Next Chicago speaker

Kevin Coval

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January 31, 8:30am • Gensler Chicago • part of a series on Roots

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Start the new year with a new gig. Pitchfork is seeking a full-time designer!

Just two weeks ago we had the rare opportunity to get a glimpse into the creative minds of Pitchfork’s design team at our evening special event. Responsible for leading the creative vision and creating the visuals for everything Pitchfork-related, the team has a new opening for a full-time graphic designer to work out of their Chicago office in Logan Square! Interested? Check out the full job description and apply here.

Call for Submissions:  Audience Takes the Stage!
Friday, December 16th
8:30am - 10am

Submission Deadline:  Wednesday, November 30th

Our audience is full of talented makers, thinkers and doers. We’re turning the microphone and inviting you to be part of our 3rd annual Audience Takes the Stage event, where you’ll get the chance to show everyone what you’re made of!

We’re on the hunt for 3 speakers to each give an 8-minute presentation on something they feel passionate about. The goal is to teach the audience something new or inspire them in some way. 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 by Wednesday, November 30:

  • Your name
  • Your occupation
  • A blurb about you (a bio works well!)
  • Applicable links
  • 1-2 minute talk-to-the-webcam video with what you’d like to speak about (please don’t share your video as an attachment to your email — instead, share a link to your video or send it through

To get an idea of some past talks, watch our 2015 and 2014 Audience Takes the Stage videos. 
Submissions start…now!

YAY! Creative Mornings is tomorrow! Join us as Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi, the duo behind Sonnenzimmer, chime in on this month’s theme: transparency. Their collaborative practice was established in 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Initially recognized for their idiosyncratic commissioned screen-printed posters, their practice has since morphed into an interdisciplinary toolshed spanning multiple platforms, including exhibitions, publishing, performance, graphic design, and exhibition design. Get to know Sonnenzimmer a bit better in our monthly Q&A series below!  


Define transparency:
Nadine: I would like to answer this from a screen printing perspective. Transparencies are usually clear films, or acetates that are used to generate a film positive.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
Nadine: We are because of Chicago. The graphic arts history of the region is so rich for what we are doing, and the amount of things we keep discovering keeps unfolding! For example, one of the screen printing pioneers in terms of publishing knowledge around the medium and who coined the term ‘Mitography’, Albert Kosloff, taught at Roosevelt High School in the city. But then there’s also the music legacy of publishing and printing, for example that of Sun Ra’s Saturn Records. The man designed and printed his own record covers, and they were fantastic! The imperfection of being situated in the middle of a continent makes for a special blend of work that can be created. We tend to think that in Chicago, we can be artists that work through ideas materially and physically, that seems for us to be very important.

List three words that begin with the letter “t” to describe your personality(s):
Tenacity, tacos, and “Tdreaming”


YAY! Creative Mornings is tomorrow! Join us as Rebecca Ussai chimes in on this month’s theme: magic! Not only is she an Experience Design Director at R/GA Chicago, Rebecca has a particular knack for finding ways to combine the techniques of motion design into the most relevant areas of user experience. Get know our next speaker a bit better in our monthly Q&A series below!

Define magic:

the ability to create wonder, mystery, and delight

What drives your desire to create?

It’s satisfying and rewarding to apply creativity to countless situations where you’re either trying to solve a problem, improve an experience, evoke emotion, change perspective, or delight. I am constantly absorbing inspiration from everything I observe and it’s exciting to produce something novel that stemmed from a faint idea in your mind into something tangible and real that you can share.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?

Every day I get to observe architecture, urban spaces, art, and design that provide me with stimuli for fresh ideas and perspective. The amount of activity going on helps keep myself busy, and I feel like create better work when I am. It’s hard to ever get bored. The people are down to earth, extremely talented, motivated, and humble. After growing up in Cleveland and briefly living in New York it was extremely refreshing to find this midwestern city of ours to have the best of both worlds. I think I’ll stay.

List three words that begin with the letter “m” to describe your personality.


Tomorrow is Friday and there’s a Creative Mornings, which make it an extremely good Friday! Join us at TEKSystems as Ryan Duggan chimes in on our weird series. But first, take a peek at the Q&A with Duggan below ! Bonus points if you tweet us your favorite concert poster designed the Chicago-based artist!

Define “weird” in one sentence or less.

More interesting than “normal.“

What drives your desire to create?

My desire to eat. I also physically need to work or make something on a regular basis or I fall apart.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?

I love this city and I like to think it definitely influences my work and specifically my sense of humor. The work ethic of this town is really impressive and you really have to grind to make things happen here. It’s an ‘unpolished metropolis’ and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

List three words that begin with the letter “w” to describe your personality.

Working-class Willy Wonka.

