Artist Spotlight: Maike van Wijk

Upon visiting Creative Coworking, people are often struck by our impressive collection of local art. Surrealist dream scapes, whimsical collages, hyper-realistic portraits, and more have all found a temporary home here, making our office space a key player in the Evanston art scene. In this blog feature, we highlight artists whose work is currently on display. Today’s featured artist is Maike van Wijk.

What sparked your initial interest in creating art?

I have created and crafted since childhood. I didn’t consider myself an artist because I felt others had more talent. When I discovered encaustics in 2010, the act of fusing helped me let go of the need for precision in art making, and I found the medium that helped me express myself. A wire workshop in 2012 married encaustics and wire-bending, and since then my jewelry creations have garnered a following.

Who are your influences?

I followed Suze Weinberg after a workshop in a different medium and her demonstrations with beeswax got me researching the medium more. I started following Bridgette Guerzon Mills and Crystal Neubauer and have taken workshops with both. The FUSEDChicago organization has some very talented artists from whom I garner inspiration, advice on techniques, and a sense of artistic community. On the wire front, I am a fan of Brenda Schweder and her collaborators.

What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago art community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?

I think Evanston is a vibrant community of artists and art supporters. The numerous summer art fairs (Custer Fair is my favorite) always offer inspiration and help me meet new artists. #EvanstonMade is a fabulous initiative to literally put local artists on the map and help us as artists get to know each other and also introduce Evanstonians to the variety of art created in this community. There truly is something for everyone, and so many art forms are represented. I also enjoy that businesses like Gather and Creative Coworking proactively seek out artists to showcase their work in non-gallery venues. It is heartening to see so many creative spaces opening up: workshop spaces like The Collage Cafe, Stitchworks, and See Jane Sparkle where people can book creative parties. I’m also grateful to see independent gallery spaces like Sidetracked Studio and Perspective thriving. Without the Evanston Art Center, I would never have shown my first piece. No matter where a person is in their art journey, from beginner to professional, Evanston-based venues offer opportunities to learn, exhibit, and grow.

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Is there a particular piece of yours that is currently on display that you feel really represents your style or means something personal to you?

All my pieces are personal to me, as any artist would say. I am still evolving, so my collage art builds on itself with each new creation. I did put a lot of personal mementos into the language piece, which I wrote about on my blog.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/plans/projects?

After this March show with Melanie Deal at Creative Coworking, I will be participating in a FUSEDChicago show at the ShowPODs on Halsted in May. I am also on the lookout for indoor pop-ups and trunk shows and will be at various fairs throughout Chicagoland.

How did you discover Creative Coworking as a venue for displaying your work?

I had been referred to the space for my art a few times; and I finally connected with Angela during an Evanston Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, after which she invited me to participate in the gorgeous and inspiring Creative Coworking gallery.

Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?

Initially I incorporated a lot of butterflies in my work. Lately the photography in my collages is making way for steel wire. Scrolls and violin clefs are popular musical motifs.

How do you see your art evolving in the next few years?

I’ll be taking a soldering class this summer that will influence my wire creations, and I am also looking to explore new tools and ideas at the upcoming Bead & Button Show. There are numerous ideas percolating from prior workshops in the past few years, so it is a matter of taking time to practice those ideas and allowing the mediums of encaustic and wire to take me to new places.

Meet our new Office Manager, Shawna!

Creative Coworking has added another member to our team; our new Office Manager, Shawna! She has answered a few questions for us so we can learn a little more about her.

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How did you hear about Creative Coworking?

Deborah Seigel, a Creative Coworking member, author, speaker, and coaching dynamo!

So tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What is your past experience?

I’m originally from Northern California, but moved to Chicago to study theatre when I was 18. I graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University and began my acting career in Chicago in the early 1990’s. I have been in more productions than the years our amazing interns have been alive, so I’ll make this quick: I’ve performed in Los Angeles, New York, Edinburgh, Dublin, London, and on London’s West End. I lived and worked in Los Angeles for a few years before moving to Phoenix, where I founded my own theatre company. I moved back to Chicago a year ago and made Evanston my home. Since my return, I’ve performed at The Trap Door Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre. I have two sons, Jackson, (15) and Samson (12). As well as being an actor and mother, I’m also a public speaking coach for professionals. Now, I’m also the Office Manager for Creative Coworking! Yay!

