September 15, 2014

Anna Rascouët-Paz’s Call for Curiosity at 5th CreativeMornings in San Francisco

The author Dorothy Parker(1) said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” With her global upbringing, international work, and multidisciplinary zeal, it’s safe to say that for journalist Anna Rascouët-Paz, there’s never a dull moment. Paz spoke at the fifth gathering of the San Francisco chapter of CreativeMornings on August 26, 2011. To Paz, the world is not a stage, nor a canvas. Rather, the world is a cultural salon. She encouraged the audience to cultivate their curiosity and “gather the dots.” It’s easy to pronounce a quality that is already emphasized (to the level of fatigue on the Web). Instead of leaving the insistent message of “Be curious” as a flat platitude, Paz identified ways to stimulate the act of being curious:


Paz spoke of a friend she has, who will genuinely listen and be open to debate. Paz advised the audience to find a trusted person with whom you don’t feel vulnerable arguing. Management Thinker Margaret Heffernan prescribed this in her TED Talk “Dare to disagree”: To find a “thinking partner, not an echo chamber.” A solid argument, to Heffernen, is “constructive conflict” that requires “people who are very different from ourselves.” Furthermore, from Heffernen: “…we have to resist the neurobiological drive, which means that we really prefer people mostly like ourselves, and it means we have to seek out people with different backgrounds, different disciplines, different ways of thinking and different experience, and find ways to engage with them. That requires a lot of patience and a lot of energy.” Complementing Heffernen’s last requirement, Paz made it clear about the challenges involved when achieving a curiosity-charged life: “It’s fucking hard.”


Channeling the mathematician and computer-science pioneer Alan Turing, curiosity is a “differential equation,” not a “boundary condition.” Paz’s passport is a vehicle to the ultimate destination—an “international mindset.” This is an entity that lawyer-turned-world-traveler Jodi Ettenberg keeps molding. In my Blogger’s Quest(ionnaire), Ettenberg shares: “The quirks of a new place, the overwhelming sight of a field full of ruined temples, the pristine beauty of a deserted island in a turquoise sea—I’m never at a loss for inspiration!”


A former financial reporter, Paz does not see quantitative data as an opaque wall, but rather a narrative construct. She looks for stories dwelling in the numbers. Paz is aligned with researcher-storyteller Brené Brown, who, in her TED Talk about vulnerability, proclaimed, “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”

A type of story that Paz admires is tragedy. In his TED Talk “A kinder, gentler philosophy of success,” co-founder of The School of Life, Alain de Botton, also looks to this unfolding form of drama as a source of humanizing relevance: “Tragic art, as it developed in the theaters of ancient Greece, in the fifth century B.C., was essentially an art form devoted to tracing how people fail, and also according them a level of sympathy, which ordinary life would not necessarily accord them.” The cycle of ‘reversal of fortunes’ plays out in many shapes, sizes, and speeds, from the Great Depression to pay-it-forward moments. Transactions are stories where there is an exchange of awareness.

Generalists and Specialists

The overarching point that Paz poses in her presentation is the ratio between specialists and generalists—in financial-reporting speak, there is a deep deficit of the latter. To address this lop-sided reality, more generalists are needed. This is Paz’s preference.

I’m curious what the evolutionary effect would be if Paz’s ideal scenario of more generalists (than specialists) came to pass. Though an argument can be made that one type of thinker-and-doer is more advantageous than the other, I believe that the world needs both.

Paz equated generalists to polymaths of previous eras. This was a romantic gesture that I found appealing, because human effort to proactively learn and understand a variety of subjects and skills—without prejudice—is motivational. Her examples were legend: Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Blaise Pascal, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. To her list, I’d like to add Nellie Bly, Grace Hopper, Gertrude Stein, Alan Turing(2), among many others.

Compared to the intellectual range engaged by generalists, specialists may be narrow in their disciplinary focus, but this singular attention does not narrow their influence. Among the specialists that were highlighted in the TV series “COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey,” one very notable example was Clair Patterson. Immersed in his specialty of geochemistry, Patterson’s long-term and worldwide measurements of lead in the environment, including his conducting of lead-free experiments, resulted in the validation of lead as fatal to humans, that greatly informed legal restrictions on using lead in products by industries.

