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Creative Careers : Chris Dunmire Interview

Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews

Humorist & Creativity Enthusiast Chris Dunmire

By Molly Anderson-Childers

Chris's Cartoony ChickenToday, I am interviewing Chris Dunmire, the creative powerhouse behind Creativity Portal. In addition to publishing this site, Chris also spends her days teaching art workshops for kids, coaching creative souls in need of help, and working on her sister sites — (more about them at the end of the article!) And in her free time, she also does freelance graphic design for a select handful of clients. Thanks for joining us today, Chris! It's great to have a Creative Goddess such as yourself in the "hot seat!"

Q: As publisher of Creativity Portal, you wear many different "hats" every day. Can you walk us through a day in the life of the Creativity Portal site? What does your typical day, or your schedule for the week, entail?

A: You're right Molly, I do wear many hats, but thankfully I don't wear them all! On any given day I wear the hats of creative director and publisher AND writer, graphic artist, humorist, marketer, Web designer, and content developer. A typical day is always a full-time effort with publishing and promoting new content on the Creativity Portal, developing new features, writing and answering e-mails, compiling our bi-weekly e-newsletter, and exploring new Web sites and blogs to share with our readers.

Q: Do you have any other projects — ongoing, or in the future — that you'd like to share with our readers?

A: I have a perpetual list of creativity related projects going on all the time. In January, I started teaching kid's artshops at Womanspace in Rockford, Illinois — art workshops for kids using material developed for my Creative Slush Playbooks series. These courses are also linked in with the local Girl Scouts program catalog, so troops can take my courses to earn merit badges. In addition to my year-round offerings, I have two new special courses lined up for the holiday season.

Also, in September, I'm launching a new creativity group with a core band of co-facilitators called the Creative Sparks to meet the growing need for support and encouragement in our creative community. I'm highly geared up for this opportunity to use my creativity coach training in a very hands-on, personal way with others.

Q: Do you also have a day job, or is this enough to keep you busy full-time?

A: I also do freelance graphic design work for select clients. For the most part though, between my Web projects, workshops, and playbook writing, I keep plenty busy.

Q: Can you give me a portrait of the typical Creativity Portal reader?

A. Every Creativity Portal reader is suavely literate, intelligent, attractive, wise, and good-humored. And if they visit often, they have good taste.

Q: Tell our readers where you started. What was your first job as a young woman?

A: My first payroll job was a "pizza artist" for a small town pizzeria when I was 15. Actually, that's a fancy way for saying pizza maker for a tiny kitchen that delivered pizzas from the basement of a restaurant/bar combo. Though I wasn't quite rolling in the dough, this inaugural job taught me all kinds of valuable skills that'd go on to serve me well: how to make change for a dollar in my head, how to give restroom directions to a drunk person, how to tell fake phone orders from real ones, and how to keep my hands from getting squished in the dough-rolling machine. My sister, who also worked in the pizza kitchen for a short time, did not learn that last one so well.

Q: When and how did you decide on a career in Web publishing? Did your education prepare you for this, or did you — like so many others I've spoken to — go to school for a completely different career before realizing what you really wanted to do in this life?

A: My degree is in graphic design and I decided on a career in Web publishing after leaving behind 7 years of Corporate America and 9 years of various private-label jobs which includes this resume of titles: Marketing Support Analyst, Technical Support Writer, Inventory Analyst, Microfilm Developer, Graphic Artist, Web Developer, and Web Designer.

Q: Can you discuss some of the challenges you faced during your journey? How did you overcome those obstacles? What is the biggest challenge you face in your career today?

A: Before the Creativity Portal became a self-sustaining entity (its first 3 years online), I wondered if the 'labor of love' effort I was putting into it was worth it. The project wasn't always easy to tend to after a long, grueling day at the office, but I pressed on because I knew it had potential, and based on the feedback I was getting, I knew it was making a positive impact on people's lives — and in particular, in my life. The pay-off (not always monetary) began after I realized the more I invested, the more the sites' success perpetuated. has been online for 8 years now, and the biggest challenge I face as a Web publisher today with the Internet's constantly changing technologies, gimmicks, and fads, is being true to my core values and vision while doing things honestly and with integrity for my visitors and partners when a good number of others are in for it for the quick buck. I've spent years building relationships with others in the creative community and I know that one component of the sites' success is my approach to working co-creatively with others instead of in competition to them.

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