Next Montréal speaker
« Why am I ‘writing’ this? » I asked myself in the shower. A few words from last night’s meeting with the CreativeMornings team stuck into my head. As I am typing, I have no clue what this will become or how it will be received. And it is terrifying.
Let’s Throw Ourselves Into The Unknown
Then why are you doing it, you ask. Truth is, as I am typing this, I don’t have the answer. Carmichael would have said “because I have a sensation that this is bigger than me”. Similarly, our speaker Chantal Gosselin explains: “I didn’t question whether I should do it, it was boiling inside of me, I had to”.
Collectively thinking about what CreativeMornings is about and what it means to people was a much-needed process, after the ups and downs of the last year. Many of us have been through a rough time, and this new dawn seemed like the perfect occasion to get together and reflect on what’s to come.
Holding the space
After opening the door to the community last month and walking with our speakers Steve, Véronique and Chantal through the creative process, something happened. Some of us, who attended the CreativeMornings summit in Austin last November, felt it even deeper; we must go back to basics.
“This endeavour has the worst business model ever” once said Tina Roth Eisenberg, the founder of CreativeMornings: “we organize free events, we invite everybody and then we wonder how we’re going to pay for everything!”
So why are we all doing this? Maude, in charge of logistics, shared: “What’s really interesting and gets to people is the relatability of what’s revealed within that bubble of trust. The passion and the emotions are palpable, and the proximity with the community creates a strong and moving experience.”
Montreal chapter’s host Louis-Félix added: “We don’t want free cereals; we can buy our own All Brans! We want to carry and spread the voices of the people driven by passion and purpose, people who create and inspire others to create. We want to encourage the community to act and do the things they love. And we want them to come because we’re a safe place.”
“Whether the speakers are well known or not, what makes a difference is how we see them. We must be there, listen with all our soul so that they can deliver their message, with generosity and vulnerability. We’re a platform for our community to take-off.”
For some of us, these words resonated profoundly. Personally, I had probably seen at some point that there was a manifesto somewhere, explaining what the events were about, but I had never felt it.
So how can we, together, create this safe place? How can we hold the space, without judgment or ego, without dividing or letting people aside? How can we embed benevolence and inclusiveness in everything we do?
Chantal believes to keep it alive, “this mission has to be carried by each and every one of us. Our values must be in our heart, in who we are and what we do”.
One thing is for sure, there is no clear path ahead of us, but wherever we go, we should go together. Now, mystery can be frightening, as our guest speakers learned. It can be paralyzing, and yet if we can channel our imagination, the same mystery can foster hope and become a vector for creativity.
We are social creatures
I feel like I owe you an answer. I believe the reason why I am sharing this is because I would not be anything without you. All of you. Because imagination is what sets us apart as a species, what enabled language, learning, and therefore transmission of knowledge. It made us conscious, provided we are, in fact, part of a community.
As Henri Laborit put it, we are a part of an ecosystem, but by ourselves, we cannot be fully conscious. Removed from our environment, we cannot comprehend what separates “us” from “others”, which is why we need to connect and share to evolve.
I believe I feel the urge to share thoughts, questions and perspectives because they help me define who I am just as much as, hopefully, they help you find where you stand and who you want to be.
Even if you disagree or condemn, I want to believe the exercise is still giving you something useful, provoking thoughts and emotions to better understand who you are, and what your purpose is.
With the new year upon us, I wish you to find and follow your passion, and with all my heart, I hope you will find your safe haven, within the community or elsewhere, to find your voice and be heard.
“Snow White is Dead is what we ended up calling neurofiction”, author Hannu Rajaniemi explains in Wired’s podcast. “It’s an interactive fiction piece, but without conscious choice.”
Would You Let An AI Read Your Mind?
The 38 years old Finnish science fiction author, along with data scientist friend Samuel Halliday, got his hands on a simple wearable brain scanner and started wondering how he could use the technology to tell more engaging stories.
So in 2012, they came up with a story that could be read wearing the wireless headset, and branch and change depending on whether the reader showed more affinity for life or death imagery.
Think of it as a modern version of the text-only interactive games of the late 70’s, or a Choose Your Own Adventure eBook, but where your brain’s electrical activity determines the choices.
has been open-sourced to encourage innovation, meaning with
a $400 piece of hardware, some machine learning and writing skills, everyone
can venture into the depths of the design space created by emerging
brain-computer interface technologies.
