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Jeff Raz

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February 1, 8:30am • Heron Arts • part of a series on Surreal

DECEMBER’S CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT: Hope Meng

Graphic designer and letterer, maker, seamster, problem solver, mama (of 2), plant mama (of 50+), swimmer, and eater. Not necessarily in that order.

Three years ago, I began an ambitious personal project to draw every combination of 2 letters that the alphabet provides us. Monogram Project (see it on IG @hopemengdesign) kicked off with AA and will conclude sometime in the (very) distant future with ZZ.

More recently, I’ve been working on a project that merges two of my disparate interests: sewing/quilting and design/typography. Text/tile (@texttilestudios on IG) is a multi-disciplinary project that consists of a typographic system based on quilt blocks. At first glance, you may only see a random geometric design, but upon closer inspection, you may notice that the quilts contain an embedded message.

Find out more at: www.hopemeng.com @hopemengdesign and @texttilestudio

Q&A with Hope

    What does Tradition mean to you?

    Tradition is a starting point, but a crucial one. My practice in design and lettering has been rooted in an understanding of graphic design history and traditional letterforms. You can’t really do original work or innovate unless you know what has been done before you to set the stage.

    How is this concept reflected on your creative work?

    I think tradition really shows in my work. With Monogram Project, even the pieces that push the boundaries of legibility start from a place of our common understanding about what makes an A an A and what makes a B a B (for example). I try to boil the letterform down to its true essence before building it back up to another form.

    It’s a similar thing with the Text/tile project, though that’s further constrained by the medium of fabric and the visual language of quilts. I just love the concept that quilts have traditionally always carried stories and with Text/tile, that’s just being made explicit.

    What have you been inspired by lately?

    I am inspired by humanity! By that I mean: the mark of the hand, imperfection, wabi sabi, the organic form that flows from the hand when you’re trying to draw a perfectly straight line. My own work tends to be really polished and perfect and I am trying to evolve from that, and let go—allow my hand show through.

    Any advice for someone in our community who is looking to tap in more traditional techniques or creative pathways?

    Try to make something directly with your hands—when we use a mouse, it controls a cursor which then moves pixels on a screen. Find a practice where you are directly manipulating a tool, even if it’s just making marks with a pencil on paper. There honesty in using a tool directly. There is something so satisfying about creating a physical object, not just one that lives in 0’s and 1’s.

    Thanks to Hope for collaborating with us in a unique knitting piece that we’ll be giving away at our even on December 14th - join event here.


    CM/SF’s Creative Spotlight looks to highlight local creatives by collaborating on a fun project centered around the monthly theme. There are tons of local artists, makers, and creators in our city who are doing rad things – we want to spread the world and spark our community with their creativity!

    Know someone doing rad things? Drop us a line or two over email at sf@creativemornings.com.

    December’s theme is TRADITION

    Traditions are sacred because they cultivate consistency and a sense of belonging. It’s the bread and butter for fostering connection and community. 


    We’re in a time where traditions are being challenged and remixed. We question how they came to be and the context in how (or if) they fit into the future. “This is just the way it is” is a statement of fear, not possibility. It undermines the human capacity to adapt and create change. Traditions are made by us, for us, so therefore they can be reinvented with intention and imagination. You may not start the next national holiday, but you can bring to the table your generosity, your kindness, your vision and heart to create a more welcoming future. Our last 2018 global theme TRADITION was chosen Barranquilla chapter and Andrés M. Felfle illustrated the theme. 

    Join us in our next event on December 14th.

    NOVEMBER’S CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT: Nicole Album

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    Nicole grew up in New Orleans and worked in New York City, before making her journey west to California. Currently she lives in San Francisco, where she can quickly escape to the woods and nearby beaches.

    ​She is a ballerina, yogini, audiophile, animal lover, chocoholic, and artist.

    Nicole creates illustration and concepting for fashion, graphics, home decor, paper goods, and entertainment productions. Previous clients include: The Bay Bridged, Entire Productions, Fog City Songwriters, Gamago, Gymboree Group, Pottery Barn Teen, San Francisco Parks Alliance, and Sofar Sounds.

