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Jonathon Colman at 2014 IA Summit in San Diego, California.
Photo © Jennifer Jefferson (@uxjenn)

Guys! We have one of the best introverts around speaking at our December event! The theme is TIME and Jonathon Colman is going to bring a great talk on Wicked Ambiguity and User Experience. Tickets are currently waitlisted.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
In the past 20 years, I’ve had at least 11 jobs in over 6 fields, from improv performer to Peace Corps Volunteer to user experience architect.

In all that time, I’ve only learned one thing about creativity that always works: take the opportunities as they come. Don’t save up your creativity for a rainy day. Move fast and you won’t lose your gumption.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Science and nature—if my nose isn’t in a book then it’s outdoors, taking in the rare air of the Pacific Northwest.

I walk everywhere. That’s when all my best ideas come to me, when I’m moving about on my feet. That’s the only way you get to see a city and know its people. That’s when you realize that the world is darker, stranger, madder, and better than you’d ever hoped.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
It’s OK to not be perfect. Perfection is a myth, an impossible ideal that stagnates progress and destroys creativity. I wish I’d been taught that failure isn’t just to be expected, but that it’s also required for discovery and inspiration. I wish I’d known that failure would come to define the things I care about most.

I don’t want to celebrate failure, but I certainly want to reward learning. That’s how we keep growing as creators and leaders—by learning new things and then daring to apply our knowledge.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
In Seattle, I’d love to see Candace Faber and David Harris of Hack to End Homelessness and Hack the CD. Tom Kundig, principal of Olson Kundig, would be amazing. Batya Friedman, a professor at UW who focuses on value-sensitive design, would be inspiring. And my childhood idol, Gary Larson of “The Far Side,” would be like a dream come true.

If you were on an episode of “Jeopardy!”, what would your best categories be?

  • Ska-Punk of the 1990s
  • Advanced Procrastination
  • Dogs, Dogs, Dogs
  • Introvert Hacks
  • “Doctor Who” Quotes
  • Fun With Coffee

What keeps you awake at night?
My dog, chasing things in her sleep. I wonder what she’s chasing. I want to chase it, too.

Stuck on November’s waitlist? Don’t want to watch the live stream by yourself? These folks are hosting viewing parties starting at 8:30a:

Startup Hall (1100 NE Campus Parkway, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105 ) in the way back lounge. Ask for Steven Chau. Coffee will be available.

Moz (1100 2nd Ave. STE 500, Seattle, WA 98101). Go up to the 5th floor and ask for David O’Hara. Coffee and donuts will be served.

Lineage Solutions (11111 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA 98004) Meet at the fireplace by the Bravern valet parking (map). Jana Gering will be bringing folks up to the office at 8:45a. Coffee will be available. Email jana (at) lineage.solutions if you get stuck downstairs.

If you’d like to invites some creatives in your space to watch Jessica Hagy’s talk, let us know on Twitter!

We’re delighted to have Jessica Hagy as our November speaker on the theme of WORK. You can get more info on the event here.

Jessica Hagy is an artist and writer best known for her Webby award-winning blog, Indexed. Her work has been described as “deceptively simple,” “undeniably brilliant,” and “our favorite reason for the Internet to exist.” Her style of visual storytelling allows readers to draw their own conclusions and to actively participate in each narrative. “Her images don’t always tell us what to think; quite often, they elegantly offer us ideas to think about.”

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is taking what lying around and turning it into something interesting. If you can’t do that, wherever you are and whatever situation you’re in: your creativity is just hiding inside a fog of frustration. I try to always look for little, odd, details or big, strange things, that are hiding in plain site: those are the observations that translate into work people can really relate to.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I wander around. I lurk. I am Sometimes 10, 12 miles a day. I can sit at a desk and take maybe, 12 steps in my brain. Walking around? With some paper and a pen? I can take hundreds of steps and actually think myself into somewhere strange and novel. Getting myself home, sometimes that takes a while (and a vehicle or two), because getting lost (physically and mentally) is part of the process. I am a very suspicious looking person, especially when accidentally trespassing.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
That there are some people who want work toward big ideas, and other people who want to work toward getting promoted. Ideas are more satisfying than cash, but cash follow ideas, so any creative career is game theory with feelings. Would you rather be Harper Lee or the dude in her hometown who made a decent living selling cars to her neighbors? Right.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Super badass working-mom, super-designer, so-insightful-it-hurts, she’s amazingly bold and never not hilarious: Kelsey Hanson: founder, Vocal Design. If you have time, look her up. If you have money, throw it at her amazing sense of composition and on-point style.

