Speaker Spotlight - Anna Helgeson and Sekou Coleman

Anna is an Artist, Writer, Curator, Educator | Website | Instagram  
Sekou is Executive Director, Asheville Writers In The Schools & Community

Month: November | Theme: Radical

First up for the Q&A: Anna

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice. 

Curiosity and wonder drive my practice. There is something thrilling about asking questions that seem unruly, unreasonable, or unanswerable. Some days I feel like an alien dropped onto this planet that is both beautiful and terrifying. Much of my work poses questions about our assumption, specifically as it relates to gender, race and power.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A dancer, fashion designer and business lady (although I think this just had to do with the power suit) 

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?
The best part about being and artist and writer is allowing myself the freedom to explore strange ideas and dissolve into the process of creating. The worst part is self promotion and trying to make money. 

What about your community inspires you?
The best part about being and artist and writer is allowing myself the freedom to explore strange ideas and dissolve into the process of creating. The worst part is self promotion and trying to make money. 

What books/resources would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?
Making Your Life as an Artist by Andrew Simonet     

And now, Sekou answers the questions:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice. 

I’m the Executive Director for Asheville Writers In The Schools and Community (AWITSC), a nonprofit that ignites social change through the power of the arts, culture, and restorative self-expression. One of our most impactful programs is Word on the Street/La Voz de les Jóvenes (WOTS/VDLJ), which centers the leadership and creativity of black and brown youth, ages 13-19. Through arts-based programming, participants (known as The Squad) develop healthy relationships with peers and mentors, while working to make a difference in their community using their voices, talents and imaginations. As members of The Squad, youth build a unique and bilingual space to become hopeful about their futures, experience racial healing and develop a radical imagination to build a better world.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
For a long time, I wanted to be a composer and producer of music. Many of the experiences I had along that journey have informed the choices I’ve made since.

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?
Community organizing was my first job out of college. I was always compelled to do meaningful work for young people who looked like me or shared my lived experience. The deeper I became involved with the work and its varying complexities, the more certain I was that I had found my calling.

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?
The best part is the chance to spend time with so many amazing and inspiring humans. The hardest part is finding the time and techniques to remain balanced, focused and energized. 

What about your community inspires you?
The bravery and creativity demonstrated by the amazing humans with whom I have the honor of working.   

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Be orderly in your approach and flexible in your response.

Speaker Spotlight -  Liz Williams and Al Murray

Liz Williams (She/They) is the Southern Equality Studios Program Manager and Al Murray (They/Them) is the Director of Organizational Development and Engagement at the Campaign for Southern Equality. 

Website | Instagram

Month: September | Theme: Spectrum

Together Al and Liz collaborate on creative community-building projects focused on positive change. In 2019 they produced an exhibit of Liz’s digital portraits and Al’s kinetic sculptures documenting and reflecting on the roots of LGBTQ creatives in the South. They host weekly virtual Queer Artist Meetups that include skill-shares, demos and group critiques. 

Recently their collaboration has led to a series of public projections on the Asheville courthouse, the Vance monument and the Asheville Art Museum which called for racial justice and dismantling white supremacy. 

They also share a deep love and appreciation for pizza. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.

Al: Before working at CSE, I operated a metalworking studio that produced large-scale steel sculptures and architectural metalwork.  I still play around in that studio, but my creativity is largely focused on my 8 month-old-twins and how to parent them during a pandemic.  I feel lucky that at CSE, we get to devote time and energy to piloting ideas and asking generative questions. In either case, I like to start with the wildest, most fantastic thing I can think of and work backward to what is deliverable. I did the same thing with metalwork. Sometimes it isn’t a huge leap.
Liz: I grew up creating art in various mediums, but I really gravitated towards digital work especially through the intersection of photography and Photoshop and how to create new worlds through these two worlds. The work was more insulated with me being an outsider documenting others and not really interacting with the person on the other side of the camera or computer screen. Now in this new role at CSE, I work to build community by working to actively collaborate with people and build each other up. Be it through portraiture, graphic design projects or projections.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Al: A ninja turtle or Bruce Springsteen. Growing up I never really answered that question with an occupation.
Liz: Initially when I grew up, I wanted to be a magician, but then after some accidents with personal property, I sought a different method to create magic. Luckily,  visual art gave me a safer method to create illusions.

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

Al: The best part:  my co-workers. Every single one of them is brilliant and so unique. The hardest part: having to say no to project ideas or collaborations either due to time constraints or just general capacity.
Liz: The best part of my job is getting to dream up and collaborate with people for a positive impact. So many friendships have been created with co-workers and community members through my time at Campaign for Southern Equality. The worst part is so many ideas and so little time. 

