Insights — Pop Thieves

Pop Thieves

Thought leadership , Creative , Design / April 28, 2022
Jason Shough
Jason Shough

Ideas are currency. And sometimes you really need to rob a bank.

When I sat down to write this article, this was the notion that struck me.

It hit somewhere between the first and fifteenth minute of staring deeply into the blank page on my laptop — like one of those Magic Eye illusions — where I was hoping to see a better idea buried in this inanimate machine than the ones I had clamoring around in my mind.

So if you communicate things for a living, this one’s for you.

Such a big part of our day-to-day job is being inspired — and staying inspired. It's having an armada of possible threads from which to draw out smart and fun and powerful ideas.

That's why the amazing Carrie Barnett and I went around our virtual office to see what some fellow creative collaborators are inspired by at the moment, just in case it helps spark that next big idea you’re working on:

Horizon Forbidden West is the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite video games (a new quarantine hobby) and after over 100 hours put in in the last month, I’ve wrapped up the story and felt inspired the whole way. Not only is the game beautiful and a feat of game engineering — the protagonist is a strong, multi-faceted young woman and the story breathes much-needed hope and communal strength into the (not-so-fantastical) far future after a climate apocalypse. The themes of this series actually ended up being the nugget of a recent creative concepting brainstorm!

- Katie Schwendeman, Art Director


Whenever I need a little inspiration, I recite positive affirmations. I believe that what we say can shape our actions. One of my favorite affirmations is: I live my life with purpose, on purpose.

- Eryka Wallace, Strategist


Recently my biggest source of inspiration has been past travel! I love when writing feels like it's transporting you to another place or time, and travel is such a unique, multi-sensory experience that it's constantly inspiring to me — even months after the trip is done.

- Rachel Green, Senior Copywriter


Lately, I've started to take a more active role in the music that I listen to. I often find myself listening to a song and trying to understand a musician’s choices. Thinking in that way helps me be more intentional in the work that I do in hopes that I can have the same effect. I also love the way music is marketed. I think in an industry where the goalposts for attention is ever-changing, musicians find innovative ways to make their music heard.

- Osmond Curtis, Junior Designer


Consistently working out at the gym two blocks from my German Village bungalow keeps me inspired. While there, I listen to hundreds of podcasts. The ones most frequently in my queue are stories told by economists, scientists, anthropologists, designers, and people in tech—all topics that keep my user experience work relevant.

- Lex Hade, Director of User Experience


As for me, I just finished Dan Charnas’ new biography about the late hip-hop producer and beatmaker J Dilla (James Dewitt Yancey), who created an entirely new time field that influenced some of the greatest artists in the genre throughout the 90s and 2000s — and whose creative energy inspires me greatly, needless to say.

I recently also rewatched this incredible “The Art of Design” episode on the photographer Platon, who shows the impact art and creativity can have on the world by simply capturing people’s attention and telling real stories.

Lastly, last Saturday was Record Store Day and Childish Gambino put out a special re-release of his 2014 EP/Mixtape Kauai (which I love) that features the song “Pop Thieves” (which struck me as the perfect theme for this article).

It’s important to remind ourselves that beyond tunneling into my most immediate day-to-day creative survival — writing that headline or hitting that deadline — there’s so much incredible creativity out there that we could be experiencing.

We’ll keep you posted on some of what we’re thinking and seeing and reading and listening to on our end.

From there, happy stealing.

Jason Shough recently was promoted to Creative Director at SimpsonScarborough, and you can see why. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where he received his M.S. in Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications, Jason believes in choosing his words carefully and labors to understand the human factors that guide how people think and feel. At work, he's best known for telling people, "I love you," at the end of Zoom calls. Jason lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, two daughters, and dog. Learn more about Jason and the rest of our team here.

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