Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Eric Foster, a Infographics Designer and Owner at EF Creative. He believes that visual information is more powerful than we give it credit for and has taken it on as his mission to communicate visually.

What is your special creative force?

I would have to say my special creative force is sketching.  I’ve been drawing ever since I was a child.  I got really into colored pencil renderings in high school and even pursued quite a bit of drawing throughout College. Unfortunately I don’t take the time to draw like I used to, but I do find time to sketch almost every day.  Sketching helps me develop ideas that I later digitally interpret in Adobe Illustrator.

In general, I will sketch alongside notes as I plan out each week and what needs to be accomplished.  Being able to scribble something on a piece of paper or in an app and then letting that idea marinate or incubate in my mind for a few days can be really powerful.  I think this can really lend itself to not only coming up with creative ways to problem solve, but also can lend itself to coming up with a better solutions for Graphic Design as well as when I am building an infographic.  

In the spirit of July 2017’s theme, #CMequality, can you share your ideas on how design can promote equality and togetherness?

I think design can be used to make the “Third Place” more inviting on some small levels.  But I think design in the sense of how an event is composed, is where the true power resides. I really like the idea of a third space, like a bar, art opening, barber shop or the Creative Mornings Talks. These spaces and events really lend themselves to bringing together people with different values, socio-economic backgrounds and different belief systems.  Getting a wide range of people in a room chatting over a beverage can just facilitate human interaction.  I believe this human interaction can lead to Equality, mostly by humanizing all people across the spectrum, from the janitor to the judge.

Where do you feel most inspired in Buffalo?

I’m not sure if I feel the most inspired, happy or just peaceful at this place, but “Hunter’s Creek”!  It is one of my favorite places to go for a Hike.  There’s something magical about it to me.  I try to go once a week and spend some hours there, hiking, chatting with friends and just taking in the beautiful scenery while snapping a few photos.  Sometimes I even use a color app to capture the colors that I photograph.  Most times I just leave my phone in my pocket and enjoy a peaceful hike.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?

I am very excited to be working with Sam Insalaco on turning the theBREWROOM’s Process into an infographic!  Next up, I’ll be collaborating with my friend Val Grigoriou on an infographic series about basic Bicycle repair. Besides those, there are some Infographics on Health, Visual Information and Star Wars in the EF Creative incubator.  And even though the project I’m about to mention has been completed, I can’t help but acknowledge that I was honored to be able to create an infographic for the one and only Creative Mornings Buffalo chapter!

Thanks, Eric!

July 2017′s theme for CMbuf is Equality.

We imagine a world where we’re seen and heard, respected and valued, not for our appearance and privilege, but for our work and character. A world where anyone, anywhere, has equal access to opportunities and resources to become the person they dream about. The formula for equality is a work in progress, and this work is not done from the few with power but rather through the power of community.

Equality is harmony. Harmony isn’t achieved through one instrument; it’s a collaboration, a symphony of sounds that adds richness and texture to the bigger picture. The pursuit of equality is a long-term game, an unraveling of outdated processes that no longer serves the future we imagine or deserve.

This month’s global exploration of Equality is chosen by our Johannesburg chapter, illustrated by Katt Phatlane, and presented by… Adobe! Yes, you read that correctly.

Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Tai Moore, a blogger/influencer/model who loves fashion with whimsy, is T-shirt obsessed,  is a professional chocolate chip cookie connoisseur and shares thoughts on health & wellness at Freckles Fashion and Flaws.

What is your special creative force?

Fashion is my special creative force, and not in the surface sense of the word. It’s so much more for me. Not just for myself, but helping others find their voice through visual expression as well. I’m VERY intuitive, so “decorating” one’s self with who you want to be, what you want to give off, the energy you want to attract…are all things I’m good at helping to express. (It even carries over into interior design).
I go to bed every night with a goal in mind for the next day. It could be: I’m feeling extra sassy, so maybe I’ll wear red or hot pink! Or, If I discover a new bend in life’s road, I may reach for a clean, easy outfit. Even on those simple days when I just want to be comfortable and free…it’s my feelings that are the catalyst to every piece I wear.
To me, there’s meaning behind everything! Fashion and design is the arena where I feel my creative juices flow! In the spirit of June 2017’s theme, #CMsurvival, can you share the components of life that are critical for you to survive and succeed as a creative?

For me, a component of life that is critical in surviving as a creative is confidence. Confidence is really the foundation to all things creative. In turn, it gives me the courage to express myself, as well as the things I’m continuing to learn about myself. That is the second critical component, and finally, self esteem. Maintaining my self esteem is critical in order for me to survive and thrive in this aspect. Where do you feel most inspired in Buffalo?

I’m an introvert, so I feel most inspired doing simple things by myself. Like sitting in coffee shops and people watching while reading a book. There’s this big weeping willow tree at Glen Falls that I love sitting under. I also LOVE going to one of our local libraries and finding a quiet corner to zone out in.What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?

