One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of Equality—presented by Adobe—we’ve asked Brandon Christopher of CANVASxDetroit to share a few things to get us ready for his talk.

CreativeMornings/Detroit: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 21st?

Brandon Christopher: No spoilers, friends!

CM/D: Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

BC: Detroit is funky. Everywhere I go in Detroit, there is something funky to be found. Street art, community celebrations, people riding horses on the sidewalk, good ass music: all of it funky! How can you NOT be inspired by the funk?? I hope gentrification doesn’t wipe out the funk though!CM/D: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

BC: Every project is my favorite, while I’m doing it! My dream project is one that can leverage the power of art to positively impact people for generations. If I could work on a project that would live into the future the way the Great Pyramids of Egypt or the Sphinx has, that would be my dream!!

CM/D: What do you do when you feel stuck, creatively?

BC: When I feel stuck, I get in the car, turn on some music (probably jazz), and drive through the streets of Detroit. Note: Jazz is a perfect genre to listen to for inspiration, particularly improvisational jazz because through the act of improvisation, the musicians reject the notion and reality of being “stuck.” When a jazzwoman or man improvises, there are no mistakes, there is no getting stuck. 

CM/D: If you were not working on your current endeavors, what might you be doing instead?

BC: Hmmmm, I’d probably be in graduate school trying to add more tools to my toolkit! I promised myself that I would earn my Ph.D!

CM/D: What’s your favorite animated gif?

BC: Recently, I discovered a hiphop artist that I enjoy, but after listening to a few songs I couldn’t tell if he was a parody rapper or just a goofball making fun music. So, I googled him and as it turns out, he’s kind of both. In fact, one of his fans turned a comedy video into a GIF that made me smile. I’ll include it on the last slide!

You can hear Brandon share more of his story in person this week during his CreativeMornings talk at MOCAD. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks, and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free - just be sure to grab a ticket!

Special thanks to our sponsors this month: Adobe, MailChimp, Shutterstock, Wix, Huge Detroit, Threespot, Kind Snacks, Anthology Coffee, and MOCAD.

We imagine a world where we’re seen and heard, respected and valued, not for our appearance and privilege, but for our work and character. A world where anyone, anywhere, has equal access to opportunities and resources to become the person they dream about. The formula for equality is a work in progress, and this work is not done from the few with power but rather through the power of community.

Equality is harmony. Harmony isn’t achieved through one instrument; it’s a collaboration, a symphony of sounds that adds richness and texture to the bigger picture. The pursuit of equality is a long-term game, an unraveling of outdated processes that no longer serves the future we imagine or deserve.

This month’s global exploration of Equality is chosen by our Johannesburg chapter, illustrated by Katt Phatlane, and presented by… Adobe! Yes, you read that correctly.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with Adobe to stretch our collective mission in connecting and empowering creative communities around the world.  

With Adobe’s indispensable tools and decades of experience in enabling creatives to bring their ideas to life, along with CreativeMornings’ unwavering commitment to unite and inspire cities with face-to-face connections, we’re honored to be partnering with another company that is eager to champion the future of creativity and add fuel to the engine of generosity. Read more about it!

One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

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For this month’s theme of Survival, we’ve asked Francis Vallejo—a native Detroiter, award-winning artist, and Assistant Professor of Illustration at CCS—to share his experience with surviving, and what that has to do with creativity.

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CreativeMornings/Detroit: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on Friday?
Francis Vallejo: Hu$tle, Love, Pain

CM/D: Why Detroit? What keeps you here?
FV: I was raised in Detroit. I lived my 20s in the south (Texas and Florida) and moved back to Detroit at 30 to teach at CCS. I mainly moved back to be near my parents without much knowledge of how the city was doing. I was/am blown away and so lucky that a side effect of this move was to be located in a city so vibrant and perfect for me. Where else can you get the benefits or a large metropolis art community with a reasonable cost of living - usually those features are exclusive of each other. I’m confident the (art) history books will mention 1920s Detroit like they did 1950s New York. And in the end, we make shit here in Detroit. It’s in our blood.

CM/D: Since this month’s theme is Survival, what is one thing that you couldn’t live without?
FV: Community. I used to work in complete isolation thinking that was a romantic notion. Trips to the gas station were my excitement for the week. I realized that lifestyle is dumb. People are cool. I’ve since learned that I benefit as a person and an artist when family, friends, and peers are regular participants in my life and me in theirs.

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CM/D: What do you do when you feel “stuck”, creatively?
FV: That doesn’t happen. I look at so much art from all disciplines that I have no problem finding inspiration.

CM/D: If you were not working on your current endeavors, what might you be doing instead?
FV: Training for American Ninja Warrior.