So far, what has been your favorite thing about Creative Coworking?

I love the calm and peaceful atmosphere! Also, our members come from such varied experiences and backgrounds, which makes it such an interesting place to work.

In your opinion, what makes Creative Coworking a useful place for professionals?

It allows professional to define how they work and it helps them to be successful on their own terms.

What are your plans for Creative Coworking? Are there projects you are currently working on?

At the moment, I’m still learning all the details of my position. So, besides the organizational day-to-day operations, I hope to create greater educational, social, and creative opportunities for our members. We have so much to learn from each other as well as the arts community.

Fun rapid-fire questions!

Favorite place to eat in Evanston:

Cozy Noodles

Favorite band:

The Pogues

Best advice you have ever received:

Sleep when your baby sleeps.

Your advice for starting out professionals:

Ask a lot of questions, learn from everyone, and stay curious.

 

Shawna is in the office everyday, 9am-4pm! You can reach her at shawna@creativecoworking.com if you ever need anything. Welcome Shawna, we are lucky to have you!

 

Best,

Abby the Intern

Coffee for a Cause

For many of us here at Creative Coworking, the day simply does not start until we have had our first cup (or first few cups) of hot coffee. Coffee is more than just a morning ritual. For many, it is the very foundation of industriousness: both a reason and a means to show up at the office and put in a good day’s work.

It is important, therefore, that the coffee served here at Creative Coworking is of a high quality. This is why Chapín Coffee is our brand of choice.

Chapín Coffee is sourced from Guatemala, one of the most fertile and popular regions in the world for cultivating coffee beans. Specifically, Chapín takes its coffee from the surrounding regions of Lake Atitlán, regions with a climate and altitude uniquely suited for the Bourbon Arabica trees that produce Chapín’s distinctive hard-bean coffee. Chapín holds its product to strict standards of quality, to ensure that all coffee beans under the Chapín name are well-harvested, organic, non-hybrid, and fair-trade.

Not only is Chapín Coffee renowned for its authentic, gourmet-quality product, it is also well recognized for its philanthropic activities. Chapín Coffee works hand in hand with organizations such as the Nahualá Coffee Agricultural Cooperative and Pueblo a Pueblo in order to improve living conditions for the local inhabitants of harvest regions. The Nahualá Coffee Agricultural Cooperative is an organization stationed near Lake Atitlán that uses Fair Trade premiums and proceeds from their coffee sales to help fund scholarships, educational reforms, and environmental cleanup efforts in surrounding areas. Pueblo a Pueblo is a non-profit that works closely with Chapín to help combat the high rates of childhood malnutrition in Guatemala. With each bag of coffee Chapín sells, Pueblo a Pueblo uses a small portion of the profits to help fund healthy school meals and food education. In a country where nearly 49% of children are chronically malnourished, efforts to improve the quality of life for locals are of the utmost importance.

So the next time you’re in need of a little pick-me-up, go ahead and pour yourself an extra cup of our coffee, guilt-free. Not only is coffee one of life’s most valuable little pleasures, thanks to Chapín, it’s also a means of supporting important philanthropic efforts in underprivileged regions.

Michael, intern

Creative Coworking: Community

It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon, and an event planner sets up in the lounge, fall decorations and appetizers in tow. The sun has just begun to set, the final rays of orange light illuminating the colorful artwork on the lounge walls. As a writer types beautiful prose at her desk, a programmer types code at his, just two feet away.

This isn’t a description of some fantasy utopia–it’s a typical day at Creative Coworking, where consultants, coaches, and creatives work side-by-side, brought together under one roof by the Creative Coworking promise to be their office home.

