Ethos Speaks on Creativity

A Q&A that delves into what inspires, motivates and helps Ethos’s team create.


We know you have been dying to ask us how we prepare for a challenging project or what we do to bust out of a creative slump. Well wonder no more. We’ve drilled deep into our creative process to share our hard won insight with you. You’re welcome!


Q: Is there anything you like to do to prepare for a challenging project?
Matt Mullen—I like to read as much as I can about the background of the company and its customers—this helps to put “the full picture” of the situation in the back of my head as I start thinking. Or, I take a nap.
Flerida Vanderslice—To prepare for a challenging project, I typically dive into my stash of fine, assorted chocolates and start my IV line of sweet tea.
Erica Katz—I start with research for inspiration, add caffeine for fuel and dive in. It always helps to meet with the team first to throw ideas around.
Christine Xoinis—I like looking at old magazines, advertisements, packaging, books and movies as well as current design. Taking inspiration and adding in my own signature to create something new is really exciting to me. There’s beauty and brilliance all around us, and I'm constantly taking inventory of it. 
Ginny Gaylor—I’m always happier and more on top of things in the morning after a good night’s sleep, so I prefer to start new things and brainstorm then. And food helps—a lot!


Q: When you feel stumped, how do you jumpstart your work?
CX—Two things always seem to get me through creative block: first, going for a walk and clearing my head and second going to the movies. Both take me to a different place helping me forget everything.
MM—I say start putting your ideas down on paper. Even if it doesn’t feel good because you feel things just aren’t working, it always helps to get you going, and you’ll be able to come back and critique your own work with fresh eyes.


Q: Are there things that you find dampen or kill your creativity?
EK—Brand guidelines, while effective if used properly, can be constrictive to creativity, because we designers need to be able to break the rules sometimes.
FV—Sometimes it's hard to convince a client to break their "This is how we've always done it" attitude. I feel like I can offer a lot of fresh ideas and designs if they are willing to take a risk.


Q: What do you value the most about the creative process?
GG—I like the analytical aspect of having a problem and figuring out a solution, it appeals to the organizer in me that wants every bottle to have a lid.
CX—The normal person sees a nice design … but they have no idea what was involved to get to that point. Great design is smart design. When you create something beautiful it's like solving a puzzle and seeing the full picture finally come into focus. It's an AWESOME feeling.


Q: Do you have a particular creative moment that you are proud of? The stereotypical "thunderbolt from the sky" kind of flash of brilliance?
EK—Whenever we meet a deadline, especially when it seems like we aren’t going to finish in time. It’s like achieving the impossible.
MM—I’ve experienced many times that if you can step away from a piece of work, the answer will come to you when you least expect it. Usually in someplace inconvenient, like the toilet.