To me, Paz’s CreativeMornings talk sharpened the collective adventure of curiosity, shared and carried by people who either seize the creative charge of a generalist or that of a specialist. Or perhaps, the two directions interact and overlap along the way, sometimes subtly, other times in plain sight. Perhaps, a generalist is an open-minded specialist—and a specialist is a focused generalist. Whatever the creative discipline—whatever the intellectual leaning (generalist or specialist) she or he happens to adopt, everyone is invited to be, as paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey put it, “compelled by curiosity.”

(1) Dorothy Parker and Anna Rascouët-Paz are alike: writers, travelers, founders, and, most of all, curious.

(2) Being “Father of Theoretical Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence,” Alan Turing may have found appeal in Paz’s description of the brain as “a sophisticated piece of machinery.”

• • •

Photograph by the Team of the CreativeMornings/San Francisco chapter. See the Flickr Album of Anna Rascouët-Paz’s talk at the San Francisco chapter of CreativeMornings.

• • •

Big thanks: to Chapter Three, Razorfish, Typekit (who also hosted) for sponsoring CreativeMornings/San Francisco #5; to the CreativeMornings/San Francisco chapter Team for their volunteer work in making CreativeMornings happen in San Francisco.

• • •

Read more CreativeMornings coverage.

September 13, 2014

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Amy Marquez’s Improvisational Comedy

What are you working on—on the side?

I work with a long-lived improvisational comedy troupe in San Antonio, TX, called The Oxymorons. They’ve been around since 1989. I actually “interned” with them during the summers when I was working on my undergraduate degree.

I began performing improv when I was 19. I co-founded the Texas A&M University improv troupe, Freudian Slip, in 1992, and studied at ImprovOlympic in Santa Monica, CA, in 2000. When I moved back to San Antonio in 2007, I met back up with The Oxys. They remembered me and asked me to come back and “play.” I’ve been performing with them since then.

My other side projects are writing articles and posts for user experience (UX) publications, and working on a book along the same lines as the articles I write.

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

My career is really time and energy consuming. I’m very passionate about UX, and have to remind myself to step away from it to spend much needed time with my children and husband. But I also need to feed that part of me that is unfiltered and can let the ideas fly. So I make time for improv. I love theater, I love performing, and although improv is very physically and emotionally demanding, it’s also the lowest time commitment form of performing. By nature, there’s no rehearsal. And I can perform with the troupe on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on what I’m able to fit into my schedule.

With writing, I’m finding it harder recently to focus much time on it. I really enjoy writing, but lately my work has been so intense and mentally draining that the energy I usually have to write is sapped by the end of each day. I’m working on that, though.

Why have side projects?

Even though my career is very creative, I need an outlet for the performance side of creativity. My brain literally feels like it operates more slowly the longer I go in between improv performances. There’s just something about improv that makes every decision faster and easier to make. I feel like I can filter through ideas, dismiss the ones that don’t work, and accept the ones that do work, much more quickly when I am actively involved in improv. It’s also very cathartic. Think of all the emotions the average person has to hold in or modify on a daily basis in order to be socially acceptable. You can let all of that go in improv.

As for the writing, having been in the design profession for over 15 years, I feel like I have valuable insights to offer. If I can help other designers who are newer to the profession learn from my mistakes or experiences, then I’ve passed along something that, hopefully, they will pass on.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Amy Marquez.

This debut series is provided in affiliation with 50,000feet.

• • •

Read too my Blogger’s Quest(ionnaire) answered by Amy Marquez and her Interview about family, improv, and empathy.

September 8, 2014

Freelance Illustrator Lucy Engelmann, Inspired by Nature and Drawing

Working on my latest book “BROKEN: Navigating the ups and downs of the circus called work” yielded the opportunities to have illustrations and work with an illustrator. With the latter, it was hard seeking an illustrator—not because there is a shortage, but there are so many illustrators, with different styles, making distinct work. It was the drawing aesthetic of Lucy Engelmann, that captivated me toward her visual compositions. Her pictures complement BROKEN’s prose and helps enhance its meaning. Here, she elaborates on her attitude toward illustrating—her passion for this world and her efforts in it.

On being an illustrator

What drew (verb surely intended) to your work 
was the exquisite quality of your line work. 
How do you achieve texture?
I have always loved detail, and I find in life that I get easily distracted by the details of everyday things. It’s exciting to me to discover something new about you’ve experienced many times. That element of time and discovery is something that I like to come across in my work. I achieve texture through many different patterns. I love discovering new patterns and seeing how I can fit them into different textures.