What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
That you can choose the people whose opinions matter. Life’s far too short and statistically unusual to be someone else’s punching bag (physical, emotional, or professional). And if you think no one will care about you and what you have you offer? You’re just not talking to the right people yet. Keep shouting.

What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?
I draw, write, and paint every day. Every day, even if I just jot down ideas during Thanksgiving dinner. About a third of that is for myself to share, another third is for clients, and another third is for the future. So basically, I have decades of work waiting for a pseudonym to embody. I intend to reitre my name before I retire my person. That breakdown is creatively freeing and gives me an “out” for thoughts that don’t fit into pre-built buckets.

For October’s talk on SHOCK, we’re pleased as punch to have Mike Gaston, As the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Cut.com. Mike’s work has been featured in everything from The Wall Street Journal to TMZ. Recent projects include “The Primary Instinct,” a full length concert film that premiered at SIFF starring Stephen Tobolowsky and the “100 Years of Beauty” series which was showcased at TED 2015. He is most often recognized for a video about weed. Tickets for the event at Seattle Art Museum are currently waitlist-only.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is like irritable bowel syndrome. It’s a name we’ve given to a bunch of different symptoms, whose triggers vary from person to person, and no one really knows what causes it.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I’m most productive in the bathroom. 

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
People don’t really care about your work. They care what you think about their work. (That would’ve saved me some time in writer’s workshops.)

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
David Mikula (bff.co). I want to know what’s behind that beard.

What are you reading these days?
Alain de Botton’s The News, Milan Kundera’s Encounter, and René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred.

When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?
I make a decision or I move on. Writer’s block isn’t a real thing. You aren’t actually out of ideas or words. You’re out of creatively satisfying ideas and words. Being stuck is your ego paralyzing you from making a decision. I decided a while back that everything I made was pretty crappy. Once I detached the work I was producing from the expectation it had to be good, making decisions including moving on, became easy.

With great delight, we will be having the amazing Marcy Sutton as our September speaker. Tickets are available August 31 and the event will be held at Galvanize in Pioneer Square.

Marcy is an Accessibility Engineer at Adobe and an AngularJS core team member. Her background in photojournalism, art and web design combined with a passion for web accessibility helped her to become a persuasive storyteller and public speaker at conferences all across the world.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is original thought and problem solving. In my work as an accessibility engineer, creativity and user-centered design play a huge part. Design in this practice goes beyond the visual to also include semantics and multi-modal interaction. I’ll ask questions like, “what would a delightful screen reader experience sound like?” Or, “can we tweak this approach slightly to be more feasible in the time we have?” When creativity is really flowing, the answers to those questions will inform other things I’m working on, such as blog posts or conference talks. When I can see patterns and connect the dots in different areas of my life, I feel the most creative.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I find the most inspiration when I travel to new places. In transit, I put my headphones on (a.k.a. my comfort blanket) and listen to music, naturally feeling inspired to catch up on projects. On a perfect day, I’d head to a place where I could bike to a modern art museum and scout out street art along the way. These moments help me stay fulfilled for months at a time.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Don’t be so hard on yourself if your skills don’t fit neatly into a box, especially as a developer with a creative side or a designer with a technical side. Do work you’re passionate about and your talents & strengths will emerge.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
I would love to hear from Matt May, my colleague from Adobe. His background as an accessibility evangelist paired with his sermons for the Buddhist church could make for something really interesting.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Recently, I was asked to emcee one day of Cascadia Fest, a web community conference at Semiahmoo Resort north of Bellingham. When I arrived the night before, someone suggested I do costume changes. I happened to be staying with a friend with a basement full of costumes, and my destiny was written. I introduced 11 speakers, including Q&A and announcements, with 9 costume changes including a Canadian Mountie, Mexican wrestler, Batman onesie, pirate, and full-sized bear. If I had any shred of fear of public speaking before that, it’s surely gone now. The most rewarding part for my self-humiliation was hearing comments like, “costume changes make me happy” and “this was my first conference; you made it very special.” These are the things that will make me smile when I’m old and grey.

Where is your favorite place to escape?
I escape into nature any chance I get, no matter the season. Living in Washington, we are truly fortunate to have such beautiful trails in our backyard. As my work and public speaking career have continued to blossom, I have to build time into my schedule to unplug and turn off all the notifications and distractions. The wilderness is my favorite place to do that.

