The Creative Stories Project: Around Town with Craig and Jason

The past couple of months have been a little crazy, so please accept my sincere apology for the radio silence over here. I had to cancel photoshoots/hang out sessions with CSP features due to a family emergency and just didn't have the energy to post in the chaos. Fortunately, all the incredible creatives I've been scheming with were more than understanding and will be seen here in the near future! 

This project was meant to be an exploration of the Chicago creative scene in all of its forms. Following some of the traditional maker posts, I thought it was a good time to step back from goods and services, and meet with some Chicagoans who could give me, and you dear readers, a glimpse of everyday life in a specific neighborhood. I'd been aching to do a home portrait session while chatting and learning more about the city and somehow talked my friends, Craig and Jason, into agreeing. Plus, they're both just ridiculously good looking, so who's going to oppose a post like that?!

Craig, an Assoc. Creative Direction, and Jason, a Sr. Art Director, have the cutest little apartment in the Ukrainian Village that they share with their pooch, Lola, a greyhound who spends most of her days napping on a luxurious doggy bed. I joined them at their place to catch up, walk the neighborhood, and get to know some of their favorite local spots.

I met Craig and Jason through mutual friends years before my husband and I moved to Chicago and managed to stay in contact. However, as acquaintances go, I didn't really know much about them or the neighborhood and wanted to change that. 

Hailing from Illinois and Missouri, respectively, the two studied design at the University of Missouri before moving to Chicago, and have been residing in their current neighborhood for about 7 years. Craig's sharp wit and Jason's ever-comforting calm are just two characteristics that make them so fun to be around. When they're not working on design campaigns for big name businesses, they're enjoying their hood, with opinions to share on many of the best places to eat and shop.

Shop Small (Craig and Jason's favorite eats/coffee/& shopping):

Chicago Favorites:

Thanks, guys, for letting me follow you around town and grill you on the best neighborhood spots! Readers, have any other spots in the area you want to share? Leave 'em in the comments! 

The Creative Stories Project: Photographer Andrew Klass

The new year's underway and February is upon us. It's been unseasonably warm here in the Midwest, and was, oddly enough, raining rather than snowing when I met up with today's maker at a coffee shop in Wicker Park in early January. To say I'm excited about this month's spotlight is an understatement. Andrew Klass, a fellow photographer, was gracious enough to allow me take pictures of him taking pictures of his subjects. If that doesn't sound a little weird, I don't know what does. So, thanks, Andrew, for letting me be weird! 

Another chance encounter on Instagram, I was immediately taken with Andrew's simple, yet moving, images of everyday life. Specifically, his collection featuring coffee. When I thought of images of coffee, I imagined pristine mugs used as a framing device in a perfectly curated Instagram feed with other items delicately placed just so, and rarely as the center of celebration. But Andrew's work was different. It projected an intense appreciation for coffee, and the environment the coffeeshop offers, which is such huge part of Chicago's culture. 

Photographs by Andrew Klass

Photographs by Andrew Klass

And that's where meeting and talking with Andrew got even more interesting because he's recently been named lead photographer for Intelligentsia Coffee here in Chicago. He spends his days studying highly trained baristas turning their art and patrons relaxing, working, and reaping the benefits, in order to capture the perfect moments where these worlds collide. To capture the essence and importance of the coffeeshop in any given neighborhood. 

Born and raised in New York, Andrew traveled around the country a bit before putting roots down in the Midwest. After briefly attending art school in Iowa, Andrew relocated to Chicago and started exploring various visual art mediums, settling in with a camera to see what moved him. 

Stopping at Barista Parlor in Nashville (a favorite shop of mine when stopping in Tennessee on my way to Atlanta), he had the opportunity to meet one of the owners of the shop and talk coffee. He reflected on the experience as career changing. He saw that passion and wanted to learn about the origins, the process, and get involved with the people. He began shooting coffee regularly on his own, and when the opening appeared for a photographer at Intelligentsia, he took the chance. He's since worked in multiple locations, cities, and even countries to capture the experience!

Meeting with Andrew was not only fun but also inspiring. He has the can-do attitude that sometimes gets lost in the process for creatives struggling to find a fit and passion. It's refreshing to meet someone who's self-taught and successful and still maintains such optimism. His devotion to visual art, in all its forms, and his continued curiosity, has no doubt helped him find his niche and shine. And that's fortunate for us, because who doesn't want a bit of sublime in the form of an image of the most ordinary?

Take a peek at Andrew's site, and be sure to follow along on Instagram to see his beautiful images of coffee on the regular. 

Photographs by Andrew Klass

Photographs by Andrew Klass

*All images by Andrew Klass have been noted accordingly.