The EMOTIV Epoc wireless EEG is an off-the-shelf brain scanner sold for $300 US. © EMOTIV
A window to your soul
While there is a lot of fuss these days around whether we can make artificial intelligence (or AI) truly intelligent, giving ‘brains’ to machines might not always be enough. For instance, a brain without eyes can perceive much less of its environment.
This is where connecting machines to our brain can become extremely powerful, and not just for medicine. And with the soaring number of patents awarded for “neurotechnology” since 2010, its safe to say a lot of corporations think so. Enabling machines to get a better understanding of the way we think and feel could give them an artificial form of emotional intelligence.
Electroencephalography (EEG) itself has been use for decades to diagnose and study conditions such as epilepsy, sleep disorders and brain death. Recently, however, its use has expanded outside of the realm of medicine and into the for-profit world.
One of the first application to emerge from the rise of brain-wave measuring devices and wearable tech was neuromarketing, where volunteers would put on an awkward swim cap covered with sensors in a Clockwork Orange type of experiment, in order to measure -more of less accurately- the cognitive and emotional responses to advertising.
Now, if the added value for the consumer might be a little bit harder to see with marketing, storytelling in general could benefit greatly from having access to a window to your soul.
Telling better stories
In the entertainment world, this gives storytellers such as film and game makers a whole new set of possibilities. Developing adaptive and personalized story lines according to the audience’s reaction isn’t a fantasy anymore.
Can you imagine yourself, a few years from now, going to see the same movie three times in theatre and each time, discovering a different possible ending because the audience’s vibe wasn’t the same?
Similarly, artists such as Lisa Park have been exploring how connecting mind and machine can lead to beautiful and authentic music pieces: “I started working with EEG headsets because I questioned, ‘how can I take this invisible energy and emotions and make it visible?” said Park in an interview.
This gave me the chills, no need for a headset to confirm!
Aside from entertainment, education is another area that could greatly benefit from these technologies going mainstream. I don’t know about you, but as a child, I would gap out very quickly once I understood where the teacher was going. Education at the time was meant levelling down to the lowest common denominator which, as a result, left the restless minds feeling quite stuck.
Today, education has learned its lesson, and a lot of new philosophies have emerged, making learning much more experiential, and using storytelling to captivate and encourage creativity.
Much like marketing, schools are now trying to differentiate themselves by delivering a unique experience. People such as Pierre-Majorique Léger work on improving educational apps by analyzing massive amounts of bio-physiological data, such as eye movement and pupillary response.
Generated while users interact with a product or an app, the data serves to determine whether an experience is intuitive and fun, or too complicated to understand. For example, the absence of light is not the only factor which can cause pupil dilation; difficult mental tasks produce the same effect, and can easily be measured using eye tracking glasses.
SMI’s eye tracking glasses can help design better learning apps © SensoMotoric Instruments
With VR and wearable tech entering the world of storytelling, the next few years could see the dawn of real audience-centrist content, from entertainment to education… and beyond.
Text: Audrey Raby
Don’t Tell Me The Moon Is Shining
With trust being at an all-time low and lines blurring between reality and fantasy, the winners will be those who successfully display the inside out.
Ever since Millennials started being seen as an influential crowd with real purchasing power, brands jumped in the authenticity bandwagon. Using the associated language and terminology, mass-market brands distorted the core values they meant to impersonate until -ironically-, they stopped feeling authentic.
Six years later, multinationals such as MacDonald’s and Häagen-Dazs are trying hard to make you believe in their grilled chicken or ice cream collections are “artisan made”, because their advertising agency must have told them that’s what it takes to please the hipster cohort.
What they failed to recognize however, is the importance of “rurban” values such as small-scale and hyperlocal, instead focusing on mass manufacturing with a “craft” façade.
While it might look like a decent compromise for a brand not wanting to change its process too much to gain new market shares, increasingly educated and sophisticated consumers now have the tools to question brands credentials.
Yesterday was all about celebrating “diversity” and showing “real women”. Today, consumers see right through the marketing tricks and know that most shiny new corporate sustainability initiatives are really just greenwashing.
Brands, however, are not the only culprits. With VR meant to go mainstream before long, new questions arise regarding our online behaviour, especially while hiding behind an avatar.
