Spark & Fire

By WaitWhat

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Category: Arts

Open in Apple Podcasts

Open RSS feed

Open Website

Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 22
Reviews: 0


Creativity. It’s as mysterious and elusive to humans as love. We stalk it. We crave it. We try to bring it out in ourselves. 

Every creative work you’ve ever loved has a hero’s journey behind it. Whether it’s a book or a building. A movie, a mural, a musical. It starts with a spark. Then: Endless iteration. Inevitable setbacks. Magical people who appear to help. And the breakthrough idea — that takes on a life all its own. 

On Spark & Fire, for the first time ever, you’ll hear what was happening in the mind of a creator as they brought their iconic work to life. But this isn’t an interview show. It’s a story — told entirely in the artist's own words — against the backdrop of originally composed music of the prepared piano. 

In Season One, you’ll hear from Yo-Yo Ma on the Silk Road Project, director Rian Johnson on making Knives Out, Isabel Allende on The House of the Spirits, Kemp Powers on Pixar’s Soul, architect Thomas Heatherwick on The Vessel, choreographer Bill T. Jones on Afterwardsness, book designer Chip Kidd on the cover of Jurassic ParkHomegoing author Yaa Gyasi on Transcendent Kingdom, executive producer Kamilah Forbes of the Apollo Theatre, Susan Orlean on The Orchid Thief and more.

With host June Cohen — cofounder of WaitWhat, former executive producer of TED Talks and co-host of the TED conference — in her first hosting role since TED.

What really happens on the road to success? You’re about to find out. Let these epic stories spark your own creative journey. 

Spark & Fire is a WaitWhat original series in exclusive partnership with Skillshare.

Episode Date
Chip Kidd on the "Jurassic Park” book cover

What do you do when you’re stuck? Something else. Designer Chip Kidd got a dream assignment: Create the book cover for a soon-to-be-blockbuster: Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. Oh, and make it iconic. When the pressure to perform is that high, it's easy to get creatively paralyzed. Chip recounts exactly how he got started and how he got unstuck — over and over — on the journey to create one of the best-known book covers of the 20th century. He tells the story in his own fast-paced, funny, pointed words, with lots of smart, actionable advice for anyone setting out on their own creative quest.

Follow along (transcript and lots of pictures) at

Bio: A longtime book designer for Knopf, where he designed the cover for Jurassic Park and hundreds more books, Chip Kidd is the author of two novels, two non-fiction titles and a study of Batman. Follow him at @ChipKidd

Jan 12, 2021
Susan Orlean on writing "The Orchid Thief"

How do you move past a creative crisis? Apply pressure. From the moment she heard about it, Susan Orlean knew she had to tell the story of "The Orchid Thief" – a wild, true story of obsession set in the swamps of Florida. But somewhere deep in the telling, she risks losing her own footing. Spark & Fire follows Susan as she pursues the story that "set her brain on fire," pushing past a creative crisis to write the magazine article and then book that in turn inspired the film "Adaptation." She tells her story in her own incisive, honest and very funny words – with insider details you haven’t heard, and actionable advice for anyone at any stage of their creative journey.

Susan Orlean is a journalist and nonfiction writer who became a staff writer at the New Yorker in 1992. Her works of literary nonfiction include The Orchid Thief and The Library Book. She has a wildly entertaining Twitter feed: @susanorlean

Follow along (with transcript and photos) at

Jan 05, 2021
Kemp Powers on Pixar’s Soul

How do you create an authentic character? Start with your authentic self. When Kemp Powers joined the writers' room at Pixar, he found a story waiting to be told ... anchored within his own story. Spark & Fire follows Kemp on his own hero's journey of co-writing and co-directing Soul, Pixar's first film with a Black protagonist, from his first trip to the Pixar campus to his development of the main character – and his passionate pitch for the beloved barbershop scene that nearly got cut from the film. Hear Kemp tell the story in his own frank and funny words, with creative insights for anyone trying to choose the projects that will matter most.

Kemp Powers is a screenwriter, playwright (One Night in Miami), director and veteran journalist. Follow him on Twitter at @Powerkeni

Follow along (with transcript and photos) at

Jan 05, 2021
Introducing ... Spark & Fire

Every creative work you've ever loved has a hero's journey behind it. The first spark. The endless iteration. The inevitable setbacks. The magical people who appear to help. And the breakthrough idea.

On each episode of Spark & Fire, an iconic creator tells their own story about the crooked path to creation. No host. No interview. It's the creator – entirely in their own words – against the backdrop of original music for the prepared piano. 

In this trailer, you’ll hear Season 1 guests, including the book designer Chip Kidd, author Susan Orlean, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, novelist Isabel Allende, screenwriter Kemp Powers, architect Thomas Heatherwick, and the choreographer Bill T. Jones. And look forward to episodes with director Rian Johnson, Homegoing author Yaa Gyasi, Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes, artist Mark Bradford and more…

What really happened to them on the road to success? You’re about to find out.

Spark & Fire is a WaitWhat original series in partnership with Skillshare.

Dec 10, 2020