Browse through @PandaHeadMorgan‘s Instagram feed and you will instantly be attracted to her creative energy. Morgan Hungerford West (aka Panda Head Morgan) is not only a talented photographer, lifestyle blogger and content creator, she’s also the force and face behind #ACreativeDC – a popular local hashtag and @ACreativeDC – an Instagram Account (and a movement) that is taking the city by storm. Through the lens of A Creative DC, where photos from around town are curated daily, you’ll fall in love with the city all over again. And through spreading the word with #ACreativeDC, together we can give the creative community in the nation’s capitol a louder voice.
We had the opportunity to chat more with Morgan about her background, the idea behind A Creative DC and her aspirations for the future. It’s no wonder Nylon Magazine has referred to her online projects as “a virtual clubhouse [representing] D.C.’s creative class.” Now let’s get to the interview, shall we?
Q: Give us a brief background about yourself and what you currently do?
I’m an artist + creative consultant in D.C., specializing in online content creation. On any given day I could be taking photos for a food client’s Instagram feed or website, developing social media strategy for a retail client, or creating a large-scale decor installation for an event. I’ve kept a blog for the last ten years – Panda Head – and right now I’m heavily focused on the A Creative DC project, a documentary + resource of/by/for the various creative communities in Washington, D.C. It lives on social media @aCreativeDC and also online at www.aCreativeDC.com.
Q: How long have you lived in DC and in the time you’ve lived here, how have you seen the city change?
I grew up in Alexandria and my family’s print shop was in Blagden Alley from the late 60s until the late 90s. After the new Convention Center went up they relocated to Anacostia. I moved into D.C. proper in 2005 and I’ve lived in Adams Morgan the entire time. It’s changed enormously even just in the decade that I’ve lived here as an adult, and it’s especially funny to hang out in Shaw. Hungerford Printers to Fight Club to La Colombe is a strange but cool journey.
Q: Tell us how did you come up with the idea for A Creative DC? Was there an a-ha moment to start it?
I was reflecting towards the end of 2014 and making plans for the New Year and realized that there was a disconnect between what I was putting out on my blog and what I was showcasing on my Instagram feed. I’d been gearing my content more towards a national audience on Panda Head, but @pandaheadmorgan was all local, all D.C. Panda Head Blog actually started out as D.C. street style site – the first one, actually! – and I just realized it was time for me to sort of re-commit my platform to showcasing what goes on here.
Q: When did you start A Creative DC and how did you put ideas into action?
It launched the first week of January of this year, 2015. It’s still a baby! And it’s funny, I don’t know if I have a good answer for how I put ideas to action – I am of the mindset that an idea is a terrible thing to waste. My advice to anyone looking to get a project off the ground is to just start the project. Things will fall into place and formalize if you’re working hard and your head is clear.
Q: What are you doing to help A Creative DC grow and what can others do to get involved and participate?
The #aCreativeDC hashtag is where we pull most of our content – we love, love, love keeping an eye on what people are doing here. We’ve gotten so much feedback that people are using it as a resource and as a way to find out about new things and people and places and projects they might not otherwise be aware of. It’s so important to us that the project has as much perspective as possible. With 31,000 uses of the hashtag and counting, we consider each one a chapter in the diverse and ever-changing creative fabric of the city.
Q: What do you envision for the future of A Creative DC? Any big goals or ideas you’re dreaming up?
Right now we’re focused on curating + creating amazing blog and social media content, and before the end of the year we’ll launch an offline component as well. I’m lucky to work with an amazing team of women – Cortney Hungerford and Ayana Zaire. They both bring so much to the project and I’m excited to see where we’re at this time next year.
All photos by Morgan H. West.
Hat tip to Morgan and her team for being such an inspiration to our creative city and thanks again to Panda Head for taking the time to sit down to chat with us more!