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Stay Inspired During A Pandemic: A Creative Brief

A New York Times article wrote that during the pandemic, “the internet wants you to believe you aren’t doing enough with all that ‘extra’ time you have.” Well, Internet, we respectfully disagree. 

We’ve been doing this remote work thing for a while now, even before the pandemic. And while some see it as creatively stifling, we see it as a creative brief of sorts. As a creative agency, part of our job at Vermilion (like, a big part of our job) is delivering remarkable creative solutions

But staying inspired amid a pandemic comes with challenges. So we’ve had to, well, get creative. Read how some of the Vermilion team spent the summer cultivating their personal and professional creativity by exploring new passions and revisiting old ones. No billable hours were harmed in the making of these endeavors. 

CRAIG SPALDING, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT + MARKETING DIRECTOR

Tell us about your pandemic pursuits. What inspired them?

I’m incredibly privileged that, for me, the pandemic created additional free time outside of the work day. I live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Denver and, with the time saved from no longer commuting, I’ve (safely) joined protests as a way to meaningfully engage with some of today’s issues that matter to me. 

But even with this increased focus on community, I — like many others — felt less creative. During this period of forced introspection and solitary to-dos, the tendency to spend extra time staring at various screens crept up on me. I realized I had fewer real hobbies than I thought. After the third consecutive week of receiving a (rather rude) screen-time report, I decided to revisit one of my forgotten creative outlets: watercolor. 

Any tips?

  1. Find inspiration — start with a photograph you love to get a creative spark going. Try sketching the rough outlines in pencil first to help frame the initial color blocks.
  2. Don’t overthink — just get started! Don’t spend too much planning or worrying how the finished product will look before you even begin. Just put paint to paper. 
  3. Get messy — lay down some paper towels, know your hands will get dirty, and for a few hours, don’t worry about the mess made. 

Come to think of it, those are pretty solid tips for most things in life.

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MARK PINKERTON, ART DIRECTOR

Tell us about your pandemic pursuits. What inspired it?

I’ve thought about building a Skee-Ball machine for years, but always decided against it. It seemed especially impractical and ridiculous. Then COVID-19 happened. I felt antsy being stuck at home, so starting a nonsensical project suddenly made perfect sense. It’s been a good distraction and unlike most projects, I’ve been able to take my time and put extra love into the details. So no, it’s not finished yet.

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I also started carving wooden spoons. Several years ago I came across a book that caught my eye, mostly because of its design. It had a great low-key approach to the craft that I connected with. Plus, it was a nice contrast to the Skee-Ball machine because I could carve them fast and loose in a few sittings. It was incredibly hard to put it down once I got started. I quickly realized I either needed to start carving something else or start giving them away — we have a wooden spoon surplus around here!

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SARAH DALIA, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Tell us about your pandemic pursuit.

In response to the increased time spent in my apartment, I took up amateur embroidery. There’s a low barrier to entry. All you need is an embroidery “hoop,” some fabric, a needle and thread. 

What inspired it?

I’ve been inspired by Nordic embroidery patterns and had lofty goals of reaching this level of skill with my patterns. The rat was my test piece. 

Any tips?

Pair with a glass of wine and some Youtube videos about embroidery basics.

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KEVIN BONNER, ART DIRECTOR

Tell us about your pandemic pursuit.

I decided to pick up creative house projects that I started but never finished. I always go into these types of projects with fun ideas and then about halfway through, realize it was a much bigger undertaking than I anticipated. There are lots of things around our house that look halfway decent, but were abandoned and need final touches. I used this summer to finally get back into these projects and finish them up. Like refinishing my fireplace.

What inspired it?

I desperately wanted to get rid of the ugly builder’s-grade fireplace that came with the house. A few years ago, I ripped out and rebuilt part of the wall and hearth box, and retiled with some nicer stone. I got exhausted and stalled out on the mantle. I gathered a few pieces of siding from a local chicken coop that was recently torn down and hand-scrubbed out decades of dirt and nasty chicken poop. Then I treated it for wood-dwelling critters with a Borax and water solution. Finally, I cured the boards in the sun after the wash and treatment before turning it into the final 3-tiered mantle. 

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