Why I Need a Creative Practice as a Media Person (and how you can have one too)

Caroline Tambling | Sep. 18 2020

Like many others, my experience thus far in 2020 has been a bit of a blur. Time seems to move so slow and fast simultaneously. By Wednesday, I feel I have lived 2 weeks in three days, and yet here we are already in September. Our agency made the decision to gift us with the full Labor Week off to take a mental health break. While we may feel like we can continue chugging along full steam ahead, the step of taking a pause to process and refuel on energy is so vital to a sustainable work life. Which is exactly what I did.
During Labor Week, I dove back into my creative practice. Perhaps I should mention I work in our media group, pulling raw data, crunching numbers, and gleaning insights from performance. And yet, I dedicated some of my free time to flexing that creative muscle.
The truth of media, and one of the reasons I keep coming back, is that it requires both left and right sides of the brain. It’s equal parts arts & science. Beyond the impressions and cost pers, there is a creativity to how we approach the planning process. How do we see beyond ourselves and understand the audience and what drives them? In a world filled with clutter, how do you capture someone’s attention in a way that feels authentic and genuine? We are problem solvers. We take puzzle pieces that frequently change shape and explore new ways to solve it. Creativity is table stakes for any successful person in Media.
Any sport requires practice. Long distance runners set their schedule with a mix of runs and strength training. Basketball players practice drills and shoot the ball hundreds of times. For me, I have to build up my creative practice if I want creativity to flow easily. To be clear, I’m not likely to win any awards or have an art installation in a gallery. My creative outlet is something small—I have to master how to dribble before advancing to layups. 
There are ways for all of us to fit a creative practice into the week. It could be so small—wake up each day and create a small doodle of what you dreamt. Take up watercolors and frame an abstract little painting on your desk. Find something that feels within reach that can help you build confidence in your ability to stretch your creative muscle. Over time your creativity will strengthen and grow, allowing you to explore new aspects in both personal and professional spheres.
I’m a firm believer that crafting should be two things: 1) accessible and 2) not-stressful. I suppose the third thing would be something that’s easy to start and stop at a moment’s notice. I recall one of my middle school art projects involved creating a loom out of cardboard for a simple weaving project. This is about the level of creativity I can invoke while working from home, so I figured I’d give this a shot. In case you too want to relive your formative creative years, here’s a quick how-to for getting set up.
DIY Cardboard Loom Instructions:

Step 1: Cut a rectangle out of cardboard. I’d recommend using one of those boxes from one of the products you bought off Instagram during the early days of quarantine. As the saying goes, size doesn’t matter here.

Step 2: Using a ruler and pen (or eyeball it if you are feeling confident), draw a ½ to 1 inch border on all sides of the cardboard. This ensures you have ample space for the tabs and offers forgiveness for the questionable ends of the cardboard you cut out with rusty scissors.

Step 3: From here it’s time mark across the top and bottom lines with ¼ – ⅜ inch lines. Cut from the bottom up to your border for each mark. These cardboard strips will be what holds your warp strings (the vertical string that is basically the foundation to your weaving).

Step 4: And that’s it! Your cardboard loom is constructed. You can now take a sturdy yarn and thread it through the loom. Tape off the starter on the back side and pull it through the first cardboard strip. Take the string from the first strip on the top and pull it through and around the corresponding strip at the bottom. Repeat this process until your warp string is set, taping the excess to the back or tying it off.

I’d take you through the weaving process with your weft string (the active string you are weaving across the warp string on your loom), but honestly I’m not qualified to teach those details as I’m still learning myself. There are tons of qualified fiber artists on the interwebs who offer incredible step-by-step instruction for this process. Many also sell starter kits in case you want to advance from cardboard to an actual frame loom. And in a year like 2020, finding ways to support artists while embracing your own creative practice seems like a win-win to me.

Caroline Tambling is a Media Supervisor at The Many.