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The Secret Handshake 2015 Recap

The Secret Handshake recently wrapped up their 2015 conference at the Art Directors Club in Manhattan, New York and Bright Bright Great was there to help.

The Secret Handshake is an online advice tool for students and young designers who are looking for no-nonsense advice from creative professionals.

Art Directors Club

At the Art Directors Club we got to meet most, if not all, of the 200 attendees, the amazing volunteers who helped the event run smoothly and each of the inspiring speakers.

We had a great time and we want to thank The Secret Handshake team for another great event and everyone we talked to for making our trip to New York so fun!

TSH Agenda

TSH Crowd

Kayla Kern TSH

Ping Zhu TSH

Jen Mussari TSH

Sophia and Sharlene TSH

Shawna X TSH

Crowd TSH

Panel TSH

TSH Hugz

Posted By
Nick Lush

In The Field – BBG Art Director Jen Hansen Speaks At Liminal Space’s “Designing at the Threshold”

BBG Art Director Jen Hansen, joined panelists Rachel Hyman, James T. Green, Anton Jeludkov & Morgan Walsh and moderator Amy Nicole Schwartz for an open discussion at Liminal Space’s “Designing at the Threshold.”

Designing at the Threshold: A panel-based discussion about experimentation and the boundaries of design. Panelists discussed the intersection of contemporary art and graphic design, balancing commercial work and personal work, the workings of their studio practice, and more.


Jen Hansen Bright Bright Great Art DIrector Liminal Space

The speaker panel getting ready at the Cards Against Humanity Theater.

Jen Hansen Liminal Space Designing at the Threshold

Anton Jeludkov comments to Jen Hansen Liminal Space Chicago’s Designing At The Threshold

Jen Hansen Liminal Space Designing at the Threshold

Jen Hansen speaks at Liminal Space Chicago’s Designing At The Threshold

Learn more about Liminal Space here.

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Event Alert: BBG CD Jason Schwartz Speaking At Adobe’s Creative Jam Chicago

Adobe Creative Jam

Tuesday, April 9, 2015

7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Adobe Creative Jam
Lacuna Artist Lofts
2150 S. Canalport Ave., Chicago, IL

Tickets are FREE and the event is open to the public.

Speakers: Chuck Anderson/NoPattern, Jason Schwartz of Bright Bright Great, Alisa Wolfson of Leo Burnett Department of Design and Sara Frisk of Uptake.

This one-hour design showcase highlights the work of 4 local creative leaders. Have any questions. Tweet them at Jason Schwartz.

At the same time, in the next room, 10 design teams will be competing in the Creative Jam tournament, a 3-hour design charrette showdown. Once the Creative Jam presentations wrap, tournament participants will take the stage to share their creations with you. As part of the audience, you’ll judge each submission and select the Grand Prize winner.

BBG Art Directors Jen Hansen & Alex Sheyn will be participating in the Creative Jam Tournament.

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Bright Bright Great Added As Agency of Record for AIGA Chicago in 2015

AIGA Chicago AOR 2015

For 2015, AIGA Chicago has announced that they are working with six different partners as their Agencies of Record, who will divvy up the work of producing creative for all of AIGA Chicago’s events communications in 2015. Bright Bright Great is honored to be chosen to be one of those agencies and to be given the opportunity to apply some of our creative vision to AIGA’s programming for the Chicago community this year.

We are also thrilled to be working with our other five partners, Chuck Anderson, Trunk Club, Multiple, Someoddpilot, Ogilvy & Mather, and look forward to an amazing year with our community.

Additional Information:

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

The BBG Design Series at Next Door: A Recap of Our First Class

Last night marked the first session of our Design Series at Next Door® Café in Lakeview East, which focused on the benefits that investing in design can provide for businesses of all types. We were thrilled to be able to provide advice and answer questions for business-owners across a variety of fields and in various stages of developing their design elements.

The BBG Design Series continues next month at Next Door® Café, with our next class focusing on helping business-owners and creative professionals work better together to create unforgettable results. If you’re looking to  learn how to communicate more effectively with your creative team or your clients, we hope to be able to see you there for what should be a fun and engaging discussion. Check our Twitter and Facebook in July for the registration link for that class.

