Intelligentsia Coffee: Anna Zajac



Anna Zajac is a wedding photographer from Chicago who transplanted to the area three years ago from the suburbia of Cleveland, Ohio. She came for a design job, but has been shooting photos full time now for two years. She's also a proficient ceramics artist who enjoys quiet, breezy mornings alongside her cat Isaiah. I sat down with her for a coffee early on a nearby Monday to chat about her work, life and coffee habits.



What role does coffee play in your work, and what do you like to drink?

I think there’s a sense of community with coffee. When I’m meeting with a client or other creatives, it’s so important to have the together-ness that coffee shops provide. I usually like to get a cortado, but I also love to get a thoughtfully made pour over coffee.

What’s your morning routine?

At home, in the morning after I wake up, I feed my cat Isaiah, who’s my studio mate. I also water my plants, and make breakfast to eat at my desk. I usually edit first during the morning, and answer emails later.



What's special about Chicago creativity?

The focus on people. There's a sense of care in the work people do here. The location choices always amaze me for photos, film sets. The thoughtfulness and intention behind design choices, color schemes; everything is distinct to the area, and you can see it in finished work.

What do you think of Chicago’s creative community?

Creatives in Chicago are some of the best people ever. I think I take my community for advantage - everyone is so nice here and welcoming. Everyone is certainly competitive, but they’re competitive for excellence, as opposed to being competitive with each other. It’s not an ego thing; I think large egos are frowned upon here, which is what I love about the Midwest. People here want to make great work at the end of the day.



How does Intelligentsia affect that?

Intelligentsia provides a great space for people to meet. They’re a great example of what creative excellence is in Chicago, because they don’t settle. They only want excellence.

Describe your favorite day.

Waking up early, watching a sunrise on Lake Michigan, hosting someone over at my house for a meal, riding my bike, going to a campfire in someone’s back yard.

If you could put anything on your bike, what would it have?

My bike would have stereos on the back so I could play loud music, and it’d have a holder for smoothies. It’d also have a seat or side car on the back so I could ride my friends or my cat. 



What do you think is important to know if you’re Chicago? 

It’s important to know that if you’re a creative and you need help, people will help you. It’s okay to not know all the answers, and to explore to discover it. Chicago is a bit under the radar, because people aren’t watching you and you have more freedom to create.

What are some of some of your favorite spots in Chicago? 

For coffee, my favorite spot is the Intelligentsia in Logan Square. And I’m not just saying that because we're at Intelligentsia, either. My favorite bar is the offsite bar behind Longman and Eagle. My favorite place to get breakfast is also at Longman and Eagle. My favorite place to get desert is Tasty Freeze, not to be called just The Freeze. Favorite tacos are Antique Taco. 



You can view more of Anna's work at or on Instagram.  

This series is a project with Intelligentsia Coffee. You can learn more about them at