Next Chicago speaker

Adé Hogue

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June 29, 8:30am • Morgan's on Fulton • part of a series on Craft

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What a great week this is turning out to be—sunny, 80s and CreativeMornings with Tru Studio! Here’s a little interview we did with Steve and Anne in anticipation for their talk on reality

What do you love the most about your job?

The people we have met and the access to opportunities we have been afforded that would not be possible without our job. Our camera has been a key that has unlocked many doors for us, allowing us to experience things beyond our imagination.

With what you know now, what advice would you give yourselves back when you were just starting out?

Don’t stress out about all the little details–everything will work out just as it needs to. We have wasted so much time worrying about things that never even happened. Looking back, we wish we hadn’t spent the energy stressing so much.

What would be your dream project?

An international travel editorial or a fashion lifestyle lookbook on-location in an exotic country.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Traveling to new cities and countries, Pinterest, fashion brands, Designspiration, architectural and interior design, TV shows and movies with beautiful cinematography, and our daily walks around our neighborhood.

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

There are too many to choose from! But our current go to is caramelized onions, Italian sausage, and rosemary.

What does this month’s theme—reality—mean to you?

As photographers we are very aware of the difference between what we see and what is “real.” In a world driven by social media and the obsession of the curated life, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. But being on the other side and knowing how much work goes into making that scene, person, or object look that way helps us understand that “reality” isn’t very real these days. We strive to live a life that makes us happy versus one to make others envious.

Spring is officially here! Help us kick off the season with Dawn Hancock, a troublemaker, a bleeding heart, a designer by trade and a do-gooder by choice. She will be chiming in our risk series. Get to know her a bit better below and join us next Friday 4/29 at Morningstar! Tickets get released on Monday, 4/25 at 11am.

What are three things you love about working in the Humboldt Park neighborhood?

I love being part of a community with a rich history, culture and people. Our nonprofit arm, Reason to Give, has been focused on helping the needs of the community over the last 9 years, so I have gotten to know a lot of the people who live here. The more people I meet, the more I love being part of it.

What drives your desire to create?

Helping people. I feel like that is what I am on this planet to do.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?

Born, raised and schooled here, I’m a midwesterner and Chicagoan through and through. I absolutely love being able to work with clients to help make our city better. From helping small business take their organizations to a new level to giving nonprofits a voice and visual language they always knew was in them but didn’t know how to express, I feel insanely lucky to be able to help our great city become even better, one collaboration at a time.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Vanilla. Plain + simple.

List three words that begin with the letter “R” to describe your personality!

R.1 — real
R.2 — reserved
R.3 — resilient 

What does this month’s theme – risk– mean to you?

Risk feels like a dirty word. Like something you’re not supposed to do or feel. I say fuck that. Risk is something that should be embraced. Something that, one way or another, you learn from. The fear that most people feel that comes with risk prevents them following their hearts. Lets get rid of it. Lets think more like Brené Brown and open ourselves to being vulnerable and true and courageous. That’s where all the power is. 

Get a peek inside our heads to understand answers to all the questions you’ve ever asked yourself (or us!) when it comes to our events.

If you’ve been coming to CreativeMornings Chicago events since the start in 2011, you remember a time when you didn’t have to fear the waitlist button as much. When registration opened, you had time to log on, get a fresh cup of coffee and simply just breathe! Fast forward to the last 6 months and now our events sell out in 30 seconds, making you feel like you’ve won the lottery if you scored a seat. We know how frustrating it can be when you’re one of the unlucky ones. We completely understand, and we hear you! Which is why we wanted to take the time to write you the reasons why we don’t get bigger venues, why we do things this way and what you can expect.

It might sometimes look like we’re professionals at event planning who do this kind of thing full-time, but the reality is that we’re just a few people who have full-time jobs and volunteer our free time, and sometimes money out of our own pocket, to make CreativeMornings happen. Why? Because we LOVE this community, the good vibes it brings, meeting new people, watching others meet new people, getting inspired, hearing from someone we all admire, and all of us feeling motivated at the end of it to make positive changes in our own lives or in the lives of others, all at no cost to you.

Why the sponsors?
We alone can’t do CreativeMornings. To keep our events free to attend, we need people to donate the space and cover the cost of things like the breakfast, chair rental, event insurance and A/V rentals. We’re very careful about what companies we partner with to make sure we’re all a good fit. In return for their support, we give them thank you’s on stage, awareness through our communications and a big ‘ol hug. Everyone we partner with has a good heart, good intentions and truly cares about what we’re doing.

