Margot Harrington at WMC Fest, 2012

Talking to Margot about WMC-Fest

by Nadine Nakanishi | Jul. 7, 2014



Margot Harrington is a super active designer, entrepreneur, creative, writer, and activist (in our opinion) in Chicago. She is awesome! We’ve been following her work for years. When the programming team, Stewart Scott-Curran and Margot, asked us to speak at the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest in Cleveland this year, we were super excited.

SZ: Margot, we know you from running Pitch Design Union and being active in our design and art community in Chicago. It’s exciting to see you in a curatorial position for the WMC Fest. You and Stewart are knee deep in programming this festival’s outcome. I remember clearly your post “On Listening“, and seeing this line-up come together is a good testament to “walk the walk, don’t talk the talk”. What have been the challenges so far?

MH: I think my biggest challenge has been making time to do promo. I’m notoriously bad at talking about what I’m doing publicly, even having a blog for so many years was focused on others’ work. And since WMC Fest is such a bootstrapped operation it’s forced me to grow some PR muscles. Also this year we started the process of booking speakers later than in other years, so there was less time to talk about it.

SZ: What do you hope to see happen in Cleveland?

MH: I don’t really have any doubts that this won’t be an awesome experience. There’s enough charming, smart, charismatic folks I’m so excited to see. But, I do hope to find time to sneak away to see the Cleveland Public Library, or a quick hop through the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art. A nice break away might be a great way to re-charge my introvert batteries. (Read Margot’s post on what she’s looking forward to at WMC-Fest).

SZ: This is not your first year at WMC Fest. Obviously, you have a longer commitment to this purpose, it’s quite rare to see that in design professionals. Do you agree that the need of staying relevant and up to the trend, sometimes counters a long-term involvement? How do you stay connected to long term causes?

MH: Hmm. Staying relevant might counter long-term involvement for some designers. But for me, I’d rather risk being a tardy when it comes to trends in favor of being able to be involved with something that is larger than I am. Trends come and go, but the chance to have a greater impact to a larger audience that’s more permanent is an honor. I will sign up for that as often as I can.

SZ: We’ve never been to Cleveland before, but think this WMC Fest is a good answer for growing up creativity ground up. As much as it’s an in -and-out kind of thing for out-of-towners, usually in our experience, we do make new friendships that end up being long term quite deep. How is that for you?

MH: Well, Cleveland parallels Chicago and the other smaller Midwestern cities like Detroit in a lot of ways, with a super-friendly, no-frills, industrial, heart-on-the-sleeve mentality. Cleveland immediately feels familiar to me because of it’s similarities to the rest of the Midwest—where I’ve lived for almost my whole life. My closest connection in the area is Joseph Hughes, who previously curated the speaker line-up before me & Stewart. We’ve a lot of trust and mutual support in each other, grown entirely off twitter, email, and WMC Fest. It’s because of him I even considered this role in the first place, and he’s definitely someone I’d feel privileged to be friends with long-term. As for the rest of the people, being able to meet and bond in a place with such easy expectations is a great unifier, and is something that goes home with you no matter where you live.

SZ: Thank you Margot. Needless to say, get your EARLY BIRD tickets and check out the program!!