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

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

Felix Hiebeck [FH]: I still have a hard time defining creativity. I remember when I was younger, I thought it meant having a lot of great ideas. While there can be beautiful serendipity in creative work, one of the things I learned in my career so far is that only a small portion of what people call creativity is really having these eureka-type moments. Most of it is about doing the footwork of understanding the landscape of the given situation, formulating many solutions, and refining them based on feedback; all while resisting the urge to just go with that one idea you really like.

[CM]: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

[FH]: I don’t really have that one place that I get inspiration from. However, I will say that a good portion of my project ideas came while using public transportation. There is something about the time on a train or bus where my mind can just wander without real distractions.

[CM]: What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

[FH]: “Better done than perfect”. Especially as a student when working on projects I would get hung up on technical details that did not matter at the end. Since then I found that moving fast, realizing a quick prototype, and then iterating based on your own learnings and user feedback is much more fruitful than obsessing over small details, especially early in the process.

[CM]: Who would you like to hear speak at Creative Mornings?  

[FH]: Chef Chris Young of ChefSteps. I have never met him, but I admire his and ChefSteps’ work. I also just love listening to people talk about cooking, especially in a scientific way.

[CM]: What’s your one guilty creative indulgence?

[FH]: I have a thing for all kinds of buttons and knobs. There is a box in my drawer with an ever-growing collection of things that click and spin. I rarely get to use them in a project, but it makes me happy to fiddle with them from time to time.

[CM]: If you could interview anyone living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?

[FH]: Not an interview, but I would love to see a panel with some of the earliest human-computer interaction pioneers. Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay,Muriel Cooper, Ivan Sutherland, Seymour Papert, and Marvin Minsky; these people are the architects of the way we currently interact with computers. Seeing them discuss Twitter, Snapchat, and Candy Crush would be fascinating to me.

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

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

S. Surface [SS]: I don’t worry about defining creativity or applying it to how I spend my time. My policy is to do or make what is right for a situation, regardless of whether that calls for anything creative or innovative.    


[CM]: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

[SS]: Sometimes, issues come up that need to be addressed, so I follow them. I rely more on discernment than inspiration.

[CM]: What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

[SS]: Be interesting. Have good ideas, and take initiative to share them with others. Aggressively claim credit and demand recognition and compensation for what you contribute, and also emphatically and warmly recognize the sources that inform you.  

[CM]: Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings? 

[SS]: Sara Zewde, landscape architect
Davida Ingram, artist and writer
Dr. micha cárdenas, designer, artist
Robert McNeel, software engineer with a highly influential employee-owned company  
Aseem Agarwala, visual research scientist
Ian Curry, industrial designer


[CM]: What fact about you would surprise people?

[SS]: I have a goofy, vulgar and infantile sense of humor that is largely contingent upon alliteration, portmanteaus and puns. Maybe that is unsurprising?  

An Interview with Heather Raikes

🎟 You can get tickets for his upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. Starting at 9AM, Monday, January 30th.🎟

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

Heather Raikes [HR]: For me, creativity is living poetry and an experiential engagement with metaphor. I begin with the concrete starting point of where I stand in the present moment, open up a question or idea or feeling or intention, and reach into the ineffable space of potential in pursuit of a gesture that extends beyond the boundaries of the starting point, and that, in the context of the great history of human creativity, will suffice. I’ve always deeply appreciated Wallace Stevens’ Of Modern Poetry: “The poem of the mind in the act of finding what will suffice.”Applying this take on creativity to my career has produced a trajectory of innovation that has extended for more than two decades so far. It leads me continuously onto frontiers and into pioneering, groundbreaking territory where I’m exploring things that haven’t been done before. 

[CM]: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

[HR]: I find inspiration in flow. Physical, embodied flow is the most powerful and reliable creative generator for me, but I seek all kinds of immersive, dynamic, wholly engaging experiences.

[CM]: What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

[HR]: On one hand, I wish I’d known that all of the things that support and surround the creative act are as important as the creative act itself - things like sustainable practices, life/work balance, studying great artworks, business development, marketing, PR, networking, etc. But on the other hand I think there is something brilliantly wild, raw, primal and essential about young creative energy throwing itself wholly into the fire, so to speak, as a kind of rite of initiation.

[CM]: Who would you like to hear speak at Creative Mornings?  

[HR]: In no particular order: Ginny Ruffner, Allison Kudla, Ewa Trebacz, Neal Stephenson, Jeff Brice, Genevieve Tremblay, Maja Petric.