While sexual harassment has long been a problem in online and gaming communities, VR has the potential of making the abuse feel much more physical, as Jordan Belamire sadly experienced.
Closer to us, the controversy surrounding Safia Nolin’s acceptance speech at the ADISQ Gala clearly showed that cyber bullying and sexism are alive and well here too, facilitated once again by the distance and relative anonymity of social media, discussion forums and online personas.
In an open-letter published -in French- by Urbania, the young signer-songwriter poignantly asks: “Why do you hate me so much?”, before answering her own question: “Because I’m a woman. Because I was myself. The person I became after all the crap, after years of violent bullying that forced me to go to the police and change schools seven times.”
Now this is a woman who’s not afraid to show who she really is. This is a woman with strong values, who has been through hell and came back to tell her story. This is the kind of story we need.
Cut the 💩
As we have recently witnessed south of the border, people have had enough of carefully tailored responses. The fact that an astonishing majority elected Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States demonstrates how much the American people has grown tired of political correctness, even if the alternative is not necessarily pretty. The need for change has become too important to be denied.
Crafted. Bespoke. Artisan. Immersive. Disruptive. Innovative. Authentic. Time to kill the buzzwords. No more borrowed aesthetics and ethos, no more hiding behind designer dresses. The time has come to move to a new narrative; one that truly align communications and actions.
Looking at Safia Nolin and -at the other end of the spectrum- Donald Trump’s stories makes me think success must have something to do with finding our unique voice instead of conforming to what others might want to hear.
Instead of hiding behind a carefully constructed and zealously guarded self-image, denying everything that might challenge our perception of ourselves, perhaps we would all be better off acknowledging nobody is perfect, and celebrating how our unique set of experiences shaped our perspective.
For instance, telling the world how we value integrity or inclusiveness does not mean a thing if our actions do not speak louder than our words. Where big data can tell us occurrences, performance and test results, experiences and storytelling have the power to show an entirely new perspective of the same situation.
Whether for a job interview, a first date or an ad for a new product, using imagination to show -not tell- what we are made of is far more compelling. And if you still believe creativity and imagination are not for everyone, think again. Children are naturally creative, it is taught out of them at school! What we need is simply to slow down and take the time to notice.
Like photographers, we need to break free of our molds and explore different perspectives of the same scene until we find the one angle showing precisely what we have to say.
This month, CreativeMornings explores fantasy*. So, go ahead, dream, explore, discover your voice, but most of all, be true and be you.
Text: Audrey Raby
Illustration: Hayden Davis
*We will also delve into what it means to live #InACreativeWorld and how we can use creativity for the good of all. The most intriguing responses will then become illustrations that get featured here.
Is The Road To Happiness Paved With Data?
Your smartphone woke you up earlier than expected, you mumble, as you read 5:45 AM on the screen. Reading further though, a notification informs you “your flight has been cancelled.” In order to make it to your destination in time, you’ll have to book an earlier flight, plus take into consideration morning traffic.
Fortunately, you can avoid a few nightmares by getting up at once and tapping “book now” while chugging a cup of coffee (or three).
Without the digital and mobile revolution, the use of consumers’ personal information to develop new tailored services such as the example above would not have been possible.
On the other side, new revenue streams and increased profits created by this harvested information have consumers concerned. If the value of information sharing can be very clear at times, it can also raise number of questions. Is this value equally shared among all stakeholders?
If you’re not paying, you’re the product
Even if the concept of collecting information to personalize services is far from being new, it’s the consumers’ awareness about why, how and what information is collected for commercial purposes that changed as technologies made it more and more fluid and automated.
Using broadband or Wi-Fi on mobile allowed an unrestricted access to the internet, whether it’s to find the best Lebanese restaurant in the neighbourhood or to monitor your health as you train for the next half-marathon. In the IoT era, our physical lives merge with our online habits. From socializing to shopping or watching TV, we now evolve in a phygital world.
By interacting with a few dozen businesses in average every day, from reading their newsletters to using their apps, we send them signals about how, when and sometimes why we use their content, product or services.
This (big) data is collected, analyzed and tested in order to build predictive analyses, gain priceless insights about unnamed motives and needs.
It can also be used to target a certain demographic for advertisers looking to maximize their return over investment. In such models, if the content is free, it is because you, the user, are being sold as part of a “targeted audience”.