Growing up, Kyle Kesterson and his family hit the lowest of lows moving in and out of homeless shelters and standing in line at food and clothing banks. It led to frequently moving, attending 14 different schools, becoming one of the worst kids in the school district and finally dropping out after being told by teachers that he’ll “most likely end up flipping burgers, in jail, or dead.”

Discovering art and creative expression saved his life and put him on a path towards carving his own path and ultimately creating positive impact around him. You can get tickets hear his upcoming talk on ACTION August 7 at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity to me is just seeing something for more than what it’s labeled to be. Approaching an object or challenge with, “it could be this, or it could be this,” and playing with how it comes together, allows for that creative lens to stay flexible and flowing. It gets applied in every facet of my career, from solving problems, to building products and creating content, to managing teams and building culture, and to how we communicate internally and externally.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
My best creative inspiration comes right after reaching what I call the ‘butthole pucker factor’. It’s that threshold where comfort and fear meet, and after identifying the fear, I hold my breath and step into it as boldly as I can. It’s in those moments I am truly present, learn the most about what I am capable of, and come back with new ideas and energy. Lately it’s been adventuring through the wilderness with my dog, Bean.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
I wish I had learned earlier that purpose is birthed from struggle, and the more intense the struggle, the more of an opportunity for deeper impact. Knowing that would’ve shifted my experience to embracing the challenges and hardships as gifts for developing character and perspective.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Richard Tait, Founder of Cranium / Golazo

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I make fun of everything.

What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
When your world is small, your problems are big. When your world is big, your problems are small. Dave Cole, former CEO of Redbox/Coinstar told me that, and has pushed me to make my world very big.

What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?
Creativity is not art, painting, design, sculpting, crafting, building. Those are just technical expressions of creativity. With creativity being just looking at something for more than what it is labeled to be, everyone is creative.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
Recently I’ve noticed that much of my creativity comes from avoiding pain and discomfort. If I happen to work myself into a comfortable situation, where I have little to no stress, I self-sabotage in a way that allows for chaos and challenges to surround me. That tension that builds lights me up and I reach new ways of seeing and thinking, which leads to fresh ideas and solutions.  

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?
Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Gordon MacKenzie


July’s speaker on COLLABORATE is the inimitable Jon Bell. Jon is a senior product designer at Twitter and co-founder of UX Launchpad, a company that teaches fun, hands-on design courses. He’s done all sorts of things, but you probably don’t care about that. You’re wondering if he’s going to deliver an interesting talk, and the answer is … no.

Just kidding. It’s going to be great. People seem to really like this one. And you can get your tickets here on June 29th.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
By creating things. No, wait! Come back! I’ll say more!

By creating things with others. This means being someone people want to work with. It’s not hard to come up with an idea. It’s incredibly hard to turn that idea into something real. And it’s harder still to do graciously and as part of a team.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Oh, I don’t find it. I have to hunt it down and pull it from a tree like a scared kitten.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Everyone starts projects, very few people finish. Get good at finishing and you’ll stand out. My trick for finishing is doing lots of small things and not getting bogged with giant magnum opus projects.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Me, while a second me sits in the audience. Imagine how crazy it’d be to somehow be able to see yourself from another vantage point. It could be the worst talk ever and still be a fascinating experience.

What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?
Talent. It’s a cop-out. The only thing that matters is how hard you’re willing to work. I know plenty of people with quote-unquote talent that I’d never let near an important project. Whereas if someone is willing to work hard, truly hard, they won’t just improve, they’ll stand out. Our work isn’t magic or rocket science. It just takes work.

If you could do anything now, what would you do?
Respond to this very email. Seriously. The more you’re comparing what you’re doing to what you really want to be doing, the more it erodes your mood. I am genuinely delighted to be writing silly answers to this email.

What is the one question we haven’t asked that you want to answer?
Jon, what do you think about questions that go unanswered?

We’re so pleased Charles Tonderai Mudede will be joining us as our June speaker on REVOLUTION. You can still hop on our waitlist for tickets right here.

Charles is a Zimbabwean-born cultural critic, filmmaker, and film editor for The Stranger. Mudede collaborated with the director Robinson Devor on two films, Police Beat and Zoo, both of which premiered at Sundance–Zoo was screened at Cannes. Mudede has contributed to the New York Times, LA Weekly, Village Voice, Black Souls Journal, C Theory, Cinema Scope, and is on the editorial board for the Arcade Journal and Black Scholar. Mudede has lived in Seattle since 1989. 

