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Our global theme for November is #CMdeath. Death has inspired humanity since time immemorial, influencing ideologies and storytelling to our understanding of life and how we live it.

To our ancient ancestors, the fear of death was a palpable and daily motivator. Although our world is infinitely safer than it was centuries ago, we are still driven by the fear of death and we expertly attribute it to even the smallest events: traffic, deadlines, a mistake, public speaking, your boss’s name on your caller ID on a Saturday.

What we have done well as a species is leverage the fear of death to inspire achievements that seemed impossible, to create work that needed to be made, and to discover insights that help us live well.

This month’s global exploration of Death was chosen by our Miami chapter and illustrated by 2016 Adobe Creative Resident Syd Weiler. Thank you to our global partners — Adobe, MailChimp, WordPress.com, and Shutterstock — for their support.

An Interview with Katrina Spade

Our Q&A with November speaker, Katrina Spade, who will be talking on the theme of Death.

Katrina Spade has been a designer and entrepreneur since 2002, with a focus on human-centered, ecological design. While earning her Architecture degree, she invented a system called “recomposition” which transforms the dead into soil.

In 2014, Katrina founded the non-profit Urban Death Project to bring attention to the problem of a toxic funeral industry and lay the research groundwork for this new form of disposition. Most recently, she founded Recompose, a benefit corporation working to bring recomposition to the public sphere.

Katrina has a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her work has been featured in the Guardian, NPR, Wired, Fast Company, and the NYTimes. She is an Echoing Green Fellow.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Katrina Spade (SK)] Creativity is problem-solving. A few years ago, I found out about the problem of a toxic funeral industry and asked myself how I could create a solution. This question has become my career…death care is my life’s work! 

[CM] Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
[KS] Working in small groups with 2-5 smart, diverse people for a couple of intensive design days is my favorite way to get the creative juices flowing. On my own, I can make the overall project flow, but when it comes to design and creativity, I need collaboration. 

[CM] What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
[KS] Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Admit what you don’t know…shout it from the rooftops. That feeling is where the good stuff comes from.

[CM] Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
[KS] Alan Maskin, of Olson Kundig (OK), an architecture firm in Seattle

[CM] What fact about you would surprise people?
[KS] I LOVE (and am pretty good at) badminton.

[CM] How do your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?
[KS] When I was a kid, I envisioned being a doctor or a midwife…I didn’t know many designers and it didn’t occur to me that I could do that sort of work. Likewise, I didn’t have many entrepreneurs in my network…now here I am doing both.

[CM] What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
[KS] These days, thanks to the wonderful baby boomer generation, 10,000 Americans are turning 65 each day.

[CM] What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?
[KS] Some people think that only certain people can be creative or design - that’s not true. Every day we actively design our lives - from the clothes we wear to the people we hang out with. Everyone is a designer. It’s true!

[CM] When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?
[KS] I go running, or I call my friend Garth. Sometimes, slowly, I do both at once.

Our Q&A with October speaker, Cynthia Brothers, who will be talking on the theme of Pioneer.

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

Cynthia started Vanishing Seattle in 2016 to document the displaced and disappearing homes, small businesses, and communities of Seattle – often due to redevelopment and gentrification. She’s a member of the anti-displacement CID Coalition, has contributed to The Seattle Globalist, and worked as a nonprofit consultant in immigrant rights, online organizing, and arts & culture. Being from Seattle, she’ll readily admit to local clichés like playing in bands and once making espresso for a living – and is proud she went to high school where Bruce Lee first demonstrated his “one-inch punch.” You can find Cynthia on Instagram and Facebook @vanishingseattle and at www.vanishingseattle.org.


[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Cynthis Brothers (CB)] I see creativity as the ability to interpret and share something in a new, fresh, or provocative way. Much of what I do with Vanishing Seattle is just documentation – collecting and reflecting back what I’m witnessing in the city – but it elicits pretty strong reactions. Some of my work is also about interrupting and challenging dominant narratives and assumptions we may hold about notions of “progress” and change.

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

[CB] From the people, history, and spaces of this city. There’s so much rich culture here – past and present. Every place has a story – I don’t have to go far to find curiosity and inspiration – whether it’s from the visual cityscape or the vibe and characters haunting an old Seattle watering hole.

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

[CB] Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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

[CB] Tarik Abdullah and the Black & Tan Hall team. Julie-C and the Artist Coalition for Equitable Development (ACED). Dozer/Crick Lont and Beacon Arts:  Artists, creatives, and culture workers who are visioning and implementing alternative, inclusive, and equitable community spaces, business, and development models.

[CM] What are you reading these days?

[CB] How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz. Can’t recommend this highly enough – demystifies the process of gentrification as a very planned and intentional set of policies and practices enacted by local governments, big banks, corporations, and real estate investors in the interest of profit-making. Bonus: it’s not written in Academic-Speak!

