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Tina Essmaker, Editor In Chief, The Great Discontent

Photo by Collin Hughes

Not only did our cool cred get a serious upgrade by chatting with The Great Discontent’s Tina Essmaker, but so too did our boldness and creative spirit. It had to happen: TGD is about transforming ennui into action, and the amazing things that can result when you just. do. it. Filled with inspiring conversations with artists, makers and risk-takers, via long-form interviews, short features, film-based projects and events, TGD is itself an example of what Essmaker calls “run to the roar” — a stare-down with fear that leaves you stronger and better than before.

We’re thrilled to have The Great Discontent team sharing their favorite products on Kit, including essential reads, their photography toolkit and a gift guide for grads — and to have had our own inspiring conversation with a creative force:

At the Great Discontent, you profile “artists, makers and risk-takers.” Name three things you’ve learned from the people you’ve interviewed so far.

No one really knows what they’re doing, so don’t let them fool you. We’re all figuring it out as we go along.

If you don’t ask, the answer will definitely be no. Ask for what you want and you might be delightfully surprised.

There’s no magic to the creative process. It’s about practicing every day, whatever your craft. That’s how you find your voice, how you get better, and how you create opportunities for yourself. You create your own momentum by doing the work.

Photo by Collin Hughes

It sounds like The Great Discontent is named after a feeling that could propel someone to take action to reach another level of existence. How did you come to identify this feeling in yourselves and how did you turn it into something creative and productive?

It certainly is! We didn’t need to identify this feeling — we always knew it was there. It was more about identifying what to do with that feeling. Feelings of discontent can leave you paralyzed if you dwell on the feeling versus embracing that discontent and allowing it to propel you forward.

We decided to embrace our great discontent, knowing we’d likely never be fully satisfied or content and, instead, focus on channeling it into a project, which evolved into The Great Discontent.

I think everyone experiences some level of discontent. If you’re in that place now, ask yourself how you can channel that energy into something productive and then make a plan and act on it. What do you want to do? What resources do you have at your disposal to do it? Is there someone you can collaborate with? Go for it!

For those of us who flirt with risk-taking and creativity, but would like to be more bold, what advice would you give us?

Run to the roar. This advice was given to me by a mentor many years ago. From time to time, I struggle with being afraid that I’m making the right decision, especially when it’s a big, life-changing decision. When you run to the roar, you run toward that thing that is so very scary and confront it head-on. Often it’s not as scary in reality as you imagined it to be.

What would you put in a TGD Reads kit?

A few of our favorite magazines! You can take a peek in our TGD Reads Print kit.

What’s something personal you’d put in a “Tina” kit that would surprise people who know you?

I’m pretty open to those who know me well, so I’m not sure they’d be surprised by anything. I do love tennis shoes, so I’d curate a kit of my dream tennis shoes. I recently bought the Nike Roshe One Diamondback in Bright Crimson Red, and I prefer those to heels any day!

Show us your emoji!

Wonderful, Tina, thank you!

Don’t forget to follow The Great Discontent on Kit — all the cool kids are doing it!

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