Hallmark CLS Notes

This week I attended my second Creative Leadership Symposium! Last year I left inspired and was beyond excited when Hallmark announced that the entire creative community would again be invited to the 2017 event. The lineup of speakers this year was incredible, I even got the chance to attend a demo from Gemma O'Brien the day before the symposium. Here are a few of my notes from the main speakers – I hope these tidbits offer you some inspiration, I know they will help me to remember this magical event. Enjoy! 


GRACE BONNEY – Design*Sponge

Online Influencer, New York Times Best-Selling Author

When the lineup of speakers was announced I knew I would love Grace's presentation. Not only is Design*Sponge one of my favorite blogs, her new book In The Company of Women offers endless inspiration. She talked to us about six ways creatives can stay happy and give back. Before diving into these six points she also talked about how in order to live a creative life she needed to live creatively, and how as Design*Sponge evolved she knew she wanted to focus on the people and things behind the "stuff."

Six Ways Creatives Can Stay Happy and Give Back

  1. Ask For Help
  2. Find A Support System (No one creates in a vacuum.)
  3. Turn Fear into Motivation / Let What Scares You Lead You / Be Relentless / Throw Yourself in the Deep End/ Acknowledge the Fear and Lean on your Support System
  4. Use Your Skills To Give / Because Good Work Can Do Good / This can help you gain a new perspective and understanding of your community
  5. Trust Yourself, Trust Your Gut / No one knows your skills and talents better than you do / Embrace Pivot Points / Make sure the people you spend time with are diverse / Life is so very long, you can have several creative careers
  6. Always Be Learning / Everything is constantly changing, so we need to as well. / Create without limits, rules or judgement / Hobbies keep your creative juices going. 
Creativity and happiness are highly personal, do whatever works (for you)...until it doesn’t. 
— Grace Bonney

KWAME ALEXANDER  – The Crossover

Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes: Kwame Alexander
Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes: Kwame Alexander

Newbery Award-Winning Author and Educator

  • Language has the power to make things real. 
  • Yes forced on me allowed me to say yes to what's possible. 
  • Yes is fruitless if you don't put in the work. 
  • The word yes is the most powerful prayer you can make.
  • To say yes to yourself sometimes means you say no to someone else. 
  • Surround yourself with say-yes people. No's are a hard life. To say yes to embracing the joy and passion of life you must embrace the no's. 
  • Visit Kwame's Website Here
You only need one yes!
— Kwame Alexander

JEREMY COLLINS – Drawn

Award-Winning Filmmaker and Illustrator

Over our lunch hour we were all able to watch Jeremy's film, Drawn. I loved its focus on friendship, adventure, and really embracing life. I was even more excited to learn during his talk that he is a KC local. He is an artist and an activist, and I know I will continue to follow his work. 

  • His work often features parallel lines, inspired by these lines in the mountains and in nature.
  • His way of engaging is responding with art (Like his Power of the Peaceful artwork.)
  • It's a dangerous thing to think you've found your voice. 
How can our work take risks and reflect who we are?
— Jeremy Collins

ALLISON SCHROEDER – Hidden Figures

Academy Award-Nominated Screenwriter of "Hidden Figures"

Allison was interviewed about her experience writing the screenplay for "Hidden Figures." Luckily I saw the movie a few weeks ago so it made her talk that much more enjoyable, it's a beautiful, uplifting film. 

  • Resist the stereotypes. 
  • She has gotten used to the first draft not being perfect. 
  • When people keep asking you back it's a huge thing. 
  • She loves happy endings and positive stories that aren't always a part of Hollywood. 
  • She just kept writing what she wanted people to hire her for. 
  • Even after her success, she is still constantly told no. 
Stay true to yourself. I want to put positivity out in the world. Show up, do the work.
— Allison Schroeder

DENA BLEVINS – Starbucks

Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes
Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes: Dena Blevins from Starbucks

Starbucks Creative Director of Global Promotions and Brand

Dena was introduced my Marisol Bowman, Hallmark artist and former Starbucks artist, who said that Dena excels at making hundreds of ideas feel like one brand. Her talk focused on how collaboration builds a strong brand, talking about how she makes this work at Starbucks. 

