Next Vancouver speaker

Tiko Kerr

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January 4, 8:30am • SFU Woodward's — Goldcorp Centre for the Arts • part of a series on Surreal

Join us in January as we welcome our speaker on the topic of Surreal, Vancouver Artist Tiko Kerr.

Tiko Kerr is a self-taught visual artist who has been living and working in Vancouver for the past 30 years. His practice includes painting, murals, set design and performance, as well teaching and social activism. As a survivor of a few challenges, Kerr has a fundamental belief in the healing capacity of the creative spirit and of community.

His most recent body of work entitled  “Reframed” will be exhibited from May to September 2019 at The Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art in North Vancouver. Tiko is thrilled to be participating in CreativeMornings.

Q&A

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

Creativity for me is reacting to the world by trusting myself to fall forward.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

In my Parker Street studio.

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

Look and remember everything that you see. Work tirelessly but know that becoming a creator is the greatest gift you can make for yourself.

Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?

Chevalier de Saint-Georges

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

When I was in my 20’s and decided to crew on a tiny sailboat out of Darwin, Northern Australia, bound for the Indonesian archipelago, across the lawless Arafura Sea. It became the great transformative adventure of my life.

Where is your favourite place to escape?

Coal Harbour in my racing scull.

What books made a difference in your life and why?

The journals of Leonardo which I discovered in my teens. An invaluable, meticulous catalogue of how Leonardo saw the world. I’m still learning from it to this day.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?

Having an existential flash on my 4th birthday. I was struck with the knowledge that I was a living human being and that I had been given the responsibility to live my life with purpose.

We are thrilled to invite you to our December 7th CMVan where Navida Nuraney will speak to our theme of Tradition.

Navida has devoted her career over the past 15 years to the creative sector. It started with architecture, then transitioned to graphic design, where she helped launch a start up which sparked her entrepreneurial spirit. While completing an MBA at the Sauder School of Business, she worked at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in communications. From there she took on the role as Executive Director at ArtStarts in Schools. ArtStarts is a charitable organization all about expanding the role of art in education and promoting the value of creativity in young people’s lives. Her early leadership development was rooted in the mantra, be the kind of boss you always wish you had. Over the past eight years, Navida has kept organizational culture number one. As the saying goes: organizations don’t succeed - people do.Q&A


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

Creativity is applied imagination. It is about listening to your inner voice and and allowing your ideas to take form. Creativity is a process - not just a single a-ha moment. In my life, I practice creativity through observation, rigorous note taking, asking questions, and making connections. I used to think that creativity meant defaulting to yes. But more and more I appreciate the creative value of saying no.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?
I believe creative inspiration is everywhere, and that it is more about the lens you choose to look through. Your daily routine could inspire zero creative inspiration or it might inspire much more. I pay attention to details and my radar is always up. This has served my creative practice well as you never know when creative inspiration might strike. I also value time spent alone as  this is often when a-ha moments culminate for me.

What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
That creative and artistic are separate. Just because you can’t draw, doesn’t mean you are not creative.

Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?
JR - the photograffeur who posts large black and white images in streets all over the world and engages the public to create his artwork.

What are you reading these days?
I have a three year old and so I am reading a ton of fun children’s books. Current favourites include anything by Arnold Lobel (eg. Frog & Toad) and Keiko Kasza (My Lucky Day). Seeing my daughter’s engagement with books is so satisfying as I can see her making connections, building empathy, and activating her imagination. I also find myself referencing metaphors and messages from children’s books at work all the time. In fact last month I centered a donor pitch meeting around an Elephant & Piggie book and it worked!

What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
I recently attending a Design Thinking course at the Banff Centre and learned all about the value of prototyping. The key is that prototyping allows us to explore real actions (what people actually do), rather than reactions (what people say or think they would do). To create a prototype you identify the smallest meaningful activity you can stage to either explore unknowns or test core assumptions. You prototype to learn not to prove. It is an iterative process where you make a move, and allow the context to talk back to you. And then you make your next move.

On November 27th, CMVan is pleased to announce this unique evening edition with THREE SPEAKERS from Vancouver’s theatre and stage performance community!


