Calvin Carter

The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?

Calvin Carter: Calvin K Carter, 29, Designer, Microsoft Design Language

TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?

CC: It would be my interest of art and self expression—from those broad genres, music, dance and physical art work (installations, sculptures, and performance) are those I take the most joy and inspiration from. What's fascinating to me is that someone can manifest a choreographed scene, musical composition or combination of colours and materials from their perspective, life experiences, and dream/desire to share with others. Their art is an extension of themselves and their reality; through the experience of interacting with another's slice of reality, I find myself arriving at a place where I am compelled to also share how I see and interpret my existence.  

When someone puts together those choreographed dance pieces, musical compositions, or other meaningful artifacts, I see it as an opportunity to peek into their soul—who they are, what’s important to them, and in a way, what composes their identity. From that perspective, art in its various forms, is the root of an incredibly powerful opportunity be inspired and to take my day and fill it with as may opportunities to share my sight and perspective on world we share.

In my photography, I simply capture what catches my attention and the titles I assign are glimpses into what I felt either during the shoot or while I was walking and stopped to snap the pic. I have the reputation for my titling of photos and other artifacts with a caption that will either be straight to the point or invite you to see the picture in a way that's a bit more obscure—not so obvious. It also comes from my passion and interest in Art History. After years of studying art in the states and abroad—including how pioneers positioned themselves as the first designers and how graphic artist/communicators introduced their works to people with titles—I realized we are more informed and ready to respond to the works of others with new perspectives and understandings if we can pause, breathe and allow ourselves the luxury of seeing, and thus experiencing, art in another way.

TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?

CC: In a strange way, my professional every day work pushes me to be actively creative. My personal work affords a space and perspective that is untethered; this is very different from the focused constraints of my workspace. I'm allowed to explore at the pace and frequency in which the real world flows and moves. Working in the technology industry is challenging and has its own set of creative opportunities, but in a completely different way then being a “creative-creative”. So in a way, the most rewarding, uplifting, and memorable creative work comes from being involved in creative work/opportunities outside of my 9 to 5. With that said, producing an active work portfolio and personal portfolio feels a lot like having two full-time jobs that require you to perform and be present all the time. It is a bit difficult from a time perspective, but it's hella’ rewarding when you can share with others something that a ton of energy went into. And the actual creative opportunities and collaborations that happen are indeed memorable and mean so much more.

TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?

CC: Creatively, I would say in the morning. I’m a early bird, but only because I want/need to get started on my day—a grand don't come for free, so I'm intentional about taking advantage of the day to clear my to-do list. I find that I'm more efficient during the middle of the work day because it's nearing “crunch time”—the end of a work day is near, which means I'm one day closer to a deadline, one hour closer to when I should be meeting up with friends to catch up or further future creative collaborations. 

TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?

CC: As any creative goes, the idea of boxing in on one type of expression and or label is scary and sounds like death. So the future for me holds opportunities in learning and sharing explorations in fashion, music, painting, photography styles, and furthering different forms of story telling. With that said, I intend to reorganize and rebrand my creative platforms—specifically my creative work and photography. Those efforts will allow me to create, share, and make public will be captured in that space. These efforts will help to make a clearer distinction of the type of creative work I’m involved in as well as act as an opportunity to build my personal statements and brand as a creative. In the end, I hope to be in a spot where I’ve dabbled in and explored avenues that evolve my own perspective of the world and what it has to offer; each sun rise and set is a bit different, with its own story and lesson to tell; I want to be present for and actively engaging in learning those lessons.

TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?

CC: Funny you should ask. Above I spoke about the importance of collaboration. In my mind, collaboration is imperative to furthering our perspective, growing, and becoming better/different people for not only ourselves, but also for the good of others and our offering to the world. I’m in the middle of starting a group called “The Creative Council,” which will be a social meet up over dinner and drinks for a rotating set of twelve creatives (from any creative background—architecture, vocal artists, visual performers, business owners, chefs, dog groomers, etc.). The point will be to create a forum where people can connect and learn more about what people are creatively passionate about—what drives them forward and keeps their heart racing. Though I'm still working out the details, I’m collaborating with another creative to get this up and going. I'm really excited to have the chance to bounce ideas off of others, hear what’s new and worth knowing, and to get to know fellow creatives outside of my primary genre (traditional design).

To see The Creative Council to fruition, I'm having lots of conversations with other creatives to gauge interest, develop goals, and decide on forum style so that whatever I craft is something people will talk about and look forward to. Including collaborators outside of my primary circle enables me to take a much more informed position to execute The Creative Council, and allows for a richer experience for those who participate.  

TCUWhat scares you?

CC: Failing and the potential of being wrong. I’ve grown up with the embedded notion and believe that first impressions last and are defining. Therefore, every thing I do, say, and am involved in, I approach intentionally and do to the best of my ability. The silly thing that I’m realizing is when you’re filled with fear, you take baby steps—if you take steps at all. If you don’t move forward past your fears, you are stagnant and being still; no ground is gained. I'm more afraid of that than I am of failing, really. With a bright and shinning phrase like that, I would like to say I’ve completely concurred my fear of failing but that would be a lie. I’m working on making my steps count.

TCU: What does success mean to you?

CC: Success means that I can simply move on to the next thing, equipped with a story to tell with a friend over an Old Fashion. Also, having the feeling that I’ve grown in my craft somehow, positioning me to make the next thing greater/better. That's the foundation of my goals and the source of much joy.

TCU: Anything else you want to add?

CC: Sure, here's a bunch of unsolicited advice: 

If you have a passion or interest, go after it! Event if it’s asking someone who’s good at it how they do it. It's so easy to ask someone to grab coffee with you and explain that you want to know what they think about what they do. 

Also, don’t forget that what you do does define who you are in some ways; lots of people argue about the truth of that, but I contend that what we do matters because it contributes to your (and others') experiences. Be sure that whatever you're doing is what you would like to be known and remembered for. 

And be sure to work on your passions on the side of your full-time job if what you do from 9 to 5 isn’t your true passion. 

Look up and smile now and then. Take note of the things that wouldn’t normally grab your attention. Surprisingly, outside of our comfort zones, is where we actually grow and have the ability to be better for ourselves and the people we want to grow with/for.

"Don't sabotage yourself. There's plenty of other people to do that for free." —Jenny Lawson


If you want to learn more about Calvin, you can check out his design portfolio at, photography at and follow along on his Twitter/Instagram @calvinkcarter.