[CM]: What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work? What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?

[HR]: I’m meticulously organized and disciplined, which goes against a lot of creative stereotypes. Deep structure is at the core of everything I do, and my best creative work emerges from a highly methodical, even ritualized approach.

[CM]: What are you proudest of in your life?

[HR]: I’m most proud of my daughter, my family, and the fact that creativity remains the vital core of who I am and how I contribute to the world. It is a hard path but worth every challenge. It’s a great and wondrous honor to begin to know maturity as a creative being.

Interview with Yonnas Gethun

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

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

Yonnas Getahun [YG]: The idea of creativity has evolved over time but now the shortest definition I have is a pursuit guided by inspiration and inquiry against limitations and restrictions.  Taking something from conception to realization is the act of creativity for me.  

[CM]: Where do you find your best creative inspiration? 

[YG]: I get creative inspiration from many sources but the best comes from direct discourse with artists, activist and entrepreneurs in the community.  It is incredible what I can learn by buying a cup of coffee or drinks or dinner with those I consciously surround myself with. A conversation can sometimes be 10x or 100x value of reading a book on a single topic.

[CM]: What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

[YG]: That one learns best by doing and moving beyond ‘thinking’ about doing something.   There are a lot of reasons to this but the one I especially laud now is by doing the questions basic or complex become audible.

[CM]: Who would you like to hear speak at Creative Mornings?  

[YG]: I am so glad you asked.  

Silas Blak, Timothy White Eagle, Jennifer Zyll, Vivian Phillips, Courtney Sheehan, Susan Surface, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, CEO Spencer Rascoff, Valerie Curtis Newton, Vivian Phillips, Lane Czaplinksi, Jeffrey Hirsch, Pol Rosenthal, Riz Rollins,  Tomo Nakayma, Maged Zaher, Sarah Galvin, Biran McGuigan, Robin Held, Ishmael Butler, Stasia Mehschel, Brett Hamil, Michael Ellsworth, Sharon Arnold, Greg Lundgren, Shaun Scott, Mary Ann Peters, Ijeoma Oluo, John Boylan, Yirim Seck, Alice Gosti, Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, Raz Simone, Gavin Sullivan, Paul Komada, The Gender Tender Collective, Cherdonna Sinatra, Kira Burge, Julia Greenway, Yeggy Michael, David Harris, Rodrigo Valenzuela, Kshama Sawant

[CM]: What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?

[YG]: I learned that I need to learn how to develop a concept/project over longer periods of time. I had some small success launching projects under 90 days and I attempted to launch a project to place love poems in Earth’s Orbit titled Cosmic Love.  Although invited to take a longer period of time to develop and launch I rushed it.

[CM]: If you had a magic wand, where would you be in five years?

[YG]: It would be to spend 6-9 months in a small city in Ethiopia called Axum.  It is a college town with a fascinating complex extended history that goes back 2500 – 4000 years ago.  There are lives being lived there now that I want to inhabit or get as close to as possible in order to write a novel or books of poetry.  I am sure if we all slowed down we can really appreciate the worlds we have crossed and the lives we have lived. My recent trip to Ethiopia and to Axum has eased my need to convince others about my adventures. In fact I know have seized to care if I am believed or not or having seen what I have seen to properly classify what is fact or fiction.

Brooks Peck – EMP Curator

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

CreativeMornings: How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

Brooks Peck: I think creativity is a talent for putting together seemingly disparate elements that together make something new. It’s a process of invention, (and so I see science and engineering as very creative pursuits.) So many of the creative things that I admire—films, stories, designs, games, whatever—can be described as, “They took this, mushed it up with that, and made this new thing.” The farther apart those elements are, the more surprising the combinations, and surprising is good.

In my work I try to find those surprising or hopefully new and unusual combinations. Curating exhibitions goes beyond simply displaying objects and describing what they are. There are overarching themes and ideas that can be expressed through scenic design, sound design, illustration, even type choices. Those are opportunities to bring in unusual combinations that may jar the visitor and give them a new way to think about what’s on display.

CM: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

BP: About 80% of my work, both as a curator and author, is words/text. I take a lot of inspiration, though, from purely visual sources, especially illustration and graphic design. Pictures and imagery without words bypass the word-focused parts of me and feel more like pure thought. It’s refreshing—those sources literally refresh my ideas. I really love comics without dialogue, such as Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and a lot of Jason’s work.