As an intern for the past four months, it has been fascinating to see how the space can accommodate so many different types of careers with such different functions. Some members can always be found working quietly at a desk while others jump from conference call to client meeting, moving from room to room, floor to floor.

What really sets Creative Coworking apart, however, is the blooming community that has been created within the space. Almost every day thus far, I’ve seen members sharing ideas with one another, collaborating on various events and projects, and simply connecting with one another after a chance encounter in the kitchen or in the halls.

Creative Coworking isn’t just a workspace; it’s a community, a gathering place for people of so many different interests, passions, and backgrounds to create, build, aspire, and inspire. A home is not only a place of living but also a place where something flourishes. In that sense, Creative Coworking truly is your office home.

Curious about what our members do? Take a look at our list of current members!

–Stephanie Chang, Intern

Member Interview: Anne Ford

Creative Coworking boasts an impressive variety of members, with writers, therapists, consultants, programmers, and more on the roster. Some have newly joined us, some have come and gone, and some have been involved with the space for years. But only one member has been with CC from the very, very beginning: writer and editor Anne Ford. We asked her a few questions about her work and her experience as the longest-standing member of the office.
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1. How did you come to be the inaugural CC member? What about the space initially attracted you?
 
“Inaugural!” I like the sound of that. So distinguished. Well, I had recently acquired a husband and stepchildren, and I realized that as a freelance writer, I needed a workspace outside the house–someplace where I could go and get away from the hustle and bustle of home. I turned to Google and found out that there was this place called Creative Coworking and that it was about to open. I liked that it was centrally located, affordable, and quiet–really really quiet, in those first days!
2. How do you think CC has changed throughout the years you have been here?
 
Well, when I first started coming, there was still construction going on. But I didn’t care; I was so happy to have a place to work that wasn’t a coffee shop (which can be noisy) or a library (where you can’t leave your stuff unattended or make phone calls). When I joined, Creative Coworking was only on the first floor of the building. Eventually Angela and Stel expanded it to the second and third floors as well, which was a terrific move that really brought a lot more light and openness to the space. What hasn’t changed: the great amenities (free printing/faxing/scanning, free snacks, 24/7 accessibility, conference rooms, kitchen access, etc.).
3. How has the “shared space” model benefitted you? Do coworking spaces offer unique advantages to professionals?
 
When I became a freelance writer in 2006, I initially worked either at home, in coffee shops, or in libraries. The trouble was that working too much at home gave me cabin fever, coffee shops could be noisy and expensive, and libraries often had crappy WiFi and made it impossible to leave my stuff there if I wanted to go to lunch or use the bathroom or whatever.
A space like Creative Coworking is the perfect solution: I can work here as much or as little as I feel like it, it’s always open (unlike a coffee shop or library), I can leave my stuff here if I need to (since I have a reserved desk), it’s a professional environment where I can have in-person meetings when I need to, I can bring food and use the kitchen, and there are lots of other interesting people around to chat with if I feel like it.
 4. You work as a writer/editor; what projects are you currently involved in?
 
I specialize in profiles of everyday people who have some interesting characteristic/experience or who are involved in some fascinating project. Since 2010 I have featured people like that in my interview series “Chicagoans,” which appears in the Chicago Reader. Right now I am also writing quite a bit for nonprofits such as the Chicago Community Trust, Rotary International, and Lions Clubs International.
5. Could you tell us a bit about your work with Storycorps?
I’m a part-time facilitator for StoryCorps, which is a national project that inspires people to record each other’s stories in sound. You may be familiar with it through NPR. How it works: You make an appointment at our recording booth, and you come in, usually with a friend or family member. I am the person who greets you, walks you through the process, and goes into the recording booth with you to record the interview, guide the conversation (when necessary), and archive the recording afterwards. I love it because I get to hear a lot of amazing stories and meet a lot of amazing people. One of the interviews I recently facilitated just aired on WBEZ.
6. Your book A Friend That I Can Do For came out last year. What inspired that particular project? Do you have any current plans for another full-length book?
 
