We spend a lot of time talking about how important creativity is to marketing and design, but we don’t often get to explore our team’s purely creative side and the rich creative lives we live outside of work. In this post, we introduce you to the personal creative side of each of our team members…and yes, talk a little bit about how it helps us at the office. But really, it’s more about the pretty pictures, folks ;).
President & Brand Strategist
I practice street photography as my main creative outlet. Street photography is the practice of taking candid photographs of people, objects and situations with no posing and little preparation. It’s a little like improv photography, as you’re forced to be hyper-aware of your surroundings, in the moment, and empathic to what is going on around you. It’s a fast, challenging, and rewarding way to take photographs.
What I like the most about photography is that the goal with taking each photo is to tell a self-contained story, which directly relates to what I do at work. Everything we do involves telling clear, powerful stories.
Creativity to me is the response to being in a box. I think that taking street photos forces me to work in a “box” of time pressure, unpredictability, and empathy. No matter the art form, the best creativity happens as a response to restrictions or challenges. I’ve learned that not having the perfect set of resources and struggling with time pressure, or whatever you may think are impediments to success, is where the best creativity happens–adversity promotes creativity.
My creative hobby is music. I enjoy playing with some local musicians who are kind enough to let me sit in, but I also get a lot of enjoyment out of playing on my porch or in my living room when I get home at night. Not only is it very meditative and relaxing, but it also drives everything else out of my mind. There is no way to be “out of the moment” when playing music–if you’re not concentrating, it comes out as mush. I’m a big believer that creativity truly originates from “in-the-moment” spaces, and music suits that perfectly. Especially when playing with others.
The instruments I like to play the most are the guitar and the dobro. I’m lucky enough to have a nice acoustic guitar–a Martin D15. It’s definitely war-torn with scars from past gigs and campfire sessions. I’m also lucky to have a very nice square neck Regal dobro. The dobro is especially nice to play when I get home after a long day, because the proper playing position is in the lap with the sound coming back up at me. It creates an almost circular energy from player to instrument, and back to player. I’m not that good, but because it’s in an open tuning–meaning that, when you strum, it’s already in tune and playing a full chord–there is very little you can do to mess up the sound.
Music relates to so much of what I do as a creative director. It’s a constant teacher–patience, timing, “less is more”…the list goes on. And playing with a group takes the learning experience even further. You have to truly listen to make a collective sound that is palatable. And, playing music with people is shorthand to finding out how people truly add their own individual voice to make something better.
Digital Marketing & Operations Director
A creative outlet that I enjoy is photography. For some people, their creative passion may energize them, but for me, photography is a means of escaping reality for a little while, a way to relax and de-stress. My favorite things to photograph are pets, wildlife, and landscapes because of the unique beauty and challenges they present. With animals, it can be a struggle to capture their individual personalities so that you get a sense of life when you look at the photo. And when shooting landscapes and nature, there’s the challenge of capturing a small slice of a 360-degree view in a flat image that tells a story and makes the viewer feel as if they were there. I enjoy exploring angles and playing with perspectives and points of view and then looking back through the images to see how different they can make you feel.
In my role at Gravity I spend a lot of time in spreadsheets and working with our team and our clients to plan and execute campaigns. Photography helps me to find new ways to look at things, and being able to see things from different perspectives also helps me to think about a campaign from the audience’s point of view.
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Three years ago, I began a nightly habit to cultivate my creativity and reduce my anxiety. Each evening by 8pm, I disconnect from all of my devices. A crucial element to creativity is allowing your mind to get out of “central executive” mode, where I spend most of my day: responding to emails, tackling tasks, and analyzing any given situation. The alternative to this is your brain’s “wandering” mode. Think of all the great ideas you have when you’re about to fall asleep or taking a long shower. When I give my mind the opportunity to wander, I give myself some distance and perspective on any issue I’m tackling, explore creative ways to solve a problem, or just cut through the clutter of constant information to focus on the heart of an idea that’s important to me.
To create attentional space, I try to give myself two hours of device- and notification-free time each evening to do one of three tasks: read (paper-only), write or journal (paper-only), or go for a walk. I find each of these pursuits compliments the other—reading connects me to the thoughts of great minds, writing helps me know myself better, and walking helps me appreciate the world around me. Much of my day, my mental effort is reactive: responding to notifications, pings, and alerts. I’ve found it essential to my creativity and well-being to carve out time each day when I am in control of my thoughts, to let them freely wonder, or focus deeply without interruption. I’m then better able to bring greater focus, perspective, and innovation back to the office.
In addition to photography (which I’ve written about in other posts), I would say my other main creative outlet is tinkering. Whether it’s home improvement (with much help from more knowledgeable relatives), custom storage for equipment, a custom-built computer, or fixing laptops, I love making and fixing things.
I especially get excited about the learning involved in recognizing a challenge or a problem and teaching myself how to overcome that challenge.
All that tinkering with electronics and DIY work at home has directly applied to troubleshooting and computer repair in the office and to building custom solutions for gear and other production systems at Gravity Group. I get a great sense of accomplishment soaking in new knowledge and fixing or making something with my own hands.
I draw as a creative outlet, not only in my free time, but when I have creator’s block in the office. I mostly use graphite and charcoal, but often use my iPad as well. I’ve often said graphic design is something I was drawn to (no pun intended) because it combines art with organization & structure, all of which I enjoy. At home, drawing is a nice, relaxing activity that challenges me. At work, when I’ve put up too many boxes in my mind to work on a new idea, I use drawing to pull myself out and revaluate things on a broader level. While it is not very often that hand-drawn art makes it into my graphic design work, it’s very common for sketches to be used at some point in the process.
To me, creativity is creativity, whether it’s drawing, photography, writing, or even something like problem-solving. Being creative, and thinking in ways that aren’t always straight-forward, is easier when you’re trying to be creative in multiple ways. Being creative one way can inspire creativity in another, which is why drawing has been a go-to for me both in and out of the office.
Brand & Web Specialist
I’ve already written about my pottery hobby in a recent blog post, so I’m going to talk about a different one here. I’ve always loved plays and musicals, and recently I’ve started trying to learn acting. I’ve been in a couple of acting workshops, each one (happily) less terrifying than the last. I find acting helps me exercise a number of important muscles: it makes me practice deep empathy, as I embody characters with different personalities and circumstances than my own; it encourages me to be mentally flexible and to use my imagination; it forces me to be present and get out of my own head; and finally (and maybe most importantly), it makes me practice being brave, by doing something I find scary over and over.
I really value this experience, because it makes me more resilient and braver in all aspects of my life, whether I’m at home with my partner, at work, or in the pottery studio. Although acting has become less frightening with time, each time I go on stage, even if it’s just in front of my classmates, I still have to face down my fears. I think it takes a lot of courage to be creative, no matter the pursuit, and that gets easier with practice, too. It takes courage to paint, make pottery, or solve any problem in a new way. And we need more courageous people in this world!