Next Chicago speaker

JC Rivera

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June 23, 8:30am • Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago • part of a series on Survival

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For our 42nd Creative Mornings in Chicago, we invited the witty Kevin Lynch to chime in on our Revolution series. Not only was his talk jam-packed with hilarious stories from his self-initiated projects, he also shared many poignant, yet often overlooked, truths. Kevin continued to remind us that if you look too far ahead in life you’ll ruin the surprise. We’re delighted to share with you some of the wonderful moments captured from his talk hosted at Gene Siskel Film Center.

“Let’s revolutionize the way people #sharewithintenet” -@elijaa_

Wise words from Kevin Lynch. #cmtakeaways @yearbnb @chicago_cm

A photo posted by Stephanie Strauss (@straussphotography) on

#cmtakeaways: I’m so grateful to be involved with this wonderful community month after month 👌

A photo posted by goldi koxz (@elijaa_) on

Save the date for our next talk on Friday, July 24. We’ll be exploring the world of Sandra and Mathieu Holl of Floriole at Cards Against Humanity. The Chicago-based pastry chefs will shed some light towards our Collaborate series. Registration opens on Monday, July 20 at 11am CDT. Don’t miss out! And as always, a special thanks to everyone that shared their thought-provoking #CMTakeaways from this month’s talk. Please do keep em’ coming!

Cheers to summer! Make it a great month!



Taking the stage at the Gene Siskel Film Center this month is ad man and nomad Kevin Lynch. Kevin’s best known for his handful of self-initiated projects including Chair Free Chicago and most recently YearBnB. He’ll be sharing his ideas on the theme of Revolution.

Time for the Q+A!

What drives your desire to create?
I have the social skills of a Neanderthal, and creating things helps me fake being interesting while at cocktail parties. Though sadly, the illusion never seems to last long.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
I’ve lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Toronto, Shanghai, and now Hong Kong (sort of). Each place has contributed to who I am, but Chicago has far and away been the strongest influence. Here, I learned lifelong lessons about the value of a strong work ethic, the benefit of treating people well, and the importance of camaraderie. By comparison, in Los Angeles, I learned you can build a marijuana pipe out of a Bic pen.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
I find dissatisfaction to be a great motivator. So whether it’s a work project or a personal one like raising a daughter, I always end up seeing the things that I can do better next time.

What does this month’s theme of revolution mean to you?
Sheesh, what do you want me to do, give away the whole talk right here?!? Let’s just say that, in hindsight, the theme is much more personally relevant than I realised.

What’s your take on Airbnb’s new logo?
Airbnb’s logo is like some of the beds I’ve experienced: uncomfortable at first, but not enough to make me lose sleep.

Kevin will be joining us on June 26th. If you still need convincing, when’s the last time you got to eat popcorn in a movie theatre for breakfast? This could be your first!


For our 41st Creative Mornings in Chicago, we invited the brilliant Ian Schneller of Specimen Products to share some important insights towards our Robot series. Not only did he transport the crowd to another dimension he reminded us that nothing can beat human artistry. As the man behind Specimen Products and the Chicago School of Guitar Making stated so eloquently, “If you care it’s easy, if you don’t care it’s a job.” We’re elated to share with you some of the magical moments captured from last week’s talk hosted at Braintree.

You gotta look for the stuff if you care about it or it won’t manifest #cmtakeaways #creativemornings

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

Creative mornings lecture by Ian Schneller of @specimenproducts #cmtakeaways

A photo posted by Ketija Ratniece (@ratandniece) on

“If you care, it’s easy. If you don’t care, it’s a job.” - Ian Schneller of @SpecimenProducts #CMTakeaways

A photo posted by Chicago CreativeMornings (@chicago_cm) on

Save the date for our next talk on Friday, June 26. We’ll be diving in to the worldview of Kevin Lynch at the Gene Siskel Film Center as he sheds some light towards our Revolution series. Registration opens on Monday, June 22 at 11am CDT. Don’t miss out! And as always, a special thanks to everyone that shared their #CMTakeaways from this month’s talk. Keep em’ coming!

Make it a powerful month!