A Friend That I Can Do For came about because for several years, I was volunteering at a food pantry in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. I loved hanging out with and talking to the people who came there to eat and get groceries, and eventually I started recording, transcribing, and editing some of our conversations. I wanted to share them with others because I really want other people to understand that each of us has a compelling story to tell, even people who seem very different from us. Nope, no plans for another book at the moment, but you never know.
7. Do you have any stories from your time at CC that you feel exemplify the spirit of the space?
 
Well, these aren’t stories per se, but I really enjoy sharing the second floor with my fellow CC-ers Jamie and Gretchen, and the fun chats we have. Also, a shout-out to all the people who climb up to the second floor, see my back as I work at my desk, and tentatively say, “Angela?” I get to turn around and say, “Nope–keep climbing!” (Angela sits right above me on the third floor.)

Artist Spotlight: Itala

Upon visiting Creative Coworking, people are often struck by our impressive collection of local art. Surrealist dream scapes, whimsical collages, hyper-realistic portraits, and more have all found a home here, making our office space a key player in the Evanston art scene. In this blog feature, we highlight artists whose work is currently on display here. Today’s featured artist is poet, painter, and mixed-media artist Itala

 

What sparked your initial interest in creating art?

My initial interest in art goes back to when I was 3 years old and smashed my first and only doll because I wanted brushes and paint instead. In Italy this was radical.

 

How would you describe your style?

My style is called “Lyrical Abstraction.” I invented this name.

The Spent Gentility of a Venetian Palace 24x20 acrylic on canvas

What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago art community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?

The Evanston art community is vibrant and getting more so every month.

 

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/plans/projects?

I am entered in the Feminist Show at the Kohenline Museum coming up next month.

Rosy Fingered Dawn 24x20 acrylic on canvas

How do you feel about Creative Coworking as a venue for displaying your work?

Creative Coworking is a most magnificent venue and the leader, Angela, is an inspired one.

 

Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?

Yes, I have several motifs and symbols and mottos, all of them about knowledge and generosity.

Venetian Night 24x20 acrylic on canvas

How do you see your art evolving in the next few years?

I will be doing more work on Venice from my memory. I have two poems about Venice, written recently from the deep feelings I have for the city where I studied art. They will be on two manifestos in my upcoming show at Creative Coworking. Please tell your friends, and come see what took a year to create.

 

Itala will be displaying her newest work right here at Creative Coworking, beginning with our Art & Wine Night opening reception on Friday, September 26th.

Artist Spotlight: Chris Heisinger

Upon visiting Creative Coworking, people are often struck by our impressive collection of local art. Surrealist dream-scapes, whimsical colleges, hyper-realistic portraits, and more have all found a comfortable home here, making our office-space a key player in the promotion of Evanston’s colorful culture. In this blog feature we are going to be highlighting some of the artists whose work is currently on display. Today’s featured artist is collage and mixed-media artist Chris Heisinger.

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What sparked your initial interest in creating art?

In grade school, I loved art projects. In Chicago, all the public schools would select one art piece from each school for a display—my art was selected twice. One project I still remember vividly was making paper mosaic with tissue paper in 7th grade—I had so much fun with it! When I handed it in, my teacher asked me if my parents helped me because it was so nice; I told him that I did it myself with no help at all.

Over the years, I had continued to dabble in art, taking drawing, painting, printing, felting, ceramics, and photography classes. At one point, I even thought I was going be a professional photographer. At 45, I signed up for a mosaic class at a suburban art center.

After taking many mosaic classes, I found myself wanting to do a lot more. My husband and I took a trip to the Smith Museum of Glass at Navy Pier in Chicago and saw wonderful stained glass mosaic windows by Khaim Pinkhasik. My husband did some research and found that Khaim, a mosaic master, lives and works in Chicago; he promptly enrolled me to work with him one-on-one. I loved the class and took many more.

