicable links
  • 1-2 minute talk-to-the-webcam video about who you are and what you’d like to speak about. (do not share your video as an attachment to your email — instead, share a link to your video or send it through

Submissions are due no later than December 1. The 4 chosen speakers will be rewarded with a free Skillshare annual membership, and of course, fame and bragging rights. The chosen speakers will be notified by December 5th, and the event will take place on December 19th from 8:30AM - 10AM.

Let’s do this!

We want to send a big thank you out to our host this month, Morningstar! As one of our recurring hosts, Morningstar is always excited to support CreativeMornings, and we’re always happy to have them on board. Just like each of us, they believe it’s a fantastic way to connect with other creatives outside of the conference echo-chamber, meet people united by the interest of community learning, and to carry on a conversation that ultimately betters us all as creatives.

For those of you who may not be familiar with their work, Morningstar is a leading financial research firm that provides independent analysis and information to investors from the individual to the corporate. Design and technology are at the core of how they work. 

Fun fact: Their corporate logo was designed by the one and only Paul Rand! Joe Mansueto, their CEO, persistently reached out to Paul Rand to hire him, and after hanging up several times Rand eventually accepted the project. It just so happens that a couple of Morningstar designers were Yale graduates who happened to know Rand’s home phone number. In the end, Mansueto paid $50,000 for the Morningstar logo and still considers it one of his best decisions for the company — when the business was still running out of his apartment. Rand’s concept behind the logo was the closing of Walden by Henry Thoreau, “The sun is but a morning star.”Morningstar is always looking to hire and their career page is regularly updated. If anyone is interested in employment opportunities, find a CreativeMornings volunteer who can point you to the right person after the event. Morningstar is currently looking for a senior-level digital designer and mid-level designers. Take a look at more details here.We hope that everyone is as excited as we are to hear from our speaker this month, FM Supreme! The big event is next Friday, November 21st and registration opens Monday morning at 11AM. Hope to see you there!

Chicago native, FM Supreme (aka Jessica Disu) is an all around badass. As a poet, activist, educator and self-described humanitarian rap artist, she uses language as a tool for positive change, locally and internationally. On November 21st she will be speaking AND performing for the Creative Mornings crowd! Get to know her and you won’t want to miss it.

What drives your desire to create?
I am driven to create when thinking about society and the complexities of the human spirit. I love to be motivated and inspired and create with the intention to uplift and inspire others. I am inspired most by young people and artists who use their creativity to positively impact the community. I create most when I am alone and the feeling is euphoric when I write lyrics and or words that best capture the internal conversation that happens in the back of mind and consciousness. Art for me is self expression and as a radical believer in The Word, i believe the scripture, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
Chicago influences my work in my style of delivery and fast paced speech and performance. I was born and raised in this great city of pimps, hustlers, crooked politicians and home to some of the greatest local talent in the world. For the past several years I have been viewing the different artistic movements throughout the city as the “Chicago Renaissance” and am blessed to consider myself as a young voice contributing my thoughts, words and lyrics daily to this Movement.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of Transforming Pain into Power, a national youth symposium on violence that I produced with a team of volunteers in November 2013. The program was very moving and inspiring for the 225 high school students who attended this event on Saturday for six hours at Holy Family Ministries. I hope to continue producing events like this in the future and am planning Transforming Pain into Power 2: Making Peace Cool in spring 2015. I am also very proud of my brothers and sisters who refused to allow our childhood circumstances to dictate our young adult experiences. 

How do your identities as an artist and activist impact each other?
My identity as an artist and activist goes hand in hand. My activism was birthed through my process of self expression in relation to my art. Since my teenage years as a participant in After School Matters, Kuumba Lynx and Young Chicago Authors, I have viewed my art as a form of activism for the modern Black Liberation Movement. My activism is impacted by art because my creativity through songs and poems helps unify everyone  present in the space. I use my voice and work as a reminder to myself and society to never give up, always have hope, and always believe in something bigger than yourself. 

My art is impacted by activism as I tend to write about current social issues and break down complex issues and phrases in very simple terms that can be understood by people in The Hood as well as folks living wealthy on the North Shore. 

What does this month’s theme—chance—mean to you?
This month’s theme, “Chance” means to me, taking a risk, stepping outside of my comfort zone, rising to the occasion, and doing something different and expecting a different result.

Think her work sounds pretty rad? Let her know at @FMSupreme.

This month’s host for our event is The Leo Burnett Department of Design. We could not be more excited to have them on board for our event and we can’t wait to see you all there tomorrow!

Composed of smaller design groups that focus on specific clients and opportunities, the Department of Design operates much like a small design studio within Leo Burnett Chicago. They collaborate with internal creative teams and clients to create purposeful design within advertising, as well as to develop brand identity, including logos, packaging, retail displays and environmental graphics. But let’s let them tell us who they are.

We are designers. You may know us as those svelte, meticulously groomed, overly stylized people in black who make logos. But hey, some of us wear grey. While we do design logos and packaging and numerous other elements of brand look and feel, we prefer to say we bring craft, concept and storytelling together, beautifully. Unfortunately, talking about what we do somehow always comes off as pretentious. We’re well aware of it. It’s a problem even Helvetica can’t fix. But trust us when we say we’re really nice people who just want the world to be a more visually appealing place where macro meets micro on a halftone plane of interdimensional duotones intersected by branded objectives distilled into simple solutions for complex…ugh…nevermind. We are designers.

The Leo Burnett Dept. of Design

We hope to see you all there tomorrow morning! Don’t forget to join the waitlist for the event. There is a chance you can still get it in, and we wouldn’t want you to miss that opportunity. 

We hope everyone is looking forward to our event tomorrow. It’s going to be a great one! Each month our events are supported by very generous sponsors, but this month we have two! So we want to say a big thank you to both Braintree and Basecamp for all their continuous support. 

For those of you who don’t know already, Braintree allows you to easily accept payments in your app or website, and they power payments for awesome companies like Uber, AirBnB, and Basecamp. Braintree was born right here in Chicago and now has offices all over the world, including New York, London, and San Francisco. And…they are hiring Product Designers! They are looking for self-directed Product Designers comfortable working in a process-light environment. Their design team cares just as much about how their product works as how it looks, and they ship often and iterate until it’s perfect. If you think you’d be a good fit you should apply! Take a look at more details here and check out their space in the picture below.
Next up, Basecamp! Oh what would be do without Basecamp? This handy project management tool has become a part of our daily lives—and how CreativeMornings Headquarters is able to manage over 70 chapters! Here in Chicago, we use it to organize all of our events. It’s incredibly easy to use, reliable and keeps everything in one place. Basecamp has recently partnered with our team to serve as a continuous sponsor for our event and we couldn’t be more grateful. So here a couple things they have been up to lately!
Their latest story from The Distance (a blog featuring stories about hard-working, long-lasting businesses and the people behind them) is about Band for Today, a school music program for schools that don’t have their own in house. They have also recently rolled out a couple of new Basecamp features that everyone should check out. The first is moving a single to-do list across projects, and the second, is attaching files directly to to-dos. Finally, take a look at their snazzy office space! 

Well we hope to see you all at this month’s event, and if for some reason you were not able to get a spot (those tickets go so fast) please feel free to join the waitlist. See you in the morning!