April 29, 2012

Obsession: Chicago CreativeMornings #9 with Designer and Illustrator Mike McQuade

Photo by Nate Burgos. View More.

Harder done than said, rather than “easier said than done”… There was theory at the 9th CreativeMornings gathering in Chicago, but it wasn’t left idly alone. In his presentation at architectural design firm Gensler, graphic designer and illustrator Mike McQuade not only talked the talk, he made the talk—demonstrating again and again of theory applied. Obsessing, hard work and reflecting were not just anthems: they are rigorous habits, which he religiously practices. Similar to previous CreativeMornings/Chicago speaker Jay Ryan, of screenprint shop The Bird Machine, McQuade not only showed the final result, but also shared some of the steps he took in achieving that desired outcome. Here are some of McQuade’s thoughts to provoke you to continue moving and materializing:

This echoes what author Stephen King once said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” McQuade reminds us that talent, precious as it is, is never enough. Talent may be a given, but it must be re-earned, every time.

Ignoring what’s out there, beyond one’s discipline, limits you to one lens of a world, endowed with so many dimensions. McQuade strongly encourages wanderlust. One example: a vintage sign influenced how he redesigned the cover of his illustrated map of Chicago for Herb Lester Associates. Furthermore, in contrast to his former work schedule, McQuade’s work-in-progress schedule—with time assigned to “Personal Work & Learning”—is bent on accommodating creative exploration and diversifying it.

During his CreativeMornings presentation in New York, graphic designer and author Michael Beirut said, in relation to clients, “Only good work leads to doing more good work.” McQuade shares the belief that honest work bears glorious fruit. At a larger level, he speaks to cartoonist and author Hugh MacLeod’s realization: “It's something that gets clearer to me as I get older—that all good things feed on other good things, and feed them back.”

Get your work out of yourself and out there into the world, to be potentially cherished, critiqued and forwarded. As McQuade concluded: keep doing the work, keep up the humility, keep encouraging the possibility of piquing someone’s discovery of what you love to do. When you make, opportunities can then be made.

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Considering his seize-it-and-mean-it attitude, I feel that McQuade would don this gracefully blunt t-shirt by wordboner.

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Big thanks to: Gensler for hosting, Artisan Talent for sponsoring Chicago CreativeMornings #9, organizer Mig Reyes, videographer Craig Shimala, photographer Chris Gallevo, for their great work on making CreativeMornings happen in Chicago.

Especially big thanks: to Tina Roth Eisenberg—Swissmiss—for inventing CreativeMornings in 2008. The fifth chapter was launched in Chicago, June 2011—my write-up and photos.

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Typeface of quotes is called Massive designed by Shawn Hazen, who also makes awesome typographic illustrations for series Creative Roles.

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