The more granular the targeting can get, the more appealing to some advertisers, whose mind-set changed from mass media and global communications to segments and personalized, automated communications. From programmatic to addressable VOD ads, ad servers become more sophisticated every minute.
The price of ad blocking
On the other hand, ad-blockers now approach 200 million monthly active users, as consumers try to avoid privacy threats. While it is perfectly understandable, it poses a major threat to digital media companies. Since people are more reluctant to pay for their news, publishers can’t expect their revenues to come from subscriptions alone, and yet many of them struggle against ad blocking to remain attractive to advertisers.
From micropayment systems to “ad light” trial versions, today’s media face an ethically challenging problem: how to best serve your audience for a price they are willing to pay while protecting their privacy? And believe me, even if the Spotlight years are gone, good content still doesn’t come cheap.
You are being watched
From your political beliefs to your likelihood of being pregnant, companies can tell a lot about you based on your online fingerprints. And knowledge is power. Looking at the stock market value of companies such as Google and Facebook, built around collecting, aggregating, analysing and monetising personal information, it’s safe to say it is worth a lot. In fact, rumours are Facebook might soon pay you to keep using it! Mozilla would also be developing a new privacy-focused web browser paying you in bitcoins to watch safe ads.
And the online world is growing at an exponential speed; just think about Google’s Nest and Apple’s HomeKit, looking to connect to your home and monitor your environment. Your bank could even tell from your social media profiles if you have a risky behaviour and decide to not grant you that car loan, even if you have never missed a payment on your credit card. And this is where it gets tricky…
What if you were to be declined that promotion because your employer found out you were expecting a child? What if you could have gotten that trip to the Caribbean for much cheaper if only you had not been categorized as “high income”? What if the government was to start asking questions about tax evasion because of those pictures of you drinking champagne at your friend’s cottage?
If you think this is pure paranoia, take a look at Do Not Track, a personalized web series about privacy and the web economy. In fact, until very recently in the United States, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allowed law enforcement authorities to read emails from citizens without a warrant and use them in an investigation.
As technologies evolve faster than laws (it took the US 20 years to review the act), an increasing number of business practices fall into the grey area. So how do we, as consumers, regulate what we share and what we keep to ourselves, while we barely know if this smart TV or that game console is recording our every move? Where is the limit between tailored offers and personalized content and privacy threats? Who decides what gets shared with who, when new products and business models arise faster than rules to oversee them and protect consumers?
All of these questions deserve our attention, especially with the month of October being dedicated to transparency!
Text by Audrey Raby
Illustrated by James Billiter
In an era of mass digitization, Montreal came up with a four-year strategic plan to become “the #1 smart city in the world”. Of course, if it plays its cards right, digital could be a great opportunity to revive its economy through new jobs and GDP growth.
(Net)Working In The Digital Era
The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, advance robotics and, once mature, augmented and virtual reality could actually lead to significant economic growth, both for the public and private sector.
This new dynamic has created a communications revolution placing transparency at the centre of consumers’ and employees’ concerns. Today, anyone with an Internet connection can reach almost instantly millions of others around the globe; humans, bots or objects.
And yet ironically, as we shifted from the stability of long-term investments to the adaptability of short-term cost-cutting measures, loyalty became scarce and relationships now rely on mutual self-deception.
We praise startups for their management mode, we treat failure as a graduation ritual, but we still haven’t reconsidered the way we treat employees.
Can we be honest?
Perhaps those of us who fear being replaced by robots or automated programs in the near future don’t fear new technologies as much as managers and their general lack of adaptability in today’s fast paced environment.
Employees are seen as job-hoppers and opportunists, while employers can fire their staff at any moment and for any reason. As a result, neither side trusts each other nor truly profits from the relationship.
The answer, as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman suggests in his latest book, could be found in a new framework re-balancing power, resulting in an alliance not meant to last indefinitely, as in the long gone industrial era, but as long as both the company and the individual benefit from it.
By speaking openly about both parties’ mission alignment, trust can be built and lead to better retention of valuable assets. For example, one ex-Google employee gave her ‘two years notice’ before starting the job, explaining she wanted to start her own company (which she did). Still too few businesses allow for this kind of honesty (without retaliating).
Personalization: not just for consumers
By crafting personalized “tours of duty” matching each employee’s objectives and career goals, managers create teams whose loyalty and dedication to the job generate ROI which largely surpass the resources dedicated to managing them.
