Mind at Work: Associate Creative Director Katie Quinn

Whenever possible, we like to sit down with one of our creative minds at VSA to find out what inspires them. In a world where there’s constantly pressure to “produce, produce, produce,” it’s important to stop and reflect on the special people, places and things that actually drive our creativity.

Today, VSA’s Chicago-based Associate Creative Director Katie Quinn sheds light on the four things that inspire her and help her do what she does:

1. Early Morning Walks

Studies have found that walking improves creativity, and I can attest to that. As often as I can, I like to wake up early on Saturdays to walk around my neighborhood. Where do I go? It doesn’t matter—that’s never the objective. It’s an extremely peaceful, quiet time that allows my mind to wander into new creative territories without any distractions or worries about my to-do list. Given the amount of content overload we face every day, it’s such a simple way to decompress and uncover fresh thinking that can get buried in the 9-5 hustle.

2. iPhone Notes

The greatest of ideas sometimes arrive at the strangest of times, and if I don’t capture them quickly they might get lost in the mass of information circulating in my hard-working mind. Since I am never without my iPhone, it’s the easiest way to quickly type out anything that is a great idea in the moment. My thoughts can be captured in a word, sentence, paragraph, or even a feeling that I want to remember. Whether it’s during a walk, when I wake up from a dream, or after a conversation with a friend, it’s the best way to ensure my insights are accounted for.

3. People

I believe that something as simple as daily banter with friends, colleagues and family can inspire an entire campaign idea if you are listening close enough. A favorite quote of mine is: “I don’t know exactly where ideas come from. It’s just a matter of us figuring out how to receive the ideas waiting to be heard.”

You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. One of them, my brother, has a natural curiosity to dabble in many different creative endeavors. Whether it be an illustration or a comedy bit, his thoughts push boundaries and influence my approach to everything.

I try to surround myself with inspiring, positive and creative people to keep me motivated, and that includes following mentors on social media, binge-watching Ted Talks, and tapping into the minds of people from many different backgrounds at VSA. In such a competitive industry, it’s beneficial to get inspired by those who achieve greatness. It just pushes me harder to find my own version of success.

4. Travel

My inspiration comes from numerous online resources, but it’s even better to experience different cultures to tap into my creativity. When I travel, I always go somewhere new so that I can log everything into my memory and on my blog, curating my own personal library of imagery and thoughts.

Each trip has stimulating elements like original color palettes, music, architecture and history. There are numerous ways to interpret my travels into the creative work I do at VSA. For example, I recently took a short trip to Portland, Maine, where I unexpectedly discovered beautiful typographic treatments on the buildings which happened to influence mood boards I was developing for a project.