Creative Innovators with Gigi Johnson

Education Podcasts

Innovators and creators share stories of how they are changing the way that we create and reimagine in music, art, live events, virtual events, video, film, education, sciences, and social innovation. Interviewed by long-time change agent and interviewer Dr. Gigi Louisa Johnson, guests discuss their journeys of how they became passionate about innovation and transform various creative and social change sectors.


Monrovia, CA


Innovators and creators share stories of how they are changing the way that we create and reimagine in music, art, live events, virtual events, video, film, education, sciences, and social innovation. Interviewed by long-time change agent and interviewer Dr. Gigi Louisa Johnson, guests discuss their journeys of how they became passionate about innovation and transform various creative and social change sectors.








Creativity, Branding, Muppets, Yo Gabba Gabba, and other Career Adventures with Mike Polis

Mike Polis started and ended with animation and graphic novels and cool creative content. In between, he has run marketing for Yo Gabba Gabba, Jim Henson, and other adventures. Mike shares his stories of how he moved from desktop publishing after college to food marketing, to DVDs for Universal Studios, and into adventures with Kermit and other creative projects. He brings us to his present day, where he runs two types of organizations -- one producing with creative brands and one now...


I didn’t just have one thing . . . with Lafiya Watson Ramirez

From photography to musician websites to Flash to now AR, Lafiya Watson Ramirez combines visual and experience creation with storytelling. She tells her own story about how she moved from photography to web and interactive design into being inspired by Pokemon Go to pursue Augmented Reality (AR) through Snap Studios and a residency there. She shares some of her projects and her ideas for future projects. Guest: Multidisciplinary artist Lafiya Watson Ramirez Lafiya Watson Ramirez is a...


Bonus: Postcard Moments . . . with Gigi Johnson

We are in post-production on new episodes, so our host, Gigi Johnson, shared a story about "Postcards" and Postcard Moments that has come up in prior episodes and in many recent conversations. She shares how a single postcard created a pivot that changed her direction when a TA offered the suggestion that she apply for USC Film School after a single class. She challenges us to explore "postcards" in our lives -- both given and offered. She also suggests that postcards are all over past...


Simplifying Complexity for Indie Labels . . .with Bruno Guez

Bruno shares his saga from playing the drums and enjoying international music, mixing songs and culture from Tunisia, France, and LA. Those facets led to studying at UCLA Ethnomusicology, becoming a DJ at KCRW, and building a record label in his living room. He shared work in place-based music and compilation records, in building the sonic architecture of hotels, vacations, and clothing brands -- creating soundtracks to vacations and lifestyles. His own independent label became his...


Educated Luck and Building Digital Bridges . . . with Dick Huey

[Enjoy our podcast this week that we share with our sister Maremel Network podcast, Innovating Music, that has just launched its fifth year.] Dick Huey claims that his career jumps have been "educated luck." "Because they they are luck. And I'm, I'm I don't ever pretend that I have more information than everybody else does. But I think I'm good at identifying opportunity. So for me, this felt like opportunity. And I jumped at it. And then of course that launched a 25-year career in digital...


Architecture, Mars, and VR . . . with Alfredo Muñoz

Questions: How do we design for extreme conditions and resource challenges? Is that for Mars or Earth? Guest: Alfredo Muñoz, Architect; Founder; Onteco; Founder, ABIBOO Studio; Chair for Memberships of the Technical Committee of Space Architecture at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Digital twins? Space architecture? Alfredo Munoz combines astrophysics and architecture to let us pilot new ways of building in VR on Earth . . . as practice for Mars . . . to improve how...


Out on a Limb . . . with Darryl Hurs

Question: How can you build a rich creative life based on referrals and going out on a limb? Guest: Darryl Hurs, Owner/CEO, Indie Week; Managing Director, Downtown Canada; Director, Market Development, Canada, CD Baby; Educator, Harris Institute In this episode, Darryl Hurs shares his journey from studying music, working in retail at HMV, and being in a band to building a dynamic life in digital arts and music business through the reach of the people he has met and putting himself out...


Music + India . . . .plus Ritnika Nayan

Question: How do you connect independent artists and music business in India as a young woman? Guest: Ritnika Nayan, Managing Director, Downtown India; Owner: Music Gets Me High Ritnika Nayan shares stories about her passion: helping indie artists succeed and make money through various avenues that they might have been neglecting. She does that in her main role: Managing Director for Downtown India. That passion also connects her early love of Broadway musicals to working on college...


Building Campfires . . . with Arturo O'Farrill

Question: How can you build campfires, mixing music and social activism? Guest: Arturo O'Farrill, Founder, Artistic Director, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance; Professor, Global Jazz Studies, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Arturo O'Farrill builds campfires and connects music, activism, and community to build momentum to change his areas of passion in the world -- especially in New York. He shares with us the many projects he is working on,...