In the meantime, if you weren’t able to make it to our first session, you can catch up on what you missed by downloading the presentation below and make sure to sign up for the next session on Next Door’s website



Posted By
Nick Lush

Announcing the BBG Business of Design Series with Next Door Café

BBG Next Door 1920 We are thrilled to announce the start of our BBG Design Series partnership with Next Door Café® this June, with continuing classes through the Fall. The BBG Design Series will be a 5-part discussion centered on answering important questions for both creatives and the businesses who hire them. Space is limited so sign up for our first session while you can: What Can Design Do For You? Monday June 23rd, 6:30-7:30 PM Presented with Next Door Café® (659 W Diversey)

While future dates are tentative, other classes will include:

July 22nd – 6:30 pm
Us WITH Them: How Creatives & Business Owners Can Work Better Together

August 25th – 6:30 pm
The Elements of Style: How Aesthetic Choices Influence Brand Perception

September 23rd – 6:30 pm
The Goldilocks Effect: How Do I Find The Right Creative Partner?”

October 21st – 6:30 pm
The Secret Handshake Accounting for Creatives & Freelancers

Posted By
Nick Lush

Avondale Type Co. Artist Series 1 – Summer 2014

Ana Benaroya A_social_Anabenaroya B_social_AnaBenaroya Logo_social_AnaBenaroya

Bright Bright Great is excited to announce the launch of our ATC Artist Series 1 through our type foundry Avondale Type Co.

Artist Series 1: Ana Benaroya, Samantha Dion Baker, Lou Medel, Trish Garcia, Pablo Tradacete, Ed Dufill, Rachael Elwell, Yoann Fournier & more.

Limited edition screen prints to launch late Summer 2014.

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Hike SF Conference Recap April 4 & 5, 2014

On behalf of everyone involved to make Hike San Francisco a reality over the last 9 months, I’d like to send a giant thank to everyone who attended Hike SF over the weekend.

What literally started as a lunchtime Skype chat between Laura and myself where we said “Hey, I love what you do, let’s do something amazing together,” turned into something that even the two of us couldn’t have imagined, so we thank you.

We hope you had an absolutely invaluable experience and walked away inspired, knowledgable and with at least one kernel of genius, one quote, one piece of advice that you take to heart.






Bright Bright Great Creative Director & Hike Co-Founder Jason Schwartz.

Hike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. Brooks Jason Schwartz & Laura WinnHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. BrooksHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. BrooksHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. Brooks GitHub with Daniel BurkaHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. BrooksHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. Brooks Jason Schwartz & Laura Winn Hike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. BrooksHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. Brooks Mike MonteiroHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. BrooksHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. Brooks CrowdHike Conference San Francisco 2014 | Photo by Mona T. Brooks

Photos by Mona T. Brooks

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Interview – BBG Creative Director Jason Schwartz and Smart Design’s Laura Helen Winn talk Hike with Design Feast

Hike Con 2014

In advance of April’s Hike Design Conference in San Francisco (and October’s installment in Chicago), BBG’s own Creative Director Jason Schwartz and Smart Design’s Laura Helen Winn sat down with the folks at Design Feast to talk about how the conference got started, design, and more.

On being a designer and event maker

How did you arrive at the idea of making the conference Hike?


I arrived at the idea because I started doing small creativity events under Form and Future at Makeshift Society. The events took Form and Future’s designer interviews offline and in front of a real audience, and covered topics from chocolate-making to a panel of small business owners. It was a lot of fun. After a few months, my boyfriend asked me when I was going to put on the Form and Future conference. I laughed it off because it seemed too big of a project to do on my own. But when I met Jason through a mutual friend, I still had the conference notion in the back of my mind.

The first time we Skyped, I was asking Jason for advice about keeping my side project going. I had this half-baked idea to turn it into a magazine that I talked through with Jason. Even while I was talking about it, I knew it didn’t have legs. He told me to be focused and have a plan, but more importantly, to dream about making something bigger than I could even imagine. I remembered the conference idea, and my gut told me, “this is it.” So I Skyped with Jason for a second time and pitched him the idea of co-founding a brand new conference stemming from The Secret Handshake plus Form and Future. Even though I’m in San Francisco and he’s in Chicago, Jason was crazy enough to say yes!


Laura and I had connected through a mutual friend in Chicago and once we started talking, it was natural that The Secret Handshake would want to collaborate simply based on our missions. Since we are located in two far apart cities, naturally we wanted to make this as hard as possible and throw a conference in two cities in one year.

What were essential activities/steps you took to start and establish this event? And why were these activities/steps important?