The idea is quite simple: instead of hiring resources based on a static job description and for an undetermined duration, three “tour of duty” types describe different types of relationships to match specific needs.
The rotational tour is meant for young graduates and technical staff. They are generally not positions leading to a manager role. For example, a programmer could never want to become tea lead for various reasons.
This one to three-year tour allow both parties to learn more about each other, master the environment and acquire new skills. Although negotiated individually, this tour usually comes with a standard frame.
A few months before completion, the manager and the employee can decide together if they want to pursue the relationship and at which condition. A replacement can be found with the help of the employee finishing her tour and, in case she transits out of the company, it should be without hard feelings.
These conditions do not necessarily equate to a rise or a change in job title; it is not a power struggle. The objectives should however differ from one tour to the next. For the employer, to allow its resource to progress according to his career plans. For the employee, to transform positively the business by his contribution.
Lateral moves (within different services, teams or projects) allow a fresh view brought by an employee who’s already familiar with internal processes and the company’s culture. For example, allowing a copywriter to be assigned to a different creative team. The company avoids shortcuts and corner cutting and the employee avoids stagnation.
Quite the opposite, the foundational tour can spread on decades, closer to the previous model from the industrial era. Meant for company leaders, executive personnel and a few key members whose loyalty has been flawless and who wish to remain indefinitely with the company, this tour can only be offered if the employee’s value match the company’s perfectly. Think founder, public figure, etc.
Between these opposites is the transformational tour, meant for ambitious and star employees as well as those who have already completed one or multiple rotational tours and whose loyalty allows for a deeper commitment (on each part).
These tours are negotiated individually, tailor-made and do not fit any predefined job description. The employee transforms her career by adding skills and experience to her portfolio while the company is transformed by the employee within the limits of her specific mission to grow the business.
Depending on the type of job, industry and experience level, tours of duty can last anywhere between six months to five years, and regular follow-ups allow for an open conversation to take place about everyone’s satisfaction (to download a statement of alliance template, click here).
The Alliance also underlines the importance of a strong corporate alumni network both for recruitment and customer referrals. But its most controversial advice might be for companies to start mining intelligence from their employees’ external networks to help solve problems, learn about emerging trends, competitors’ focus, or the outside world’s perception of their own brand.
Seen as risky or downright threatening to existing business structures, this approach could nevertheless create an environment of transparency and trust, where skills can be acquired rather than being a prerequisite, stakes are discussed openly and lateral moves made possible.
Text by Audrey Raby
Picture by Ryan McGuire
That Creative Magic Spell: A Conversation with Multidisciplinary Artist Nania Sergi
“I have been into art from a young age. I kept a lot of things like glitters”, multidisciplinary artist Nania Sergi says as she points towards those shiny dots lying on the floor. Basked in daylight they mirror the joy known only to those who dream and hustle hard to make them a reality.
Like an invitation I was drawn to reconnect with an old university friend to uncover the magic of creativity. This conversation happened around homemade mint tea with no added sugar. It started like this:
“I do watercolor art, I also do commissioned work”.
Really what kind of work?
What? Did you find it weird at first?
When I first got asked, I thought it was funny. I can do realistic paintings but it’s not where my interest lies in the moment so I made them into these characters.
Did you ever see yourself working for someone else?
I did. When I finished my bachelor’s degree I worked for an animation and video effects company. I made a lot of friends.
That’s always a good thing!
Yes and prior to that I also worked in a non-profit organization as a digital literacy teacher.
I’ve always been the type to do my own things. I don’t remember if it was my father or a friend who suggested me to apply for an entrepreneurship bursary. Then I got it and it helped jump-start my own business.
How did you get started?
Mostly through word of mouth, through friends…One of the first cool contracts I did was a collaboration with a singer/songwriter, her name is Allyson Reigh. It was a really cool project. She spent two weeks coming over to my house every day (she was in Montreal at the time). I did all the artworks and photos for her album. It was great to create a visual identity for someone, for an artist, for a project, for songs, to build a world of visuals around it.
How would you describe your work?
As much as possible, I try to do work that’s very honest and authentic. I try to do things that are meaningful while keeping it playful. I’m just doing me, so far, just doing me has kept me busy.
