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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. 

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?