Like I said before, hosting events at Makeshift turned out to be a lot of fun for me. I really got into designing the experience, from the snacks to the ambiance to making everyone feel really comfortable, both the speakers and the audience. It felt like, ‘hey, I can really do this.’ Beyond that, the mission of Form and Future is the real important factor. I’m a new designer who can attribute my career to some talent, luck, and a lot of guidance from various mentors. That’s important because not every new designer has mentors, and it can be difficult to find satisfying work without people helping you develop your own point of view along the way.

The second Jason and I started working on Hike, I knew we were a good fit as creative partners. My weakness has been trying to handle side projects all on my own. The first thing he said was, “We need a board, we need volunteers, we’re going to need a lot of help.” It made me nervous to be honest, but I took a deep breath and said OK.


Laura and I talked for a few months before opening up the conversation to peers and getting people involved. Because we opted for a two-city conference, we pretty much needed to create an established pocket of volunteers in both cities.

There is a welcoming pattern of individuals making gatherings, such as Tina Roth Eisenberg who invented CreativeMornings; Rusty Meadows started Nearly Impossible that made its debut last November; Emily Ruth Cohen and Sheri Koetting made Evolve to debut during Spring 2014. Why do you think this is?


I think it’s because sharing knowledge is inherent in the design practice. In order to become a designer, you have to learn about the designers who came before you and the designers who came before them. The thing I miss the most about art school is the class discussions we had about a reading or an artist’s body of work. Hearing people with conflicting opinions share their point of view and occasionally reach an understanding of each other is real magic. I guess I just want to keep that dialogue and magic going as I pursue my career.


This falls into whatever the category the “gathering” falls under, i.e. inspiration, education, networking.

In the education space, schools are having a hard time keeping up with the pace of our skills, and students are graduating with tons of unanswered questions and needed skills. Think about how fast our industry changes versus others. Six years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. Four years ago, tablets really didn’t exist and weren’t widespread. In the past two years, responsive experiences started to become widespread, and Apple made the first play for “retina” internet.

Schools can’t keep up with things changing yearly. By the time Seniors have gone through four years of classes, they may have missed huge changes to how we work that happened within the previous twelve months, because they already took that class three years ago.

It’s tough.

The real reason behind the scenes for all gatherings is really networking, even for education. People come to learn, but also it’s about getting thirty seconds of FaceTime with people from across the country you’re excited to shake hands with.

Were there principles and practices from your work as designers that translated well toward designing a conference? If so, what were some of those?


Communication is key. Surround yourself with people who are smart, motivated, talented, and fun to work with. In my experience, the best design projects are those where people with differing opinions and specialties create something new together. In planning our own conference, we essentially have the opportunity to create our ideal project. Jason and I are also well aware of the challenges that come with design projects. I think knowing to expect common challenges, like miscommunication and people getting spread too thin, has helped us be prepared for the process of getting a bunch of people together to throw a conference in two cities in one year.


OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Lots of OCD.

The first volunteer meeting at Smart Design in San Francisco

Compared to other events related to design disciplines, what makes your conference different?


What makes Hike different is that it’s a conference specifically for new designers. Organizations like AIGA do a great job of fostering the student design community and posting job boards, but there’s no Brooklyn Beta for design students. There’s no Build for design students. We want to make something really special that tailors to a very specific audience at a crucial point in their lives. Hike is about more than getting a job. It’s about finding your own voice, and taking action in order to build the life you want to live.


One of the main issues I’m having with a good amount of conferences I attend is that presenters are showing a glorified version of their portfolio. I can see why that is inspirational, but I’m at a point where I’d just look at someone’s website and understand the who, what, when, where, why and how.

I want Hike to be fully functional. I want speakers to focus specifically on what it takes to create and develop personal brand, which extends into job hunting, résumés, portfolios and following a path that is right for you. This is the difference between benchmarking, “I like that designer’s work,” and, “Whoa, I never thought that was how an application process worked behind the scenes.”

I really want to lift the curtain for a peek into the other side.

How do you find, select, and invite your speakers?


We brought Jennifer Maples on board for San Francisco content, and Kelly Knaga for Chicago content. These ladies are absolutely rocking it on finding speakers and planning the schedule far beyond what Jason and I could accomplish. Early in the project, Jason and I invited all of our volunteers to make a list of dream speakers. Most of our speakers have been invited by recommendations from people we know. There’s a level of trust that’s really important when inviting people to speak, whether or not they have a good reputation as being reliable and relevant. Jennifer and Kelly have done an amazing job at designing a speaker list that’s well-rounded, useful, and true to Hike’s mission.