If you’ve listened to any indie or alternative rock over the past decade, then there’s a good chance you’ve encountered one of Ian Schneller’s hand-crafted stringed instruments or amplifiers. As the man behind Specimen Products and the Chicago School of Guitar Making, Ian’s built an impressive client list including Andrew Bird, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, and even Seth Godin. He’ll be joining us on May 22nd at Braintree to break down his thoughts on the theme of Robot.

What drives your desire to create?
I am driven to create by some instinctive inner force. I think it is a byproduct of training my intuitive sensory abilities and my fascination with geometry and mechanics. I am endlessly amused by juxtaposing form with function. There is such beauty in nature, I want to help it be seen by us.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
For me Chicago represents an almost compulsory and traditional pilgrimage up from the south.  For me this was a place where rampant industry and business wit outpaced the more laconic oeuvre of the south. I wanted to hear lots of noise when I was young and I found it here in Chicago.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
I am most proud of the fact that my students are now receiving college credit for learning things that I was once exiled from the art world for.

What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a hopeless romantic with a fetish for Japanese pickles.
How does this month’s theme—robot—resonate with you?
I have been fighting the ideology of the robot for years. I firmly believe that only through gaining an intimacy with the tactile interface of working with materials can we gain an understanding of them relevant to design. When engineering statistics and automated machinery take the place of hand executed process, something fundamental is lost. A disconnect occurs that foils our design efforts. I have seen this endlessly in mass produced consumer merchandise. Longevity, serviceability and beauty are lost in this disconnect. There is undeniable power in modern methods of automation and computerization, but the human interaction with and understanding of materials and physics in general is one of our greatest abilities. All robotics should be informed by this premise. My goal is to maintain this intimacy between mind and materials so that we can honor our natural abilities as a species. I believe that we can see even further into nature if we can just maintain this sensibility, this intimate approach to design. Engineering principles should be informed by experience, not conventional wisdom.

Snag your seat on Monday at 11am.

See you next week!

For our 40th Creative Mornings in Chicago, up-and-coming improv performer Steve Waltien rocked the house with an uplifting talk on this month’s theme of humility. Not only did he inspire the crowd to value the voices of your collaborators as much as your own, Steve also explored the power of answering the unknown with honesty and curiosity. Take a closer look at the wondrous #CMTakeaways captured at last Friday’s Creative Mornings.

As always, a special thanks to everyone that shared their #CMTakeaways from this month’s talk. Our team loves connecting with the moments and thoughts that inspire you so please do continue to share your reflections! Join us on Friday, May 22nd at Braintree as as sculptor/luthier/maker of musical instruments Ian Schneller, owner of Specimen Products, shares his experience and perspectives towards our theme of Robot. Registration opens on Monday, May 18th at 11am. Don’t miss out!

Make it a delightful month!


Ask any Chicagoan what they love about this town and you’re likely to hear our hometown described as “hardworking,” “humble” or “down to earth.” But don’t mistake all that modesty for a lack of wit. Chicago’s improv scene is second-to-none, so for this month’s theme of Humility we snagged up-and-coming improv performer Steve Waltien. Steve has graced the stages of Second City’s Mainstage, iO Theatre, and the Improvised Shakespeare Company.

Here’s what Steve had to tell us about himself.

What drives your desire to perform?
Validation? Comics have ideas and inspirations and wonder if those things will resonate with other people. As a comic, you want to share things you think are somewhat universal but as yet unarticulated and see if in fact they are as universal as you think/hope/wonder they might be. Comics are always trying to find the line. We all suspect that we’re a bit crazy so we’re offering up observations, feelings and neuroses to the masses in hopes that they can make us feel better by laughing. Their laughter indicates they know the thought or feeling. We chase this because it makes us feel less crazy.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
Chicago feels real to me… more genuine than cities where the whole focus is churning out media. Chicago is full of real people and real characters. That’s inspiring. Also the improv scene here is unparalleled. There is always an abundance of great work to see and people here are doing the work for the sake of the work—not just to get rich or famous. That keeps me wanting to get better and stay involved in improv for the sake of improv.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
My two month old baby is far more perfect than anything else I am capable of making.

What may people not know about you?
Up until as recently as five or six years ago I still thought I might someday go to law school.

