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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,



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!