Our whole team wanted to find speakers that had substance to their presentations beyond just showing work. Each speaker will be going deeper into how they vetted the process, what they’ve learned, processes their companies use and how they look for people currently.

We also wanted to avoid usual suspects. You most likely won’t see the same speakers at Hike as other conferences.

What are must-don’ts in making an event?

You must not be afraid of anyone or anything. You must not take anything personally. You must not tiptoe when providing honest feedback. You must speak up. You have to trust other people to carry your vision. You must not burn any bridges. You must only bring in people and organizations or sponsors who truly support you and your cause. Don’t take money from people who don’t align with your values. Don’t burn yourself out trying to handle it all–spread out the responsibilities. Don’t take that as an excuse to shove responsibility onto other people: own everything you do. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.


No portfolio presentations (unless specifically that is focused on making a good and presentable portfolio.) No filler. No lies.

Provide more value to every attendee than the price of admission.

San-Francisco-and-Chicago-hosted brainstorming sessions to name the conference

Concerning events, like conferences/summits/workshops, what are their purpose or obligation in our society, the world?


Like I said earlier, sharing collective knowledge is really important for the design community. Seasoned designers have a unique opportunity to shape the minds of young designers, and that’s really important. Christopher Murphy talked about this very thing in our interview. One day, his mentor told him that as teachers, they’re literally designing the minds of their students. It blew his mind to think of teaching that way. He takes his job really seriously, and I admire him for that.

It’s also amazing to me that the more time we spend on our devices, the more we treasure our time away from them. Services like Foursquare document the fact that you were in a physical place with your friends. That’s really special. Events that bring people together are important the way a long talk with a friend is important. Giving people the space to learn, grow, and reflect on their own lives and shortcomings. A safe space to examine yourself, and determine what you can do to be better and provide better experiences for the people around you. Reflecting on why we make rather than how we make is important, and I think the obligation of events is to support this kind of thinking, sharing, and growing in any given community.


Additional viewpoints. There are a lot of designers who just work at one job with the same team for a sizable amount of time. Other perspectives are out there. There are other ways of doing things, for better and worse.

Who are your influences related to design?


My own mentors and friends are the most influential. The funny thing about mentors is how they’re woven into your life at just the right time. Dan Saffer, the creative director at Smart Design, is a current influence. He demonstrates qualities that I aspire to in leadership: understanding the desires of the people he leads in order to help them become better designers. It sounds simple, but so many people don’t get to that level of understanding with their staff. Design is about relationships, so my influences are the relationships I have with other designers.

Ryan Freitas and Shawn Collins at taught me how to be wrong, how to be right, and how to listen to feedback. Mandy Brown is always teaching me something, most recently not to quit my side projects. Marc O’Brien’s work inspires me to run as fast as I can towards the things I want to do in life in regards to design, even when I don’t know what they are yet. Jennifer Maples teaches me how to be a better adult. Linda Eliasen is a better illustrator than I’ll ever be. Xiulung Choy makes technology look fun and he values fine art. I could go on and on–I’m very lucky to have people in my life who support me and encourage me, whether they know it or not.


Andy Warhol. Process and body of work. Dieter Rams (Braun), who possibly lead the most influential product design department in the last decade. There’s a reason why Apple does things the way they do. 😉

How important is it for you to follow your instincts?


It’s very important for me to follow my instincts. My Meyers-Briggs personality type is XNFJ, in which F stands for Feeling and J stands for judgement. Essentially I use my own intuition to guide my actions. Most recently, intuition led me to work with Jason. Following my instincts is the reason I’m a designer in San Francisco today. It all started with a hunch that I should go to art school, because art had been my most consistent interest in life to that point. I learned to recognize through experience that when I followed my intuition, it led me to more satisfying experiences. Another way to think of it is being honest with yourself, about your own strengths and limitations, about what you really want. When you go against your instincts is when you get into trouble, and find yourself where you knew you shouldn’t be. When you follow your intuition, you learn to recognize when you’re exactly where you should be. It feels like home.


Depends. I modify my instincts based on situation. I always have a gut feeling, however how I act on it is modified per scenario.

How do you get the word out about Hike?


