I had the privilege of attending a creative meetup in Baltimore at the end of August courtesy of Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play and Kara Johnson, creator of a blog called A Creative Reality. After meeting at a blogging conference,these two dynamic women conceived and created the Cone Collective, a group for the benefit of uniting creative people. And I am a happy creative member. Named after the famous art collecting sisters whose collection comprises a whole wing at the BMA, they’ve created a club of creatives and throw parties, or meet-ups, for all of us to meet one another and be creatively inspired. I was there for this 5th meetup and it was held in the Spur Design Studio in my former hood of Hampden. ( I will delight you with pictures of our quick spin on the Avenue in my next post.)

Jennifer’s on the left.
Spur Design Studio was super cool.
Prints for sale
Everywhere I looked there was pretty

There were guest speakers on several aspects of being a professional creative. Andrea Pippins names her co-panelists and sums up her panel participation and her walk away inspiration wonderfully on a post on her Flygirlblog. Other guest ‘discussers’ were Caroline Urdaneta, blogger and Mom of four, who’s Salsa Pie creative kid crafts projects are now mini videos produced by PBS. She and her videos are very sweet. And the young Alisa, location director for Raw Baltimore, a showcase event for all sorts of artists, many of whom need promotional help for their art and through these events, they get to shine.

Here’s two thoughts I took away. Video is the now thing. And don’t underestimate your value to large brands. Ms. Jennifer is blogging for the likes of Pepperidge Farms and Disney. And she too has gotten a video opportunity with PBS. And she believes in pay it forward. These are bloggers who are hard at work and still are making the time to be here for the rest of us. Stellar gals all of them.

Today, I wanted to share the questions and answers from Jennifer about why she organizes these meet-ups, what drives her, and if there’s such a thing as enough?

Cone Collective Meet-up/Questions for Jennifer:

Me : This is your fifth meet-up? What is your reward in continuing to organize these meet-ups? Is there a personal satisfaction or a professional perk in doing this?
 Jennifer : A bit of both. Professionally it was good for me to get out there in front of people. It’s not always something I’ve been great at. It also gave me (insight) into just how difficult it is to pull off events and pull them off well. As far as personal satisfaction goes, I crave the energy that comes from hanging out with other creative types.
As far as reward, it’s really comes down to those personal connections I’ve made. I know, so self serving, right?! It also makes me happy to hear that other people got something out of it too.
During the panel discussion, I noticed everyone agreed they were “happy” after answering the question about sacrifice to make the creativity happen/pay-off. What is your definition of “enough” success or creative productivity? And what’s the relativity to the happiness factor? Can you be happy in the process?

Ooh, you ain’t pulling any punches are you? Okay, full honesty here: I don’t know if there’ll be “enough” creative productivity. At least, for right now, at this particular point in time, I can’t envision what it’d look like. I’m still in the process of discovery and becoming. Maybe that’ll be a process that never ends. And the happiness, for me, comes with doing.  I’m not thinking of things I could be doing, I’m doing them. Granted, I’m not doing them all well (some of them are a right hot mess), but I’m doing.

I absolutely heard your “people said I’m clever” comment. Can you repeat that comment and explain why it’s not a compliment. Is what you really want to be recognized as talented or capable? What is that?

You know how we all have something that bugs us? Something that’s not entirely rational? That clever thing is one of them. It’s silly, but to me, it sounds diminutive. So yeah, I suppose what I wanted was to be recognized for being talented or creative. Clever reminds me of some sly fox, and we all know the sly fox is the butt of the joke in the story.

Is the drive to be successful, as with many of us, a need not to be seen solely as a Mom (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? Or is it the fear of non-achievement, illegitimacy, or incapability that drives us?

Hmm… I’m not sure. It’s kinda hard to psychoanalyze myself, but I think it’s two-fold. First, I really do want to help make people’s lives better. That’s the empathy component. And the more successful you are, the more people you reach, and the more change you can affect in people’s lives. (Maybe that’s a God complex? I hope not, because that’d be a huge burden) Second, yeah, I suppose it’s that I have an aversion to being defined by such rigid constraints. We could look into that further but I’m afraid you’d have to charge me a therapy fee.

Was there a point, after you’d busted your hump to establish a product and presence, when you could relax a little?

Not yet. In fact, and this is something I’m struggling with now, but it’s had a snowball effect. The more work I produce, the more work I seem to have. I don’t want to complain right now though because after taking so many years off to raise the kids, it’s amazing to have the work. But I do fear I’m starting to spread myself too thin.

            What do you think about the balancing act of being mother and artist? How do you balance being good mother and productive artist?

I love this question. I love it because I think that by being a productive artist, I’m showing my kids that their art (and I use that term broadly) is important too.

Thanks again Jennifer for your efforts and your time. Many people aren’t as nice. I wonder why?
I am thankful to Jennifer and Kara for their dedication to other creatives. And I agree wholeheartedly that it’s in talking and communicating with one another that we are inspired to up the ante on our creativity. We become inspired and accountable to people in a way that you don’t and can’t conceive of sitting behind your computer screen. And what I didn’t mention to her, or anyone save my husband and a friend or two, is that I’m thinking that this epidemic of meet up events may need to land a spell on the Eastern Shore. And I know just the gal to pull something like that off.


  1. Great interview. Jen is the best!

    And, I can relate with her feeling about compliments that feel diminutive. It’s a pet peeve of mine too.

    Thanks so much Jen and Kara–it was a great event! And thanks for this write-up Shalagh!

    • Thanks Caroline, You are very sweet. I took away good stuff including your advice about not underestimating your value. And the realization there’s such a thing as Spanks. You know y’all were stalked by me but that seems to be the way it should be. Let’s hope it’s not the last time. Blog Ever Onward.

  2. Shalagh, I can’t live without my spanx ! 😉

    I’m glad there was a good bit of advice you could take from my rambling. I thoroughly enjoyed the event especially the panel at the end. Meeting you was also a highlight. AND, I have been stalking your blog today and all your talent here–so we are even. :))

    • Caroline, I was such a Cinderella. Here’s my card and buh bye. Seems my husband endured 2 straight hours of the screaming-in-car-baby for me that night. I experienced that scenario all day today (who knows with a 6 month old)but you have gone and made right up for that torture with the admitted stalking. Thank you so much. You are instant member of my good egg club.

Write A Comment