What on-the-job tools do you use every day? 

Al: Zoom, Slack, soapstone and my drafting table (I still draw out diagrams to help me think)
Liz: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Slack, paper and pen, a camera, Photoshop, on a good day.

What about your community inspires you?

Al: So much, and right now I’m thinking about the ways we create relationships and families and systems of support. Queer people are really gifted architects of family and intimacy–re-imagining what relationships even look like for us–especially while the world is changing and when our identities are shifting. We dream our lives into being a lot of the time.
 Liz: The infinite imagination, inspiration, and resources that we as a community can utilize. We don’t know our potential until we talk to each other and build bridges. The possibility of what comes from these bridges is incredibly exciting.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Al: Take time to play 
Liz: Use a google calendar. 

What books/resources would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?

Al: FIND A MENTOR. Even if they are not in the same field.  Find someone who can be a thought partner–ideally someone who is somewhat removed from your business or practice, but who understands it and who is interested in your success.
Liz: I completely agree with Al about finding a mentor. Also, the internet is vast and amazing with resources for inspiration and tools. I recommend falling into the rabbit hole of this website https://www.freelanceartistresource.com/. There is a plethora of awesome resources and ideas.  

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

Al: Play with my kids.
Liz: Get caught up on reading.

Speaker Spotlight - Cortina Jenelle

Founder & Creative Community Organizer, Artists Designing Evolution (adé PROJECT) 

Cortina’s Website | Instagram
adé PROJECT Website | Instagram

Month: July | Theme: Underdog

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice. 

My personal mission is to shift community, business and organizational culture by placing a high value on authenticity.  I seek to celebrate differences as bridge(s) to connection and innate creativity – especially related to human resources, business development, communications, branding, learning and community organizing/building. My highest vision is to live in a world in which individuals, businesses and organizations create sustainable solutions from a place of authenticity and holistic integration of a healthy system. Coupled with my personal values of curiosity, culture, communication, community, connection + creativity, nothing is impossible!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Happy!    

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I first learned about people being cartoonists, writers and authors when I was a kid…I knew SOMEBODY had to be creating the content and I was curious. Unfortunately it wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I allowed myself to take myself more seriously as an artist and 25 years old for the entrepreneur journey. I feel like books were my first love, and still to this day I love the knowledge, adventure, curiosity, community, organizing, legacy and awareness that books contribute to building.  

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?
The best part of my job is that my work is a reflection of my life and experiences…and the hardest part of my job is that my work is a reflection of my life and experiences. It’s more than a job to me. And the responsibility of any creator is bigger than any of us. So every decision, lesson, curation, production, event, post, etc is a practice of mindfulness and play. That can be both hard and amazing to try to keep in balance!    

What on-the-job tools do you use every day?
Facilitation, Google Drive, community organizing, active listening, brain-mapping (on whiteboards, easel pads, or digitally) and LOTS of sticky notes!

What about your community inspires you?
Turning adversity into an adventure paving the road to resilience.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Creativity is an inception and manifestation of a connection with the magical energy of an idea.     

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
The time(s) in my life when I was trying to pick one lane for my work and my creative expression to live in was a period of “failure”. To be honest, failure isn’t a word in my vocabulary. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. But I will say that from the constant feelings of impending doom, suffocation and disconnection it was killing me to try to fit myself in a box and just stay in one “lane” or sector. I liberated myself from that perception and my work has been beautifully and oddly woven together ever sense!

What books/resources would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, and probably to vision board at least annually!

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?
Give them back, I feel like I put the time I have to good use already (:

Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond? 
Mother Earth inspires me EVERY DAY! As well as so many other writers, musicians, YouTubers, and poets than I can name. I LOVE creativity and art.

Anything else you’d like to share? 
Screenshot - Credit: Liz Williams 

Speaker Spotlight - Angi West

Tax Manager at DHG

Month: June | Theme: Insecure

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.

I got a lot of questioning glances when I told my family and friends I was going to go to business school and become an accountant.  My undergraduate degree is in music, and not just music but voice and analysis/composition and then I did follow up professional studies at Berklee College of Music in writing and arranging.  There was no clear signal that I would become a business lady.  I believe strongly that if you work hard with dedication and kindness the correct path unfolds and it led me to where am now.  So for that past decade I have been reveling in numbers, in problem solving and in developing others.  I love my job because I get to serve others and be a trusted advisor to my clients.  

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a dancer, but I wasn’t good at it.  I also wanted to be contrary so anything anyone suggested I wanted to do the opposite.  