Your drawings of animals also impressed me, 
assuming that nature is a part of your attitude 
and practice as an artist. True?
Yes, absolutely. I love nature. It is definitely where I go to relax, explore, and just be. So it made a lot of sense to spend my time creating work about it. I love everything about animals. They impress me so much, and I love watching them problem-solve. To me, they seem like children, open to the possibilities of trying new things without fear. It inspires me.

How did you arrive at wanting to become an illustrator?
I actually always wanted to be an illustrator. I just took a bit of a round-about-way admitting it to myself. I entered art school at the University of Michigan, thinking I was going to be an illustrator, then spent all of my time doing everything but, and ended my education returning to that which made me feel confident. I challenged myself to take something that I felt was easy for me and figuring out ways in which it could be difficult. I’ve always been very independent and self-motivated, so I worked incredibly hard to get to where I am today professionally, and have enjoyed every minute of it.

One of forty-two illustrations for book BROKEN

Can you give a tour of how an idea, for illustration, gets real? 
For example, please pick one of your favorite illustrations you made for BROKEN.
I really enjoyed the letter-plant illustration “Relationships take time.” It was fun to imagine the words as letters, growing individually having to be cared for and harvested to make the words. Reminds me of something that would exist in “Alice in Wonderland” or “Dr. Seuss.” I always sketch things first, even if it’s just very rough, then go to ink, and sketch more if I need to. Finally, I scan the images into my computer and touch up the levels, then send them off.

How do you practice drawing in order to feel competent 
and confident at realizing this skill?
I find that it’s important to feel confident, even when you’re not, with art. A confident line has always been something I’ve subconsciously made a point to do. I don’t practice really, I tend to try things and see how they work, and not worry if they don’t.

What is your vision of growth, as it relates to your career?
What I love about what I do is I never really know what’s coming next. I absolutely love doing editorial work. The collaboration and speed is so exhilarating to me, and I love the feeling of seeing my work in print. I look forward to working with new people, and hope my work can reach a wider audience. I also love doing books, and hope to, someday, do several of my own. Someday in the future, I’d also like to art-direct. I’m great at imagining creative images, and I’d love to help someone create them.

Rabbit Island, Michigan

Beaver Brook, New York

I noticed your “Field notes” where you state, “I absolutely love creative work based on experiencing new places.” 
Where do you go to experience new places? How does traveling influence your work?
I always feel very inspired when I go somewhere new, especially because there are no expectations. I love to travel for work, and I hope to do more of that soon. When I travel, the work pours out of me. I am a very visual learner, so I take it all in, and cannot wait to get it out on paper.

Who and/or what keep(s) you going as an illustrator?
Trying and completing new things I am excited about. I never feel stuck where I am, because being freelance is so ever-changing, that there is no time to be bored.

How do you get the word out about what you do? 
How do you attract people to your work?
I’ve been very lucky, in that the bulk of my work is published in come capacity, so it advertises itself. I also have a blog and a website, and do interviews from time to time.

On creativity, illustrating, working

How do you handle disagreements while you’re working?
When a disagreement comes up, I find it’s most helpful to find out what part of the disagreement is negotiable and what cannot be changed. From there, compromise is always good, or sometimes simply walking away is the only solution. Compromise is so important to working with others, since most of the time, you will not have the exact same vision for a project.

Was there a part of your work that was particularly trying, 
and how did you deal with it?
I have trouble sometimes when a client wants something and feels so strongly about it, and I know that it’s in bad taste. I remember that it is their project, and if they are so sold on their own idea, I let them have it. I remove myself mentally from the project, but still work to create the work to the best of my ability. It is so hard to be motivated with these types of projects, but I always remember all things do come to an end.

I also find that, on the other hand, when I am excited about a project and the client is pressuring me to hurry, I end up rushing and not creating as strong of a piece as I’m capable of or I start to hate it. It can be really difficult, but I always power through. My work ethic never wavers.

What is your workspace like? How does it contribute 
to doing the quality of work you want to do?
I rent a room (above) on the floor above my apartment and work alone (sometimes my dog comes). Even though it’s so close to my living quarters, I have this mental separation where I know that when I close the door, I am at work. I have two tables, just so I can change things up, if need be. They’re pretty big, because even though my work is typically very detailed, I feel the need to have a lot of space around me, so I don’t bump into anything.

What tools do you use and recommend to work: 
for collaborating, getting things done, and running your practice?
Spreadsheets are so great for finances. I have an accountant, but do all the legwork for her, so when taxes come around, they’re at the ready. I am a big fan of WeTransfer and use it whenever my files are too big to email. I also use Dropbox and Google Docs, from time to time, for branding projects.

