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How we stay creative in an industry known for burnout

Ready for a hot-take from the IN office?

Creativity isn’t an inherent characteristic, but rather a practiced skill—like riding a bike, typing on a keyboard or driving a car.

We know. It’s a departure from the general assumption that creative people are just born creative. But before you start protesting that you “don’t have a creative bone in your body,” hear us out.

The results of creative thinking are broader and more widely applicable than say, successfully pedaling from point A to point B, but the principle is the same. If you practice stretching your brain in different ways and throwing away preconceptions to make room for wild new ideas, that sort of thinking eventually becomes as natural as pedaling a bike. Sure, you’ll always have to put in effort, (bikes don’t pedal themselves,) but the motion is gradually more comfortable.

Here at IN Food we encourage our team members to treat creativity as a practice inside the office and outside of it.

You’ve seen the results of this approach if you’re familiar with our work. (And if you’re not we recommend clicking over there STAT. Darn cool stuff coming out of our office these days!) However, what you wouldn’t know unless you have an “IN,” is the way that many of us cultivate creativity outside the office. Of course, the added bonus is that these “extracurriculars” keep our minds limber, our neurons firing and our creativity practice fresh.

Curious about the things that add value to our lives and our work? Here’s a sampling:

Maddy painting a mural of the stone arch bridge in Minneapolis, MN
Maddy working on a local mural

Maddy, Painter, oh and Graphic Designer

Maddy is an incredible visual artist. In fact, this summer she was selected by a juried panel to be 1 of 12 Emerging Artists showcasing their talent at the Des Moines Arts Festival, one of the nation’s most decorated art festivals! Her skill with a brush and canvas translates directly to her skill as a graphic designer—if you’re looking for gorgeous food illustrations, Maddy’s your gal.

Caroline playing a recital at a beautiful church in Minneapolis, MN
Caroline in concert

Caroline, Cellist who happens to write things too

Caroline holds a degree in Cello Performance and maintains a fairly rigorous concert schedule outside the office. She has played in chamber music series throughout the Midwest, and on top of writing compelling copy and scheming about content, she performs as a soloist and with different area ensembles. Music and writing are both essentially modes of creative communication after all, and Caroline finds that practicing one benefits the other.

In-progress cross-stitch project resting on a furry blanket
Ciara’s latest cross-stitch project

Ciara, Cross-Stitcher, also good at Digital Marketing

Ciara’s latest creative endeavor? Cross-stitching! Her approach takes your grandmother’s embroidery up a notch and allows her to make beautiful and unique pieces while practicing tangible creativity. A useful prerequisite to have in your tool belt when you’re tasked with delivering creative solutions in an intangible digital landscape.

Pencil sketch of coffee mug that reads "Duluth Minnesota Est. 1876" with coffee inside
Anita’s interpretation of her Sunday morning coffee

Anita, Budding Artiste (and IN Food President!)

You might never guess that our very own President and Account Director spends the occasional hour with a sketchpad in hand, but then again Anita is full of surprises. She’s been quietly cultivating her skill for a while now and enjoys the way that sketching is an ongoing exercise in critical thinking, audience perception and innovation—skills that just happen to be invaluable in marketing, too.

Cream sweater, grey screen-printed t-shirt, brown boots and blue jeans arranged on a wooden floor
A t-shirt Nina screen-printed

Nina, Screen-Printer, great at managing projects

Nina’s attention to detail and knack for guiding projects to fruition is widely acknowledged in our office, and it’s no wonder that her creative pursuits follow this theme. Outside of work she is passionate about screen printing and once in a while we have to ask: “Hey Nina, did you make that T-shirt?”

Platter of hors d'oeuvres
An hors d’oeuvres platter Lori whipped-up

Lori, Chef de Cuisine, straight-up-creative

Ok, so Lori’s not actually a chef de cuisine anywhere, but she might as well be. As Vice President and Creative Director, it’s quite literally Lori’s job to think creatively about our projects every day. So how does she keep herself from falling in a rut? You can often find Lori whipping up something delicious in the kitchen—ours, hers, a friend’s or family member’s. She is an unparalleled chef, comfortable in all sorts of cuisines and categories. It’s a different kind of creative exercise, but Lori says that’s exactly why it keeps her engaged, inspired and ready to innovate at her desk.

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