Please get bigger venues so more people can come!
We hear you, and we hear this a lot. We have gone from 100 people per event to 150-200 people per event as a norm now. In 2015, we did get bigger venues that held 200-300, thinking the more the merrier! What we didn’t anticipate was that more people means a more expensive event. Much more expensive. The cost of breakfast goes up significantly. And we move into a whole new category of venues—ones that are designated for events—which means they are not as inclined to donate the space when other people are willing to pay for it. We also noticed that the bigger our events got, the intimacy was lost. It stripped out the personal, small community feel we love so much about CreativeMornings. And when you go bigger, the expectations get bigger too. We started to be perceived at the same level of a conference, like a TED talk, and it’s just not who we are. In the end, we’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better.

Can you do the events more frequently or have the speaker give 2 presentations in the same day so more people can attend?
Because these events are all run by volunteers who donate their time outside of their full-time jobs, we have just enough time and energy to commit to planning one event per month. Each event takes around 25 hours to plan. One event per month is also the backbone of CreativeMornings. If we had a speaker give 2 presentations in the same day, we would have 2x the expenses, our volunteers would lose 2x the hours in their workday and our speaker would give 2x of their time for free.

My friend and I registered a minute apart. I got a ticket and they didn’t.
According to our stats, there are around 250 people trying to get a ticket the second they get released. Sometimes the rush does bad things to our website, and we’re always working to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you and your friend register even 10 seconds apart, there could be 40 people on the list between you. All tickets are first come, first served. When the clock strikes 11am, it’s a free for all - literally! The best advice we can give is to be logged in to your account at 10:59am so that when the clock strikes 11am, you are logged in and ready to click “Register”.

Do people really get let off the waitlist?
Yes! The earlier you can get on the waitlist, the better. When a person releases their ticket (and they do!), the next person in line on the waitlist gets their ticket. We also always release people from the waitlist to account for any no-shows.

The speaker didn’t feel too polished, like they haven’t done a talk before.
Our speakers are not professional speakers. In fact, CreativeMornings can sometimes be their first talk! They are all creative people who are doing amazing things in their industry, and we simply want to shine the spotlight on them to hear about their work, their process, their ideas, their inspiration and their story. This is the beauty of our events. It’s what we love about them! Our speakers work extremely hard to put together their talk for us, because speaking is usually not their forté. Getting a peek inside their heads is a very rare, fortunate experience for us all.

We hope this helps explain things a little better and answer any thoughts or questions you might have. We appreciate all of the support you’ve given us over the years and hope to continue planning these events for a long time to come.  

Much love,
The CM/Chi Team

It’s Spring! And what better way to active this beautiful season than with a talk by Architect/Urbanist, Carol Ross Barney? Armed with a civil bent, she has worked for two decades to build a coalition, advance a vision, and develop a design for the Riverwalk. For those of you that were lucky enough to snag a ticket, join us this Friday as Ross Barney chimes in on this month’s theme on Change.

Define “change” in one sentence or less.

CRB: Change is the only thing we live for!

What drives your desire to create?

CRB: I like to think about how much better I can make things for people.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?

CRB: Chicago is my home. I am continually fascinated by living in the second city.

What is your dream creative project?

CRB: All projects! It can be anything that makes life better, is exciting and memorable.

List three words that begin with the letter “c” to describe your personality!

CRB: Creative, Centered, Counter-intuitive.

What does this month’s theme – change– mean to you?

CRB: The Future!

Cheers to February! This month’s theme is Ethics, a topic that impacts many of our approach towards developing meaningful creative work. Writer-slash-artist, Tim Seeley will be sharing his thoughts with us. He has drawn a number of different comic book series including G.I Joe, Halloween, Wildcats and Ex Sanguine. His writing work includes NY Times bestselling Hack/Slash, Grayson, Batman Eternal and the critically acclaimed Revival. You can also find his work on the bottles of Zombie Dust from 3 Floyds Brewing Co. 

Tim! Define “ethics” in once sentence or less.

TIM: Well, without totally cheating and copying from Wikipedia, I’d say Ethics is the ongoing discussion of what makes human activities morally right or wrong.

What drives your desire to create?

TIM: Fear? Neuroses? Affection and passion? All of these things combined into one chaotic motivational soup?

How does Chicago influence you or your work?

