INTERVIEW: BLAINE HOGAN
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My wife and I both went to theatre school. She's now a writer and I'm a creative director. We've got two girls - Ruby is 3 1/2 and Eloise just turned 1. Our house is LOUD!
Can you tell us a little about when you knew you would be working in the Creative industry?
I was 9 when I did my first play, The Wizard of Oz. It was a tiny community theatre production but I knew from that moment I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to tell stories.
What does a general work-week as the Creative Director of Willow Creek look like?
It's a mix of planning meetings, production meetings, ideating, and executing. At any given time there are 3 or 4 projects (if not more) in any one of the stages I just mentioned. I try to really be careful to protect my ideating and executing time as that's what I try to do best. It's hard though. Unless I'm performing or directing a piece on the weekend, my job is really 9-5, Monday-Friday.
What does your Creative workload for the Christmas season generally look like?
We start planning in July / August. We start by talking about what themes we're interested in; we ask a lot of questions: What is God doing in me? What is God doing in our community? From there we begin to craft the story, trying to decide what part of the story we want to tell. Do we want to focus on the shepherds, the wisemen, etc. This year, we're taking a bit of a classic approach and telling the story from Luke of Mary, Joseph, and the Angel. There are a lot of live elements that will feel very theatrical but also cinematic. I'm so inspired by Danny Boyle and his ability to do amazing work on stage and screen. Right now we're in the edit process having just finished shooting video content and this week we'll start rehearsals!
Can you tell us a little about some of your side projects? (ie: Common Mug & Make Better)
Our Common Mug came about because my friend and I wanted to make something together but he was in San Francisco and I was in Chicago. We spent a weekend together dreaming up ideas with the core thought that whatever we did must be an expression of relationship. We love coffee and we missed each other...a mug that we would share seemed perfect! We've since sold the company and the brand: Our Common Goods and are helping to jumpstart that initiative. Our Common Mugs are on sale right now for Christmas.
Make Better is more of a passion project. I love to teach, I love to tell stories, and I believe that for people to make better art they must first become better people. I'm learning this every. single. day. As much as I'm teaching others to do this, I'm learning it myself.
Why do you think it is important for Creatives to have side projects?
I think we need to constantly be pulled out of our comfort zone and side projects are essential for this. We need to take risks, try new things, be inspired by other mediums and genres. Unless we have side projects, it is very easy to get stuck.
What was your inspiration behind Make Better?
My life really. My life continues to teach me that if I want to make good art I must work just as hard at being a good human. A life of trauma, theatre school, a master's in theology, and therapy has led me to this belief. Now I'm attempting to create a process where others can come on this kind of journey.
What does it mean to "Make Better?"
Making better is about becoming a more whole, integrated person.
In your opinion, what is it that keeps Creatives from living better lives?
Self-awareness. Most of us lack the self-awareness needed to understand ourselves on deep levels. When we don't see ourselves well it's hard to have a robust and integrated life.