Talking! We’ve been sharing the news with our close friends, mentors, colleagues, anyone we meet, really. It’s an easy party conversation. “What do you do?” “I’m planning a conference.” People tend to have a lot of questions, and it’s fun to share the story.


Help us!

How do you attract sponsors?


Through the relationships and connections that we already have. It’s not so much attracting but just asking people, very plainly and nicely. Have I mentioned how important relationships are?


Top secret. Actually a lot of the sponsors have been our friends and network. The board has some really great connections out there.

What is your definition of growth, as it relates to event-creation and management?


My personal definition of growth is only as much as the community needs. On the local level, I’m in favor of keeping the events on the small side. I prefer when people can get to know one another without being overwhelmed by a thousand people. On the national level, Jason and I are interested in hosting the conference in more cities in the future. I’m from Tennessee, so it would mean a lot to me to host a Hike event in Chattanooga or Nashville. Events don’t have to be huge to be important. It’s the quality of the community and the willingness for people to participate that’s most important to me.


We just want to fill enough seats that the thousands of hours were worth it to us. We’re not really focused on opening a Hike in every city, like CreativeMornings, or anything at this point.

How would you describe Hike’s culture? And why is it important?


Hike’s culture is fairness and a lot of fun. It’s funny, because I haven’t thought of Hike having a culture until just now. I think Jason and I set the tone for the board and our volunteers with our personalities and the way we work together, which includes a lot of laughter and trusting each other. We make decisions quickly because we don’t have time to debate forever. It goes back to instincts: we agree on something and it’s settled, unless we later think of a solid reason to go in a different direction. We all have a common goal to get this thing off the ground, and we all trust each other to pull weight. We all need each other, and we all like each other.

It’s important because when I imagine the opposite—a group of people who have big egos and selfish motivations—it sounds like a nightmare to me. I only want to work with people who are better than me and who respect each other. We’re really lucky to be working with our group of volunteers. Once a week, Jason and I have a “holy shit” moment. Everyone on our team is amazing. We couldn’t do this without them.


The entire day of the conference will not be speakers presenting to you. There is a focus on collaborative sessions where your input will be shared with smaller groups.

The board meets weekly on a Google Hangout. Special guests include Jennifer Hansen’s cat.

How can people learn and be informed about the Hike conference?


Through our website,, and on Twitter @hikecon.The full website will be up in early February with our list of speakers and more details about what Hike is.

What conferences/gatherings do you enjoy experiencing?


I enjoy experiencing small local gatherings here in San Francisco. Jennifer Maples’ StrategyTNT, at Makeshift Society, brings in speakers who discuss design strategy and their careers. Joe Robinson hosts a Designers+Geeks event where I saw Aarron Walter from Mailchimp speak at the Yelp headquarters. Julie Horvath’s Passion Projects at Github are a big one. She brings women in to speak about side projects, from code to lettering and illustration. It’s been really amazing to see Julie grow the idea and community over the last year, and I can’t wait to see where she takes it this year. Julie is another design inspiration for me, in that her hustle is so fierce. If we all worked half as hard as Julie, I don’t even know what would happen. We’d spontaneously combust.

At a higher level, I enjoy events where I can really connect with everyone involved, from the organizer and speakers to the other attendees. It really helps me get out of my own work and remember that I’m part of a huge community of people with different strengths and passions.


In 2013, I went to a lot of conferences. I’m starting to get a lot less hyped about events where speakers just show a glorified portfolio as their presentation. For me, I’d rather hear a speaker talk about life in general for 45 minutes.

I’m more hyped about shared creative experiences, like hackathons and passion weekends. I think the coolest ideas are coming from these, and that they are absolutely valuable for people who attend and learn new skills, see how others work and make some cool connections.

On creativity, design, working

Design writer Alissa Walker wrote an article called “Women in Industrial Design: Where My Ladies At?” Where are the Ladies in Design/Development/Strategy/Business, et al., at?


We’re right here! *waves hands* A common explanation is that women are raised to be more passive and less aggressive than men, which leads to us shying away from the spotlight. I have to admit that it does feel weird to put myself out there and shout, “Hey, look at me! I’m making cool things.” But I think there’s more to the story than that.