Asking for What You Want . . . with Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Question: What can you do with focus on drive in both toys and STEM? And what can a persistent Shirin Salemnia do? Guest: Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia, Founder and CEO, WhizGirls Academy and PlayWerks Shirin shares a passionate tale of drive, success with extreme persistence, and then designing new businesses to give back. She talks about her journey through college, Mattel, MGA/Bratz, and building her two current businesses. She didn't take no for an answer -- and said no many times to...


Making Sense Backwards . . . with Jeremy Yuille, Meld Studios

Question: How can life make better sense backwards? How can we weave together arts, spatial sound, architecture, and organizational change? Jeremy Yuille, with Meld Studios in Melbourne, Australia, works with organizations to transform how they work in the face of changing futures. His own past weaves through architecture, art, music, and spatial information architecture. He shares how systems thinking and sound impact organizations and change . . . and shares a weaving graphic on how all...


AR and Love of the Lab . . . with Ippolito Caradonna

Question: How can we use Augmented Reality to enhance the practice of collaborative biology? Guest: Ippolito Caradonna, Co-Founder/CEO, Aug Lab; Director, HoloPractice Ippolito Caradonna mixes his love for biology with his background in film and passion for assisted research. He is co-founding Aug Lab, an AR software interface for laboratory production that helps scientists traverse the complex topography of a lab. He shares with us how he first fell in love with molecular biology through...


Leaning Out Over His Skis . . . .with Jeremy Sirota, CEO, Merlin

Jeremy Sirota, Merlin Our first guest of Season 2 shares his tales of two loves: music and technology. His journey to Merlin includes early fandom in the Orange County punk rock scene, learning brand design in New York City while launching a mini fashion brand, and a road through technology law, Warner Music, and Facebook. He shares his adventures "leaning out over his skis" and growing outside of his comfort zone. He talks about relationships and "finding enough space that luck finds you."...


Welcome to Season 2!

Welcome to Season 2 of Creative Innovators. We're going to have intriguing guests this season. Our question to you: Who inspires you? Who would you like to see on the show? We have great folks recording now as guests, and we'd like to include creative innovators who inspire our community. Please reach out to us and let us know at Our Mission Through our guests’ stories, we aim to inspire current and future change agents who are creatives, entrepreneurs,...


That Was an Accident . . . with Martin Atkins

Question: How do you decide what adventures to take in your nonlinear career? What are intentional plans vs. accidents? Guest: Martin Atkins, Music Industries Coordinator, Millikin University; producer, drummer, documentary filmmaker, DJ, and teacher Photo: Kara Hammond and NARAS Martin Atkins talked with our host, Gigi Johnson, from his studio that also acts as a museum of all of the adventurous projects around his career. Martin shared how he began drumming at age 9 and persistently...


Tidbit Tuesday . . . Postcard Moments and Planned Happenchance

This was fun. Your host, Gigi Johnson, has been speaking for college classes this past week and kept being asked to tell her/my story of the pivot points and non-linear decisions over 9 careers. So in this Tuesday Tidbit segment, I share the story of how I changed into a film major at USC based on postcard from my teaching assistant for a single class. That changed my life and direction and those changes echo through my choices to this day. What postcards have you gotten in your life -- or...


A Very Human Culture . . . with David Hernandez

Question: What if you could build a company around your passions? In this episode, David Hernandez shares how he is unlearning and relearning what he knows to create competition for his company . . . in his own company! He runs Colonize Media, a multiplatform network music aggregator. He has worked to create “a very human culture” with his team of 30+ people and now works to “break artists from nothing.” Guest: David Hernandez, CEO, Colonize Media David Hernandez is the CEO and co-founder...


Tidbit Tuesday - What is a Creative Career?

Today starts the first segment of Tidbit Tuesday, which brings in parts of the Redesigning Your Creative Career program from What is a Creative Career? What are we talking about when we throw around the term “creative career”? This could be having a traditional career in a creative industry, or it could be doing something that has creativity in the actual job. In terms of being different from non-creative careers, they tend to recruit differently, and often you can build...


Ceremony and Story . . . with Beatie Wolfe

Question: What if you could pursue the creative projects that you already saw in the world? Guest: Beatie Wolfe, Singer, Songwriter, Technologist (Photo: Ross Harris) In this episode, Beatie Wolfe takes us through her creative journey to become the technologist and artist she is today. Back when she was 7 or 8, she began to imagine the “music books” (album covers) that she wanted over music and moved to reimagine the vinyl experience in her later work. She shares her journey through...


Welcome to Tuesday Creative Career Sessions

Starting next Tuesday, we'll be sharing parts of the career exploration programs to tie in with the non-linear career stories from each of these podcast interviews. We'll be sharing each week on Tuesdays a bit of the programs we have been working on for a few years with groups on how to expand your creative career, using examples from past and future interview episodes. Listeners can continue the programs for free in our online program spaces and can share them with...