What keeps you going because you know it’s not easy and it would be way easier to find a 9 to 5 job?
That’s the thing, it wouldn’t. I did it and I was not happy. It’s hard but it’s easier for me in the sense that I’m happier with my life. I want to wake up and feel excited and happy, maybe not always thrilled but I want to find joy in what I do. I mean… Sometimes I do get scared and want to back away to find myself a normal job but then I think about it and there is no way I could sit in front of a computer all day. I would escape by the window!
Assistant Art Director: Nania Sergi
How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
The ability to get up and step back and do that consistently. To find the courage to just do that thing over and over while making sure it’s always interesting and relevant.
I think creativity is the conscious search and application for change. And not just change for the sake of change but to better respond to the challenge. To engage with circumstances, sometimes uneasy circumstances cause life has its set of challenges but to do that with humour. Also, create the space and time for people to get involved and be curious.
Art Director: Nania Sergi
What other fun projects have you been working on lately?
An experimental documentary. I have been working with Jamie Woollard, my collaborator on this sort of non-linear narrative story for 2 years. It involves ice skating and glitters at the Molson Park. I first met Jamie while she worked on a project where she destroyed her century old piano. I have two keys left in my dining room actually.
What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you had been given when you graduated?
The beauty of taking breaks. Yeah, breaks are really really useful and nobody has ever told me about that!
When did you realize that breaks were useful?
When I hurt myself last Spring. It took me time to stop because I was like no, I’m gonna keep going and keep going and I got tendonitis on both hands so I had to stop and it was really hard because I’m a creative…I’m mean it’s part of what I do with my life. Then I started using a recording to record sounds. I had to be creative without using my hands and it was scary. But something that came out of that was: Man we’re human beings first! No matter how important, meaningful and splendid your work is you have to eat three meals a day and sit down. We’re mere mortals even though I wish I was a superhero. So yeah the beauty of breaks is something I learned.
I also play sports more now, meditate, do yoga and run. And all these things have made my life and my work better. Since they’re connected. You can’t just do one thing and expect it to be good. You actually have to breath and yeah take a break.
It’s the same thing as negative space in a painting. Without the negative space you don’t see the elements.
Words: Jessica Beauplat
Photos: Jessica Beauplat, Courtesy Nania Sergi
4 CMers Share their Montréal Favourites
We asked members of the CreativeMornings/Montréal team to tell us about their favourite parts of Montréal.
Andréanne’s Tex-Mex Dream Come True
For its “dirty” burritos, its cocktails, its simplicity and its friendly staff, my favourite Montreal restaurant is Icehouse. This Tex-Mex eatery inspires me to travel to the southern U.S. and allows me to do so in the comfort of my own wonderful city.
Andréanne O’Bomsawin is a Community Manager with CreativeMornings/Montréal. To experience Andréanne’s favourite part of Montreal, head to Icehouse, 51 Roy, East.
Boyana’s Love Goes for Miles
My favorite street in Montréal is Fairmount, because of its low-key Mile-End character. It has great shops, like Kem Coba (the best ice cream in town) and Fairmount Bagel, amazing coffee shops, such as Arts Café and Larry’s, and excellent restaurants, including La Khaïma, Rumi, and Faberge. It even has a 1932 diner, Wilenski’s!
It’s a great commercial avenue with a lot of history and an awesome vibe, and I love the colourful public seating installations.
Boyana Stefanova is the General Director with CreativeMornings/Montréal. To experience Boyana’s Montréal, start at the corner of Fairmount and St-Laurent and walk west.
Sophia’s Love is Far from Leisurely
What I love about Montréal is its leisure culture. Few cities in the world take their leisure time as seriously as Montréal does. There are endless picnickers at Parc Laurier; sunbathers right, left and center at Parc Lafontaine; intense cross-fit groups running all through Parc Jean-Mance; and don’t get me started on Tam-tams and the LARPers at Parc du Mont-Royal!
Atop that, going for a 5@7 or spending your evening on a terrasse is basically obligatory. This leisure culture brings us together, sometimes gets us to turn off our phones, and builds a strong sense of community in our beautiful city.
Sophia Kapchinsky is a Content Writer and Music Curator for CreativeMornings/Montréal. To experience Sophia’s Montréal, wander any park or grab a seat on a terrace.