After studying with Khaim, I started to focus my work on stained glass mosaic windows. It was about this time, at age 48, that I decided to sell some of my items at art fairs. My first one was at a local church. Much to my surprise and delight, I sold two thirds of my items! It was then that I starting thinking about turning my passion into a full-time art business.

Who are your influences?

Monet and Nature.

What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago art community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?

The Evanston art community is a vibrant one! Thanks to several dedicated individuals, Evanston is starting to become known for having seriously talented artists. I am also thrilled to see art galleries coming back into the community.

Is there a particular piece of yours that is currently on display that you feel really represents your style/is especially meaningful to you?

The Poppy Field is one of my favorites. I love the color red.

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Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/plans/projects?

No plans at this point. However, I would love to be in Art Prize in Grand Rapids. I have some ideas for a very large piece!

How did you discover Creative Coworking as a venue for displaying your work?

I know Angela through The Woman’s Club of Evanston. Ever since they opened Creative Coworking, I have wanted to display some of my pieces there. What a great space to be in!

Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?

I generally love to do flowers and landscapes. I have just started to create some pieces of birds lately. I am challenging myself to make more detailed work.

How do you see your art evolving in the next few years?

I foresee making more painted glass pieces, and making different pieces as well. Not sure at this time what they will be.

What kind of impact would you like your work to have on people?

I want people to smile every time they see my work!

Sharing Is Caring: How Coworking Is Changing How We Work

Chrissy Gomez recently sent along an interesting research graphic titled “Sharing Is Caring: How Coworking Is Changing How We Work.” The infographic gives a short history of modern coworking, then looks at why and how the coworking movement has taken off within the past 20 years.

Creative Coworking was ahead of the curve when we opened in March 2011, but the benefits of coworking still hold today. One of our favorite facts from the graphic? “One recent survey found that nearly 70% of people in coworking arrangements said they focused better while working, and 70% said they felt healthier.”

Check out the graphic here:

Shared by Chrissy Gomez. Learn more at http://www.mbacentral.org/coworking/
Shared by Chrissy Gomez. Learn more at http://www.mbacentral.org/coworking/

Happy coworking!

Stephanie Chang, Intern

CC Interviews Deborah Siegel for the Online Publishing Company and Community “She Writes.”

Creative Coworking is proud to be the host of a wide variety of events right here in our office space. On June 29th at 7PM, She Writes Press will be stopping by Creative Coworking as part of their first national book tour. We spoke to one of our members, Deborah Siegel, about the history of She Writes Press and the details of their upcoming event.

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What is She Writes? And what is She Writes Press?

She Writes, which Kamy Wicoff and I co-founded six years ago this month, is an online resource and community for women who write. I recently uncovered the first blog post I wrote for it—and what a journey it’s taken since. I’m proud to say that She Writes is now powered by the collaborative efforts of 26,000+ active members from across the U.S. and more than 30 countries, along with a team of editors and advisors, and has become a top destination for published and aspiring writers from all walks of life to grow, learn, educate, inspire, and encourage success.

She Writes Press was founded by Kamy and Brooke Warner in 2012 as a response to the barriers to traditional publishing getting higher and higher for authors. Brooke, who I’ve long admired, had been the Executive Editor at Seal Press for eight years, and was witnessing firsthand the contracting publishing environment, where she was personally having to reject beautifully written books on a regular basis because the submitting author didn’t have a strong enough author platform.

Kamy and Brooke envisioned a company where authors would be invited to publish based on the merit of their writing alone. They wanted to found a press for women writers that would be a platform—that could launch their writing careers, and where they could legitimately compete with their traditional counterparts. It was the logical outgrowth, in a way, of She Writes.

What makes SWP unique in the publishing world?

In 2013, She Writes Press secured traditional distribution through Ingram Publisher Services and established itself as a real player in the hybrid-publishing world. This relationship secured the right for SWP authors to submit their books for review through traditional channels, creating a more level playing field. SWP authors have been featured in O! magazine, People, and USA Today, and have been reviewed in all of the trade magazines: Publishers Weekly; Kirkus; Booklist; Library Journal; and featured on Shelf Awareness.