What kind of art/illustration appeals to you? 
Who and/or what are your creative influences?
I love hand-done work, no matter what the medium. The fact that an artist decided to do that, even in a time when technology is so prevalent and almost expected, when the integrity of maintaining their process of making work won out—I love that. I love looking at the work of my peers, obviously, and especially illustrators. I love magazines so much, so I spend a lot of time reading them.

How important is it for you to follow your instincts?
Integrity and trusting myself is my top priority in work and life. I always try to go with my gut and make a point to stand my ground, whenever I give my two cents. This is a part of my personality that I took time to strengthen when I started working, and it’s definitely bled into my everyday life.

If a person approached you and said, “I want to illustrate,” 
what’s your response?
If they don’t already know how to draw, that should be the first step. Take the important building blocks at a university near you. They probably have a continuing education or pre-college program. Figure drawing, spacial relationships, perspective, design drawing—there are so many important things that you need to understand before you can start to express yourself properly. It helps you understand how things exist in space, even if you don’t necessarily want to represent them realistically.

If you already draw, decide how you want to apply yourself. Explore different avenues of illustration and see which is the best fit for you. Then jump in. No one is holding you back, but you.

How does the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 
contribute to your work? And what makes it special 
for startups/business/creativity-at-large?
Grand Rapids has an incredibly nurturing and supportive creative community. While it hasn’t always directly contributed to my work, it’s always been a great environment to be creative and professional. There are so many things that make it special for new young companies and individuals—I’ll give you a few, and for the rest, those who are interested will just have to come here and investigate. It’s incredibly affordable. Rent is very doable and their are several organizations that provide live/work spaces for small businesses and creatives who are starting out. There are so many events around town that encompass both local and international art. There are a few internationally recognized companies that want nothing more than to see startups survive and provide grants, loans, and advisors to help them do so. There are so many more benefits, I could go on forever. You’ll just have to come see for yourself!

• • •

All images courtesy of Lucy Engelman.

• • •

See more illustrations by Lucy Engelman for my book “BROKEN: Navigating the ups and downs of the circus called work” in this feature by The Bold Italic.

• • •

Read more about how BROKEN was made: its writingediting, and design.

• • •

Read more from Design Feast Series of Interviews
with people who love making things.

September 3, 2014

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Melissa Delzio’s Our Portland Story

What are you working on—on the side?

I have two main side projects and hope to add more to that list. My biggest project is really a second business with a not-for-profit focus. It is a community project called Our Portland Story that celebrates our city and its people through story and design. I founded Our Portland Story in 2008, and have published two books featuring hundreds of local authors and designers. We collect stories about Portland by Portlanders from all walks of life, and pair those stories with local designers to create artful snapshots of the city. In addition to the published books, we host events and experiment with new ways to engage with the community, showcase stories, and create unique connections.

In the past, this has included a museum exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, book readings, oral history recording sessions, and a Portland-themed comedy show. In October 2014, we are hosting an event, as part of Design Week Portland, that showcases the work of three of Portland’s “Mad Men”—designers who made a big impact on the Portland creative scene in the 1960s.

Our Portland Story is very rewarding, in that I am filling a need in the community, and providing a platform for creative expression and education. I started this project in the pre-Portlandia era when I felt that Portland had something special and different that wasn’t being properly showcased. Now, the whole nation has been exposed to aspects of Portland’s “weirdness,” and I am focusing my books and events more on the historical and personal stories that aren’t being told elsewhere.

My second project is more of a personal project, it is called Within 1 Mile, and it is a walk-and-draw challenge. It was born out of a desire to draw more, combined with the daily task of walking my dog. My husband and I are recent homeowners and we love exploring our ever-changing neighborhood. My drawings are a way for me to practice art and observation, while also preserving a bit of our neighborhood in ink. The idea is to have about 50+ of these drawings completed before hosting an art show of the work, in my own neighborhood coffee shop of course!

Learn more about both projects: Our Portland StoryWithin 1 Mile

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

As an independent designer, there can be down time between paying jobs, or times when work does not take up a full 8 hours of your day. I work on my side projects in this filler time, and consider it all under the umbrella of “work.” Of course, when the side project work needs to get done, and I have a full work schedule, I often have to sacrifice nights and weekends.