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

Even if you study business and accounting you do not know the depth and breadth of what a tax accountant does until you are one.  I said yes to the job and over time the magic of being a partner in business with my clients unfolded.  Don’t think for a second that all we do is tax returns!

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

Developing the careers of the people around me is the overriding everything of my job.  it is the painful part and the joyful part.  

What on-the-job tools do you use every day?

kindness and patience.  oh do you mean like software? who knows? the phone? my incessantly loud typing?

What about your community inspires you?

I know a LOT of really capable people and they inspire me to NEVER be complacent.  

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

You can’t manage people like you manage projects. 

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work? 

I have not been the best coach and manager and had some major staff failings over the years that led to intensive leadership coaching.  You know when the doctor gives you a medicine that actually solves the problem and you feel better?  That was what happened when I worked really hard on myself with my coach.  I am nowhere near where I want to be but I started to become the boss I want to be when I grow up and I am so grateful for those failures!   

What books/resources would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?

I have gifted “the artist way” to so many people over the years and will continue to do so until someone can prove to me that it isn’t the very best practical workbook on creativity.  prove it.  You can’t.  Every time I have completed it I have become a stronger thinker and person.  I think it is about time I do it AGAIN! thanks for asking this question!!!

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

do the artist way again

Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond?

Seth Kauffman
Michael Libramento
Tyler RamseyI am partial to 1) musicians and 2) my friends

Speaker Spotlight - Tim Scroggs

Co-Founder and Head of Strategy and Design of Futures Bright

Instagram

Month: March | Theme: Identity

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.

I’m really an accidental designer by way of furniture repair man and wannabe rock star. I didn’t get a computer until I was 25. I’ve been designing on and off for 10 years. I have two amazing kids, 10 and 6, that keep me connected to the present moment in play and imagination—which doesn’t come as easy as it used to. My wife and I Co-Founded and run a design studio together. Basically my practice consists of constantly overthinking everything. I bite down like a pit bull and don’t let go until it’s right—that is what has made me the designer I am today.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  

There’s a legendary story in my family about this. The story goes that when I was a little kid we were visiting family and were all having dinner together. For some reason the attention of the whole table turned to me and I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I responded, “A squash.” Then, after everyone laughed they told me I couldn’t be a squash so I said, “ok, I guess I’ll just be a firetruck then.” Honestly, I can’t remember ever wanting to be one specific thing for very long. There were so many things. But ironically, I never remember wanting to be a designer! And it’s not because I didn’t want to be one, I had never heard of it growing up.

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I learned about design after recording my very first album in 2000. I burned a bunch of CDs for a show I was doing at a coffee shop in Asheville called the Dripolator. However, I didn’t have an album cover. So I figured it out using Microsoft Publisher on a computer in the office of my Father’s church at the time. And that was the beginning of my hack-designer  career! It was also the beginning of my music career which lasted for several years. During that time I was designing our show posters, t-shirts, website, etc. By the end of it I was burned out and vowed never to do design work again. And then then the music industry tanked, we ran out of band money and my family started growing. There’s a much longer story here but I ended up going back to college which helped me make things right with my designer side. There, at UNC Asheville I fell in love with design. I loved being able to designe for someone else other than myself. Through the connections I made and work I did in college, I launched a company with my wife Meagan and that’s how we started our design careers.

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

The best part is the freedom to think big and get creative. The hardest part is talking money.

What on-the-job tools do you use every day?

Adobe Cloud for design
Google chrome for research/inspiration
Webflow for website development
Sonos with Spotify and Apple music
Flow (getflow.com) for team communications and project management
Slack for client communications

What about your community inspires you?

The openness and real-factor of my community makes me very inspired. Our community is made up of beautifully real people, and they’re kind. I don’t do fake well.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Grow where you’re planted.

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?

Failure comes pretty regularly. And I used to fear the “ultimate” failure. You know, like when you fail on a project and no one will hire you again and you end up destitute on the side of the road. But looking back on my career I recently discovered and interesting truth. I have never completely failed because I didn’t give up. I had times where it felt like I wasn’t going to get it right but if I kept going I knew I would find it. So as long as you keep going your successes will outnumber your failures. Just don’t give up.

What books/resources would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?

The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter (selling your work)
Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (becoming one with your work)
Traction by Gino Wickman (making a business out of your work)

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

Sleep

Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond?

This is going to sound sappy but I’d have to say my kids—because it’s still so pure. I smile when I see their pure and utter freedom.

2020 CreativeMornings Asheville T-shirt Design Contest - ON PAUSE temporarily!

The Rules:

Designs must be inspired by the CreativeMornings manifesto!