I’m currently working on a of couple projects that have to do with my chocolate chip cookie obsession and T shirts. I’m super excited about my #taistshirttuesdays. Every Tuesday, rain or shine, I share a T shirt with the world from a company that partners with me to do so, (or if I find one I absolutely can’t live without). I’ve always loved T shirts so I’ve been working on my own line behind the scenes. It’s been in the works for a while now and I can’t wait to share it with everyone! Of course with me it goes way deeper than JUST a T shirt. The motivation and story behind it will be totally worth the wait. Stay tuned…

Thanks, Tai!!

The ability to overcome adversity and withstand waves of turbulent times is part of the human spirit. In our hardwiring, it is the oldest of threads that also fuels our creativity.

Stories of survival resonate because they remind us of our inherent power to adapt and change. A choice is always present, and survival is about choosing to move forward.

This month, our creativity will be empowered by the humbling stories of survival—from job loss, heartbreak, to life-altering moments. We must not forget that the necessity of survival imbues us. The fact that we’re fragile and complex doesn’t make us weak; in fact, it makes us stronger.

The theme was chosen by our Baltimore chapter and illustrated by Timo Kuilder.

Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Rob Hopkinsa designer and art director who has worked from coast to coast and had his hand in just about every industry along the way. Rob says, “I thrive off the challenge of being creative, whether it’s for a client or for a self initiated project. I am the founder of Stronghold Studio, an identity design and branding studio, and I also run Buffalo Made Co.—a Buffalo themed lifestyle product line with an original point of view and style. I am dedicated to re-instating Buffalo as a manufacturer of quality through the practice of good design.”

What is your special creative force?

I’ve been creating some form of art since I was 2. My mom actually has a photo of me then, holding a pencil properly and doodling intricate little squiggles - I was never a scribbler. So I guess it makes sense that I ended up becoming a designer. I’ve never stopped creating for as long as I can remember, so I guess my special creative force is that I’ve been obsessed with this stuff since I was toddler.

In the spirit of May 2017’s theme, #CMserendipity, can you share a recent creative moment when a pleasant surprise or happy accident influenced your work? 

One thing that I love about being in the creative business is how new work and new people seem to just find you. Falley Allen is a good example. They were just looking to do a mural, asked a friend who asked me if I knew anyone, I said yeah…me haha. One thing lead to another and I ended up doing all of the branding for them…still trying to get them to do the mural though! I think that’s the really important reason it’s good to put yourself and your work out there so those moments just happen when you’re least expecting them to.Where do you feel most inspired in Buffalo?

In the car. I never really paid much attention to Buffalo. I grew up in Grand Island, went to college in Fredonia and then immediately moved to San Diego for 4 years. But every time I came home to visit I’d my parents car to go out and do things, it was those visits that made me fall in love with the city and ultimately move back. I still get that same feeling today when I drive around, especially with all that’s happening.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?

This year I’ve really been pushing myself to make more for Buffalo Made Co. So far this year I’ve designed and released 12 new products, which is more than I did all of last year. My goal was to get to 25 new products this year so I’ve got a ways to go but it’s looking good! So yeah, check it out if you haven’t, the more I sell the more I can make. The whole thing is really rewarding.

Thanks, Rob!

The theme for May 2017 was chosen by our Moscow chapter and illustrated by Anton Yermolov.

The term ‘serendipity’ was coined in 1754 by the aristocrat Horace Walpole. While reading a Persian fairytale called “The Three Princes of Serendip,” he wrote to a friend to share his realization. “The princes were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

When you hear stories about serendipity, they have an undertone of delight, pleasure, and sometimes profound transformation. These unforeseen, joyful accidents are often the opportunities we seek and cherish—and above all, they’re moments that we don’t forget.

How might we see, embrace, or cultivate serendipity? In 170 cities throughout 62 countries, we’ll hear about the unplanned moments that led to something new.

Welcome to our monthly interview series, #buffaloiscreative, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

Meet Claudia Carballada, an artist whose practice is rooted in drawing and painting, and extends to installation and performance. 

What is your special creative force?

This is something that is challenging to bring solidity to. For me, the energy of this force is primordial. It is beyond the beyond, flows through me and manifests itself physically. You just ‘do’ because you just can’t help yourself, there is nothing else. The poet Federico Garcia Lorca calls it ‘duende’. Its almost like a spirit! It’s a heightened awareness on an energetic level that is bursting with inspiration and commands one to take action. For me it activates at various levels, mostly in translating energy - movement, emotion, light (color) - in a physical way though painting, drawing, sculpture and manipulating space for theatrical performance. So I tend to gravitate intuitively toward things that awaken this. For instance, my work appears very figurative and organic. The mark making is gestural, it is a translation of this energy. Specific things that ignite this are dance, architecture, nature, or something of a lyrical world that is non tangible!