Having a project that involves hundreds of other people (as Our Portland Story does) keeps you on top of it and accountable. I know when I have slacked, because my authors and designers tell me so. In that way, it is much like other work projects.

I set up Our Portland Story as a separate business with its own bank accounts and such to really draw a line of distinction. Utilizing avenues of free promotion, like email and social media, help to keep expenses down. I had to learn much about business through this project, in setting up a price structure, distribution, inventory, managing a volunteer team, and marketing. These things help me be a better creative partner for my clients.

Why have side projects?

As an independent designer, side projects are crucial. The most obvious reason is that they give you a creative outlet to express ideas through a different medium. You become free to make mistakes, take risks, and practice new skills. One of the best ways to get the type of paying work you want is to do the work for yourself first, and share it with the world.

Secondarily, passion projects could lead to a additional source of income. You may find that your clay replicas of Star Wars vehicles are commercially viable, and having varied revenue streams is key to staying independent.

Side projects broaden your audience. If you are a designer, chances are you network mostly with other designers. Practicing other skills, like writing, painting, or photography, allow you to branch out, to see and be seen by a broader network of professionals.

Side projects should inform, inspire, and supplement your main gig, and if they don’t, then perhaps your side project should evolve into your main gig.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Melissa Delzio.

This debut series is provided in affiliation with 50,000feet.

August 31, 2014

Tweeted August 2014: Food for thought

Tweet icon designed by Adame Dahmani from The Noun Project collection

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
—Franz Kafka
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 29, 2014

“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule
to read some poetry and listen to some music every week.”
—Charles Darwin
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 29, 2014

“Success is going from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.”
—Winston Churchill
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 28, 2014

“It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator.”
—Maria Popova
Tweeted by @CreativeLive on August 27, 2014

“A theme is something that is worth something to everybody.”
—Frank O’Connor
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 27, 2014

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
—Samuel Beckett
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 26, 2014

“There are still faint glimmers of civilization left
in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.”
—Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Tweeted by @stuartbache on August 24, 2014

“I’m really after keeping the reader
in a heightened state of vigilance.”
—Mark Leyner
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 23, 2014

“We can’t practice compassion with other people
if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.”
—Brené Brown
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 22, 2014

“Getting started is like getting a rocket off the ground.
You need the most energy and the most push to get started.”
—Robert Crumb
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 22, 2014

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”
—James Joyce
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 22, 2014

“It is impossible to love and be wise.”
—Francis Bacon
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 21, 2014

“We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words,
you are the hero of your own story.”
—Mary McCarthy
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 21, 2014

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
—George Eliot
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 20, 2014

“A good interview reveals something that the subject
has never said before.”
—Kenzaburo Oe
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 19, 2014

“Character—the willingness to accept responsibility
for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.”
—Joan Didion
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 18, 2014

“I spent so much of my life telling people the things
they wanted to hear instead of the things they needed to.”
—Clint Smith
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 16, 2014

“You have these intellectual fingerprints,
and you can’t help leaving them on things.”
—Michael Frayn
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 15, 2014

“Go after what creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself
to handle the stress that follows.”
—Kelly McGonigal
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 15, 2014

“Only humankind is so thoroughly narrative,
constantly reinventing the past or imagining the future.”
—Jim Crace
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 15, 2014

“The act of teaching is one of the most valuable ways to learn.”
—Adam Braun
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 15, 2014

“Being a writer is like being an individual proprietor...
You don’t like the way I do things, get out of my shop.”
—Peter Carey
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 15, 2014

“If you raise money from huge numbers of people,
you feel beholden to huge numbers of people.”
—Tim Wu
Tweeted by @s_pease on August 14, 2014

“More iterations don’t fix faulty assumptions!”
—Mark Hurst
Tweeted by @swissmiss on August 14, 2014

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”
—Virginia Woolf
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 14, 2014

“I think of the notebook as a house for words,
as a secret place for thought and self-examination.”
—Paul Auster
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 13, 2014

“I think I’ve damn well earned the right to be judged on my own.”
—Lauren Bacall
Tweeted by @50000feet on August 13, 2014

“We live in a world where if you tell people you’re depressed,
everyone runs the other way.”
—Kevin Breel
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 12, 2014

“It doesn’t seem to me that life conforms to systems.
Only systems conform to systems.”
—Wallace Stegner
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 12, 2014

“If you didn’t feel troubled with the world,
you probably wouldn’t go to the effort of making art.”
—W. D. Snodgrass
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 12, 2014