Charles took a few moments to tell us a little more about himself:

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
It is finding a space to dream, and usually for me that is at the end of a day and during a walk. Without this dreaming, I can make nothing.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
City parks and walking around Beacon Hill, my favorite neighborhood.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Actually, as a young person, I knew exactly what to do and did it. It works like this: Find someone whose way of thinking you like and then emulate that way of thinking. Eventually, you will find disagreements with that way of thinking and begin to develop your own. Creativity is imitation and betrayal.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Jonathan Raban, because he has the best mind in Seattle.

What are you reading these days?
A lot of economics, particularly the books by Joan Robinson, a mid-century British economist and post-Keynesian. Economics, I think, might be the most important subject of our times.

How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?
I wanted to be an astronaut. I’m now a writer and filmmaker and stuck on Earth.

Black Box Festival

Black Box is an international art, film and technology festival that presents contemporary artists who expand the language of cinema.

A multi-platform program of significant scope, the festival is focused on experimental film, video and new media art.

Black Box takes place during the Seattle International Film Festival and is organized independently by Aktionsart - a new art and technology nonprofit based in the Pacific Northwest.


Make a perfectly cooked meal every time with Meld’s robotic cooking knob. Their Kickstarter campaign ends today! PS. Congrats on your Geekwire award!

Camp Rahh!

Camp RAHH! is an all inclusive camping experience for adults in the PNW. As a camper, you create your days whether that means soaking up the sunrise with a cup of coffee, taking a yoga session on the beach, kayaking around the bay or even just playing board games with new friends. You decide. Special Creative Mornings promo in the image. :)

Hello, creative humans. For May’s talk, we’re bringing you Robert Twomey, an an artist exploring the intersection of machine perception and human desire. His projects have taken the form of an interactive simulation of a grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease, a body of work exploring the fantasy of an imaginary daughter, and a recreation of John Searle’s Chinese Room as a transaction between synthetic child voice and robotic child drawing. Tickets for his talk at the Seattle Art Museum are waitlisted right now, but we’re working on getting some more released soon!

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
I identify two kinds of creativity in my work. One has to do with creativity as problem solving or invention. I use this part in all of the mechatronics, computer programming, and fabrication that I do. The other side of creativity for me has to do with expression and the drive to get things out there into the world and communicate. The “problem to be solved” becomes how to take some subject of interest or inkling of a desire and develop it into a concrete form. This is a real challenge. It involves paying attention to yourself, figuring out what you are really trying to do, and why. Both kinds of creativity have been a part of me as long as I can remember. Growing up I was always building inventions, taking things apart, and I loved to draw. I got a lot of positive feedback and encouragement for these activities, which I’m sure went a long way in pushing me towards a creative profession.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I look for inspiration in books, art works, life around me. But really I find the best inspiration in my peers. I’m finishing up a graduate program now (DXARTS at UW) and have had a number of excellent, really inspiring models in the students and faculty here. It is very nourishing to be surrounded by peers doing similar kinds of work but with totally different approaches, skills, history. We learn a ton from each other. This community provides a lot of fuel for my own practice.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
I wish I had known there was some kind of art and technology hybrid in my future. I spent a lot of years of my life thinking science/engineering was one thing over here, and art was another thing over there (painting and drawing, usually). This is really a conservative, discipline-bound dichotomy. It has been exciting to watch these pursuits begin to merge in my career, to meet somewhere in the middle. I’m in a place where I get to engage both kinds of thinking on a regular basis in making projects. I wouldn’t have expected that starting out.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Living or dead, I’d pick Walt Whitman. In a fish-out-of-water way, I’m curious what he would make of our contemporary scene. He had an interest in labor, industry, productivity as part of the national character in his time. I think that intersects with this month’s topic of robots, technology, and ideas of human/machine production. He is a model for a lot of what I admire—a boundless enthusiasm, a desire to connect with the world around him and chronicle it. He’s very earthy. I love the 1st edition of Leaves of Grass, which he typeset and published himself.

What are you reading these days?
I just finished Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers. It was a great book, the inspiration for the film Stalker. I think I’m going to read some more books by them. I’m also very very slowly making my way through Kenzaburo Oe’s Somersault. I love some of his other books but am having a hard time with this one. And I am revisiting Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, in reference to a project I’m doing with Mike McCrea for Black Box 2.0.

What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?
I get up every morning, head to the basement or studio, and start first thing. This is funny for me. It represents a real shift from a more end-of-day/evening mode of work earlier in my career to very much early morning work now. The most important thing for me is finding a time and place to concentrate, where I won’t be interrupted, and I can really get into things. So early mornings it is! I get a lot done before 10am.