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

BP: Just make it up. That’s not a flippant answer—when I’m struggling to solve a creative problem, I sometimes fall into a trap of thinking that there’s a single, “correct” method for what I’m trying to do, be it write a paragraph or design a display in a gallery. This is, of course, poppycock. If no ideas are coming, just put down something. Anything at all. Then look at what you’ve got and make improvements. This keeps me moving forward. The lovely thing is that the audience for whatever the project is, barring critics and pedants, will assume there’s a single way to do what you’ve done, and wow, you found it. I encourage people who say they aren’t creative to practice spitting out whatever comes to mind.

TL;DR: Creativity is a talent, one that can be learned, for making up crap and fixing it later.

CM: Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

BP: Joss Whedon, who combines story with imagery and music in fun, startling ways.

Pogo, Australian DJ and composer. He did an entire concept album based on samples from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. (An overly hipster choice, I know, but his work is so original and fun).

G. Willow Wilson because we both love comics yet come from such different backgrounds.

Then, pick two questions from this wildcard list and answer them:

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

BP: By sixth grade I finally transitioned out of my first career choice, hot dog vendor, and after briefly considering the clergy (“Over my dead body.” – my mother) I settled on becoming a writer. I liked books, and my father was a writer. Only my father wasn’t a writer at all. He was in publishing. The confusion arose when one day he presented me with a book, James Thurber’s autobiography My Life and Hard Times. I asked him what it was, and he said, “This is what I do at work.” So I assumed, I’d like to think understandably, that he wrote the book at work. For weeks I pestered him with questions about events in Thurber’s life that I thought had happened to him.

Anyway, in sixth grade I was positive that by this stage in my life I would be a moon colonist. I did recently travel to Iceland, and that’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to it.

CM: When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?

BP: Always drink more tea. Next, I’m a big fan of writing down a list of the very worst ideas I can think of about whatever I’m trying to do. I get this from the writer John Vorhaus, and I love it. The key is to think up the stupidest, most inane and inappropriate things possible. Invariably something in there will trigger a tangential thought that leads to something else that’s not so inane after all, and you’re off.

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Amelia Bonow is a writer and activist living in Seattle. She is a founder of #ShoutYourAbortion. Follow her on Twitter at @ameliabonow.

🎟 You can get tickets for upcoming CreativeMornings talk here, starting at 9am, Monday, October 10th. 🎟

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
#ShoutYourAbortion works at the intersection of art and activism, creating platforms for people to talk freely and candidly about abortion, whether that’s in real life, digital spaces or across a range of aesthetic mediums. In a culture where abortion is discussed only in the abstract, I look for ways to get people to be open to a different kind of conversation. I have to figure out how to bring people into high-stakes, uncharted emotional territory without alienating them.

More broadly, SYA uses a range of tactics to place new representations of abortion into public space in unexpected ways. One example of this is the <3 ABORTION <3 dress. I designed a shift dress that says <3 ABORTION <3 all over it in large Helvetica type. Martha Plimpton wore it in the Los Angeles Times, Emily Nokes from TacocaT performs in the dress in front of thousands of people and Mel Eslyn, a 2016 nominee for the Stranger Genius Award in film, wore it at the ceremony. About one hundred dresses have been purchased and worn by all sorts of different people in different contexts. Powerful women unapologetically wearing this dress defies expectations, subverts a taboo, and causes people to investigate their own assumptions.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
My friends! This makes me sound like a teenager but it’s true. I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of razor-sharp freaks who are consistently coming up with new ways to make their way. I’m in a great position when it comes to ripping other people off.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Don’t worry about whether or not you’re an artist. Self-identifying as a creative person is often more about how one wants to be perceived than it’s actually about creating anything interesting or unique or genuine. It’s an invented category that allows people to frame their work in an exalted light, regardless of value. On a related note, I think a lot of people call themselves artists to get back at their parents.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
I would like to hear from anyone but myself.

What are you reading these days?
White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty

Where is your favorite place to escape?
Bed.

Lucia Neare speaks September 16th at the Seattle Public Library for our global theme, Magic. 

Tickets are available here!