    Most projects are done by hand in a variety of mediums and styles with digital manipulation, as needed. Nicole is available for freelance, commissions, and illustrating private events or concerts.

    Find out more at: www.nicolealbum.com or @nickytickytipsy

    Q&A with Nicole Album

      What does Restart mean to you?

      Restart means another opportunity to grow and change. Restarting is a part of the greater cycle giving us a new opportunity to blossom. Sometimes we choose to restart on our own, like quitting a job or a break up. Other times, life decides that for us, like a death or natural disaster.

      I believe that from destruction comes enlightenment. Without the need to restart we wouldn’t have the opportunity to try again, make different choices, and learn more about how we want to show up every day.


      Nicole live sketched at our November’s event:

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      How is this concept reflected on your creative work?

      I usually have a dramatic increase in sketching. In the literal sense, each page is a fresh start. They are sketches and there for disposable, allowing me the opportunity to try different choices or routes, before committing to the ones I may take to my professional work. I also do a lot of sketching outside of my home. The nature of spending time in places I haven’t been, observing other people, and drawing in the moment, are all ways to refresh my creativity and open up space for different ways of thinking. Even the trash-worthy scribbles serve a purpose for helping me breakdown and rebuild, again.

      What have you been inspired by lately?

      What a broad question?! Inspiration is constant. Everyday there is at least one small experience or visual image that brings me inspiration. Some days there are many. Inspiration may be a few words someone says to me, or a beautiful 10 foot painting. Everyday the answer to this question is different.

      I’m inspired by many of the artists in my real community and those of the virtual realm. I am hosting a costume, figure drawing event in a few days, and the model performing has become a muse for me. I love her innovative costumes and sense of fantasy. I also find a lot of inspiration from music, films, tv shows, and being outdoors. A terrific live performance, beautiful costuming, or fresh smells and tastes can set my imagination on fire.

      Any advice for someone in our community who is looking to change things around and restart with a new mindset?

      My recommendation is to get physical. Thinking about the steps in a dance class, bike path in front of you, or which wave to surf, allows your ‘creative’ brain a rest. The break your mind gets from the issue you are restarting can help you see more clearly what you want, when you begin again. Even a slow walk or floating in a pool is considered meditative. Plus, as Elle Woods once said, ‘Exercise gives you endorphins. And, endorphins make you happy.’ It doesn’t have to be intense and don’t over do it. Your muscles need rest, too. You’ll be physically and mentally hungry for whatever comes your way next. And, when inspiration strikes you will have the energy to grab it and hold on.

      Thanks to Nicole for creating this unique postcards & live sketching at our event!. Take a peak at Nicole’s sketching process.

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      CM/SF’s Creative Spotlight looks to highlight local creatives by collaborating on a fun project centered around the monthly theme. There are tons of local artists, makers, and creators in our city who are doing rad things – we want to spread the world and spark our community with their creativity!


      Know someone doing rad things? Drop us a line or two over email at sf@creativemornings.com.

      November’s theme is RESTART

      I need to disconnect. There’s too much noise in my head. I am burning out. I need space to rethink everything. I need a hard reset. Exhaustion is like dehydration—when you feel it, you’ve gone too far. So we finally cave in and heed the words of people who’ve found their centers again: take a trip into nature, go for walks, unplug completely. The challenge with restarting is that we often save it for the end rather than creating pockets throughout our weeks where we prioritize reflection and solitude. Restarting is essential. It’s a way to digest experiences, reflect and cultivate self-awareness, and remind ourselves that life is to be enjoyed. It’s refreshing and feeds greater intention and momentum into our creative endeavors. If you find yourself feeling like you’re on a treadmill with an invisible hand increasing the velocity, remind yourself: only you have the power to get off and recalibrate. Our global exploration of Restart was chosen by our Cologne chapter and illustrated by Marie Maerz. Thank you to Adobe for empowering the global creative community this month. 

