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Our Q&A with February speakers, Cali & Brian who will be talking on the topic of Symmetry and Structure in Storytelling

Brian McDonald, Chief Storyteller at Belief Agency

1. How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

I think “creativity” was a word created by people who weren’t creative, because for creative people it is just the way they see the world. Most people have access to their own creativity. It’s those who are able to push-through their self-judgement who can exercise that creativity. When we say creative, we usually mean the arts—but there can be creative electricians and creative doctors.

2. Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

The world is full of inspiration. Drawing on it is really just a matter of being an antenna, open to what the world offers.

3. What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

The way that you think is good enough.

4. Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

I would love to hear award-winning novelist and University of Washington English professor, Charles Johnson, speak at CreativeMornings. Johnson is an African-American scholar and the author of dozens of novels, short stories, screen-and-teleplays, and essays. He won the National Book Award in 1990 for his novel, Middle Passage .

5. What are you reading these days?

I’m currently reading Alex Haley’s Roots: Saga of an American Family. It’s one of the most important books of the 20th century, especially as a lens for racial and political history. I’m working on my memoir right now, and I want to write something just as enduring. I aim high. I always have a high-water mark when I’m writing or directing—it’s why I have a Schindler’s List poster on the wall in my office.

6. When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?

Being stuck is just being afraid, and fear is more often than not a liar. When it comes to being creatively stuck, it’s usually a fear that the reality of what you can do doesn’t match what you have in your imagination. You don’t actually overcome this fear, but in naming it you allow yourself to work through it. You just push through. It’s about endurance. Can you allow that fear to energize rather than block you?

Cali Pitchel Schmidt, Creative Director at Belief Agency

1. How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

For a long time I idealized creativity—I thought it was something you either had or you didn’t. And I did not have it. I was in a field (academia) that did not fit my narrow definition of creativity, so I was unable to see myself as creative. Creativity, in my mind, was for the arts. If I couldn’t paint or draw or sing, I couldn’t possibly be creative. But over the course of my career I’ve come to learn that was patently false. I believe creativity is a democracy—it’s available for anyone who’s willing to look for it inside themselves. Anyone who is willing to widen their aperture. The hardest work is in creating the conditions for your creative expression to flow freely.

2. Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

I’ve always been a keen observer—I’m taking in all the data, all the time. At times all that sensory data can be overwhelming, but it also keeps me open to finding creative inspiration everywhere. That’s the key: be open. When you’re open, you can find inspiration in the unlikeliest of places.

3. What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

I wish I could have shed more of my self-consciousness when I was younger. Self-consciousness, for me, has always been the enemy to creativity. I still have to remind myself to be more interested in what I’m pursuing than in how others perceive that pursuit.

4. Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

I’m so interested in the changing nature of the marketplace and how more and more consumers are expecting the brands they buy from to effect meaningful social change. I would love to hear from a behavioral economist or a cultural anthropologist on how this happened, and what we can expect to see as the way we market our goods and services evolves to meet these demands.

5. What are you reading these days?

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I usually go through seasons where I’m consuming different kinds of media, and right now it’s books. (Sometimes it’s all Netflix. Other times it’s all WikiArt.) I’m currently reading a book of essays by Camille Paglia titled, Provocations: Collected Essays . I’m also working my way through some Taoist texts—which makes me sounds far more actualized than I am. 90% of it doesn’t make sense to me, but then I’ll read something that will resonate so deeply it feels life-changing. I need all the remove from my ego I can get, and I find that the more I can respond rather than react, the better everything gets—especially my ideas.

6. How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?

In elementary school I wanted to be the President—which should surprise no one who knows me. And although I’m not living the life I imagined at age 11, every stage of my life and career has surprised me in the most exceptional ways. What I’m doing today I couldn’t have envisioned this time last year. I love leaving room for possibility and being open to different paths and opportunities. I started my career in academia, and I had no idea I’d end up as a creative director and organizational consultant. The most valuable lesson is that every experience, however diverse, can move you toward that thing— what you’re best at.