The City Spells it Out for Stefano
My favourite spelling of Montréal is with the accent because, to me, it represents the city’s accent on creativity.
Stefano is the Creative Director with CreativeMornings/Montréal. To experience Stefano’s Montréal, simply use the Alt-130 short key when writing it out.
These are just a few reasons we love Montréal, what are your favourite aspects of the city?
Text: Sophia Kapchinsky
Illustration: Stefano Di Lollo
Distraction or Muse – Does Love Inspire or Stifle Creativity?
We want to create. We want to bring into the world that which, until now, we had only imagined. We want to see our efforts come to fruition. We want our projects to come to glorious completion. But, well, we don’t necessarily want to do it alone.
So how do love and creativity mix? Does sharing time, space, hopes and fears and bodily fluids with another inspire creativity, or does it stifle it, hogging precious energy and attention?
This, of course, will largely depend on the person (or persons; no judgement here) you have fallen in love with. To help you determine whether your love is a MUSE or a DISTRACTION, we’ve come up with this helpful guide.
They Are Your First Consumer
Stephen King credits his wife, Tabitha, with a lot, from saving him from drug and alcohol addiction, to getting him through his recovery from a serious accident, and acting as his ‘First Reader’. When he writes, King thinks of Tabitha, of whether she would laugh at that joke, cringe at that scare or feel for that character.
They Ignore Traditional Gender Roles
Dean Koontz hated his job and dreamed of being a novelist. So, his wife Gerda, a lawyer, told him she would support him for five years, but, if he couldn’t make it as a writer within that time, he’d have to quit and forget all about it. So far, Koontz’s novels have sold over 450 million copies.
They Are as Creatively Accomplished as You Are
Richard Donner is famous for having directed such classic films as Superman, The Omen, The Goonies, and all four Lethal Weapon films. His wife, Lauren Schuler Donner, though (arguably) less famous, not only produced many of her husband’s films, she also produced Pretty in Pink, Free Willy, You’ve Got Mail, and all the X-Men movies, including Deadpool.
They’re Sexier than Your Project
If, whenever your partner is around, you can think only of him or her and their wonderful smile, the way that one shirt fits them just so, that spot where their waist meets their hip …uh, sorry—where was I? Oh, right … Anyway, you may have to find a less attractive partner or—better yet—come up with a more attractive project.
They Don’t Believe in You or Your Work
They keep telling you to get a real job, to give up on your dreams and face reality, but you just know your pasta-sorting app (or whatever the case may be) will hit big. It’s just a matter of time. No more guessing at the difference between fusilli and girandole! No more!
They Are Also Someone Else’s Muse
Pattie Boyd inspired many of Eric Clapton’s greatest hits, including “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight”. Only one problem: Boyd was married to George Harrison at the time. His devotion rebuffed, Clapton fell into a three-year heroine-fueled depression. Boyd later left Harrison for Clapton but, unfortunately enough, their coupling didn’t last.
They Are, Quite Literally, Your Muse
You may not know it, but you have almost certainly seen Gala Dali, Salvador Dali’s wife. The surrealist included his wife in a dozen of his paintings. The famously mustachioed artist’s devotion to his wife did not end there. He also bought her a castle in Catalonia, where she was later buried. So, if you can’t find your own muse, you could do worse than to be someone else’s.
Illustration: Stefano di Lollo
How to Fix a Broken Project by 3 Montreal Creatives
We’ve all been there: a project just doesn’t come together. The pieces just won’t fit. Staring at that blank page, canvas or monitor begins to feel like staring down the barrel of a gun. We asked three Montreal creatives how they push through a creative block, make the pieces fit, and fix a broken project.
Steve Villeneuve – Video Editor
According to Steve, video editors routinely face situations similar to writer’s block. “You just don’t know what to put next so that the scene makes sense.”
When faced with such a challenge, Steve councils stepping away. “Go get a glass of water, go outside, watch a bit of TV. Just don’t sit there staring at your monitor.” Putting some distance between you and the project—actual physical distance—can give you a new, clearer perspective on the problem.
He also follows the rule of diminishing returns. “Editing for too long and too late into the night is rarely worth it.” Your intention may be to power through the problem, but, as Steve puts it, “Ninety percent of the time, you’ll take a look at what you’ve done the next day and think to yourself, ‘Oof … this is terrible.’”