      Join our next event on November 16th with Steve Daniels.

      Gabi is a San Francisco based art director, designer and illustrator. By day, Gabi collaborates with SF-based companies to reimagine their brand identities and stories, and by night, she spends time around the city and in her studio sketching and creating personal artwork. Recently, Gabi’s personal work has focused on humorous musings on the mundane, and psychological explorations of her friends’ thoughts.

      Find out more at: www.gabiandersonstudio.com or @gabianderson_studio.

      Q&A with Gabi Anderson

      What does Honesty mean for you as an Artist?

      I think these days honesty, to me, simply means making work that is vulnerable, derived from real experiences, emotions or thoughts. Most importantly though, it’s work that isn’t created for the filter of social media. I often find that if I get caught up in how I’m going to promote my work on Instagram or other channels, it feels inauthentic.

      Share a short anecdote about something you haven’t been honest about.

      One thing I’ve continually struggled with being honest about over the past few years is learning to say no. I tend to not be honest with myself about my bandwidth to take on more and more projects, and therefore am not honest with others occasionally when I say yes to a new gig.

      What does a day in your studio look like?

      I wish I had full days in my studio throughout the week! Because I work full time in-house as an art director, my studio time tends to be sporadically spread throughout weeknights and weekends. My process tends to vary a lot if I’m working on personal work or freelance. When I am working on a freelance project, there is a lot of research involved, brainstorming/sketching and then finalizing the work on my computer.

      My personal work tends to vary more in process. My studio is fairly dark and secluded so I actually don’t find a lot of inspiration there. I tend to sketch a lot outdoors or when I’m doing errands like laundry. I also take a ton of notes and keep lists in my sketchbook and on my phone related to ideas. Usually then once I have an idea that I’m excited about, I’ll have my most productive times at my studio.

      What have you been inspired by lately?

      Process! I’ve used the same process for creating my work for the past 7 years or so and have been itching to change it up. Recently I’ve been exploring more mediums and trying to loosen up a little bit with my work. That’s one of the things I love having a studio for – I have a space to be messy with paint and other materials without having to worry about it too much. It definitely provides a great sense of freedom for experimentation.

      I’ve also been really interested in aspects of life that are more mundane and perhaps not “Instagram-worthy.” I’ve been sketching those aspects a lot recently in my sketchbook. If not for anything else, it’s been a great exercise to stay grounded and thankful for the little things in life!

      Any honest advice for someone in our community who wants to start their own crafty idea?

      The hardest part is getting started. I had an art teacher once who used to say that the “scariest thing for an artist was a blank white page.” It’s so true. She used to suggest stepping on your paper or messing it up somehow to make it feel less precious. Your project doesn’t have to be perfect at first so don’t be so precious about it - get something out there and you can perfect it as you go along.

      Thanks to Gabi for creating these rad stickers for our community!

      CM/SF’s Creative Spotlight looks to highlight local creatives by collaborating on a fun project centered around the monthly theme. There are tons of local artists, makers, and creators in our city who are doing rad things – we want to spread the world and spark our community with their creativity!

      Know someone doing rad things? Drop us a line or two over email at sf@creativemornings.com.

      October’s theme is HONESTY

      Honesty is the currency for connection. It’s a gift we give to each other that strengthens bonds and deepens relationships. Honesty is a practice where we start from the heart. Being honest isn’t always easy and being honest all of the time is impractical. Giving honest feedback or sharing our opinions requires sensitivity to the context and meeting others where they are—with kindness and empathy. Honesty is about providing the information that you would want if you were in a similar situation. Another way to look at honesty: it’s a flower born out of the soil of trust, connection, and conversations. The more we nurture conversations that breed trust and forge a connection, the more honesty becomes baked into the way we lead our lives. This month’s global exploration of Honesty was chosen by our Cardiff chapter, and illustrated by James Lewis. Thank you to Mailchimp, Adobe, and WordPress.com for empowering the global creative community. Join our next event on October 26th with Scott Shigeoka.