January’s theme is SURREAL

When you look at the artwork of Frida Kahlo or Salvador Dalí, there’s an element of surprise. Why does it feel familiar yet also otherworldly? Surrealists sought to break free from the shackles of the rational mind and dive into the deep end of the unconscious. The canvas, then, became a mirror for what emerged out of that process. This movement was inspired by events in the 1920s on the heels of the first world war and continues to influence artists, writers, photographers, and filmmakers. This cultural and artistic movement ushered in new techniques that helped humans expand their minds. Today, we recognize a sense of the surreal in unexpected moments in daily life. Art exhibits like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room are becoming readily available, encouraging people to immerse themselves in experiences that break reality. A ballet performance or a silent meditation retreat can be a dreamlike experience. Whether we experience a surreal moment or dabble in processes like drawing without thinking or writing without self-editing, there’s something to be learned about ourselves and what lingers under the hood of our desires to keep life orderly and controlled. Happy New Year! Our Brussels chapter chose this month’s exploration of Surreal and Charlotte Dumortier illustrated the theme. SURREAL is presented globally this month by WordPress.com.

Put on those festive threads, escape the grey winter skies (and that boring conference room), and rock the night away at Not Your Company’s Holiday Party, a celebration for creative and tech professionals at an amazing new venue in historic Pioneer Square, THE 101.

Seattle Creative League, the organization that brought you Creatives Night Out in August, is back, this time a little more sparkly and a little more jingly. Once again, AAF Seattle, AIGA Seattle, CreativeMornings, and Creative Connect have unified to bring our city’s creative minds together for a night of discovery, interaction, and connection.

Dance worry-free:
No ducking that PM wondering about your task progress.
No monologues on “Big Data” (unless that’s your crew’s thing, then data on).

We’re here to mix it up.

And it’s for a great cause…

All proceeds benefit Arts Corps, which revolutionizes arts education by igniting the creative power of young people through culturally engaging learning experiences. That’s our kind of jam.

Tickets include one drink but will go fast and won’t be sold at the door. Reserve your spot now and join us to celebrate the holidays, our community, and the creative spark within us all.

RSVP on Facebook to keep up with the latest developments—and invite your friends!

Use #NYCHP2018 to join our social stream.

This event is 21 and over.

Food and Drink

Beer, wine, cider, and signature cocktail will be available for purchase via drink tickets - credit card sales only!
Small bites provided

Register here 

We really love our new mugs. Meet Phil Scroggs he has been helping individuals and organizations solve marketing and communication challenges with creative visual solutions here in Seattle.
See more work at http://www.phillustrations.com

(Q) How did you get into illustration work?

(A) For many years, I worked as an in-house graphic designer for various companies where I was asked to create some occasional illustrated elements. But, I always wanted to do more. So, I left my corporate gig last year to focus full-time on illustration and design.

(Q) At what point in your life did you realize that illustration was your calling?

(A) Since I was little, I always loved to draw. When I discovered Adobe Illustrator, I taught myself how to use it and eventually became a software instructor specializing in Adobe programs. I continued drawing for fun, even during breaks and between classes. But, it took me a long time to realize I should be doing this full-time. 

(Q) How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?

(A) My work has always been sort of flat and tight - largely influenced by the bright colors and simplicity of pop art. But, I’ve loosened up my lines over the years, and have loved introducing textures into my work to soften the sharp digital edges and make things look a little more natural. 

(Q) What are you currently working on or excited about?

(A) Lately, I’ve been enjoying making process videos and Stories for Instagram that incorporate my illustration work. And I’m currently working on some new handmade Christmas card designs. Every year, I carve a linocut block for printing… and eventually turn it into a digital version for my online stores. 

(Q) What’s something in your industry that deserves more attention?

(A) It seems like every month, there’s a new story of an independent illustrator who has had their work stolen and resold by another artist or web site. I’d love it if there were better protections and quicker responses when an artist finds out their work has been taken or copied. 

(Q) Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

(A) I used to be a juggling teacher. I haven’t done it in a long time, but I’ve still got some juggling pins gathering dust in a closet. 