TIM: One of the great things about Chicago is that it allows me to meet with and be surrounded by all kinds of people, especially creative people. Being able to hang out with other people who are passionate about making things (and beer) helps get me through the tough times.

What is your dream creative project?

TIM: In a lot of ways, I’ve already gotten to do all of my ‘dream projects.’ At this point I think I’m looking for a new dream. I think it’d be nice to work on just ONE thing at a time, and really focus on it. In comics, that tends to be pretty difficult, and I’m beginning to resent having my attention split over so many stories and projects.

List three words that begin with the letter “e” to describe your personality!

TIM: Eclectic. Expedient. Extroversive.

How does this month’s theme – ethics– mean to you?

TIM: I grew up reading superhero comics, and I think so much of what I perceive as right or wrong comes from Superman and Spider-Man, and other men and women in tights. Sometimes, I’m shocked that not everyone  at least tries to live up to those standards, and sometimes I think I’m still naive for bothering. I think it’s tough to maintain strong beliefs as you age, and own your own business, and work for people who may not have your best interests in mind. But, I think it’s sad that more people don’t at least try.

Registration opens today at 11am CST. Join us, yeah? 


Did you miss Jenna Blazevich’s talk last month at Second City? Don’t worry! We’ve captured some of our favorite thoughts and moments that compelled our delightful community to get instagram and twitter involved. Take a peek at some of the #CMTakeaways and keep the conversation going! Go forth and explore!

Ended up with some physical #cmtakeaways this morning. Thanks @chicago_cm and @vichcraft !

A photo posted by jdkuzma (@jdkuzma) on

That’s a whole lot of people meeting each other. #cmtakeaways #creativemornings #secondcity

A photo posted by Stephanie V. Strauss (@straussphotography) on

Next up: Tim Seeley, one of those “slash” people…a writer-slash-artist, chimes in on our Ethics series . He and 4 others founded Four Star Studios when they decided they were tired of working from home and rented an office together just to get out of the house. It didn’t take long for them to realize they had significant art, writing, design and programming talent gathered under one roof. You can find Tim in Chicago, where he is never far from his 80s action figure collection. Luckily, we have Tim for a whole two hours on Friday, Feb. 26. Ditch your morning meetings and join us at Onion Productions! Whataya say?

Triple high five!



Did you miss all of the magic that happened when Jen Serafini, Anthony Roberts and Mary Fons took the stage last month? Don’t fret! We’ve collected some of our favorite #CMTakeaways from our ever growing community of creatives that attend the final Creative Mornings of 2015. Go forth and explore some of the thoughts that were captured (and then watch this super awesome video)!

*wip* Q&A inked first pass #100daycreativechallenge 17/100

A photo posted by Eddy Mumbles Design Co. (@eddymumbles) on

Next up: Letterer, designer and calligrapher, Jenna Blazevich takes the stage to chime in on our Language series. She currently works under the moniker, Vichcraft at Some Office in Bucktown. Join us at Second City or follow the conversation using the hashtag #CMTakeaways. This is a morning of creativity you definitely won’t want to miss. See you bright and early tomorrow morning!

Double high five + happy Spring (I mean Winter)!



Did you miss all of the magic that happened when Jen Serafini, Anthony Roberts and Mary Fons took the stage last month? Don’t fret! We’ve collected some of our favorite #CMTakeaways from our ever growing community of creatives that attend the final Creative Mornings of 2015. Go forth and explore some of the thoughts that were captured (and then watch this super awesome video)!

*wip* Q&A inked first pass #100daycreativechallenge 17/100

A photo posted by Eddy Mumbles Design Co. (@eddymumbles) on

Next up: Letterer, designer and calligrapher, Jenna Blazevich takes the stage to chime in on our Language series. She currently works under the moniker, Vichcraft at Some Office in Bucktown. Join us at Second City or follow the conversation using the hashtag #CMTakeaways. This is a morning of creativity you definitely won’t want to miss. See you bright and early tomorrow morning!

Double high five + happy Spring (I mean Winter)!


We’re jumping into 2016 with the theme of Language. It’s a topic of personal interest to me, and one I see moving into the forefront of our cultural consciousness. Designer and letterer extraordinaire, Jenna Blazevich, will be sharing her thoughts with us. In the past year, Jenna’s been building a reputation around Chicago as not only a wildly talented artist, but as a person who puts her values into words. She balances client work with self-initiated projects through her studio Vichcraft and you may recognize her stunning lettering from Typeforce, the Renegade Craft Fair, or a patch on your best friend’s jacket.