      When you think of chaos, you might think of utter confusion, a jumbled mess, destruction, or Slack being down.

      But previously the word “chaos” had a different meaning. In ancient Greece, writers and thinkers described chaos as more of an abyss, an empty void that existed before life. It wasn’t until the 1600s, when it was adopted by the English language, that it grew undertones of mass confusion or pain.

      Life, by nature, is chaotic. And the human brain is beautifully designed to turn chaos into order. Whether through storytelling, art, or through the veneer of self-delusions, we’re built to handle the randomness and uncertainty of daily life.

      When a tornado rips through town, one person may see chaos where another sees a fresh start.

      So, then, a creative addendum: We are in control of the story we tell ourselves about the events that unfold before us. We can view chaos as a freight train hitting our soul or we can see it as a catalyst for clarity.

      This month’s global exploration of Chaos was chosen by our Tijuana chapter, illustrated by Eraboy, and globally presented by MailChimp.

      Host a FieldTrip! 🎒
      We’re bringing back FieldTrips to San Francisco this summer!

      We’re looking for CreativeMornings community members in San Francisco area interested in hosting FieldTrips. Whether it’s hosting a photo walk, a hand-lettering workshop, or comparing Adobe Illustrator tips & tricks, we’d love for you to consider sharing your creative talent with other morning people.

      FieldTrips are meetups to interact, learn and collaborate in an effort to level-up your creative life. Built on top of our monthly talks, FieldTrips are community-organized events built on the spirit of generosity that have powered CreativeMornings events for the past 10 years.

      We’re pleased to present FieldTrips in partnership with Adobe.

      Interested in hosting a FieldTrip? Apply to host.

      We do our best to give you great talks, inspiring spaces, and tasty coffee every month, but the best part of CreativeMornings is the people. So we’re showcasing a few of the faces of CMSF, and you could be next!

      MEET STEVE


      What’s your favorite breakfast food?

      It has to be the unhealthy but always satisfying Full English Breakfast! ( more of a treat than a daily routine! )

      What’s your day job?

      Senior Graphic designer for Old Navy  & freelance Senior Creative

      Where’s a place you’d stop on a free afternoon in the city?

      I’d take the bike through the Presidio, the easy access to a breathe taking landscape minutes out of the hustle and bustle of city life is extremely refreshing! Redwoods, Golden gate, the pacific ocean! whats not to like!

      What’s one thing you’ve been inspired by lately?

      If you haven’t see the Ogilvy Hong Kongs KFCs ad work for the new spicy products check it out, quirky & well executed!

      No matter what the product is, when its fun and well executed it gets the wheels spinning for me!

      In the spirit of the theme, Courage, share with us something you thought you couldn’t do- but then you did it!

      For years I had a fear of motorcycles stemming from an accident I had in my younger life, last year I wanted to challenge myself,

      So I took 3 days course head on! now in hindsight I wish I would of tackled it years ago as its the best way to explore, especially California!

      Where can people find out more about you (Twitter, Instagram, or website)?

      Hustle Steve  http://www.adesignspark.com/

      Fun Steve      https://www.instagram.com/spark_uk/

      JULY’S THEME IS INTENTION

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      If you look closely, you can see the intention behind the action, a project, or a sassy tweet. 


      Intention is palpable. A hand-written thank you resonates in our hearts more strongly than an email. One person standing for something pales in comparison to a community fighting for something. Beautiful work is not on accident. Beauty grows from the seed of a clear intention. How do we get better at setting clear intentions?The same way we improve at anything: with practice, self-awareness, feedback from friends, and learning how to show up more wholeheartedly.

      This month’s talk is lead by Leo Jung is creative director for the acclaimed live series Pop-Up Magazine and The California Sunday Magazine, join us this July 27th at AKQA.This month’s global exploration of Intention was chosen by our Nashville chapter, and illustrated by Nik Daum. Thank you to MailChimp, Adobe, and WordPress.comfor supporting our global creative community. ❤️

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