We really love our new mugs. Meet Esther Loopstra she is a  illustrator specializing in food and travel, hand-lettering, & surface design. Her illustrations are an extension of her perpetual curiosity and radiate whimsy, dreaminess, and fluidity.  Her work has been used for print ads, editorials, books, stationery products, & textiles.
More of her work @ www.estherloopstra.com
(Q) How did you get into illustration work?
(A) I went to school for Illustration at Minneapolis College of Art & Design. When I was in school I worked as a graphic designer and also did editorial freelance work, illustrated my first children’s book and worked at Target headquarters creating illustrations and designs for products. This gave me a good starting point and a lot of experience so that when I got into the professional world I had a lot of options.
(Q) At what point in your life did you realize that illustration was your calling?
(A) When I first got out of high school I went to college and studied Psychology. I took a break from college for a long time, and after a while I began taking drawing classes again. This really sparked my love of drawing again and then when I went back to art school I knew I wanted to draw for a living.
(Q) How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?
(A) I feel like I’ve brought more of myself into my work over time and it’s become a bit more sophisticated. Taking time to do work for myself just for fun (like drawing in my sketchbook or painting) allows me to access more of my style and bring it into my client work.
(Q) What are you currently working on or excited about?
(A) I’ve been working on a new Chocolate bar wrapper design for Seattle Chocolates and a lot of textile designs that I’m excited about.
(Q) What’s something in your industry that deserves more attention?
(A) It would be great if there was more information about how to work with illustrators; how the process works.
(Q) Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.
(A) I love reading dystopian novels, cooking Indian food and watching Chef’s Table.

Our Q&A with September speakers, Tay & Val, who will be talking on the topic of Chaos.

Tay & Val are the spiritual strategists and soul mentors conscious companies and visionary leaders go to – to answer their “What’s Next?” question – as they navigate their personal transformation, cultivate a conscious workplace, and make their legacy impact.

Award-winning filmmakers, Tay and Val left successful media careers, closed their production company, wrapped work on their nationally televised television series P.S. I’m Sorry, and set off to travel the world by bicycle for a documentary project to inspire dreams. Six years, three continents, more than 400 public talks and national radio and TV appearances (in twelve countries), and 2 TEDx talks later, Tay and Val settled in the Pacific Northwest as City Artists of Seattle. Committed to helping visionary leaders meet their call to greatness with clear-eyed vision, groundedness, and deep trust - they work with leaders and businesses around the globe who hear the call to rise and say yes.

More recently, their work has also appeared on Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, and Thrive Global. They are also co-founders of M Meditation, Seattle’s premier modern meditation movement.

Their signature program, Propel Your Purpose, sherpas a soulful tribe of multipassionate, multitalented, and multifaceted millennials (at heart) to bring their whole selves to the table, create a thriving life, and make the impact you’ve always envisioned for yourself and the world.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Tay & Val (TV)] We think of creativity as the ability to create. Specifically the ability to out-create your current circumstances and challenges.
Creativity strings the series of careers we’ve had in our lives. Our first careers as TV Producers and Directors were in making documentaries of people who have out-created their challenges and created the life they want.
After that, we spent 3 years cycling around the world, asking as many people as possible one question: “What is your dream?” The intention was to inspire people to acknowledge/remember their dreams… and then see the possibility of out-creating their current circumstances to realize their dreams.
Now, as spiritual strategists and meditation teachers, we help our clients tap into this very creativity — that they already have within themselves — to out-create their current stagnation or challenges and achieve their goals.

(CM) Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

(TV) Most of our best creative inspiration “comes” to us when we’re least expecting it… and definitely not when we’re looking for it. When it comes, it reaches us through the spaces “in-between”. For instance, the space during a train ride from Seattle to Portland; the silence in the middle of a brainstorm meeting; the pause in-between an inhale and exhale.
For Val, it’s the bathroom breaks where creative ideas were born. (#throneideas is a thing in our business.) For Tay, it’s when she’s preparing a meal.
These meditative spaces for us — moment where we have focused attention and open awareness at the same time — are the spaces that inspire creativity for us. Anything is possible in this space. (CM) What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

(TV) This is what we’d tell our younger selves today:
Tay: “Try it before you say no.”
Val: “It’s ok if your final product looks nothing like your first draft.(CM) Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