You Don’t Have to Say to Love Me by Sherman Alexie. Sherman Alexie is my favorite author – after the passing of his mother, he wrote this memoir about his complicated family and childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and how he’s navigating both grief and love.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford. A love story set against the backdrop of WWII and Japanese American incarceration. Taking place in Seattle in the 1940s and 1980s – there’s lots of beautiful historical detail in this book that centers Nihonmachi, Chinatown International District, and the local jazz scene. And it’s going to be made into a film – executive produced by George Takei!

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America. The “Pope of Trash” - and one my favorite filmmakers - hitchhikes the 70-W from Baltimore to San Francisco at the age of 71.

[CM] How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

[CB] I share pictures and stories of disappearing and displaced spaces, communities, and cultures of Seattle.

Our Q&A with September speaker, Hanson Hosein, who will be talking on the topic of Compassion.

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

Hanson Hosein earned law and journalism degrees in Montreal, Paris and New York City, and then produced stories for NBC News in regions of conflict, winning Emmy and Overseas Press Club awards. He pioneered “backpack” journalism for both NBC and CBC News in the Middle East as a solo TV war correspondent. Hanson created HRH Media Group with his wife Heather Hughes, directing two award-winning “Independent America” feature documentaries. He now shares the story-centric methodology of this unique journey as Director of the Communication Leadership graduate program at the University of Washington.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Hanson Hosein (HH)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?Whatever can be considered my “career” (and I refused to call it as such in my TEDx “Why I drop the mic” talk), is an exercise in creativity itself. What’s the idea that the universe drops into my head that I just can’t set aside? And how do I pursue it into that undiscovered country until the territory is fully settled and suburbanized and it’s time to move on again? Ideally, the thing I leave behind is available to others to help make small sense of our world – and at that point, it belongs to them.

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

[HH] Far away from screens and deep within the printed page, a bike commute to work or messing around with my guitar by the shore. And sometimes when I’m going one-on-one in an on-stage or on-camera interview with someone who is willing to duel. It’s true tightrope-without-a-net stuff, the ideal “creative constraint” being “do or die.”

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

[HH] Bringing something truly creative and lasting into the world is not supposed to be easy. You may be enamored with that initial flash of brilliance. But that’s just the beginning – a tiny point of entry meant to encourage you to dive deeper into the abyss. For it to truly be meaningful, you must push all the way through to the other side. And you’ll probably get scratched and scarred along the way. That’s ok. If you want to give birth to something new, the world will inevitably resist, push back, make you scream. Until it realizes that the new thing you’ve created deserves to live. Otherwise, it’s just a one-in-a-trillion status update that dissolves into nothingness.

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

[HH] My friend Robert Schenkkan, former Seattle native. Pulitzer and Tony-award winner, creator of “All The Way” (Broadway play and HBO show about Lyndon Johnson), writer of “Hacksaw Ridge” and a number of “The Pacific” episodes.

[CM] What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

[HH] Unknowingly walked through a minefield in Bosnia to interview two sisters who had each lost their leg in that same minefield (and had met Princess Diana four weeks before she died – which was why I was doing the story in the first place). The end result was nominated for an Emmy though!

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

[HH] That for any creative, the ratio of failure to success is disproportionally high. For good reason: the world doesn’t need more stuff. So don’t expect to succeed unless you’re willing to do absolutely everything and anything to make it happen. You need to push yourself to the extreme. I tell my students this is the equivalent to David Bowie’s “Berlin” period (minus the drugs) – when your back is against the wall and you have nothing to lose, suddenly it begins to flow. That’s how I conceived and produced my first documentary film. Through loss, pain and eventual clarity.

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

[HH] Listening to 1970’s progressive rock music while I work – notably King Crimson – played loud on a surround sound system (my hearing is already slightly impaired!)

[CM] What are you reading these days?

[HH] “The Vegetarian: A Novel” by Han Kang 

[CM] What fact about you would surprise people?

[HH] I never finished my undergraduate degree. (I got in “early” to law school and accepted, partly because it was in Montreal, which remains one of my favorite 

Our Q&A with August speaker, Tim Allen, who will be talking on the topic of Genius.

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

Tim Allen was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business for 2017. He brings his roots in product, service design, and strategy to his current role leading teams of designers across Microsoft’s new Fluent Design System and Inclusive Design group envisioning the next shift in computing. His focus on fueling human potential is key to building products and cultures that inspire people to do their best work.

 Prior to Microsoft, Tim combined design, storytelling, and technology to innovate on behalf of global brands such as Google, Hyatt, and GE as President, Wolff Olins North America. At Amazon, he helped lead experience design for Amazon Echo, Fire TV, and Kindle products as Executive Creative Director. Tim also shaped the vision for one of the largest Experience Design teams in the United States at R/GA, whose Nike+ work established the future of connected experiences for brands. Through innovative work with Adobe, Red Hat, and IBM, Tim holds seven patents related to software design, ranging from chat interface modeling to mobile device synchronization.