CM/D: What’s your favorite animated gif?
FV: I literally LMAO’d after seen this the other day accompanying this quote “Video will play after ad, instead of Skip ad.”

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You can hear Francis share more of his story in person this week during his CreativeMornings talk at Detroit Center for Design + Technology. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks, and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free - just be sure to grab a ticket!

Special thanks to our sponsors: MailChimp, Shutterstock, Wix, Huge Detroit, Threespot, Kind Snacks, and Detroit Center for Design + Technology.

One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of Serendipity we’ve asked Erin Kelly – a Detroit-based designer and curator – to tell us a little about what’s fuels her creative fires.

Trained as a landscape architect, her work balances an interest in engaging abstract, sometimes tedious and bureaucratic systems with the immediacy of pleasure, learning and feedback that arises from making in real-time.

Erin’s work in Detroit over the last six years has tended to be between people, organizations and disciplines. Currently she serves as the Lead Landscape Strategist for the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department. Previous local collaborators include the Detroit Revitalization Fellows, the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and Detroit Future City.

Throughout this time and with the insights of a group of conspirators and specialists, Erin has been documenting sites of urban wildernesses in Detroit, to understand places and ecologies quietly produced through acts of quarantine and confinement.

CM Detroit: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 19th?

Erin: Immigrants*, Time & Magic (*plants)

CM Detroit: Why Detroit? What keeps you here?

Erin: Today Detroit does not feel like a choice but an under-examined habit. I am a sucker for potential and possibility and at one point in the past I think this is what kept me here—a mix between the people and the possibilities. Perhaps it laziness or distraction, or my tunnel-vision tendencies, but at some point, I stopped questioning Detroit as a choice of personal geography. Now it is simply the place where I live, and that allows me for the most part to pursue my pursuits and occasionally grow in some way, too.


CM Detroit: Since this month’s theme is Serendipity, do you think it is something that can be cultivated? Why or why not?

Erin: Absolutely— in my experience, the things that I pay attention to tend to grow. So maybe it is not serendipity itself that can be cultivated, but rather bringing attention to the conditions that already surround us—serendipity being one in the mix.


CM Detroit: What do you do when you feel “stuck”, creatively?

Erin: When I’m feeling stuck creatively, physical movement is my go-to—whether changing the physical environment I’m working in or taking a break to move my body in some way. The larger version of this is a voyage to another place—but sometimes there aren’t the six weeks available for a proper walkabout, and jumping jacks must suffice. Something I’m currently working through is the impulse to be disciplined and work within the time limits and parameters I’ve set, even if it’s a low energy or low-inspiration moment, as opposed to my impulse to change and move, to change environments or to change my own environment, sometimes (unconsciously even) to delay the inevitable, the uncomfortable starting of something.


CM Detroit: If you were not working on your current endeavors, what might you be doing instead?

Erin: Definitely swimming. I spent quite a bit of time last summer reading up on the social history of swimming, and I’m curious what it might mean for Detroit to become a more swimmable City. As a large metropolitan area perched on the shores of the Great Lakes, swimming to me feels like a form of literacy that should be a birthright here. For me as a personal practice it is an escape, a form of meditation. Recently I’ve become more interested in the spaces and places of swimming, and also why there are so few of these spaces in Detroit. There is a brilliant architect here in Detroit who has been working on this topic for a few years, Claudia Wigger, and she has me actively dreaming about the possibilities of now.


CM Detroit: What’s your favorite animated gif?
Erin: My favorite animated gifs usually involve a cat! Today I’m feeling like this: 

Looking for more on Erin before her talk this Friday? Give this article she wrote for UDM’s Dichotomy Journal a read or sign up here for her Botanical Tangents to learn more about how she works with Detroit residents to make, share and learn from projects that explore the benefits of urban wilds as a land management technique. 

You can hear Erin explore Serendipity further in person this week during her CreativeMornings talk at WeWork Detroit. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks, and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free - just be sure to grab a ticket! 

One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of Taboo we’ve asked Stephen Schudlich – a fourth generation Detroiter, illustrator, designer, framer, educator, writer and social zoologist – to tell us a little about what’s made him the person he is today, how his mind works and what inspires him.

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Illustration credit: Stephen Schudlich

CM Detroit: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 24th?

Stephen: Work / Sans / Regrets

CM Detroit: Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

Stephen: I was born and raised here. My family has deep roots here: My grandfather, an attorney with his office in the Penobscot Building, worked with the city prosecutors office and was responsible for jailing many of the Purple Gang. My father was offered an opportunity to pitch for the Detroit Tigers. My Masters was obtained at Wayne State. I’m very proud of that.