In 2014, She Writes Press became part of the SparkPoint Studio, LLC, family. She Writes Press now has a powerful combination that no other hybrid publisher brings to the table: 1) a curated list with a strong editorial vision; 2) traditional distribution; and 3) an in-house marketing and publicity team (through SparkPoint Studio CEO Crystal Patriarche’s publicity company, BookSparks) that SWP authors can choose to utilize.

As of 2015, She Writes Press has reached another milestone, having signed its 100th author. It’s a mission-driven, female-run company with a strong vision, passion, and work ethic. Its roster of impressive, accomplished authors speaks for itself.

How did you get involved? What about SW and SWP excite you personally?

“Friends don’t let friends write alone” has always been my motto. I would never have finished my dissertation, never have started my first book, and never have finished my second without the support of writer friends sitting across from me in coffee shops, keeping me company mind, body, and soul.

So when Kamy tapped me in March 2009 to help her launch a new venture to connect women readers and writers, and women writers with each other, it took me all of three seconds to say count me in.

It was a changing moment in the publishing industry—and those shifts have only intensified in the years since we launched. To be a writer now requires a new set of platform-building skills, which authors are expected to learn.

What excites me now, and what excited me six years ago, are the founding principles that became our She Writes Credo: We believed in the power of community to nurture and sustain creativity—and it has. I’ve learned so much by just watching members of my extended writing community build audience and impact. We knew that in this era of turmoil in the publishing industry, we as authors had everything to gain by sharing what we knew, and everything to lose if we withheld our wisdom from one another. We sensed that technology, employed thoughtfully, would empower and amplify the voices of women and girls who otherwise would not have been heard. And we believed it was possible to build a platform upon which all of us could stand.

Tell me about some of the authors involved in the event? How did you come to discover them?

As Brooke explains, Paolina Milana (The S-Word) was going to publish her book as a novel, but Brooke encouraged her to publish it as a memoir instead. In this debut memoir, which just won a National Indie Excellence Award, Milana shares a tragic yet tenacious story of growing up in a Sicilian Catholic family surrounded by mental illness, trauma, and secrets. You can read more about it in a recent interview published at Jennie Nash’s blog.

Carol Merchasin (This Is Mexico) met Brooke in San Miguel de Allende. She’d attended Brooke’s panels that year on publishing and on women writers. Her book is a collection of essays that describe the magical and mysterious workings of everyday life in Mexico.

Barbara Stark-Nemon will be reading from Even In Darkness, a saga of family, love, and war, based on a true story of an unconventional life lived in post-war Germany.

And Kamy Wicoff will be reading from her debut novel Wishful Thinking, an enchanting and insightful modern-day fairy tale in which one woman learns to overcome the challenges and appreciate the joys—of living life in real time. Kamy and I published a conversation about some of the larger issues her novel raises at my blog Girl w/Pen (see: Is Time Travel Easier than Passing Affordable Childcare?)

What is your personal relationship to literature/self-publishing?

I’m a devotee of the writing process, having struggled with it most of my life. I believe (and I’m hardly the first to say this) that successful writers are not the ones who naturally write the most beautiful sentences but the ones who stick with the process, in spite of the obstacles. The obstacles are so many, as we know.

I come to writing as a PhD in English and American Literature (minor in Feminist Cultural Studies) and have always been intrigued by narrative, representation, and way ideas about women and gender spread through culture. My first book (Sisterhood, Interrupted) was about the fights and frenzies around “feminism” in America over the past 40 years, and my second was an anthology of essays (with my co-editor and dear friend Daphne Uviller) titled Only Child. My third will be a book about the gendering of childhood in the first five years of life—my husband and I are raising boy/girl twins.

My previous books were traditionally published, one with Random House and the other with Palgrave Macmillan. With my third, I’m open to anything. But I have to finish writing it first.

What have you yourself been up since the founding of She Writes? 

