Next Chicago speaker

John Edel

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July 26, 8:30am • ActiveCampaign • part of a series on End

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Joining us this month to share his insights on the intersection of empathy and design is strategist and storyteller Antonio García. His career in socially-responsible and user-centered design has included holding posts at Firebelly and gravitytank, where he currently guides interaction design and social innovation as an Associate Partner.

If you were fortunate enough to snag a ticket to Friday’s talk, here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store!

What drives your desire to create?
Personally, it’s seeing other people’s work and getting excited and motivated to join them. I get lots of inspiration from within design and illustration but also from outside our industry: technology, streetwear, toys, video games, movies, animation, signage, stories and so on. Professionally, I’m driven to make complex things more clear. To make people care. To motivate them to take action. To spur transactions and exchange. To fight for the user. To champion the cause. To help organizations grow. To create value and push things forward.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
I fall madly in love with our skyline every single time I see it. Doesn’t matter the time of day or angle I see it from, I’m filled with energy and excitement. I love our parks and lakefront. I love riding the train and people watching. I hate our segregation but I love our ethnic enclaves and the food and culture you find in each one. When it comes to creativity, Chicago’s midwest work ethic is unparalleled—no place hustles heads-down like we do. I love following my favorite Chicago artists and auteurs on Instagram (Kyle LaMere, Brandon Breaux, Chad Khouri, Chuck Anderson, Czr Prz, Paul Octavious, Will Miller, Andy Luce…) I’m proud of Chicago’s emerging rap talent (Chance, Saba, Taylor Bennet, Mick Jenkins…) I love our indie filmmakers like Strange Loop Studios and Kartemquin Films. There’s so much to experience and be influenced by.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
I’m proud of the interaction design team I have the honor of leading at gravitytank. We’ve got some of the brightest, most thoughtful people working on really gnarly technology and design challenges. Everyone’s super committed to each other and the work. It’s awesome to be shoulder to shoulder with such good people who care deeply about the end-user experience and like to define the future together.

What is your dream creative project?
Creating an entire universe of illustrated characters that teach kids how to be better humans through interactive play, exploration and discovery. Basically a scenario where I get to draw a lot of cute things, talk in different character voices and work with animators, motion designers, developers and early childhood development experts to make awesome immersive experiences (digital and IRL!) for young people.

What does this month’s theme—empathy—mean to you?
Empathy is recognizing yourself in other people.

See you Friday at Leo Burnett’s Department of Design!

Last week, Jim Bachor—the artist behind the delightful pothole installations around Chicago—joined the Creative Mornings family to share a few perspectives towards our Action series. Jim strongly believes that trusting in our experiences and relying on our instincts can lead us to impactful opportunities. As he eloquently stated, “asking for permission is often overrated.” Sometimes it’s important to follow your instincts and not ask for other’s opinions. Dig into some of the #CMTakeaways that were captured below!

Mark your calendars! Our next talk will be on Friday, September 25th. We’ll be exploring the empathetic process of Antonio García, Associate Partner at gravitytank. Not only does he believe that design’s sole function is to create change, he often participates in community conversations on the topics of diversity, culture and creativity. See you in a couple of weeks!

High five!

Joining the Creative Mornings community this month to speak to the theme of Action is mosaic artist cum street artist Jim Bachor. From bomb pops to Blagojevich, Jim’s subject matter is a reflection of American—hell, Chicago—culture. And you’re most likely to stumble across it in the most unexpected of places—our potholes.

Let’s get to it and get to know Jim.

What drives your desire to create?
I think some folks are just pre-wired to want to. One of the things that drives me is to leave a mark on this world while I’m here, however minor. I’m pretty sure my 9 year-old twins aren’t going to be building a pyramid in my honor so I think that’s part of the reason I was drawn to such a durable art form. Another motivating factor is the need to just get thoughts out of my head and documented.

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
With the pothole campaign, Chicago certainly was an influence by just being what it is—a midwestern city with some wear-n-tear along it’s edges. For all of its problems I still love the city. I like the idea of a Chicagoan being proud enough of his town to brand it’s plentiful potholes as our own.

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
The obvious/required answer is my twin boys Ajax and Henry but that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for. I think I’m most proud of making people rethink what a mosaic can be. The art form comes with a ton of baggage (think your aunt’s mosaic flower pots or mirror frames). Hopefully I’ve started to make people reconsider preconceived ideas of what a mosaic is.

What does this month’s theme—Action—mean to you?
Taking risks without over-thinking what people’s reactions might be or what the ramifications might be.

What’s the best reaction you’ve received to one of your pothole installations?
My favorite reaction was the guy that stopped and chatted with me as I finished up an installation on a cold morning back in 2014. He left and came back in 20 minutes with a coffee and danish for me to thank me for helping beautify his neighborhood. 

Join us on August 28th for your monthly dose of creative inspiration as Jim shares with us how he took to the streets to find a place for his art while sprucing up our fair city.

See you next week!


As creatives, we all know it takes a lot of effort and energy to successfully collaborate. There are so many elements involved in making sure a balance is maintained and that all voices are fairly represented.

Last week, Sandra & Mathieu Holl—the masterminds behind local café and bakery Floriole—graced the Creative Mornings stage to chime in on our collaboration series. They reminded us that collaboration starts with “being open to working as team and recognizing that we are more than the sum of our parts when we work together.” Explore and engage in some of #CMTakeaways that were captured.


Make sure to save the date for our next talk on Friday, August 28. We’ll be diving in to the world of Jim Bachor at Motorola as he sheds light on our Action series. Don’t miss out! And as always, a special thanks to everyone that shared their #CMTakeaways from this month’s talk.

Chicago’s creative community is overflowing with collaborative couples whose partnerships traverse life and work. Since July’s theme is Collaborate, we asked  Sandra & Mathieu Holl, the tastemakers behind local café and bakery Floriole to grace the Creative Mornings stage.

Here’s a few tidbits about the pair from Sandra to whet your appetite. 

What drives your desire to create?
Creating new items keeps my job interesting and challenging. It is an outlet to challenge myself, try new flavors and combination. I am also competitive with myself (and others) and enjoy creating a better version of a pastry. 

How does Chicago influence you or your work?
Chicago has a strong food scene with a lot of heavy hitters but still seems to lag behind in terms of pastry. By no means am I stating that Chicago does not have amazing pastry chefs and bakers—I just don’t feel like Chicago is a town that loves and appreciates pastry.  I hope to create great pastry and desserts that remind people that there is more to eating than just meat and potatoes. I want Chicagoans to get comfortable with making pastry an affordable little luxury in their lives. 

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
Mathieu and I are so proud that we started our business as a stand at the Green City Market and were able to grow it into what it is today. We are happy that we are a place where people are proud to work, a place where people can learn and grow. 

What does this month’s theme—Collaborate—mean to you?
Collaborate has so many meanings at Floriole. Mathieu and I collaborate on many projects at the bakery, we collaborate with our employees, with the farmers we work with, and with other businesses. Collaboration is being open to working as a team and recognizing that we are more than the sum of our parts when we work together. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of the kitchen?
Outside of the kitchen, Mathieu and I love working in the garden, riding bikes with our daughter and relaxing at home.

Join us on July 24th to hear Sandra & Mathieu share their story—and some of their delicious pastries!


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!