“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer
you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
—Robin Williams
Tweeted by @Fender on August 12, 2014

“The whole joy of writing comes from the opportunity
to go over it and make it good, one way or another.”
—James Salter
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 12, 2014

“Why write? To write. To make something.”
—Claude Simon
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 11, 2014

“Safe is good for sidewalks and swimming pools
but life requires risk if we are to get anywhere.”
—Simon Sinek
Tweeted by @LiveGrey on August 10, 2014

“Not only do I want the reader to [but] I want to get inside
the events and feel what it was like.”
—David McCullough
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 10, 2014

“A novel is a marriage: one has to be cunning,
devise compromises and make sacrifices.”
—Amos Oz
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 9, 2014

“Stories are a fundamental human form of thought.”
—Iris Murdoch
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 9, 2014

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn
before the rest of the world.”
—Oscar Wilde
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 9, 2014

“It may be unhealthy, but I feel that without literature
my life would have no meaning.”
—Naguib Mahfouz
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 9, 2014

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”
—Bill Cosby
Tweeted by @LiveGrey on August 9, 2014

“It’s the most exciting moment when you discover life
in what you’ve created, a life you have to respect.”
—Mario Vargas Llosa
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 8, 2014

“I am glad I have found a readership, but one can’t write
only what is likely to sell. A writer is not a shopkeeper.”
—Tahar Ben Jelloun
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 7, 2014

“Four hours of uninterrupted time is the best gift
you can give anybody at work.”
—Jason Fried
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 6, 2014

“That art is as much about ideas as it is about things,
about emotions as much as about materials.”
—Holland Cotter
Tweeted by @mkonnikova on August 6, 2014

“Not everything will be okay but some things will.”
—Maira Kalman
Tweeted by @swissmiss on August 6, 2014

“Any time a writer tells you where a book starts, he is lying,
because I don’t think he knows.”
—John Gregory Dunne
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 6, 2014

“The things you think of to link are not in your own control.
It’s just who you are, bumping into the world. But how you link them is what shows the nature of your mind. Indivduality resides in the way links are made.”
—Anne Carson
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 5, 2014

“No company with such disregard for their own customers
will succeed for long.”
—John Gruber
Tweeted by @swissmiss on August 4, 2014

“The tallest oak in the forest
was once just a little nut that held its ground.”
Tweeted by @collabfund on August 4, 2014

“Leaders must show they care about their employees’ agenda
before they can expect employees to care about the company’s agenda.”
—Doug Conant
Tweeted by @DougConant on August 2, 2014

“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility
to send the elevator back down.”
—Kevin Spacey
Tweeted by @marciamarcia on August 2, 2014

“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”
—Harry Golden
Tweeted by @ItsFeelingGr8 on August 1, 2014

• • •

See: Patronage series of duly discovered

Patronage Package 8 of Duly Discovered


“Smartphone Apps Help To Battle Campus Sexual Assaults”
by Juana Summers


September Publishing: “unique stories, extraordinary lives
and expert insight”

by Katherine H. Courage, Contributing Editor, Scientific American

“Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life”
written, designed, and illustrated by Summer Pierre

“Smart People Should Build Things”
by Andrew Yang


“Student Guide to Web Design”
by Janna Hagan

ConstructionKids, “hands-on learning for ages 4–12”

Summit of Thiel Fellowship


“The SUM”
by The Bold Italic

“What makes a Rockstar Copywriter?”
by Redacted

“Return of the Neighborhood as an Urban Strategy”
by The University of Illinois at Chicago


“The Art of Video Games”
by American History Museum of Smithsonian Institution

“Phantoms in the Dirt”
by Museum of Contemporary Photography


“Y Tu Mamá También” (2001)
directed by Alfonso Cuarón, becomes part of the Criterion Collection

Stanley Kubrick editing “Barry Lyndon” (1975) in his garage (1974)

Trailer to “Autómata”
directed by Gabe Ibáñez, co-written with Igor Legarreta
and Javier Sánchez Donate

TV documentary series of Craft in America


“Print Isn’t Dead”
by Jennifer Dionisio

“Movie Poster of the Week: The Illustrated Lauren Bacall” 
by Adrian Curry

“Archival Large Cake Print” 
by Summer Pierre

“Drawing on Anatomy: the art and science of the human body” 
by Susan Dorothea White

“morning run”
by Elizabeth Baddeley

“Healthy Snacks in the Office” (with lovely packaging)
by Script & Seal

“Custom Book Portraits”
by Summer Pierre

“It’s Hump Day!”
by Shauna Panczyszyn


Album “Barragán” by Blonde Redhead

Album “Manipulator” by Ty Segall

Album “Tied To A Star” by J Mascis, Co-Founder of Dinosaur Jr.