Steve is president of Digger Films, an independent film production company in Montreal, and a video director and editor in the video game industry. His short film, A Quiet Moment, can be seen as part of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.
Maude De Larochelliere – Account Executive
Maude, an account executive at Karelab, has formed habits to help her not only lay the groundwork for a new project, but also to facilitate breaking through inevitable creative blocks. “To be inspired, she says, you must seek inspiration.”
To Maude, inspiration is found through experience. “If you don’t live new experiences, don’t meet new people and don’t try new activities, it’s impossible to be truly inspired,” she says. “It’s like juggling the same three balls when you could be juggling a dozen flaming torches.”
Those new experiences act as fuel and the mind does the rest. “You focus on the problem at hand intensely for about thirty minutes, Maude explains, and then you do something else and let your mind wander.” Maude’s mind does its best wandering in the shower. “I get all my best ideas in the shower.”
The most important thing, according to Maude, is to turn the process into a habit so that, when a creative challenge arises, the ability to be inspired and find a solution has been internalized.
Marie-Claire Lynn – Communications Advisor
As a communications consultant, Marie-Claire’s challenge isn’t simply developing a new communications tool, but developing a tool designed to promote someone else’s creative project.
Designing and implementing such a tool requires a holistic approach: “From being visually pleasing, to telling the story of the project, to making sure the communication goals that were established are being met.” If a single aspect is out of balance, it can render the entire project ineffective.
When faced with a project that isn’t coming together, Marie-Claire suggests seeking a fresh perspective by taking a step back and distilling the project to its core components. “I go back to basics and remind myself of the objectives and origins of the project. I look for solutions in elements that might have been put aside too early in the process.”
It’s easy to lose sight of a project’s basic purpose—to inform, entertain, sell, engage—and recalling the project’s reason for being can help refocus your energies while offering a brand new perspective.
Marie-Claire is a communications consultant, a message creator, a storyteller and is passionate about passion. Find Marie-Claire on LinkedIn.
Take a step back, return to basics, and make inspiration a habit: each of these practices is easy to adopt and apply to nearly any creative endeavor. We’d love to hear from you, to hear about the tricks and techniques you have used to overcome a creative challenge.
Text: Sophia Kapchinsky & Andre Farant
Photos: Steve by Max Juneau, Maude by Tora Photography, Marie-Claire by Nicole Provençal
excited to introduce you to HAPPYMOVIE.
post-guitar pop-core rave-wave group will open for MissMe and CreativeMornings/Montréal
on July 1st at 7:30am. Don’t miss their unique sound.
Curious to find out a bit more about them, we asked HAPPYMOVIE a few questions.
How do you create your music?
The process is always evolving, especially since we’re such a new band. The majority of our compositions come from playing together and experimenting with our machines. Sometimes we’ll set up some parameters or constraints to see what we can do with a set of limits in place. There is a lot of messing around with running equipment into other equipment, chaining signal in strange ways, and also utilizing the way sound interacts with our concrete bunker of a studio space as a kind of instrument as well. We sample and re-sample each other and build compositions over time from our raw material.
When something isn’t working in your creative process, what do you do? What’s your process?
Our tracks sometimes go through several full iterations before we settle on one, so it’s often an interesting dance between construction and deconstruction. Some tracks have been born from the cannibalization of older tracks that just weren’t quite working yet. In general, I think keeping an open mind and not getting too attached to anything is one of the creative principles that helps us move forward and not get too bogged down in the details.
How do change the way you create and adapt your music to the community you are evolving in? How do you think this will change as you transition to Berlin and Copenhagen?
We actually don’t really consider many outside influences when we’re making music. We are pretty unconcerned with “fitting in” to a scene or tailoring our music to an audience. I think we both have a pretty solid idea of the aesthetic we are going for and that’s our main guiding light. It’s hard to say how things will change once we’re established in Europe, but we’re already working on new material. So apart from the challenges of living in new places, and not being in the same city all the time, I think our creative collaboration is already on its own path.
After a good/long night, what’s your favourtie place to get poutine/junk food/snack in MTL
We’ve been known to end up at Nouveau Palais, Chez Claudette, La Banquise…
What your favourite song to sing in the shower?
FITS OF ZEN VOL. 2 was released on June 17th!
Interview with Mikael Tobias by Sophia Kapchinsky
Photo courtesy HAPPYMOVIE