(TV) This is a hard one, because as filmmakers we know that there’s a story in everyone; as leadership consultants we know that the best inspiration/wisdom/answers are the ones you find in your own stories; and as meditation teachers we know that the best stories are the ones you actually listen (as in listen) to. So this makes us want to list every other cool creative we know. ;)
And if we had to pick, here are our Top 3 Seattle #LocalHeroes: Dani Cone, Peter Shmock, Victor Loo
Dani Cone. Her story about how she started Fuel Coffee in Seattle was unforgettable to us. Ask her about the number of banks she got laughed out of when she brought in her business plan to start a coffee shop… in Seattle. Then ask her about who got the last laugh. It’s a great story about out-creating perceived limitations from other people, with a great sense of humor.
Peter Shmock. We love his unconventional story about how he broke his personal best record, qualified to two Olympics with less training, more naps and zero injuries. Yes, he threw his personal best because he chose to take naps, when everyone else on his team was training thrice as hard. It’s a story about out-creating conventional “wisdom”, listening to yourself, and creating beyond what you thought was possible.
Victor Loo aka Victoria Victor. By day, Victor is the Director of Recovery Services at the Asian Counseling and Referral Services, where he designs and oversees programs to help immigrants and refugees recover from various forms of addictions in a culturally sensitive manner. When not at work, Victor takes on the role of Victoria Victor, an androgynous model who advocates for gender fluidity and equality through fashion and lifestyle. His work was inspired by an experience with peeling carrots. It’s a humbling and awe-inspiring story at the same time.  

(CM) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

(TV) When we quit our award-winning TV career, sold everything we had, left our hometown of Singapore and went cycling around the world. We told our folks: “We’re going to cycle around the world, meet as many people as possible, and ask them one question: What is your dream?” Everyone — from our closest family, friends, colleagues, mentors, to our third cousin twice removed, to Billy the next-door neighbors’ cat — everyone thought we were crazy. Why would we give up our dream life, to ask people, specifically strangers we’ve never met about their dreams??!
Crazy? You bet! We traveled across 14 countries, stayed at more than 100 homes, collected more than 5,000 dreams, shared them across multiple platforms: radio, TV, schools, companies, governments etc. We ended up in Seattle because we were invited to give a TEDx talk here. Every step of the way, we learned what it means to be creative: To out-create any challenges, we were facing to create the life we want. And we would do it all over again — bicycles, blood, sweat, frustration, joy, ups and downs all included — in a heartbeat.

(CM) What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?

(TV) Meditation has always been our anchor. It’s a practice that helps us develop awareness — of our internal self, and our external environment and community. This is the same awareness that helps us tap into that “space” in-between, that fuels and inspires our creativity.
On some days, it’s an intentional quiet sit-down practice for an hour. On other days, it’s an integrative meditation practice —  one mindful bite at a time during meals, three mindful breaths before we begin work at our desk, a mindful walk in the evening after dinner etc.. Whether we’re filming a story, cycling around the world, teaching a class, or seeing private clients; meditation helps us come back to ourselves, remain centered amidst the inevitable chaos of life, and stay true to our intention in everything we do.

The Collective is a membership community designed to bring creators, thinkers and doers together to build social capital, leveraged around a common purpose of improving our world - and to have fun doing it. As a participant of Creative Mornings, you’re invited to the basecamp to experience The Collective’s great food, drink, ambiance and people. Sign up here to join the community by August 10th at our $100 Charter Membership enrollment rate. Be sure to note Creative Mornings as your referral, and we’ll waive your one-time $100 joining fee. Give a shout to alexandra@collectiveseattle.com with any questions or to schedule coffee and a tour!

Our Q&A with August speaker, John Cook, who will be talking on the topic of Community.
🎟 You can get tickets for his upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

[John Cook (JC)] Creativity takes many forms at GeekWire — from crafting a compelling story idea to hosting a new event to concocting original business concepts that drive a fast-moving media business in 2018. For me, creativity manifests itself best when you have smart people crafting new ideas. Group collaboration can help creative ideas flourish, as we’ve seen with GeekWire experiments such as our GeekWire HQ2 project in Pittsburgh or the growth of the GeekWire Summit or our new Elevator Pitch video series. At its core, creativity is the birth of new ideas — but to me the real power comes in the smart execution of those ideas.

(CM) Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

(JC) All over the place. I am not sure where creative inspiration comes from — to me it is kind of like spotting a good story. Your flag just goes up. It’s an innate sense. The hardest thing for us is balancing the creative ideas with the tactical operations of running the business. But we find creative inspiration in all sorts of places — group brainstorms, sponsors, listening to smart people, watching what others are doing, etc. And, of course, I also find creative inspiration in the shower. 

(CM) What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

(JC) Don’t wait around — take action and make something happen. My only regret is that I didn’t start GeekWire earlier in my life. In my mind, becoming an entrepreneur is the most creative outlet, since it tests your mettle every day.  