Kai Brach of Offscreen Magazine just posted an explanation of the unbalanced gender line-up they’ve had with their interviews. It seems like there are a handful of women who become well-known for their trade, and end up doing a lot of interviews. I think they become our representation of women in the industry, and the rest of us can just keep on working. We’re so focused on cranking out work that we aren’t taking time to produce talks and answer interviews. I’ve got to admit that it feels strange for me to be doing it now, but I know that this is what it takes in order to share your message. I’m more passionate about sharing the Hike story than I am afraid of putting myself in this uncomfortable space.

By the way, it’s incredibly satisfying to see my company, Smart Design, mentioned in the article. Femme Den started in our New York office, and now there’s a contingency of San Francisco folks who are refreshing it and reviving the whole movement. My colleagues are starting a feminist literature book club, and expanding the concept beyond marketing. Smart Design is an incredible example of how a modern workplace should be: it’s pro-women, pro-work-life balance, pro-employee happiness.

So where are the ladies at? We’re right here, making an impressive amount of work for you.


Our Hike board is all ladies but myself. They are out there. Most of our volunteers are also female.

My agency, Bright Bright Great, is also more female than male.

How do you handle disagreements while you’re working?


We talk it out! Jason and I are very, very different, and that’s part of what I love about working together. When we disagree on something, we just talk about it until we reach a mutual understanding. We respect each other enough to listen.


We are a small team (under 10), so that allows us the opportunity to talk everything out. Since we base all of our work on usability and functionality, the disagreements are usually about how to make something better, opposed to typical feedback like “I don’t like that.”

Disagreements become so much more clear when data and analytics are involved.

What part of your work is particularly trying,and how do you deal with it?


There are a lot of moving pieces, and often things get lost in translation. I’m taking on several different jobs at once: project managing, sponsorship, and contributing to marketing outreach. We deal with it by talking to each other a lot, and talking to our board members a lot. It takes a lot of patience, because it can be frustrating to not know what’s going on. Things flow more smoothly when Jason and I are checking in and carving out our responsibilities on a daily or weekly basis.


Being the small team, my role is running the company (Operations), all sales (Sales Director), leading all creative (Creative Director) down to things like paying bills and emptying the trash. Time is the biggest factor I am up against.

To make sure that my day as well as my entire team’s days are as valuable as possible, we have pretty tight processes around we do everything. We use tools to allow us to succeed like Freshbooks, Basecamp, and other apps.

I think our processes are extremely smart. That affords us time to make sure our work is done.

What is your workspace like? How does it contribute to doing the quality of work you want to do?


My workspace is wherever my brain, notebook, and/or computer are. Smart is incredibly supportive of the conference, so I end up conducting a lot of business there. Otherwise, I work from my bed, my kitchen, my backyard…right now I’m in a coffee shop. I moved three times last year, so I’m a very mobile person. I’ve learned that I only need a comfortable, spacious place to get work done. I’ve just got to be relaxed and focused, and I seek cozy environments that help me achieve that mindset.


Bright Bright Great is a wide open space. Everyone sits together forcing everyone to collaborate on all projects even if designers, marketers, etc., aren’t on that specific project.

You can peek into our space here. We are also putting up lots of photos of our space on Instagram at brightbrightgreat and on Facebook.

What tools do you use and recommend to work on ideas and make them grow, to collaborate and get things done?


I work almost entirely in my inbox and Google drive for collaborating. We use Basecamp to manage what our teams are doing, and set up different projects for each team: marketing, design, sponsorship, and so on. It’s not perfect, but we manage to get things done. I personally use IA Writer and Google Drive for any longer-form writing that needs to be done. The calendar on my iPhone is also very important.


There’s a lot of tools out there. I recommend you have at least one to handle the following:

How do you stay creative? What are some of your sources of motivation/inspiration?


I stay creative by being really kind to myself. I work when I feel like working, and I take breaks when I’m not getting anything done. I don’t look at many inspiration blogs, they tend to overwhelm me. I’m inspired by all the I spend away from my computer. I love traveling, getting to know California, cooking meals, and film photography. Remembering to enjoy life is what motivates me to keep working on my dreams. If I worked all the time, I would get really burnt out. I worked a lot in college and made a lot of great work that I’m proud of. But in hindsight, I wish I had spent a little more time drinking wine and shooting the breeze on my best friend’s front porch.


We don’t work long hours, which I know is not the norm. Everyone is required to put in a full work day at our office, but all of that other time is about being out in the world and getting excited for how many amazing things are out there.