What drives your desire to create?
The things that have driven my desire to create have certainly been different throughout my life, but the sense of urgency that I’ve felt about executing any of my ideas has been a constant the entire time. Before I began studying design in school, I was designing and crafting little art pieces for my family and friends, both because that was/is my love language, and because it was a consistent outlet for learning how to work with all of the different mediums that I was interested in. As time passed, I became lucky enough to be commissioned to make pieces inspired by my portfolio of those personal projects, and I also sharpened my design skills by working at a few different agencies. Instead of keeping my design life at a 9-to-5 and my post-work artistic endeavors separate, I convinced myself that I could launch a studio that combined them in a marketable and sustainable way. So far, so good!How does Chicago influence you or your work?
Chicago is a truly fascinating city to live in, and even more so for a young creative person. There is no shortage of visual inspiration (architecture, signage, parks, museums, people), and the design community is incredibly talented, humble, hard-working and inclusive. I’m very fortunate to get to run my business out of a co-working space that has introduced me to so many people and projects and communities, and the symbiotic way that we are all able to create there is sort of reflective of how Chicago is as a whole. In this city, there is opportunity, excitement, despair, injustice, accomplishment, failure, connection, disconnection. It’s all happening, and it all affects how and what I create. What is your dream creative project?
There isn’t a specific one that pops into my head immediately, but it would probably include collaborating with creative ladies that I admire on a large-scale installation project that was made using some insanely intricate/repetitive technique, and was inspired by a topic motivated by social consciousness and also possibly had a little bit of a sense of humor? Haha. Is this possible? Maybe one day.How do you see the relationship between your work and your personal/political values impacting one another?
My personal/political views have already been impacting my work for years, and they seem to more and more with each project. When I first started practicing lettering, I was choosing phrases that were pretty unobjectionable. Sweet and delicate phrases seem like an appropriate match with calligraphy, but I quickly grew frustrated with how predictable that felt. The more skilled I became with my tools, the more inspired I felt to use my lettering pieces as opportunities to beautify phrases that represent taking a stance on something. It feels not only important but also the most genuine for me to create work that’s inspired by what I’m passionate about in my personal life. How does this month’s theme—language—speak to you?
At first, I was really intimidated to speak on the topic of language, because I’m not a talented writer by any means. But the more I reflected on it, the more I began to understand that language is what links my entire design career together. The fake band posters I made in high school were based on lyrics pulled from a song, and my years spent in fashion school included screen printing band names and artwork on my assignments. My first design job introduced me to the concept of lettering being one’s specialty, and handwritten mail was what kept me in touch with all of my coworkers, family, friends, and mentors in the years that followed. As a person who doesn’t aim to overspecialize in any one craft, it satisfies me that one of the consistent themes throughout my entire portfolio is letters. Artwork made of words is infinitely applicable to different mediums, issues, spaces, etc., and it is extremely exciting for me to wonder what I’ll get to apply words to in the future.

This Q+A is a swan song for me as I step back from manning the Creative Mornings blog, but I’ll be sure to see you at Jenna’s talk on January 29th at Second City. Registration opens next Monday at 11am

Girls to the front!

Looking Back at 2015

This year has been really great for us. CreativeMornings started out 2015 with 104 chapters and we now have 130 chapters all over the world. We're happy to say Chicago was #5—our chapter was established in 2011 and this month we celebrated our 49th event!

Though we've been doing these events for 4+ years, we encountered many firsts in 2015. For speakers, we had our first fashion designer, architect, museum director, comedian, instrument maker, chef, mosaic artist, performance artist, street artist, journalist and quilter! We also introduced "30 Second Pitches", where 2 members from the audience come up to share something that will have a positive effect on them or our community. And finally, we had our first Partner, Braintree, who sponsored every event in 2015 (and will continue throughout 2016)!

We learned to see the beautiful in the ugly, empathize with our clients, and how taking action could change your life, among other things. Watch the video above to take a look back at some great moments in 2015. Special thanks to all the speakers, volunteers, and sponsors who made this year possible, and to you for giving our events purpose and being an integral part of our community.

We look forward to keeping this good thing going in 2016!

Photos by: Chris Gallevo, Chris Mendoza and Stephanie Strauss
Video by: Ben Derico, Alejandro Moore, Anica Wu, Emily Kosciuk, and Chris Mendoza