What does this month’s theme–humility–mean to you?
I think it’s about valuing the voices of your collaborators as much as your own… always seeking to see the best in someone else’s contribution to your work. It’s about accepting that you might be wrong time and time again without allowing that acceptance to diminish your own self-worth.  

Registration opens this Monday at 11am. 

See you next Friday!

We’re constantly amazed by our diverse community of creatives that show up each and every month to hear from one of our talented speakers. As you may know, we’ve been rounding up your #CMTakeaways via Instagram and Twitter after each talk and featuring them here.

For our 39th Creative Mornings in Chicago, we invited the charming Jim Moran of Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum to chime in on our Ink series. Not only did he walk us through some of Hamilton Wood Type’s influential milestones he also reminded the crowd to slow down, make more beautiful objects by hand and to use what we have. We’re delighted to share with you some of the reflections collected from last week’s talk hosted by Leo Burnett’s Department of Design.

Without further adieu let’s explore some of the reflections, inspirations and moments of magic that were captured at Jim Moran’s talk!

Jim Moran inspired me to try out a new sketch-note style. This donut was also a huge motivating factor. Tell me what you think over on twitter @elijaa_!

A quick sketch of my takeaway from this months @chicago_cm Why we still love wood type. #cmtakeaways

A photo posted by Eddy Mumbles (@eddymumbles) on

A special thanks to everyone that shared their #CMTakeaways from this month’s talk. We love connecting with the moments that motivate you so keep them coming! We’re looking forward to hearing your reflections from our Humility series. Join us on Friday, April 24th at Threadless as Steven Waltien shares his experience, perspectives and much, much more. Registration opens on Monday, April 20th at 11am. Don’t miss out!

Make it a powerful month!


If you were lucky enough to snag a seat to this month’s Creative Mornings, you’ll get to hear from Jim Moran, Director of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. Jim is heading down from his post in Two Rivers, Wisconsin to give us a history lesson on the craft of printing past and present.

If you can’t wait until Friday to get schooled, here’s a preview of what’s in store.

What drives your desire to preserve history?
I’m a 3rd generation printer. It’s part of my DNA. Printing history reveals american history through all its images and I love seeing the way we communicated through time. It never gets “old”.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
I worked with my Dad for 29 years in the family printing business from printer’s devil to owner. You don’t do it for the money and I’m glad I stayed with it.

How does the midwest influence you or your work?
As you grow older and travel, you re-visit where you are from and how much it’s a part of you. Sometimes we like to feel worldly but embracing my roots is truer to who I am. I learned that more through my fiction writing than my printing.

What may people not know about you?
I went to college to be a writer, not to study design or printing. I never graduated because: 1, I had a print shop to run and 2, because there are things I wanted to learn regardless of what a degree meant.

What should we expect from your talk?
What was Hamilton versus what is The Museum, why is it still valid. How can YOU be a part of it. The journey from the factory to the new place is a great study in how to survive when there’s only 3 people to do it.

Still hankering for more? Meet some of Hamilton’s devoted craftspeople. 

See you Friday!


Our community is full of movers and shakers, makers and thinkers, and we love hearing how Creative Mornings inspires you to. Last month we debuted a new hashtag — #CMTakeaways — for attendees to use when sharing memorable moments, inspiration or reflections. After each talk we’ll round up a handful of audience tweets and instagrams to feature here. We’re enamored by the positive response this segment has received and look forward to all the  #CMTakeaways to come!

For our 38th Creative Mornings in Chicago, local architect Katherine Darnstadt of Latent Design challenged our notions about placemaking and encouraged us to think beyond the weather when talking about climate. Without further adieu, take a peek at some of the magical moments and thoughts captured at Katherine Darnstadt’s talk.


I captured some powerful and inspiring quotes from Katherine Darnstadt’s talk. Zoom in to take a closer look at my sketch notes and see if you can find the hidden message; If you can find it, high-five me on twitter @elijaa_.

Most shared #CMTakeaways from Katherine Darnstadt’s talk:

As always, thanks for sharing your perspectives and supporting the Creative Mornings community. Hashtag your favorite #CMTakeaways for a chance to be featured in next month’s roundup. And make sure to join us on March 27th at Leo Burnett Department of Design as Jim Moran chimes in on our Ink series.

Warmth + the first crisp days of spring,



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,