Album “The Golden Echo” by Kimbra

Album “Sparks” by Imogen Heap, Singer-Songwriter, Composer, Technology Pioneer

Album “Tudo” by Bossa Nova Singer Bebel Gilberto,
daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha

Album “I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss” by Sinead O’Connor

Song “High As Hello” performed by Tweedy—Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy
and his son Spencer, including Lucius

Song “Fuck You” by Garfunkel and Oates


Desks of Silicon Valley workers by Ike Edeani

“The Start of Something New” by Laura Helen Winn

Robin Williams cheerleading for the Denver Broncos (1980)

Architecture and Interiors by John Faier


Mindful Creator, “exploring what it takes for artists and creators to cultivate meaningful work without losing ourselves along the way,” hosted by Brett Henley

Story Signals, “dedicated to purpose, focus, clarity,”
hosted by Matt Ragland


Lagom “celebrates innovation and creativity…”

Oak Street “explores the interaction
between media, culture, community…”

Pith + Vigor for gardening community


The Farmery: “urban vertical farming and retailing system
designed to produce and sell locally produced food”


“Ebola Is Rapidly Mutating As It Spreads Across West Africa”
by Michaeleen Doucleff

“Humanities, All Too Humanities!” 
by Joel Stein

“Circle Interchange renamed in honor of former Mayor Jane Byrne, first and to-date only female mayor of Chicago” 
by John Byrne

“Mystery of The Slithering Stones in California’s Death Valley”
by Christopher Joyce

“Raising A Birthday Glass To Comics King Jack Kirby” 
by Jessica Bloustein Marshall

“How The ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ Melody Came To Represent Asia” 
by Kat Chow

“Build A Toothbrush, Change The World. Or Not” by Joe Palca

“Ebola Took Her Daughters and Made Her An Outcast”
by Nurith Aizenman

“Typewriters, Underwater Hotels And Picture Phones: The Future, As Seen From 1964” 
by David Kestenbaum

“A Maverick Director, At Home On The Range”
by Mandelit del Barco

“The Power of The Peer Group in Preventing Campus Rape” 
by Laura Starecheski

“For Food Startups, Incubators Help Dish Up Success”
by Allison Aubrey

“888,246 Ceramic Poppies Honors Britain’s World War I Dead”
by Ari Shapiro

“The Machine That Tried to Scan The Brain—In 1882”
by Chris Benderev

“Ask a Debut Novelist”
by Ted Thompson

“Sometimes, Early Birds Are Too Early”
by Matt Richtel

“The Designing Woman: The perfect career of Lauren Bacall—an exquisite beauty with the quickest mind in the room—in five films”
by Dana Stevens

“Unforgettable Day in the Recording Studio With Robin Williams”
by Dahlia Lithwick

“What Robin Williams Taught Us About Teaching”
by Anna Kaymenetz

“Studio Ghibli Is Not Dead Yet—So: People, stop freaking out. For now.”
by Brian Ashcraft

“Tips on How To Avoid Burnout”
by Nidhi Thapar

“Jackie Robinson West Advances to Little League World Series”
by Paul Skrbina

“What Makes A Nation Happy?”
by Eleanor Beardsley

“War Correspondent Reflects…Pet Turning 100 (In Dog Years)”
by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

“Lev Grossman: A ‘Magician’ Grows Up”
by Petra Mayer

“Mystery Writer Evokes Sights, Sound and Grime of 1970s New York”
by Neda Ulaby

“Will Americans Buy Bug Snacks? Maybe…If They’re Funny And Cute”
by Luke Runyon

“Attention Design Nerds: The creation story of ReadMatter’s logo”
by Erich Nagler

“What Do Philosophers Do?”
by Rebecca Rosen

“Rosetta Spacecraft Arrives At Comet After 10-Year Chase”
by Geoff Brumfiel

“Cracking The Girl Code: How to End the Tech Gender Gap”
by Eliana Dockterman

“Why Do Band Photos Look Like That, Anyway?”
by Stephen Thompson

“21 Black Women in Tech to Know”
by Kimberly Foster

“Everyone Goes To The Store To Get Milk. Why’s It Way In The Back?”
by David Kestenbaum

“Female Bricklayer Defied Doubters To Build Baltimore Landmarks”
by StoryCorps

• • •

See my series of tweeted food for thought.