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
I consider myself a professional “imaginer.” In what some call my “career,” I have learned to define creativity as a kind of psychological and, even, spiritual freedom; the mental flexibility and spiritual courage to perceive a situation, puzzle, being, place, or idea through a multitude of perspectives – or to imagine something new by combining what may seem to be unlikely ingredients. Creativity is a practice. When I limit myself by being overly attached to certain ideas, dogmas, or outcomes, I radically decrease my own creative potential. Violence, war and even everyday unkindnesses are all crises of creativity. We narrow our imaginative options when mental or spiritual inflexibility keeps us from the love, beauty and grace that might have been.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
The bathtub! That’s the short answer. The more complete answer is that I look to my dream life and to my visions. Ever since I was a girl, I’ve seen things – presences, otherworldly places, beings. As I grew older I realized not everyone saw these sorts of things – or at least they didn’t admit to itin oublic –  but because I thought these visions were normal, everyday experiences, and because they also helped make me make sense of what was a very chaotic childhood, I came to trust their ethereal messages, and found I could truly count on these beings for inspiration.

I also take creative solace beside the Pacific Ocean.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Value process over product. What the audience sees is but a tiny dust mite in comparison to the larger work. And the larger work is The Work. So get to it.

Also, be kind to yourself. And others.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Vanessa DeWolf, Annette Mateo, Matt Goodrich, Cathy Madden, Dean Paton, Hallie Kuperman

Where was the last place you travelled?
Off the grid, to Polebridge, Montana.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
Back in 2005, when I was contemplating my first spectacle here in Washington State, I was trapped by my fears. Frozen. Though I’d come to understand that I’d developed the set of skills necessary to bring my large-scale visions to life on the civic stage, I was afraid of revealing so much of myself, of my visionary life. I was afraid of being too big, too weird, of taking up too much space. Afraid of being too much. Yes, I had the artistic skills I would need: sculpting, singing classical music, as well as a theatre and contemporary performance practice. Personal and interpersonal skills, too, deepened through decades of therapy and self exploration. Nonetheless I was battling powerful fears.

One afternoon, while singing as I do in my Leschi apartment’s bathtub, I was in deep struggle. I’d been stuck for weeks, and frustrated. Then, in a moment, I saw a reason for moving forward that was larger than my fears: If I successfully brought my big dreams to life and shared them, then maybe it would help others take the risk to share their own big dreams, too. That maybe my example would help people –  girls, women, people who feel like misfits or orphans – make the leap and produce their own creative visions – and then together, through our collective creativity, we would foster a more imaginative, soulful society.

We’re excited to have Electric Coffin speaking on the theme “Weird” for our August 12th CreativeMornings Seattle at Oxbow Seattle. Be sure to register for your tickets here

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is being able to be adapt and apply a diverse range of inspiration to guide you through your problem solving process. It’s being able to visualize the end goal and work through all the roadblocks that will inevitably pop up. Everyone can be creative, as long as they are willing to be patient and get out of their own way. Another part of being creative is being resilient, because to truly explore you will encounter a lot of trial and error.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Our best creative inspiration comes from collaborating, sharing, and conversations. We also are always looking, whether we are in the studio, on a road trip, walking through the market, we keep our eyes peeled for things to jump out at us.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Being a professional creative means being creative professionally. There is no set career paths for artists, you need to define your own path. That and charge more for work.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Anyone with a good story!

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?
Stefan book: Dancing with Wu Li Masters
Justin book: Skinny Legs and All
Duffy book: The Outsiders
Taylor book: Truck Nest, a record nine years in the making

We’re excited to have Hum Creative’s Shirley Hendrickson speaking on the theme “Broken” for our June 10th CreativeMornings Seattle at The Impact Hub. Be sure to register for your tickets here

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
To me, creativity is the outcome of an innate, relentless desire for change, for newness, for a solution that leaves the world better off than before. Slightly more beautiful, more true, more meaningful. Being creative is a way of saying thank you to the miracle of our own existence—the fact that we humans get a chance to create, to put something new out into the universe, as we spin around temporarily in its endlessness, is a gift.

The key word is “outcome”. To use an unromantic term, creativity is a product. Ideas aren’t creativity. Think about the root word—"create". Something has to get made from all those crazy synapses firing inside of you. You have to do something with your ideas. I used to overthink everything, agonizing over making my ideas perfect before making them real. Now, I try to remember that making creative work is really an exercise in part fearless mind-barf, most part ruthless editing and crafting. Get it out, however painfully and imperfectly you can. Then you can worry about how to make the barf into something pretty and amazing.  


Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Creative symbiosis. Surrounding myself with brilliant people who are much smarter and more talented, soaking in their experience and their secrets, and doing whatever I can to return the favor so they’ll let me stick around. I love reading biographies and learning the stories, and specifically the processes, of great creative people—the people who have actually done the work to turn their crazy ideas into the things that have changed our lives.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Growing up, I was the kid who was always drawing things, making things, starting businesses, teaching myself new techniques. When I got to college, there was no other path I’d considered—it was all art, all the way. I was accepted into a good design program, but two years later, I quit. I was debilitated by intimidation. I was surrounded by other art kids who were far better than me, and I choked. I thought I had no ideas anymore.

I would have told myself to quit it already with the jealousy. Jealousy is the death of creativity. It’s petty, it’s not a good look, and it kills what makes you different. I would have said, “Little Shirley, there is plenty of room in the world for their ideas and your ideas. In fact, let their ideas inspire you and motivate you. Steal their secrets. Don’t run away. Also, don’t take yourself so fucking seriously. Jeez.”

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Beyoncé. Duh. 

Polymaths really interest me. Beautiful, sexy, unapologetic polymaths. Beyoncé has been constantly creating since she was 8, exploring endless personas, genres, media, businesses—and has never felt the need to choose, to let herself be labeled as one thing or another, or to do things the way people tell her it should be done. She’s a woman who’s built her life creating on her own terms, and she continues to put out her ideas without looking back. She has a clear vision, and she surrounds herself with mind-blowing talent to help her realize it. In the case you can’t get in touch with Bey, there’s a creative force of nature here in Seattle named Linda Derschang (of Linda’s, Tallulah’s, Smith, Oddfellows, etc.), who’s like our Beyoncé of hip-as-heck restaurants. Linda is the shit. What are you reading these days?
At any given time, I’ve got five or six books I rotate through. I’m currently reading and underlining every page of 99U’s series (Managing Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark), which I enthusiastically recommend to every creative professional. Also, A Short History of Nearly Everything by the ingenious Bill Bryson, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (his language is mind-blowing), The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl (for the hundredth time; it’s my favorite short story), Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (she’s the poet responsible for the incredible spoken-word interludes in Beyoncé’s Lemonade), Lindy West’s Shrill, and probably a handful more that I’m forgetting. Is book ADHD a medical condition? There’s got to be a book on it. 


What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
Facts about the universe and existence never cease to explode my brain to pieces—if I could go back, I’d be an astrophysicist. Recently, I learned a fantastic description of how recent and lucky human history is, from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Here goes:

Stretch your arms out as far as you can. Imagine your arm span as the timeline for the entire 4.5-million year history of planet Earth. From the fingertips of your left hand to the wrist of your right, that’s the Precambrian—the time before complex life. Complex life is your right hand. And with the single stroke of a nail file, you would eradicate human history. 

Say whatttt. 

Guys, we have the Wizard of Moz the one and only Rand Fishkin, speaking at our next CreativeMornings on RISK. Tickets will be available at 9:00am on Monday, March 29. If you don’t know Rand, he’s founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. Rand’s an unsaveable addict of all things content, search, & social on the web, from his multiple blogs to Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a shared Instagram account. In his miniscule spare time, he likes to galavant around the world with Geraldine and then read about it on her superbly enjoyable travel blog.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
For me, it’s the concept of invention applied to ideas. My job is to identify which ideas are new, and which are new to me or new to my field/work, and then find ways to filter them, prioritize them, and apply them. That goes for the software we build, the presentations I create, the content I share, the updates I post to social media, and the ways to craft a company culture and set of processes.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Perhaps not surprisingly, I get my best ideas from the world of social media. I read a tremendous amount - often via my Twitter feed, Pocket’s recommendations for me, my Nuzzel account, and other aggregators like Hackers News, Reddit, and Inbound.org. Out of a few hundred articles I peruse in a week, I might apply 2 or 3 directly to my work.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
I wish I’d learned more about coding and compsci. I believe a lot of my potential and creativity, especially earlier in my career, were limited by my lack of knowledge and experience in the field of computer science and software programming.

What’s the most inspiring talk you’ve ever heard?
Not quite a professional talk, but the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, certainly ranks near the top for me. The idea of dedicating oneself to perfecting a craft, to putting years into every detail, to relentless focus, and to expressing the utmost standard in one’s work is greatly inspirational.

What fact about you would surprise people?
I’m an introvert. I spend a lot of time talking on stage and interacting with people, but I need a lot of alone time to recharge in order to have the energy for those social interactions.

What keeps you awake at night?
I fear that I’ll always be an underachiever - someone who, with smarter or greater effort could have done more for others, but was limited by a lack of dedication or a failure to learn from past mistakes.

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