Rise and Shine with CreativeMornings

5 min read

Given Brittany Mason’s work as art director here at Well Done, you could be forgiven for thinking she grew up with a passion for the creative arts. But that’s not exactly how she describes her early interest.

“I was just really bad at math and science,” Brittany says. “But nobody could tell me I was bad at art, because that’s just mean to do to a child.”

Trust us, she’s being modest about her talent. But modesty is a character trait she showed often over the course of our conversation about her work running the Indianapolis chapter of CreativeMornings, a lecture series that has grown to include 173 cities around the world.

She didn’t exactly intend for all that to happen. Her time in Indy was only meant to be temporary—until, that is, she fell in love with the city. We sat down and talked to Brittany about CreativeMornings, Indianapolis, and how to make new friends.

How’d you end up in Indianapolis?

Right after college, I had an internship in Los Angeles, and it was great. I learned a lot, like the fact that I didn’t want to work at an ad agency in Los Angeles.

So my job search took me back to the Midwest, where I’d grown up. When I first moved here, it was because I’d accepted a job at an agency in Chicago. They wanted me to start at their Indianapolis office before transferring me in. And then at my one year review, they asked if I was ready to talk about going to Chicago, and I said no—actually, I really like where I am.

What changed your mind?

The people. Over that year I began meeting a lot of cool people doing a lot of cool things. And Indianapolis is an incredibly accessible city. If you’re doing something good, it’s easy to find people to help you accomplish it.

I also joined the Speak Easy, which is where I met Denver Hutt, the executive director. That was a big connection. And the Speak Easy actually is what made me feel like I belonged in Indianapolis. It’s where I met designers like Ryan Hunley and Amy McAdams, who helped me plug into the creative community here.

And I also got reacquainted with Rita Troyer, who started the Indianapolis CreativeMornings chapter. When I moved to Indy, she was one of only two people I knew, so I just straight up asked her—will you be my friend. When she contacted CreativeMornings’ Headquarters to start one here, I was excited to help.

Rita really pioneered it in Indy, and I acted as her right-hand woman, taking care of logistics and finding partners to provide coffee and donuts. That’s one of the three rules from Headquarters—you have to provide coffee at events.

Brittany Mason and the Dream Team

When you took over from Rita, was there anything that surprised you?

A lot of things—first, just how much work it is. I thought I was doing a lot before, but I really came to appreciate how much Rita was doing to find speakers, prepare slideshows, prepare introductions. There’s a team that’s in control of some of those pieces, but you also have to make sure everything syncs up.

But what really surprised me was the number of brilliant, talented people in Indianapolis who have no problems meeting with me for coffee to talk about CreativeMornings, and who put in the time to prepare amazing talks. Nobody’s ever asked me, how much does this pay? The creative community in Indianapolis has been so generous, and it’s stunning.

And then there are the people who are excited to help, including my core Dream Team who I rely on a ton. I can’t believe how much people still constantly ask how they can get involved. CreativeMornings is supported by this sea of people who pitch in to make it work, from volunteers to our venue and coffee partners to the speakers themselves.

How do you choose your speakers?

Headquarters gives every chapter the themes for the entire year, which are chosen by individual cities. So for instance, Montréal might choose Moment, and Prague might choose Robot, and then every chapter has a talk around that theme. But it’s always very broad—the themes spark ideas, but they’re not meant to be restrictive.

So our team will write down the themes on our big board, then write down all the people, industries, and ideas we want to feature, and start looking for connections. Who’s our first pick to talk on which theme? We also try to keep a conscious eye on the bigger picture of Indianapolis. Indy’s such a diverse city, so we want to find people that represent that.

Although these events are free, attendees do need to claim tickets, and you almost always sell out. Why do you think there’s such a hunger in Indianapolis for CreativeMornings?

It’s the community. I have no idea how or why it’s happened, and I take zero credit for it, but Indianapolis has really latched on to CreativeMornings as something it wants to support. I think part of that is simply because we’re one of the few free events where we’re not trying to sell something—there’s no pitch at the end. You just come, hang out, and hear a cool talk.

People believe in it—from the core volunteers to the day-of team to the partners who regularly help make it a success, and I couldn’t do any of it without them. But what I’m most excited about is to see where it’s going. There’s something really cool building within that community, and I’m not sure yet how we’re going to harness it. But I think everyone who leaves these talks leaves so amped up on caffeine and inspiration they’re ready to get back out and change the world.