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Christian Marc Schmidt is Principal and Founder of Schema, a Seattle design studio focusing on the intersection of interaction design and data visualization. In this talk, Christian will discuss his interest in cities and mapping through the lens of several projects, both professional and independent, from dynamic visualizations of social data in a city context, to visualizations of transit data and the insights that can be derived from them.

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

CMS: Much of the time creativity involves combining and reinterpreting existing materials. This may be in response to a specific problem or opportunity, and more generally in pursuit of knowledge or insight. Mostly creativity comes through making, through giving form to ideas.

CMSEA: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

CMS: There is no single place, although I draw much of my thinking from culture and the arts, and from using existing products or spaces. For me, many ideas come through conversation with others—and, as is often the case, through the process of working with materials.

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

CMS: The importance of craft. Ideas are cheap, and the visual or material qualities of an artifact are ultimately what cause it to resonate.

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

CMS: There are honestly too many people to list, but at risk of singling out one studio, I would especially like to hear Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Möslinger of Antenna Design, as I am interested in their process and how they balance experimental and professional projects.

CMSEA: What did you learn from your creative failures?

CMS: Personal projects I consider failures were mostly the result of being overly self-conscious and predictive about the outcome. Counterintuitively, I find it often works best to just let something (an idea or form) take shape.

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

CMS: Instead of giving an answer I will ask the question: Why, as people engaged in a “creative” practice, do we do what we do? I think it is a question everyone should ask themselves, not because there is a right or wrong answer, but because the process of thinking about it will help guide the decisions you make.

CMSEA: Thanks, Christian! We look forward to your talk on Friday!

This is a super rad video our August “Urbanism” speaker, Christian Marc Schmidt worked on at Schema. Grab your tickets to join us and hear more!

CreativeMornings Seattle Presents Justin Allan with “Quasars and Black Holes: How the Mysteries of Space Help Kids Write Better"

Justin has worked as a designer for over a decade and has 15 years experience in the niche retail industry. He is the design and store manager at 826 Seattle (a.k.a. Greenwood Space Travel Supply) and co-owner of the design and print studio, Cellar Door Mercantile. He has been a science fiction fan ever since his dad let him watch Riddly Scott’s Alien, at the age of seven.

Justin Allen — Profile and Q&A

Justin has worked as a designer for over a decade and has 15 years experience in the niche retail industry. He is the design and store manager at 826 Seattle (a.k.a. Greenwood Space Travel Supply) and co-owner of the design and print studio, Cellar Door Mercantile. He has been a science fiction fan ever since his dad let him watch Riddly Scott’s Alien, at the age of seven.

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

JA: I define creativity as seeking out and implementing innovative solutions to problems. These can be material problems, such as solving the challenges of habitation (architecture, city planning) and solving the riddle of existence (physics, theoretical science) - or ephemeral, such telling your story and connecting with others (art, literature).

Problems are solved and challenges are met every day, but not always creatively. For me, creativity has a spark of ingenuity and newness. 

In my work, I have some pretty straight-forward design challenges; create an invite for an event, design a book. It would be easy to just follow established design protocols and create boring event materials or an unexciting book. I like to stretch things further and create something unexpected. A fundraising event invite that is also a board game? Why not? 

CMS: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

JA: I find most of my inspiration from mid-20th century design. This period in American history was tumultuous; the entire society was turned on its head. Design and creative endeavors reacted with a wild and fearless innovation that continues to influence designers. 

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

JA: The people who are successful at design and art are not successful because they know some secret piece of wisdom; they are successful because they work hard, try new things fearlessly, share and borrow constantly, and understand that there is always room for improvement. 

School is great for learning techniques, processes, and the fundamentals of how the tools of the trade work, but these are things you can also find in books, through your own research, and through trial and error. School is not great for teaching creativity, but it does provide an opportunity to receive and give feedback that will help you grow.

If you don’t have the drive to put in the hard work, you’d be better suited in a different career

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

JA: Aaron Rose, founder of Alleged Gallery in NYC. 

CMS: Where was the last place you traveled?