 As an additional outlet for his passion around design strategy and practice, Tim instructs at schools and events around the world.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Tim Allen (TA)] Similar to the notion from an athletic apparel company that if you have a body, you’re an athlete, if you have a mind, you are creative. Creativity is innate to humans. It allows us to adapt to physical, cognitive and social challenges as a survival skill. Things start to get interesting when that gift for survival is used for something beyond the preservation of our existence. Creativity can also make our lives and the lives of others more meaningful, more delightful, and sometimes more magical. I think pursuing that level of creativity is a privilege. Whether it is your vocation, hobby or passing interest. I’m passionate about the intersection of logical problem solving and imaginative personal expression. Playing/Creating in the space between observed insights that are universally human and forms of expression and adaptation that are uniquely individual is a fascinating pursuit. In my experience, that is where the rare occurrence of genius lies. 

[CM] Where do you find your best creative inspiration?  
[TA] For me, it’s when and not where. It’s the 60min transition between sleeping and waking. For some reason, my mind is able to process all of the various inputs (articles, books, podcasts, conversations, observations, etc) from the previous days/weeks and organize them in unexpected, creative ways. It’s when my imagination is at its peak so I just try to write down or draw as much as possible during that time without trying to rationalize, doubt or analyze the connections. The moment I start thinking about anything mundane for the upcoming day is the exact moment when the flood of creativity stops. 

[CM] What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
[TA] I was advised by a mentor that “People will not truly care how much you know until they know how much you care." 

It’s advice that speaks to being aware and considerate about your relationship to an audience and any related subject matter. The audience, in this case, could be anyone or any group - a manager, a customer, a teacher, a spouse, etc. There is no shortage of people that crave being seen as the smartest person in the room, in the meeting, in the relationship, or on the team. But it’s been proven many times in my experience that communicating subject matter expertise isn’t nearly as effective as being vulnerable/humble enough to convey how much a subject matter means to you and why. I’ve found that success can lie more in establishing a common purpose than in establishing your individual credentials. 

[CM] Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
[TA] It would be a toss up between Eddie Opara (Pentagram) and Steve Johnson (Netflix). Actually, I’d love to hear them both speak at CreativeMornings. Their stories are amazing, they’re masterful at their craft and they are both hilarious. Moreover, they are also people of color that have reached a rare level of executive seniority in the design industry. I would love to hear more stories from people like them. 

[CM] What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?
[TA] For me, it was freshman year in design school. My first crit was an abomination. I didn’t know if I was cut out for all of this design business - the other students didn’t act like me, they certainly didn’t look like me, and I had the nagging thought of "What was I doing in this studio with all of these ‘real designers’?”

That’s when I received one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever had when my professor spoke to me after class and said, “…you know the anxiety that you’re experiencing is natural. Fear and uncertainty can ruin you or be your best ally. Embrace your fear. Seek out ways to step into the unknown. It is the single best way to grow as a designer.”

After that, the thought that what I felt was not only natural but HEALTHY was pivotal for me. I soon learned to befriend and channel fear and uncertainty and it led to huge leaps in my evolution as a designer.


[CM] When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?
[TA] I take a run whenever the creative juices aren’t flowing. It never fails to help me make new connections and spark new ideas. It’s a great burst of energy and the since of accomplishment gives me some needed confidence when I’m feeling like a creative challenge is getting the best of me. I also try to run in a beautiful setting as well, preferably near water. It just feels good! :)


Creative Jam, an inspiring two-part design experience that demonstrates and celebrates creativity.

Please join us on July 20th for a Creative Jam focused on UX Design, an inspiring two-part design experience that demonstrates and celebrates creativity. The Adobe Creative Cloud team will host the Creative Jam presentations.

This one-hour design showcase highlights the work of 3 creative leaders. At the same time, in the next room, hand-picked Designers will be competing in the Creative Jam tournament, a 3-hour design charrette showdown. Participants will be using Adobe XD.

Once the Creative Jam presentations wrap, tournament participants will take the stage to share their creations with you. As part of the audience, you’ll vote on each submission and select the People’s Choice winner. There will also be Grand Prize winners decided by a group of judges!

Register to Attend https://nvite.com/CreativeJam/seattle2017


Local creative leaders will be on site and would love to see your work.

The reviews are a 1-on-1 opportunity to meet for 15 minutes with a creative professional before the main event. Getting feedback is valuable in knowing how to attract new clients and represent your work.

Sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/creativejamreview and we will provide you with the exact time and place of your review.


Doors open. Settle in, and meet your fellow creative community. Free food, beer, and wine available. The tournament will be in full swing—pop your head in and see how it’s developing. Portfolio reviews will be taking place for those who reserved a spot before the event.