  • For each project we ask will this make our partners proud?
  • Our success (as a company) is interdependent. 
  • Our vision is a long term one, but our tactics can be short term. 
  • She addressed the holiday red cup controversy (and the free publicity that ensued), as well as the unicorn frappuccino. 
  • You need to have a clear vision of who you are as a brand. 
  • Design by committee works at Starbucks, they are a hive of interdependency. 
People are looking for moments of delight.
— Dena Blevins

Acclaimed Singer, Songwriter and Instrumentalis

EEMS, another KC local, performed several songs and talked about his musical journey. 


LISA CONGDON – WEBISTe, INSTAGRAM

Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes: Lisa Congdon

World-Renowned Artist and Illustrator

Lisa was another speaker I especially excited to hear, I have followed her work for several years. I loved the opportunity to hear her talk about her career path in person. Here are my favorite notes:

  • Side projects feed the work that she does professionally. 
  • She has become comfortable sharing a lot of her work publicly. 
  • A few of her book recommendations included: Wired to Create, The Spark and the Grind, Broad Strokes, Big Magic
  • Her personal interests inform her professional life (such as her book about swimming.)
  • Intuition is something that creative people are in tune with. 
  • Personal curiosities, such as her many collections, push her to keep learning. 
  • This Mary Oliver poem inspires Lisa:
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
— Mary Oliver
  • How do we remain creative at work? We don't view our creative work as precious, and this allows us to make. (Loved this concept in Big Magic!)
  • Hard work. Discipline. Pushing through the creation of mediocre stuff. Forget about passion, find joy in exploration. Embrace the beauty of the mundane. Slow Art. 
  • Lisa's Mantra: It's always worth it. 
Relax into the stuff that feels slow, tedious (reality), but be present when the magic happens.
— Lisa Congdon

CHRIS TEIG – PATAGONIA

Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes

Patagonia Director of Graphics and Illustration

  • Chris talked about his path to graphic design and creative direction, despite no formal training. 
  • He emphasized Patagonia's commitment towards pushing the industry to cleaner manufacturing and how they donate 100% of their Black Friday sales to environmental groups. 
  • Throughout his career he has been able to see the awe and horror of manufacturing, and the feeling of seeing something you created produced on a mass scale. 
  • I loved seeing how this corporation uses their power to take bold stands for the protection of the environment. After Chris' talk I discovered Patagonia has a series of videos, like the one above, focused on protecting different environment spaces. 

GEMMA O’BRIEN – WEBSITE, INSTAGRAM

Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes: Gemma O'Brien
Letters Are Lovely | Hallmark CLS Notes: Gemma O'Brien

Globally Influential Lettering Artist

Like I mentioned, I had the chance to attend a demo from Gemma the day before CLS. Seeing her sketches in person was very inspiring, and it was amazing to be able to hear her talk about her story in a small group setting, as well as at the actual event. Her murals are intricate, and she is one my favorite people to follow on Instagram. A few takeaways from her talk:

  • When talking about lettering and typography: When you lose something it becomes more valuable. 
  • She loves the human element of creating letterforms. 
  • After dropping out of law school, she discovered her love for typography after hand-setting type. 
  • Trends (like chalk lettering) began to influence her career, which made it feel like her work was driven by external forces. This led her to create work that she really enjoyed that was not trend-focused. 
  • Her work marries lettering and illustration, and allows her to get away from working on the computer all the time. (Though she loves drawing on her iPad as well.)
Experimentation leads to new commercial work.
— Gemma O'Brien

What else?

Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions

Our final day in Patagonia was spent on two horseback rides! First we went on a ride to Nordenskjold Lake, and then in the afternoon we went through the Legna Forest. After our hike the day before it was nice to get a break from walking, and still get to enjoy the scenery!

Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions

This was definitely the most beautiful place I had ever been on a horseback ride, I especially loved the view of the towers on our afternoon ride. After getting back to the ranch we grabbed some dinner and then headed to the spa for a massage. This was also New Year's Eve, so that night we attended the hotel's party before getting up early to head to the airport. Hopefully I will get to return to Patagonia someday and make the hike to the towers and the lake just below them! This was the one thing we missed out on that I really would have loved to have done, but we just didn't have the time (or the energy) by the end of this part of the trip. Thank you Hotel Las Torres for showing our family just how magical Patagonia can be! 

Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions
Letters Are Lovely | Nordenskjöld Lake and Lenga Forest Excursions

Valle del Francés Excursion

Our second excursion day in Patagonia was spent on a LONG hike to the Valle Del Francés. Going through these pictures genuinely surprised me — this was a pretty spectacular day. During our hike, however, I was personally exhausted from rushing to get to the glacier viewpoint and then immediately hiking the seven miles back to catch our ferry. Looking back, I'm really grateful we had this day — no matter how tiring it was at the time. It's not every day you get to see several waterfalls and glaciers! 

Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion

We started out the day by hiking to the same waterfall we saw the day before. With the rainy weather it was a completely different experience, and the green color of all the plants was magnified and magical. Afterwards we took a ferry across the lake and began our hike! There was some disagreement within the family just how far we had actually hiked at the end of the day, but we agreed it was at least 12-14 miles. I wouldn't consider us expert hikers either — my youngest sister and husband definitely led the pack the entire day! 

Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion

And here we all are with the glacier in the Valle Del Francés behind us! While I loved this view I also really enjoyed hiking through the forest where there had been a fire. The burned trees made for some unusual scenery, especially with the cloudy weather. These photos don't really do the views justice, but I'm so happy I have them to remember our crazy hike and all the silliness of the day. Enjoy! 

Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Valle Del Francés Excursion

Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion

Hello, friends! Our first full day in Patagonia was spent on the Full Paine excursion offered by Las Torres. They describe it as the best way to get the fullest introduction to Torres del Paine National Park, and I definitely agree! We began the day walking over the Puente Negro (Black Bridge) and then went on to the Nordenskjöld Lookout, the Sarmiento Lookout, Lake Pehoé and the Salto Grande waterfall. 

Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion

After a wonderful lunch at a camp site we went on to the southern shore of Lago Grey. There we hiked across the lake and up to a viewpoint where you could see Grey Glacier. Afterwards we hiked back down and boarded a catamaran to get an up-clsoe view of the glacier. It took an hour to get to there, and then we we spent an hour viewing three sides of Grey Glacier. It was truly beautiful. We learned that Grey Glacier connects to the massive Southern Patagonia Ice Field — it really is impossible to describe its size. One hour later we took a short hike back to the car and we were headed home for the evening! This ended up being one of our favorite days of the entire trip. We had beautiful weather and got to see so many wonderful views of the park in a really short amount of time. Thank you Las Torres! 

Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion
Letters Are Lovely | Full Paine and Glacier Grey Excursion

Arriving in Patagonia

After our first day in Santiago we boarded another flight South to Punta Arenas. While in Patagonia we stayed at Hotel Las Torres, a beautiful ranch right at the foot of the Torres del Paine. On our way to the hotel we had a chance to stop at the Estancia Cerro Negro (Black Hill Ranch), which is owned by the same family as Hotel Las Torres. There we experienced a traditional Patagonian lamb barbecue and learned about the farm. 

Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia

Before eating we received a tour of the farmhouse and learned about what life was like for the Kusanovic family (they moved to the region from Croatia). After our delicious meal and some time spent at the farm we were back on the road. A few hours later arrived at the park! Our driver was even kind enough to pull over several times for us to take photos of a beautiful blue lake and to observe a guanaco. The scenery was even more beautiful than I imagined, and I can't wait to share our three full days we spent in the park. Enjoy! 

Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia
Letters Are Lovely | Arriving in Patagonia

Patagonia Packing List

Hello, friends! In just a few short weeks I will be jetting off to South America with my family. We have never taken a post-Christmas trip before — let alone to Chile! Here a few items I will be backing for the Patagonia portion of our stay. I'm not quite prepared for what the weather and circumstances will be like, but I can't wait! Be on the lookout for lots of travel photos come January. I've already been wearing my new Patagonia around town and it is much warmer than it appears! I also have been trying to break in the Kodiak boots. Their quality is beautiful in person, I'm happy that they will serve me well outside of my travels, too. Are any of you headed on post holiday travels? 

Letters Are Lovely | Patagonia Packing List

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