Draw your design on white paper using a black Sharpie, and take a photo of it in even light.

OR

You can use your computer to design - one-color only.

>>>Email it to nicole@moonlightmakers.com with the subject line CREATIVEMORNINGS SUBMISSION

Deadline to submit: March 20 at midnight

Winner gets bragging rights, an awesome prize pack from Moonlight Makers - including shirts with your design on them - and Golden Tickets (guaranteed seat at CreativeMornings) for the rest of 2020!

Stay tuned for more details on how this will unfold this spring. In the meantime, spend some time with the manifesto and get your submission in by midnight on March 20!

Check out this month’s edition of The Late Morning Show with host Tim Scroggs and this month’s speaker Dr. Kevan Frazier!

Speaker Spotlight - Dr. Kevan Frazier

Exec. Director, WCU Programs in Asheville | Co-Owner, Well Played Board Game Café | Founder, Asheville by Foot Walking Tours


Facebook | Instagram

Month: December | Theme: Silence

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.
I’ve been working in higher education as a teacher and administrator for more than 20 years.  I find great joy in helping folks find their paths in life through education.  I became an entrepreneur six years ago with my first small business, Asheville by Foot Walking Tours and again in 2017, with the opening of Well Played Board Game Café on Wall Street. Well Played has been a kind of graduate internship in entrepreneurship.  I’m really proud of what the WP team is accomplishing in creating a space where folks can be themselves, without fear, and can put their phones down to have real face-to-face connections with other human beings.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I had absolutely no clue.  That said, I loved playing teacher as a kid.  Nothing like giving your friends a quiz a playtime.

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I realized in my junior year of college that I wanted to go into higher education administration.  I also thought I wanted to be a professor but it wasn’t until I stood in front of a class for the time that I understood that teaching was my real path and that being an administrator and a business owner are all tied to being a teacher for me.  

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?
The best part is the students.  The hardest part is keeping the importance of education top-of-mind with policy makers and funders.

What about your community inspires you?
We still seem to be a community that can have a dialog and find compromise.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Pennies make dollars.

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
My greatest failure came when as a young higher education administrator I got ready to make a decision that was based on my career advancement and not my students.  A restless night’s sleep and good dose of self-awareness the next morning led me to change my decision.  

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?
Spend more time with my fiends.

Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond?
Karie and Rob with Shelter Collective are amazing design warriors and the work that Justin and Brandy of the Horse and Hero/Big Crafty do to support the creative community is exceptional.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Listen to be heard.

Host Tim Scroggs sits down with this month’s speaker David Hughes after his talk on the theme of Lost for CreativeMornings Asheville.

Speaker Spotlight - David Hughes, P.E.

Energy Engineer & Traditional Music Teacher

Month: November | Theme: Lost

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.
I am in a bit of a transition professionally.  Currently, I am renovating a house, teaching music part time, spending more time with my family and friends.  I am exploring new ways to generate income making music.   I also offer energy engineering and analysis services.  This is less in the Creative Mornings field, but still part of some of my weeks.    

What did you want to be when you grew up?
An engineer, but one that drives trains, rather than spreadsheets.  I have also wanted to be a musician, farmer, and educator.    

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?
Depends on the field.  Let’s go with music.  Mom bought me a guitar for my 12th birthday.  Dad bought me a 4-disc Smithsonian blues collection within the next year or so.  I’ve been passionately pursuing American roots music ever since.  

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?
Best part: singing with good people and students that are driven to learn and play music.
Worst part: students that I’m unable to inspire to want to learn and play music.

What on-the-job tools do you use every day?
Finger picks, slides, capos, tuners, and string winders.

What about your community inspires you?
Each year one particularly wonderful woman in our county decorates the bridge in Marshall with marigolds upon marigolds. It is an inspiring delight.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
If you’re going to start a business, make it one that an idiot could run…  I assumed they meant it offensively/jokingly to me specifically.  I thought it was funny, but also good business advice.  Buy low and sell high.

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
I once filled a diesel work truck’s fuel tank with gasoline.  I have never repeated that mistake.

What books/resources would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?
A Pattern Language.  It’s about design and construction, but should be in a creator’s library.  

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?
I’d give one to my daughter for getting ready for school, one to my wife for sleep, and split the last one with my son.  With that 30 minutes, I’d try to play music, go for a run, and get a little extra sleep.

Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond?
Old music - the thousands of Americans in early field recordings who sang for the sake of singing and how it made them feel. 
The Carter Family, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, and the Georgia Sea Island Singers.  

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