Creative Jam Talks begin. Sit back as local creative leaders walk you through their personal creative process.

Creative Jam tournament competitors share their solutions, inspired by a theme announced just 3-hours before. Audience and Judges vote. Awards follow.

Everyone socializes and gets to meet the teams.

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

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

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

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

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

Our Q&A with July speaker Sara Porkalob who will be talking on the topic of Equality.
🎟 You can get tickets for her upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Sara Porkalob is an award winning solo performer, director, and theatre theorist/activist recently recognized on City Art’s 2017 Future Listand currently serving as Intiman Theatre’s 2017 Co-Curator. She is a co-founder of DeConstruct, an online journal of intersectional performance critique. Her original musical about her gangster Filipino family, DRAGON LADY, will be premiering this fall at Intiman Theatre and in spring 2018 the show will be traveling to American Repertory Theatre as part of their Oberon Presents series. Learn more at www.saraporkalob.com

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

Sara Porkalob [SP]: As an artist activist, my career is built around collaboration and creativity. For me, creativity is: consistently challenging yours and others’ normalized ways of thinking and doing. 

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

[SP]: I always find the best inspiration in: my family, stories of POC resisting white supremacy, and Ali Wong.

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

[SP]: As a woman of color and someone who grew up poor-I wish I had had someone tell me that the mainstream historical and contemporary narratives of POC women are highly problematic because they are often not written by or creatively controlled by POC women. 

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

[SP]: Desdemona Chiang (Theatre Director)

[CM]: Where was the last place you travelled?

[SP]: The last place I traveled was Scandinavia (Sweden and Norway) to look at a grad-program in Intersectional Gender Studies at Linkoping University.

[CM]: What is the one question we haven’t asked that you want to answer?

[SP]: “What are your favorite places to eat in Seattle?” WELL, LET ME TELL YOU. I love food and I love sharing new dining experiences with friends. My favorite places in Seattle are: Little Sheep (Mongolian Chinese Hot Pot in the International District), Xi-an Noodles (Spicy, hand-pulled noodles in the U-district), and Saigon Deli (All things Vietnamese and the best banh mi in town). 

It’s every creative’s dream to have the freedom and opportunity to focus solely on their personal projects while also being supported fully to pursue their very best work. The Adobe Creative Residency is this kind of unique opportunity. Their residency program empowers talented individuals to spend a year focusing on a personal creative project, while sharing their experience and process with the creative community.

2017 Adobe Creative Residents are designer & visual data storyteller Jessica Bellamy, graphic designer & longboarder Chelsea Burton, graphic designer & letterer Rosa Kammermeier, photographer Aundre Larrow, user experience designer Natalie Lew, and photographer Julia Nimke. For the next year, Adobe will be providing these six Residents with access to the best creative tools and resources, along with guidance from advisors and a full salary package. This is a unique opportunity to be supported by a creative community with a space to talk about your process, tools, resources and mentors. All rooting for your success.

Dive into their portfolios & learn more about the program: adobe.ly/1VXWfdv

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

Jenny Wilkson founded the letterpress program at the School of Visual Concepts (SVC) in 2001. Originally a book designer, she holds a Master of Arts in Design from UC Berkeley, and is fortunate to be one of the few of her generation to have undergone a traditional letterpress apprenticeship. In 2012, she co-created the wiki website Letterpress Commons. These days she oversees the operations, curriculum and community outreach of SVC’s letterpress shop at the School’s facility in South Lake Union—the epicenter of Seattle’s tech boom. Through SVC, she facilitates creative collaborations with local nonprofits and directs the annual Letterpress Wayzgoose and the mighty Steamroller Smackdown—a friendly competition where design teams print giant posters with a steamroller instead of a printing press.

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

Jenny Wilkson [JW]: Creativity is in the innovative idea, and not whether or not you carry it out with your own two hands. Sometimes I lament having chosen to spend a disproportionate amount of time facilitating instead of making. But recently a letterpress student exclaimed that I have the best job in the world—I get to help others come up with creative ideas.

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

[JW]: I look to my bookshelf or the public library. The material found in printed books is better curated than a deluge of internet search results.

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

[JW]: Finding an appreciative audience for your work isn’t selling out.

[CM]: What are you reading these days?

[JW]:I just finished reading Bit Rot by Douglas Coupland—an entertaining collection of essays and short fiction about technology and humanity. (Thanks to Scott Boms from Facebook Analog Lab for the recommendation!) Now I’m feeling nostalgic for Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, which I haven’t read since high school. I’ll bet it’s going to be as hilarious as watching Singles again, 25 years later.

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

[JW]:I remember very clearly as a child telling someone that I wanted to be surrounded by stacks of paper when I grew up. I thought maybe I’d own a stationery store. I was eerily close.