In the spirit of April2017’s theme, #CMbeyond, can you talk about a time where you stretched yourself beyond your normal limits to achieve something wonderful?
Getting a Masters degree in Fine Art. A fantastical dream that I never considered a possibility. I have to admit that the back story to getting there was the boundary stretch. The MFA was the wonderful consequence. An accident severely pinched multiple nerves in my neck. After 3 years of doctors and physical rehabilitation, I still had very limited mobility and was in pain. I was not healing from this accident. I have come to believe that there are no coincidences, so I will say that auspiciously, I met a yogi with incredible intuition who worked in healing modalities very new to me at that time. He said he could help me, but I was so miserable and cynical, my response was ‘yeah, right, sure you can’, being the special being he is, he just smiled and nodded. Since I could barely move, the last thing I was interested in was yoga. I ran into him again at a moment when I was feeling helpless, even more miserable and vulnerable. After a long conversation, I let down my guard and decided to work with him. I worked with him for a year. Yoga not only healed me on a physical level, the energetic aspects of yoga started to free my spirit, and my perspective on many things changed. It was really hard work. This accident was a huge wake up call to the beauty of life, one that was ahead of me filled with possibilities. Off I went to grad school, a huge achievement for me. I still practice yoga, have a devoted meditation practice and study energies of the subtle body, another wonderful consequence.

Where do you feel most inspired in Buffalo?
I moved to Buffalo from Los Angeles about 6 months ago. As I acquaint myself with the city, I have found more than a few places where I feel inspired! One of these places is Kleinhans Music Hall. When weather permits, I like to go there, and sit by the pool of water, watching the reflections and cast tree shadows move on its surface. I love the structure of the building and the patterns of the bricks. I spend a lot of time there drawing.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?
I am extremely fortunate to be collaborating with the Lehrer Dance Company. This past November, I did two live drawing performances with Lehrer Dance at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and will be performing with them for their 10th Anniversary Gala (April 1st!) at UB Center For Performing Arts. It is truly wonderful to work with these outstanding dancers, and, a dream come true!

Thank you, Claudia!

The theme for our event on April14th is BEYOND. 

We are tempted by the possibilities of the beyond. Whether it’s deep space, the range of our talents, or a first date, our minds conjure stories that carry us aloft.

This unwavering, deep-seated determination to go far and wide is the fire that which keeps us alive, always marching forward, determined to lift the veils that are hiding unfounded beauty.

What a trait to embody. Without the urge to go beyond perceived limitations or boundaries, we would be a dull, stagnating species indeed. The price to go beyond anything is never free; we’re called to face our fears, and the reward of reaching that next level is the privilege to do it again.

This month’s global exploration of Beyond is presented by Shutterstock. The theme was chosen by our Bengaluru chapter and illustrated by Ranganath Krishnamani.

Book List: Taboo

“She started thinking about all the euphemisms for death, all the anxious taboos that had always fascinated her. It was too bad you could never have an intelligent discussion on the subject. People were either too young or too old, or else they didn’t have time.”

Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”

John Steinbeck

I have always found it interesting to consider not just the topics we choose to avoid speaking about, but why it came to be that way. The word Taboo in itself draws odd glances when you say it out loud. I know this from personal experience since I wrote this in a coffee shop. The idea that merely speaking about something, that uttering into existence the concept is so heinous that it must be avoided, gives such a power to language and communication. Oddly, the very act of trying to suppress an idea inherently gives it weight. The irony there is inescapable and rather pleasing. This month we’re discussing the topic of Taboo and approaching it from many angles. Why does something get to be perceived that way? What can correct those views? Can reclaiming a Taboo be an act of resistance? We’ll find out in the books below.

7 Books Directly, Contextually, or Tangentially about Taboo:

  1. Giovanni’s Room — James Baldwin | In America we have this weird way of acting like the smallest sliver of progress equates to a complete negation of the way things were before. I am twenty-nine years old and grew up through the early two-thousands in a sea of toxic-masculinity and homophobia. Both of these issues still exist and run rampant. When we hate things blindly it is often because we are unfamiliar with them, or only know of them through caricature representations. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin presents a narrative with complex representations of homosexuality and bi-sexuality. These were presented to a reading public in 1956 with empathy and artistry, and the novel is credited with creating broader public discourse on the topics. Suppression can cause misunderstanding, but shining the light on a taboo can begin the discussion of why we’ve labeled it that way.
  2. Hate: A Romance: A Novel — Tristan Garcia | “Despite its cultured Gallic sensibilities, “Hate,” as translated by Marion Duvert and Lorin Stein, is surprisingly taut and readable. Garcia, a trained philosopher, has managed to write — in fewer than 300 pages, no less — the kind of social novel his American counterparts too often avoid in favor of solipsistic musings.