Every person on my team must have at least one other creative skill that they are a master of. For example, design and photography, design and modeling, design and music creation. We get each other excited with our skills, and learn together, which is always fun.

What is your definition of bad design?


My definition of bad design is anything that solves problems that don’t need to be solved, or aren’t actually problems at all. I was just talking about this with my boyfriend last night, about how bad design and all the money in Silicon Valley is laughable. But at the same time, sometimes really stupid ideas lead to amazing products that can have significant cultural influence. Twitter is a great example of that. The founders didn’t know exactly what they were making or why, and now people use it to connect with one another in ways that were unimaginable when the idea was first conceived. It was just a silly little thing.

If everything were designed seriously and with purpose, how would we know what’s actually good and relevant? We need bad design to really appreciate good design.


Anything that doesn’t solve the problem posed. Because I am a hard-ass at work, we not only strive to solve the problems but end up with solutions that amaze.

If you were posed, “Laura and Jason, I have an idea for a conference. How do I get this real?” What’s your response?


Find someone to work with. Don’t try to do it on your own. Understand why you’re making it, and be very specific about who your audience is. Most ideas are broad enough to encompass a whole spectrum of people, but you really need to define your target audience and understand them completely. By focusing on one specific group of people, you’ll find your own voice and direction is much clearer.


Creating a conference is bigger than you, even if this is just your idea or brand. Working with a team of amazing people who you can count on and will share the load is really what it’s about.

Other aspects of your work that would be interesting to creative practitioners and aspiring product/business makers?


I’ve said it twice, I’ll say it again: relationships. Cultivating relationships is the single-most important part of a creative career. You will be a much better person for seeking mentorship and connecting with your creative peers. They will teach you more than you can imagine.


The reason why we are doing this in the first place is because of The Secret Handshake and Form and Future. This is interesting for the students and young creators, because the content is so strong. How did the best designers do it? What did they do to get to where they are today? How do they define success?

How do the cities of Chicago and San Francisco contribute to your work? And what makes each special for startups/business/creativity-at-large?


San Francisco is obviously a huge tech hub, and that’s a big part of what people hear. It’s the “new Silicon Valley.” I’m more interested in the less-discussed side of San Francisco, the part of the city that still fosters artists and creatives and entrepreneurs who aren’t exactly tech-focused. Rena Tom, the founder of Makeshift Society, really opened my eyes to that part of our city. Personally, San Francisco contributes to my work by it’s incredible weirdness and beauty. There’s such a rich and conflicting history here, and it’s really interesting to live here right now. I hope the city can find a way to support its artists and residents without just catering to the ultra-rich.


I am very pro-Chicago. I think it’s no where as visible as New York City, or San Francisco, but there are amazing things happening here, as well as amazing talent.


Posted By
Nick Lush

BBG Sneak Peek of the Museum Of Science and Industry Treasures Of Walt Disney Archives Exhibition

Bright Bright Great had the absolute privilege to attend the Museum of Science & Industry‘s opening gala for their upcoming “Treasures of Walk Disney Archive” exhibition. We extend our gratitude to the Museum for giving us a sneak peek as urge you to attend because it was absolutely amazing. From original sketches and paintings to sculptures and costumes that you wont see anywhere else.

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Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Help Us Name The Secret Handshake & Form & Future Conference 2014!


The Secret Handshake and Form + Future team up to create a conference in 2014. And we’re looking to you to help us name it.

The creators of The Secret Handshake + Form and Future are teaming up to bring design students and designers a conference packed with incredible speakers and workshops about professional development. The first conference is set in San Francisco Spring 2014, followed by Chicago later in 2014.

We have an amazing team of dedicated people to make this thing happen, but we want your help to name this conference. Tweet your names to @secrethndshk.

If we pick your name, you can win a free ticket to either the Chicago or San Francisco conference.

*We are looking for name ideas by EOD (5p Oct 22)

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Bright Bright Great Presents: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Wed Oct 23, 8p

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Join us for our annual scary movie night at the BBG offices in Avondale as we view the 1984 CLASSIC, A Nightmare on Elm St. Come hang out and watch one of the best horror movies of all time. We’ll provide some snacks and popcorn.

Wednesday, October 23 – 8pm – 18+ FREE, BYOB
Arrival 8pm, movie starts at 8:30pm sharp.

Bright Bright Great – 4131 W. Belmont Ave. #D, Chicago, Illinois 60641

Posted By
Jason Schwartz