Join us this Friday, July 22 at The Nerdery as Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, the duo behind the artistic vision of Luftwerk, weigh in on this month’s theme: love!  Take a peek at the Q&A with Petra and Sean below! Bonus points if you check out their nifty website:

What drives your desire(s) to create?

The drive to create is our natural desire to express ideas, emotions and perspectives through the use of color, light, and sound. We illuminate what we observe and transform spaces into art that immerses and connects viewers in a multi-sensory experience.

Being collaborators for over ten years our passion to create has evolved into a natural thing to do, like breathing … it’s essential.

Our work is inspired by ideas about space, color and light and is often a response to a site.  It is driven by the desire to alter one’s perception of the familiar; it wants you to revisit a place or thought and to have a new experience.

The work intends to grow our appreciation for the things that surround us.

How does Chicago influence you or your work(s)?

We met, have lived and worked in Chicago for over 15 years. We have collaborated on projects with a great many skilled and creative people, from fabricators, architects, and musicians, to curators and the city itself, they all help make our projects realized. Chicago architecture has greatly influenced our artistic DNA, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Mies van der Rohe, the philosophy of ‘organic architecture’ and ‘less is more’ informs our creative process from research to final output.

List three words that begin with the letter “L” to describe both of your personalities.




What does this month’s theme – love– mean to both of you?

Follow your bliss

If you both were stranded on a deserted island, list 3 things you would collectively bring?

1. Sketchbook

2. Flashlight

3. Radio 

Summer is finally here! And what better way to kick-off the season than with a CreativeMornings talk! Join us this Friday, June 24th at Lost Arts as Charles Adler weighs in on this month’s theme: broken! Registration opens today at 11am CST, till then check out the Q&A with Charles below!

Define “broken” in one sentence or less.
The fracturing of an idea or object. What drives your desire to create?
It’s changed or evolved over the years. As a kid, it was innocent curiosity, primarily. Tinkering with technology, aesthetics through drawing and photography, adventure through cycling, hiking, camping and running. Life takes on different meanings over time, and as such so does the act of work and play. I am still driven by curiosity. Yet with more focus and direction. I am driven by the fact that work can influence change. This is quite clear through Kickstarter. And I hope to be true for my next project – Lost Arts.
The work I produce needs to be self-fulfilling by way of deep fulfillment for others. I talk a lot about creative independence and empowerment. That’s what excites me and drives me.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
Chicago as a city has an interesting character. I was first attracted to Chicago in the early 90’s through music. Madbar (RIP), Shelter (RIP), Smartbar and Metro, etc. It was through House, Techno, Industrial, Goth, and the Rock scene in the city that was my first draw. Then it became the landscape. These beautiful industrial buildings. And that juxtaposed against the modern architecture this city is so well known for. That tension between Skyscraper and Rust Belt.
But below that surface and more deeply connected to the individuals I admired in the music scenes growing in the city, there was this soul. This hunger. And for me, that was through music.

These artists had this hunger and drive for both creative expression but creative independence. The people behind these labels and music were innovators, entrepreneurs and artists. That soul has had a profound influence on my worldview, and thus my work. Much as the early punk and post-punk scenes along with the outsider art world influenced me before moving to Chicago.

List three words that begin with the letter “b” to describe your personality!
Broken - I can be highly critical of the world, and at times feel broken because of it. But this is tension also drives me to do my part in improving the world.
Boyish - I still have some kid left in me. I can be a bit of a jackass at times. I intend to keep that spirit.
Boring - dunno. I’m just a guy doing a job.
What does this month’s theme – broken– mean to you?

Our Broken World – We’re at another one of those interesting inflection points in history. One in which the rugs are being pulled from underneath our feet and radical change is all around. Much of that change was unlocked by the Internet and then more profoundly by the Web. And the change is obviously affecting more than the size of device we carry. It’s profoundly affecting our daily lives.
So in this sense, we’re at a great pivoting of our world. A great reset of all our antiquated and broken systems.

Our Broken Work – Similarly the way we work has changed, and will continue to change. The manner in which we work, and environments we constrain ourselves to work within – they’re all broken. And for us as designers – architects, visual designers, product designers, industrial designers, etc – we have a choice. Prolong the past into the future or create a new future. We each have a daily choice to make in terms of how we decide to apply our skill against our work.

Did you miss Tru Studio’s talk last month? 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!

Next up: Charles Adler, co-founder of Kickstarter and founder of the Center for Lost Arts. Described as a lifelong nomad—born in the U.K., raised in the U.S., living life exploring the world—Chicago is lucky to have him. Much of his work has centered around supporting and empowering independent artists. His latest endeavor, Lost Arts, is living proof of that and we’re going to be the first to get a look inside (literally) and see what’s to come! Ditch your morning meetings and join us on Friday, June 24! 

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.