    He certainly doesn’t write what he knows: born in 1981, Garcia was a toddler when the Marais became the epicenter of gay life in Paris. But through his narrator, the journalist Elizabeth Lavallois, he credibly describes (at least to this outsider) that world as AIDS encroaches.” – New York Times Book Review

    Demonizing groups of individuals is one of the most tried and true methods to oppress them and keep them outside what is accepted as mainstream. When the AIDS epidemic shook the world it was given connotations, as if it were reserved for the LBGTQ community. Because of this, people overlooked HIV and AIDS as a human problem—as if it were not theirs—and made it a taboo. Garcia’s novel explores Paris in 1981 and takes us into a world that people of the time preferred to not speak about.

  3. Harry Potter Series — J.K. Rowling | There are many reasons to include the Harry Potter series on this list. Aside from being banned because of offense taken by the Catholic Church for a representation of sorcery that they find heretic, we can also find multiple examples of Taboo in the text. There are scary parallels between mud-bloods, mixed magical and non-magical blood, Muggles, non-magical people who are viewed by certain entities in the series as “less than” and our own society. The most obvious example of taboo, which relates back to our observation on the power of words—and more specifically, names—comes in the suppression of the use of Voldemort’s name. As observed in the book, doing so gives him power. By being unable to face the monster, it retains its mythical status. Harry Potter is chock full of taboo and more often than not shows, the more we understand each other, the better off we are. 
  4. American Blasphemies — Megan Kemple | This is an upcoming chapbook from poet Megan Kemple. The book approaches topics of military family life, domestic and sexual violence, and the stains on the backside of the American flag. In the authors own words: 

    It’s taboo for me for a couple of reasons. First of all, in a military community, being anything less than violently republican is tantamount to treason. The cover alone, before they read a single word, will be enough for most people I’ve grown up with to never speak to me again. There’s a code of silence, you don’t talk about the violence at home or abroad. Keeping family secrets is treated like a matter of national security. So talking about anything at all to do with the military in a real way is automatically taboo. Sexual violence is also something you’re not supposed to talk about. It makes people uncomfortable, it changes the way they see you, and if you talk about it too much people decide you’re just looking for attention. It puts people off to talk about rape and consensual sex in the same book, because it ruins the idea of “the good victim”, which is something that doesn’t exist. So if I had to boil it down, it’s taboo because I’m basically the Edward Snowden of military family life and my mistakes in life never made me apologetic.”

  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns — Khaled Hosseini “ | Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.” – Goodreads.com As Americans we avoided talking too much about the effects our countries actions have worldwide. It is difficult to fathom the impact of a drone strike, of destabilization, of rubble in the street, and how that can possibly fit into the outline that is a human life. We are removed from it. We are detached. Representations of it in a true sense, as in not American Sniper where faceless “bad guys” fall to a patriotic propaganda character, barely exist. If we are shown the horror, it’s from the perspective of the person on our side. A Thousand Splendid Suns breaks the silence barrier. If empathy comes from understanding, than understanding starts with talking about it.
  6. Frankenstein — Mary Shelley | There is a mystique among writers when it comes to Frankenstein and the book’s creation during a stormy summer in England. A workshop of writers sat down, and due to the weather, decide to write some horror stories. The result is the classic tale of man becoming God, what that entails, and the questions of science—how far our ability should outpace our understanding. The taboo here is apparent in many places. From Dr. Frankenstein’s obsession and the cadaver parts, to the assumption that man and God could possibly inhabit the same role, Shelley calls into question many topics that—especially at the time—were socially and religiously unacceptable.
  7. Lord of the Flies — William Golding | In high school a teacher gave an assignment to write a parody of Lord of the Flies. For whatever reason I completely misunderstood that parody’s were supposed to be funny and instead wrote an allusion changing out the kids for soldiers and the concept in the book that intrigued me so much in the first place, the invisible ring around each of the boys, for the perimeter the soldiers must maintain. Early in the book, soon after they find themselves stranded on the island with no adults, an older child is throwing rocks in the direction of a younger one. It is observed that the only reason he is not directly striking the younger child is because he is afraid that someone will yell at him, suggesting that at our base, the only things really protecting us from each other is the fear of reprisal. We go to great lengths in our contemporary lives to convince ourselves that we are far removed from our most base instincts. To have to confront this may not be the case is cause for uncomfortable conversation at best, at worst it causes us to begin exploring a reality that exists right below our surface. One we’d prefer not to talk about.

    Author: Benjamin Brindise

    Benjamin Brindise is a poet, Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Writing Center, and curator of the CreativeMornings/Buffalo book list. He is a Buffalo-based writer, facilitating youth poetry workshops across the city, and in his spare time spits late 90’s and early 00’s hip hop lyrics with his band, Surviving Friday.