I teach here, and I enjoy being in the classroom a great deal. The interaction is priceless. Being witness to a moment of discovery/resolve is fantastic. By the same token, being a support, mentor, or guide when exploration confounds students is an honor and responsibility I don’t take lightly. Sounds cliché, but I learn, and I hope they learn. Among others classes, I teach a Dark Humor course at CCS, which allows students to investigate areas of illustration/design that they might not otherwise delve into. It’s not for everyone. I also hope to help build more of an Illustration area into Wayne State’s Graphic Design curriculum. I have a lot of irons in the fire here.

Detroit has so many evolving layers of material that informs my work. It’s so youthful and arrogant in many ways, particularly now, and in other ways it’s ancient and stayed. It’s a unique, rich pool of visual stimulation both positive and negative. Dynamics sculpted over generations of hope, effort, success, celebration, failure, despair, and surrender all blended together. The humorous and inspirational reveal of an average day in Detroit is priceless. You cannot make up this stuff up.

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Illustration credit: Stephen Schudlich

CM Detroit: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

Stephen: Exhibition with Mark Mothersbaugh, eBay brand development, Comedy Central work or Rotland Press projects.

I suppose a picture book, or an illustration heavy campaign of outdoor media (bus stops, bus signs, billboards, etc.) with a “chance taker” client. I’d want to have a good deal of design control as well.

CM Detroit: Since this month’s theme is Taboo, what’s your favorite thing to secretly get away with OR what one do you wish more people would try?

Stephen: Ah, it wouldn’t be secret then would it. I think more people should confront aggressive belligerent panhandlers. 

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Illustration credit: Stephen Schudlich

CM Detroit: What do you do when you feel stuck, creatively?

Stephen: Gym, cook something, go to an Arabic bakery, frame something.

CM Detroit: If you were not working on your current endeavors, what might you be doing instead?

Stephen: Maybe a tattoo artist, though I think I’d be rather particular about my offerings and clientele.

CM Detroit: What’s your favorite animated gif?

In honor of Lent and Holy Week…

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You can hear Stephen dig further into Taboo in person this week during his CreativeMornings talk at Bamboo Detroit. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks, and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free - just be sure to grab a ticket! 

One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of moments we’ve asked Ali Lapetina to tell us a little about who she is and what inspires her work:

Ali Lapetina

Ali Lapetina // Women of Banglatown

CM/DET: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 17th?

Ali: Following your curiosity.

CM/DET: Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

Ali: I moved to Detroit in 2008 to attend the College for Creative Studies. At that time I was studying Advertising Design, but three years later I switched my concentration to photography. The city brought to my attention the opportunity the camera leads and how it was an excuse to explore and learn about strangers. I believe I wouldn’t have become a photographer if it wasn’t for my experience meeting the the people who live here. They continue to inspire me to capture their stories during this time in Detroit’s history.

CM/DET: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

Ali: That’s a hard one – I would say my favorite project was when I photographed and in Port Au Prince, Haiti, it really pushed me to experience a human connection with a community I was not able to verbally communicate with. My dream project as of right now would be to travel to Palermo Sicily, a place where my ancestors are from. I am curious about photographing the refugee crisis; I would also implement a similar project to Women of Banglatown for recently resettled refugee women and children.

CM/DET: Since this month’s theme is Moments, do you mind sharing your favorite one from 2016 and one you’re REALLY looking forward to in 2017?

Ali: I am so grateful for last year, a lot happened. My favorite moment was being offered a solo show, because it was on my bucket list for 2017. I can’t wait to marry my best friend and spend our wedding weekend in Detroit with all our close friends and family who are traveling from all over the country.

CM/DET: What do you do when you feel stuck, creatively?

Ali: I remind myself I am trying to hard. Taking time to go to the gym a few times a week helps me recharge, become present and breathe. I find working towards a different goal outside of my personal practice helps the creative juices balance and I begin to feel more like myself.

CM/DET: If you were not working on your current endeavors as a photographer + educator, what other creative endeavor might you be doing instead?

Ali: Architecture, focusing on how social impact design can truly nourish a community’s potential to grow and sustain itself.

CM/DET: What’s your favorite animated gif?

Ali: http://giphy.com/gifs/studiosoriginals-l0HlNPqyOk03FsSwo made by Ellen Coons

You can hear more from Ali this week during her CreativeMornings talk at the Scarab Club. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks (graciously provided by Huge’s Detroit office!), and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free – just be sure to grab a ticket!

One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of mystery we have invited Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson of Sfumato fragrances to tell us a little about who they are and what inspires them:


CM/DET: First, a little about your background. Each of you come from distinct creative backgrounds. Tell us something about your roots?