Heipo Leung

Heipo Leung works as a set designer in theatre and film/TV productions.She didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in theatre. She was artistic, always drawing and making things with her hands when she was a kid, but she wasn’t aware of actual jobs related to this artsy doodling. The only art-related occupation she knew of involved cutting off one’s ears, starving, committing suicide, and gaining fame only after death. A bit bleak, she thought. She never treated her artistic inclinations seriously enough to take them further - yet in 2014, Heipo decided to leave her beloved Hong Kong to attend a Theatre Design Master’s Program in Vancouver. She cried on the first night of arrival missing her family and started to doubt that decision. It has been an exciting journey for her. Heipo looks forward to an uncertain future - like an audience gets excited about what is behind the theatre curtain.How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?
Creativity to me is a process of active thinking - of not being lazy to exercise one’s brain cells and getting comfortable of follow all existing ways of doing things. There were so many things invented before us. The expectation becomes higher, if someone has an idea of creating something unique that could fly a group of people in the air. We might still end up with a conclusion that airplane is what we could get so far, but one’s curiosity and desire to explore is the origin of creativity to me. I apply creativity almost like a problem-solving skill in both my life and career. I am always curious to know why things fail in a certain way and what are the possibilities to improve it. I am a directionally challenged person and I have an instinct of turning right whenever I exit a place. This frustrated me sometimes, because my workplace is on the opposite way. I decided to put a relatively strange weird looking stuff animal at my right back seat, so I will get a scare when I look over my shoulder and hopefully I would think twice before turning. It is NOT an ideal solution and the animal is gone now cause it was a bit too intense, but it is a process to create I believe.Q&AWhere do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?
It is cliche but inspiration is really everywhere. The best ones usually come when you are not looking for them - those truly inspires me just because. For finding creative energy, then absolutely museums, art galleries, and the nature. Just being inside a museum or art gallery stimulates me without even started seeing what are exhibited. The experience of being in there itself is almost as important as the display collections - the high ceiling interior with spot lights hiding or profoundly showing, the extreme quietness or the tapping sound from wood bottom shoes walking on stone floor, the distinct smell of certain artifacts, the self restraint of not touching anything, and so on.What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Being observant. It relies on all five senses but for what I do, using sight becomes particularly valuable. I wish I would have known it earlier in life because it takes time to train one’s eyes to attend to details. Sometimes I will “forget” seeing things. When I am “looking” at a sunny-side up egg, I know it is the food I consume in the morning to give me energy. When I am “seeing” that sunny-side up egg, I see a perfect honey yellow circle resting on a not too perfect bigger ivory circle. It has shine/reflection on it that suggesting a smooth/fluid surface. This sunny-side up egg becomes an abstract form than anything else. I found inspiration comes within paying detail attention to things surrounding me.Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?
A group of “Renaissance man”. I am always curious about how they managed their time. Some of them, sadly, died young, yet they have high achievement on many different fields of study at such young age. I would be really enjoyed to listen to their sharing on their daily schedules and how to (or not to) maintain a social life.How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I create space to drive and enhance people’s emotions during a storytelling process.What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?
Creativity does not equal to being different from everyone else.If I could open a door and go anywhere where would that be?
I would like to be in a place that is 10,278 kilometers away from where I am and have a dinner with my family.

Landon Krentz

Landon Krentz is a bilaterally profoundly Deaf individual who is completely bilingual in American Sign Language (ASL) and English.As a Deaf artist, he brings a unique perspective to the role of a Director of Artistic Sign Language for theatre organization that wants to establish professional sign language theatre as an inclusive and intersectional artistic practice. The role has allowed him to advocate for the inclusion of artists within the larger community so that Deafness is looked upon as a reflection of diversity and culture. He is a skilled ASL/English transcriber who understands the theatrical context into sign language and works with a community of like-minded theatre interpreters in order to bridge the communication gaps between arts organizations and Deaf artists. To date, he was successful in producing his dream conference called, “Awakening Deaf Theatre in Canada”, that looks at connecting prominent Deaf artists and their hearing allies to learn about producing professional sign language theatre.Q&AHow do you define creativity and apply it to your life and career?
Creativity pushes the boundaries of traditional, social and psychological ideas and finding ways to adapt to different practices that don’t use a cookie-cutter method because nobody fits in a box. Creativity improves my sign language life and using it as a weapon to appeal to the audience in ways that are inviting and holistic.Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?
I find my best creative inspiration through theatre and collaborating with other artists. Pioneering new artistic practices excites me.What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
I wish that I knew that sign language has the kind of flexibility to exist on a theatrical stage. It’s okay to be your true authentic self without having to compromise your artistic and cultural integrity.Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?
So many to list! Josette Bushell-Mingo, Dawn Birley, Joanne Webber, David Keyzer, DJ Kurs, Joshua Castille, Ravi Jain, Mira Zimmerson, Linda Campbell, and so many more. Everyone is worth listening to.How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?
I had wanted to be a demolition engineer as a child. Deconstructing is fascinating! I feel that my interest in “imploding buildings” has a significant relevance to my artistic career of deconstructing the traditional model of theatre. I have grown to love the idea of destroying things in order to make the new positive changes that I want to see in our community. (Be prepared to be blown away otherwise I’ll be coming in like a wrecking ball… Haha!)What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
My biggest surprise that I’ve experienced in my life was that the Scandinavia regions have some of the world’s best theatre companies and I had no idea that some of them are sign language theatres! I intend to follow their footsteps in order to achieve professional sign language in Canada as an inclusive artistic practice.