(CM) Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

(JC) We’ve organized dozens of speakers at GeekWire events over the years, and some of my favorites include entrepreneurs, innovators and iconoclastic thinkers like: Todd “The Quadfather” Stabelfeldt; skydiver Luke Aikins who jumped from 25,000 feet without a parachute (and lived to tell about it); Fred Hutch research Dr. Jim Olson who is using scorpion venom to wipe out cancer; former Navy fighter pilot Missy Cummings who is paving the way to a new autonomous world; and many more.  

(CM) What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?

(JC) Before starting GeekWire, Todd Bishop and I stumbled with another online news organization that we created in partnership with an established media company. From that experience — kind of a mistimed baby-step into entrepreneurship — I learned that we were better off placing a bet on ourselves than relying on outside partnerships for us to find success. (CM) When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?(JC) My mom — a newspaper reporter for The Akron Beacon Journal who covered courts, cops and the small rural community of Wayne County, Ohio — gave me the best advice for dealing with writer’s block: “Just get something down on paper. Who cares if it is no good, just start writing.” That advice has always stuck with me, and over time I have condensed writer’s block — which I still get — from hours to minutes. I find myself getting frustrated if I am not writing something in a few minutes, and I revert to my mom’s advice and just start writing. 

Our Q&A with July speaker, Frits Habermann, who will be talking on the topic of Intention.

🎟 You can get tickets for his upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Frits Habermann is a Landscape Photographer and tech entrepreneur. His passion is combining technology with art and using fancy words like “leveraging synergy” to explain what he’s passionate about. Most at home with a camera in the outback running from grizzly bears or melting his shoes on lava fields, he’s more frequently seen in his hoodie at PicMonkey HQ where he serves as its CEO. He spent 20 years at Adobe, where he co-founded Adobe InDesign and later ran the Core Technologies group. More recently, Frits served as CTO for PopCap Games and CTO/Head of Product at Lynda.com. He holds degrees in both applied mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Washington. Find Frits at fritshabermannphotography.com and on LinkedIn.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Frits Habbermann (FH)] For me, creativity, in the moments I’m lucky enough to find some, is more of a state than a thing or goal. It is that feeling of “flow” that ignores time and place and what’s going on around me. The result need not necessarily be all that earth-shattering, but the time in flow is the only time I can be somewhat creative. This is independent of what it’s applied to. Music, photography, writing or software development; the best work seems to come when feeling totally immersed, focused and enjoying the process.

(CM) Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

(FH) From nature, mostly water. Besides the greater context of nature that simply clears your head and puts many things into perspective, photographing water always delivers unique results. It is never a picture of what your eye sees, as a long-exposure blurs rushing water into abstract swirls and cotton-candy type effects. Every moment is different and the timing is always nature’s timing, never yours. From that, you learn patience, and usually, there are one or two results that will give you a great feeling of inspiration.

(CM) What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

(FH) Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. As a kid, I assumed you were either talented or not, and that if your grandmother told you-you played the piano well, well then the next likely step would be Carnegie Hall, no sweat. When that didn’t come so easily, I assumed I must not be all that talented, so I should go do something else. With a bit more life experience under my belt, I can now enjoy the learning process as opposed to the end goal. I can trace the stages of improvement through chunks of hours I’ve applied over the years to creative things I enjoy.

(CM) Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

(FH) Jean Gang, the designer of the “Aqua” building in Chicago. To sketch out a building on paper is one thing, but to have the vision to build 80 feet of steel, concrete, and glass that creates the illusion of water rippling along the side of the building is creativity at whole different level.

(CM) What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?

(FH)“Timeless Way of Building” by Christopher Alexander. It’s a classic book on architecture, but more importantly, creates a pattern language around “spaces that live”. Part design system, part philosophy, but all interesting. It formed the basis for the classic “Pattern Languages of Program Design” book in computer science. Buy it in hardback because the form factor, paper, type, and layout are also of a stark aesthetic that just completes the experience.

(CM) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

(FH) Dropped down to the edge of a volcanic crater on mountain bikes in the middle of the night to get a shot of the lava lake below. We needed gas masks to avoid the sulphuric acid, goggles to avoid the glass from the steam in the air, and careful steps around the fissures at the edge of the rim, lest they break off and fall into the cauldron below.