Kevin: My background is in both the culinary and science worlds. After working in a variety of restaurants over about 5 years, I was inspired by the movie Fast and Furious 2 to switch career paths and become an automotive engineer. I studied physics, chemistry, and engineering, but eventually combined my two loves into a pursuit of fragrance.

Jane: My background is in art, design, and event planning. I got a degree in Art focusing on printmaking, but then spent 6 years doing event planning for concerts and arts organizations, before moving into to web and UX design. The visual arts and focus on experiences shapes the thought process behind Sfumato’s aesthetic.

CM/DET: It seems like scent is often overlooked as an art form. We can all agree on its power when cooking, or camping in a forest, or walking into a room that smells like one of our strongest memories, so then why do you think that it is not celebrated in the same way that visual and performing arts are?

Kevin: I think it is the lack of a vocabulary to describe scents. Scents are very personal, very hard to share digitally.  Even the words we do have kinda suck, like saying something that smells like an herb is ‘herbaceous,’ or a wood smells 'woody.’ It’s hard to write a paean for an art form without words, so it has a bit of a solipsistic quality. “Does everyone else smell what I’m smelling? If I tried to describe this scent, would anyone know what the hell I’m talking about?” Possibly not.  

CM/DET: How do you recommend one choose what scent might be right for them?

Kevin: Watch yourself in the mirror while you try it and see if it makes you smile.

CM/DET: What are some of your favorite smells?

Kevin: I like the smell of mud in the forest, I like the smell of entering someone’s home while they are in the middle of cooking, I like the smell of Nag Champa in college dorm rooms, I like the smell of babies’ heads, I like the smell of skunks at a distance, I like the smell of beer brewing from across the neighborhood.

CM/DET: Our theme for this month is “Mystery.” What images does this conjure up in your mind?

Kevin: Mysteries are unanswered questions. I think there is no unanswered question that logic, persistence, analysis, and insight cannot unravel. Mysteries are the reason to keep living, keep searching. If everything was known, life would be so boring.

CM/DET: What does Detroit smell like?

Kevin: There are many areas in Detroit that wildlife has taken over. In the spring especially, I like to take walks and pretend I’m a bee and smell every colorful flower I pass. North Corktown in particular has a lot of wildflowers.

CM/DET: If you were not doing Sfumato, what other creative endeavor might you be doing instead?

Kevin: I would grow a gigantic garden and learn acupuncture.

Jane: I would illustrate a picture book.

CM/DET: What do you do when you feel stuck, creatively?

Kevin: I never feel stuck. I always feel like I have 10,000 ideas, but only enough time to work on 3 of them.

Jane: I turn up some music and dance around. Movement is the main thing, but I think time away from a project gets me unstuck.


You can hear Kevin and Jane talk more about mystery, the power of scent, and Sfumato next week during their CreativeMornings talk at Nora. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks, and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free.

Our December CreativeMorning is TOMORROW at Will Leather Goods in Midtown, Detroit! We caught up with our speaker, Stephen, for a few minutes earlier this week to get a sneak peek into what he’ll be sharing this Friday. 


CM/DET: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 16th?

Stephen: Keep Design Crazy

CM/DET: Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

Stephen: I’m immediately excited by the vastness of space in and around the city.

CM/DET: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

Stephen: Too many projects to pick from. I did an unused logo for the Detroit Art Collection last year, and that was a lot of fun.

CM/DET: Since this month’s theme is Sound, what’s your go to playlist or podcast to listen to while you work.

Stephen: I recommend Survive’s new album (RR7349). They did the music for Stranger Things on Netflix.

CM/DET: We will defintely have to check it out! We have quite a few Stranger Things fans in our midst. What’s your favorite animated gif?

Stephen: This was in my feed this morning.

CM/DET: Right on. #Nostalgia

You’ll just have to swing by tomorrow morning for more from Stephen on keeping design crazy and his Detroit inspiration but for now you can peek through some of his design work and music here and here, tweet at him or stalk him on instagram and we’ll see you soon early birds! 

Help us help Detroiters - Join us this month and #GiveWarmth this winter through Mittens for Detroit. For all the success this city has seen in recent years, it’s still our unfortunate reality that, for thousands of our neighbors, a single pair of warm gloves to protect their hands is a luxury they cannot afford during our harsh winter season. Bring a pair (or five!) of new gloves or mittens to our December talk for extra high fives and hugs! Don’t have time to pick a pair up? You can donate here - just be sure to note CreativeMornings Detroit on your donation under “I want my donation to be dedicated:” so we can share our collective impact after the event!

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