Next Chicago speaker

Leah Ball

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March 31, 8:30am • Braintree • part of a series on Taboo

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In honor of the new year we are excited to launch #CMTakeaways, a new segment that encourages Creative Mornings attendees to share their favorite moments, reflections, or connections made from our monthly breakfast series. 

At the first gathering of 2015, local Fashion Designer Maria Pinto rocked the house by exploring the messy part of her creative process and her strong connection to the art world. The audience deeply connected with Maria’s candid demeanor and ambitious mentality, especially when she explained that “you can’t be shy and you can’t be afraid” when producing creative work. Below are a few snapshots captured by some of our lovely guests who aren’t afraid of “embracing the ‘ugly’ beginnings of making any vision real.”


Stefani Bachetti illustrates a roadmap of some of her #CMTakeaways in this beautiful sketch note.


Elijah McKinnon (hey, that’s me!) visualizes some of his favorite #CMTakeaways from Maria’s interview with this amazing sketch note. 

Most shared #CMTakeaways from Maria Pinto’s interview:

#CreativeMornings with Maria Pinto with @chicago_cm

A photo posted by Sharlene King (@typodactyl) on

Great time at @chicago_cm yesterday listening to fashion inspiration Maria Pinto with @thehatgirl

A photo posted by Martha J. (@mjdesignphoto) on

A special thanks to everyone that shared their insights and sketches from last month’s Creative Mornings. Hashtag your favorite #CMTakeaways at Katherine Darnstadt’s talk this Friday for a chance to be featured in our next roundup.

I look forward to seeing you all this Friday!

Warmth + high-fives,



Up this month (err, this Friday!) is Katherine Darnstadt, the architect and principal behind Latent Design. Our theme this month is Climate. After debating the many interpretations of the idea, the CM CHI team agreed that Katherine’s holistic, collaborative, and community-centered approach to architecture and urban design — considering the social, economic and environmental context of every project — made her the ideal person to hand the mic to.

Katherine and her team have tackled projects ranging from repurposing the 1970’s wood paneling of the transforming Chicago Women’s Health Center to outlandish placemaking in Union Station to manifesting sustainable ways to transport healthy food to local food deserts with the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market.


We asked Katherine a few questions to get to know her even better.

What drives your desire to create?
To use design as a tool to create a built environment that is equitable and to design for gaps in the critical social, political and visual infrastructure of the city.

How does Chicago influence you?
Watching, reacting and designing around the power structures of the city as they shift and invert.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
I am most proud of the projects that were the first prototypes that ultimately influenced a larger design system. Our mobile market project has been replicated across the US and Canada, we recently completed a youth maker space that was a prototype for a national organization, and will be launching a city wide public space initiative. 

I am proud of every project we have designed and immensely fortunate to have worked with and now employ such thoughtful designers. But at the same time, there are opportunities to critically evaluate and learn from the projects, which I dwell on more than the celebration.

What role does collaboration play in your creative process?
We collaborate to create a process that is porous and allows for multiple points of influence, comment and alteration. It is central to our participatory and community based designs, and without collaboration, it becomes a top down dictatorial design process.

What does this month’s theme – climate – mean to you?
The title of my talk is “Let’s Not Talk About The Weather”…

That talk title just might be my favorite so far. If you feel the same, don’t forget to register tomorrow morning!


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.