Creative Inspiration from the Road

Written by EVP, Director of Content, Luke Garro

Agency Lessons from a Touring Drummer

Being a creative entrepreneur doesn’t just mean being part of a company that does something creative; it means finding creative solutions to problems or challenges in our lives and careers. And sometimes finding those creative solutions means going outside your office walls and getting out of your comfort zone to spur new ideas and ways of thinking.

This past month, we — Piebald (look us up) — got the opportunity to hit the road in support of Dashboard Confessional (hopefully you don’t have to look them up!). It was an exciting, action-packed and quite often exhausting three-week experience that took us to the West Coast and back. Throughout the experience, I was pulling double duty, getting work done as both the Content Director of an agency and as a drummer of a touring band.

As I reflect on all the memories and experiences I gained, I realize how much being able to ”get out there” allowed me to recharge, develop my skills, gain new perspectives and ultimately, find new inspirations.

Here are a few lessons I learned from the road that can hopefully inspire you to pursue your own version of “getting out of the office” to tap into unexplored creative avenues:

  1. Put On Your Explorer’s Hat — Seeing a new city every day was an absolute magical experience that allowed me to explore many different things going on in the world. But you don’t have to travel across the country to get inspired — many of the things I did are doable right in your very own backyard. Take walks. Check out the sites — both famous and lesser known ones. Learn the history of the town. Sit in a coffee shop and listen. Strike up a conversation with the locals. Read the billboards as you drive down the highway. Open the local paper and read a few articles. Ask the hotel concierge where the best places to eat are. Visit the local brewery. Seeing ads in their natural environments, whether they were for a new meat alternative product or a new hard seltzer — two very popular products to promote these days — helped give context and sparked new great ideas on how to best connect with consumers at various touchpoints.
  2. Make New friends (But Keep the Old) — Being in different places allows for meeting new, interesting and talented people, as well as connecting with friends from the past. I love drawing energy from people, whether it’s learning new things or reminiscing about old times. And you don’t need to travel to a new city every day to interact with people. Get out there. Learn what different people do and exchange contact information. Follow them on social channels and interact so you stay top-of-mind. Reach out to people from your past and create opportunities to catch up with each other. Learning a lot about other people’s unique situations helped me hone my empathy skills and get into the minds of various people going through different experiences.
  3. Release Your Inhibitions — I like being comfortable. But being on the road is often anything but comfortable. What helped is to get in the mindset that I’d most likely never be in the optimal place to get things done — both physically and mentally. That challenge can be something to draw inspiration from. I learned how to get crafty with where I could get work done — a hotel room, a hotel business center, in a vehicle, at a coffee shop, in a backstage room, even walking down the street. The same went for WHEN I could get work done — the idea of “work hours” is always helpful to keep everybody collaborating in an office environment, but life on the road didn’t always allow for that. If your head doesn’t hit the pillow until 3 a.m. because of a late show, it’s not always practical to be awake and active mere hours later. On the contrary, if 5-8 p.m. (post sound check, pre-show) or 11 p.m. to midnight (post load-out) were the times available to tackle work that day, then that’s when it would happen. Becoming liberated from the location and times I was “supposed” to do work freed me up to think and work in new and interesting ways.
  4. Share your Experience — I used to think I had to keep my musician life somewhat secretive to be taken seriously as an agency guy. That perception was of my own making and I’ve found it to be profoundly inaccurate. I’ve learned not to hide what I’m doing. In fact, going out of my way to share my experience has allowed me to connect with people in ways that are not as achievable through my day-to-day work experience. I proudly share my story as it happens on social channels to give an immediate glimpse of where I am and what I’m doing. This elicits reactions and responses I wouldn’t get otherwise, and I very much thrive off those for new energy. Everybody has their own experiences that others find interesting — don’t be hesitant to share yours. I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised by the positive reactions you’ll receive!

In an industry where we’re relentlessly trying to come up with new great and innovative ideas, it’s necessary we create new opportunities to get reinvigorated. We know creativity is the ultimate business driver and if we’re depleted of creative energy and simply going through the motions of a nine to five schedule, we may be missing opportunities to push the boundaries of the work we do for our clients. Hopefully my story of being a creative entrepreneur on the road inspires you to seek new and interesting ways to recharge and inspire your creative spirit.

A day in Luke Garro’s life on tour posted on our Instagram story

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Luke takes the creative lead on many GYK Antler client campaigns and company initiatives. Garro’s vast understanding of the digital and experiential landscapes keeps GYK Antler’s creative programs grounded in feasible marketing executions that engage audiences in a compelling manner. Client experience includes Liberty Mutual, Magners Irish Cider, New Balance/PF Flyers, vitaminwater, Live Nation, Newport Folk Festival, Miller Brewing Co., Keurig, Microsoft and ZICO.
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