August 26, 2014

A Journal of Life: Erin Huizenga at 33rd CreativeMornings in Chicago

At the 33rd gathering of the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings, Erin Huizenga, designer, strategist, and educator, discussed her experiences with “Failure,” CreativeMornings’ global theme for August 2014. Along with the great success that she has achieved through her realized projects—like EPIC, an organization that pairs creative professionals with Chicago-based nonprofits, and the Well Conference for branding agency Remedy, she has experienced resistance and setback in her career. She revealed a to-do, informed over time, that strengthens her:
“To fail forward: To pursue what I believe in”
A method that Huizenga recommended to help cope with defeats, was keeping a journal. She drew(1) the audience in with selected pages from her personal journal. Her emphasis on establishing and maintaining a journal advocated an enduring human need to recount, to translate, to sketch, to doodle, to draw.

Whether in the form of a timeline (above) or a chart (above), Huizenga’s documentation of her experiences with friction, in the company of her triumphs, is a way of claiming her life as it unfolds. She encourages using a journal as part of a “life-enhancing”(2) toolkit. The genesis of much of her work has its roots in journal-keeping.

Huizenga’s talk reminded me of an interview I had published the day before, with Summer Pierre, a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator (in this order). Pierce fills sketchbooks with drawings, prose, and comics—however brittle, dormant, in their tender condition as thoughts. Her sketchbook-keeping is kindred to Huinzenga’s journal-keeping. They’re opportunities to visualize imagination. They’re therapeutic attempts to record disappointment to soothe its inflammation. Both act as a bridge built for reflection, which, at any point, whether explicitly or softly, can fuel liftoff of a new and bright set of circumstances.

The author Anaïs Nin kept journals over a sixty-year period. Brainpickings’ founder and editor Maria Popova featured Nin’s book “On Writing,” which was adapted from a lecture given at Dartmouth during December, 1946. In the following passage, Nin describes the allure of establishing a journal and persisting its expression:
“…in the Diary I only wrote of what interested me genuinely, what I felt most strongly at the moment, and I found this fervor, this enthusiasm produced a vividness which often withered in the formal work. Improvisation, free association, obedience to mood, impulse, bought forth countless images, portraits, descriptions, impressionistic sketches, symphonic experiments, from which I could dip at any time for material.”
The journal—whether used as a sketchbook or a diary—is a medium for navigating the spaces and times that living digests. What it particularly consumes are the failed scenarios. Huizenga’s first recommendation, of keeping a journal to cope with failure, absorbing it and channeling it, is the first grounded step to guide the other six life-enhancing methods that she prescribed:
Explore what-ifs
Go for it
Give yourself a break
Reframe success
Be grateful
I suspect that Huizenga’s first task of journal-keeping was the most fit start, because it stimulates the record of life by promoting sensitivity to it—being sensitive to what worked and what did not. With the latter, it’s inevitable, but not final. Taking note of failures in one’s journal could turn into stepping stones taken to experience victories, or as Nin put it, “vividness.”

(1) Verb surely intended.

(2) From this quote: “Space travel is life-enhancing, and anything that’s life-enhancing is worth doing. It makes you want to live forever.” Stated by Ray Bradbury, born in Waukegan, Illinois—one of the most celebrated 20th-century American authors. Erin Huizenga’s CreativeMornings/Chicago talk coincided with his birthday: August 22, 1920.

• • •

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” James Joyce, Author

• • •

Big thanks: to both The Marketing Store—for hosting—and Braintree for sponsoring Chicago CreativeMornings #33; to organizer Kim Knoll and operations manager Kyle Eertmoed of Knoed Creative, who spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7, and to the Chicago CreativeMornings crew—Joy Burke, Pedro Carmo, Rusty C. Cook, Benjamin Derico, Erick De La Rosa, Steve Delahoyde, Talis Eisenberg, Chris Gallevo, Keith Mandley, Neftali Morales, Isaac Steiner, Martha Willis—for their volunteer work in making CreativeMornings happen in Chicago.

Read more about the people who make the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings possible.

• • •

View more photos of 33rd CreativeMornings in Chicago. Read more Chicago CreativeMornings coverage.

• • •

2011 was Chicago CreativeMornings’ debut year. Download the entire collection of selected insights.