Our Q&A with July speaker, Frits Habermann, who will be talking on the topic of Intention.

🎟 You can get tickets for his upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Frits Habermann is a Landscape Photographer and tech entrepreneur. His passion is combining technology with art and using fancy words like “leveraging synergy” to explain what he’s passionate about. Most at home with a camera in the outback running from grizzly bears or melting his shoes on lava fields, he’s more frequently seen in his hoodie at PicMonkey HQ where he serves as its CEO. He spent 20 years at Adobe, where he co-founded Adobe InDesign and later ran the Core Technologies group. More recently, Frits served as CTO for PopCap Games and CTO/Head of Product at Lynda.com. He holds degrees in both applied mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Washington. Find Frits at fritshabermannphotography.com and on LinkedIn.



[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Frits Habbermann (FH)] For me, creativity, in the moments I’m lucky enough to find some, is more of a state than a thing or goal. It is that feeling of “flow” that ignores time and place and what’s going on around me. The result need not necessarily be all that earth-shattering, but the time in flow is the only time I can be somewhat creative. This is independent of what it’s applied to. Music, photography, writing or software development; the best work seems to come when feeling totally immersed, focused and enjoying the process.

(CM) Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

(FH) From nature, mostly water. Besides the greater context of nature that simply clears your head and puts many things into perspective, photographing water always delivers unique results. It is never a picture of what your eye sees, as a long-exposure blurs rushing water into abstract swirls and cotton-candy type effects. Every moment is different and the timing is always nature’s timing, never yours. From that, you learn patience, and usually, there are one or two results that will give you a great feeling of inspiration.

(CM) What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

(FH) Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. As a kid, I assumed you were either talented or not, and that if your grandmother told you-you played the piano well, well then the next likely step would be Carnegie Hall, no sweat. When that didn’t come so easily, I assumed I must not be all that talented, so I should go do something else. With a bit more life experience under my belt, I can now enjoy the learning process as opposed to the end goal. I can trace the stages of improvement through chunks of hours I’ve applied over the years to creative things I enjoy.

(CM) Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

(FH) Jean Gang, the designer of the “Aqua” building in Chicago. To sketch out a building on paper is one thing, but to have the vision to build 80 feet of steel, concrete, and glass that creates the illusion of water rippling along the side of the building is creativity at whole different level.

(CM) What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?

(FH)“Timeless Way of Building” by Christopher Alexander. It’s a classic book on architecture, but more importantly, creates a pattern language around “spaces that live”. Part design system, part philosophy, but all interesting. It formed the basis for the classic “Pattern Languages of Program Design” book in computer science. Buy it in hardback because the form factor, paper, type, and layout are also of a stark aesthetic that just completes the experience.

(CM) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

(FH) Dropped down to the edge of a volcanic crater on mountain bikes in the middle of the night to get a shot of the lava lake below. We needed gas masks to avoid the sulphuric acid, goggles to avoid the glass from the steam in the air, and careful steps around the fissures at the edge of the rim, lest they break off and fall into the cauldron below.