JA: This is a funny question because it points to many of my current obsessions and influences; in 2010, I traveled to Iceland for a very brief three-day trip. But it was a very eye-opening trip. Iceland is socially progressive and artistically innovative - in literature, music, and visual arts - but this innovation is rooted in a fierce pride of the country’s traditions. Since returning to the States, I have taken up studying the Icelandic language (the oldest unchanged modern language), traditional Icelandic literature (the Viking-era sagas), Icelandic-style knitting, and the growing wave of Icelandic musical artists (Bjork, Sigur Ros, Of Monsters and Men).

CMS: What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?

JA: I would recommend the book “Lipstick Traces," by Griel Marcus. Superficially, it is about the history of the punk band the Sex Pistols. But it goes much deeper and examines disparate and unrelated art movements — including the French Situationist International, the dadists, and the medieval Brethren of the Free Spirit. Marcus discusses how these groups are tied together by their acts of social commentary and how their daring and ground-breaking methods have influenced many types of creative endeavors. It is a holistic examination of the creative experience on a global, timeless scale. 

Q&A with Michael Hebb

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

Creativity is the engine of my practice. I wouldn’t have a career without it - and paradoxically, I don’t know how to define creativity. 

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?


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

Focus on liberating your heart, the rest is meaningless. 

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

Mark Roth / Lesley Hazleton / Greg Lundgren / Chase Jarvis

What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?

That failure is the greatest teacher - I now aim to fail - we learn nothing from applause.

What are you proudest of in your life?

My daughters.

CreativeMornings Seattle Presents

Michael Hebb 

The Scale of The Dinner Table; finite space, infinite potential.

Michael Hebb has been staging convivial gatherings and redefining hospitality/tablemaking since 1997; co-founding the City Repair project and Communitecture with Mark Lakeman; and co-founding family supper, ripe, clarklewis, and the Gotham Bldg Tavern in Portland OR with Naomi Pomeroy. His expansive multidisciplinary dinners have taken place on five continents, have been exhibited in several museums and featured in the NY Times, W, Art Forum, The New Yorker, GQ, The Guardian and dozens of international publications. Michael strongly believes that the table is one of the most effective (and overlooked) vehicles for changing the world.

He is also the founder of One Pot - a creative agency that specializes in the technology of the common table, and the ability to shift culture through the use of thoughtful food and discourse based engagements and happenings. One Pot has worked closely with thought/cultural leaders and many foundations/institutions including: the Republic of Gabon, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, X Prize Foundation, FEED Foundation, Architecture For Humanity, and Summit Series. Michael is the founding Creative Director of The City Arts Festival, the founder of Night School @ The Sorrento Hotel, and is currently a Teaching Fellow at University of Washington’s Master of Communication in Digital Media department. His writings have appeared in GQ, Food and Wine, Food Arts, ARCADE, Seattle Magazine and City Arts. Michael and Dr. Shauna Shapiro are currently writing a book focused on mindfulness, neuroscience, and table ritual.
In Fall 2012, as part of UW MCDM, Michael and Scott Macklin began designing Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death with Masters students and many of our countries healthcare leaders - the interactive digital platform is scheduled to launch Spring 2013.

Get your tickets.

Creative Mornings speaker Mamoun Sakkal’s typographic work extends to a prolific display of Arabic calligraphy. There’s multiple variations that Mamoun’s skill shines through and to start us off, here’s an example of poetry set in the elegant Tuluth round style. It reads "Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do". 

(image via sakkal.com)

And here’s some playful Zoomorphic Calligraphy. This is a Persian poem set in the shape of a tiger, with an example following of how one would read the poem, starting at #1 and rotating clockwise to the head at #13. Translated, "Salimah, my love, remember the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you."

(images via sakkal.com)

Kufic Calligraphy, an ancient form of Arabic script. Here are some examples wedding monograms that incorporate the bride and groom’s name that made in the Eastern Kufi Style. 

(images via sakkal.com)

Mamoun has also designed work in a Square Kufic style, which is used for tiling as an architectural detail. Below are examples of custom work for a home in Spain, featuring Qur’anic text set in glass mosaic tiles.

(images via sakkal.com)


P.S. We’re releasing tickets for folks on the waiting list over the next few days. Be sure to get on the list if you haven’t already!