Yvonne Wallace

“Yvonne Wallace (Ucwalmicw) from the Lil’wat Nation. Recently graduated from the Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree program at Capilano University.Her enthusiasm for playwriting began while she worked at The Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Later, she graduated with honours from Humber College Theatre Acting program. She has written three plays “Smothered Sweetly”, “The Last Dance”, and “Utsan” a play dealing with language reclamation and her first language fluency progression.Currently writing “7 Misconceptions of a Half-Breed Mother” a tragicomedy about the public-school system.


Ian Cromwell is a man who is easily bored. Born in Vancouver but spending half his life in Ontario, Ian’s pursuit of distraction led him down two very separate paths. By day Ian is an academic whose research interests center on the economics of health care. By night Ian is a regular feature on stages within Vancouver’s music scene both as a solo looping rock and soul artist, and as the fiddle player for saloon-folk band Jack Mercer & The Whiskey Bandits. For the previous two years, Ian has been host and curator of Locals Lounge, a live interview and performance series devoted to exploring Vancouver’s underground indie music scene. Ian tweets under @Crommunist.

Q&A 

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

Creativity is being able to turn your ideas into something tangible. In my academic career that usually means finding practical and reliable solutions to difficult problems. In my music career that means using sounds and musical idioms to convey a mood. In my life outside that it’s about just trying to be a better and more constructive person every day.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

Boredom is an extremely powerful motivator for me. I get very restless very easily, and even in my downtime you can typically find me tinkering with 4 or 5 different things at the same time. It leads me down a bunch of different trains of thought, which I am periodically able to sit still long enough to stitch together into actual productive work.

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

Be a kind and responsible person - it’s not ‘creative’ per se but it will take you very far in life and it’s great for your self-image. Aside from that, look really hard at why you do the things you do the way you do them. Actions speak louder than words, and we can learn a great deal about what motivates others and ourselves by looking at the actions we take rather than the things we think we believe. It will help you find better ways to create.

Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?

Janelle Monae or Kurt Vonnegut.

Two additional questions:

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

From the time I was 12 years old until I was halfway through my undergrad, my plan was to grow up to be Frasier Crane. I wanted the call-in radio show, the cool apartment, the wisecracking coworker… the whole deal minus Niles. I’ll be Dr. Cromwell sometime next year and I host a music interview show so parts of that dream are still alive.

What books made a difference in your life and why?

This is a terrible answer, but “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. In between the bats**t nonsensical appeals to rampant self-adulation, there was actually the core of a good point about the nobility of having a strong sense of yourself and your motivations, and being honest to yourself and others about why you’re doing things. It’s a really badly-written book that nonetheless gave me some pretty helpful ideas when I was quite young.

Check out Ryan Gill’s Q&A, our upcoming speaker for October.


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

For me, creativity is an original thought or idea and then putting it into action. That last part - action - is very important. And, sometimes, it’s gotta be big and bold. Like when we named our marketing engagement agency CULT - some people thought we were crazy, but it’s paid off big time for us. We only wanted to work with companies that desired a “cult-like” following, and we found them - or should I say, they found us. I’m a connector and I’m a starter, so my creative juices really get going when I see, meet and engage with people who can help me carry out all the big ideas swirling around in my head.


Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I love to read, so I’m always reading books about entrepreneurs, startups, cryptocurrency, etc. I also love the energy of entrepreneurs and culture makers like Joe Rogan, urban monk Jay Shetty, and Casey Neistat. I’m influenced by rap culture. I’m a rap geek, and i’m close friends with the leadership at The Fader out of Brooklyn NY…which helps keep me close to the culture globally when it comes to urban music. Most often, creative ideas come to me when I’m in a room with my talented team who challenges every idea brought to the table and draws out the best in all of us.


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

VULNERABILITY IS COOL. I wish I’d known that it’s ok to ask for help. For some reason, we’ve been hard-wired, especially as men, to think that we need to make things happen and get it all done by ourselves. When you do that, you end up feeling very isolated, anxious and alone - I know because it happened to me.. And sometimes still does. And then, if or when things don’t go as planned and you fu&* up, you really feel like a failure. We’re all so hard on ourselves, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve learned, and it’s taken me a while, that surrounding yourself with community and finding a mentor is so valuable. Yes, we’re all going to experience failure and hardship, but you can’t let it break you. It’s all about how we handle the hard times and channel that energy into moving forward that counts.


Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?

I love Brené Brown and I could listen to her all day. We invited her to speak at The Gathering (my global event) last year, and she accepted. We were thrilled. She has re-defined vulnerability and I, personally, have gotten a lot out of her books and talks. I’d also like to hear psychologist Jordan Peterson speak. He can be very controversial, and I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but I really admire his desire to provoke thoughtful discussion and debate. His views aren’t always popular, but he’s definitely hit a nerve when it comes to gender politics, millennials and freedom of speech.


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What fact about you would surprise people?

A lot of people don’t know that I was very sick as a child and spent the first couple years of my life in and out of the hospital. It was hard on my family to say the least. I also dream of owning an NHL hockey team one day. The St. Louis Blues have always been my team, but who knows what opportunity will transpire when the time comes.


Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

My dad has had a huge impact on me and my three brothers. We were a large family and lived a very modest life in Brockville, Ontario. My dad was a mailman and worked really hard to support our family. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and worked odd jobs. We didn’t have a lot, but we had love and community.


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

When I was in grade six, I was collecting and selling golf balls from the course near our home. I was also trading sports cards with my buddies. I really had no idea where life was going to take me, but I showed an entrepreneurial spirit early on. I just had zero idea I would one day end up working with world-class brands like Harley Davidson, Keurig, Home Depot and Vans. I’m grateful. 

Join us for our October event with a talk on Honesty and Creativity with Ryan Gill.


Gill is a self-made, successful entrepreneur and mentor who has lead a career of abundance through community, trust, transparency and sharing.

He knows firsthand the challenges with inflated egos in creative industries, and he’s out to smash the false assumption that a person’s success and fulfillment is contingent on their abilities alone.

From humble beginnings in Brockville, Ontario, he has built a successful marketing engagement agency known as Cult Collective, an international marketing summit called The Gathering and a global ecosystem for the creative entrepreneur, known as Communo. He’s a two-time author, speaker and social media vlogger. Most importantly, he’s a husband and father of two daughters.

Making some #CMVan pins to bring to the @creativemorning global summit next week in New York. Thanks @makerlabs for always being a terrific supporter of the creative community! (at Vancouver, British Columbia)

We’re excited to announce Michelle Lorna as our speaker for September.


Michelle Lorna Nahanee is an Indigenous innovator and change-maker from the Squamish Nation. She grew up in Eslha7an, and then East Vancouver, and works within the intersection of class, race, culture and creativity. She is the founder of decolonizingpractices.org and the designer of a life-size board game and workshop called Sínulhkay and Ladders.

As a communications consultant and graphic artist, Michelle has worked on social justice projects for First Nations organizations across Canada and also within her own Nation. From health promotion to gender equity, Michelle’s collaborations have influenced opinions, changed behaviours and mobilized community action. She is a supportive leader who is most comfortable behind the scenes—contributing to projects that improve First Nations realities for the last 20 years.

Michelle recently completed a Master of Arts in Communication from Simon Fraser University where she wrote “Decolonizing Identity: Indian Girl to Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Matriarch.” She concluded her research with a call to dismantle academic barriers to decolonizing practices.

Michelle is also the Board Chair of Kwi Awt Stelmexw, a Squamish arts and education organization.

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