Well, I relocated my family from NYC to Evanston, to be closer to extended family—and the lake. I’ve been working slowly on my next book, gave my first TEDx talk, and have helped expand The OpEd Project’s presence here in the Midwest. I also started a business, Girl Meets Voice, Inc., through which I coach and showcase others with expertise and help them forge a bridge to a more public voice.

It’s been a natural evolution for me from collaborating at She Writes to collaborating one-on-one with leaders who lead through writing and ideas. My clients call me their “thought partner.” The same impulses that launched She Writes launched my coaching—creativity is fostered in community, and we have everything to gain by sharing what we know. The idea of the artist, genius, entrepreneur, or CEO toiling solo in the garret doesn’t work for everyone. I know this firsthand.

How do you envision the future of publishing/how do you think SWP fits into that vision?

I’ve asked Kamy for her take on this one. Here’s what she says:

“Publishing, like photography, music and movies before it, will become more democratized and accessible as the tools required to publish are no longer exclusively in the hands of big publishers with the capacity to distribute. It’s a thrilling time, when lots of terrific, important books can find ways to market that don’t require them to wow the marketing department at a Big Five house. At the same time, however, the flood to market of so many new books and authors presents a curation problem—if anyone can publish, how will readers know what’s good? She Writes Press, by upholding the editorial standards of traditional publishers while leveraging the freedom and control self-publishing offers writers, creates a much-needed “third way.” We are free to accept manuscripts based purely on their literary merits, because our business model relies on authors paying us to publish them, rather than evaluating them on whether we think they will be bestsellers. It’s not the right model for everyone, but the industry is exploding with new choices for authors, and SWP is proud to be a leading innovator in that. -Kamy Wicoff”

In the literary spirit, what is your current must-read recommendation?

For fiction of course, Kamy’s novel, Wishful Thinking, and I’m eager to get my hands on the books by the three other authors who are reading on June 29!

For nonfiction, Sara Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater. Good for writers who also happen to be parents of young kids. The title says it all.

And my favorite kid’s book, which is actually a grown up book too, is What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamata. I love giving that one as a gift.

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Melanie Deal

Upon visiting Creative Coworking, people are often struck by our impressive collection of local art. Surrealist dream-scapes, whimsical colleges, hyper-realistic portraits, and more have all found a comfortable home here, making our office-space a key player in the promotion of Evanston’s colorful culture. In this blog feature we are going to be highlighting some of the artists whose work is currently on display. Today’s featured artist is collage and mixed-media artist Melanie Deal.

What sparked your initial interest in creating art?

I started drawing pictures, making paper dolls, and creating comic books as a child. My mother always kept a small pad of paper in her purse so I could draw during church or anywhere else we happened to be.

How would you describe your style?

Mixed-media and collage, with repetition of patterns, colors, and images. Often with a touch of humor.

What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago art community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?

I don’t feel like a part of the Evanston art community, other than showing my work at Creative Coworking. I’ve never been affiliated with the Evanston Art Center, and I think it’s probably the center of the Evanston art community, such as it is. In Chicago, I’ve shown work most often at Woman Made Gallery, and I’m very proud to be associated with that organization.

Is there a particular piece of yours that is currently on display that you feel really represents your style/is especially meaningful to you?

 I’m fond of “Ken TV,” which is currently on display, because it includes a number of my recurring themes: humor, body image, television, feeling like an outsider. And also because I love using Barbie and Ken in my works; they’re instantly recognizable and raise many knotty issues in a humorous way.

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How did you discover Creative Coworking as a venue for displaying your work?

 I was contacted by Angela Valavanis, who I didn’t know at the time and who I’m now glad to call a friend. My name had been given to her by a mutual acquaintance in the educational publishing business. I came to see the office space while it was still under construction. I feel honored that my art was among the first shown at CC.

Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?

 I’ve addressed these and other themes: women’s roles, body image, insomnia, Barbie and Ken, homoeroticism, migraine headaches, self-doubt, feeling like an outsider.

What kind of impact would you like your work to have on people?

 I like it when people recognize the humor in my work and smile.

Q&A by: Michael Coe