By Cade Martin

As a kid, I spent many a dinner at a table surrounded by parents friends, an eclectic cast of characters — sculptors, writers, painters, creatives. That thread of creative community has remained in our offices, our teams and our collaborations. But that thread feels thinner in this moment.

So I asked, with the purpose of sharing, and of supporting and caring for this creative community in its current, uncertain reality. I asked what people are doing, how they are feeling, how they are sparking creativity. It feels important to share what we do, when we can’t do all our doing.

Reaching out first to some of the talented people I’ve had the good fortune to profile though the Capitol Communicator portrait series.  It’s my version of a virtual dinner table of sorts. Grab a chair.

Matt Smith, CEO, SmithGifford

Matt, what, if anything, are you doing differently?

Sudden change is inspiring for me, it’s energizing, and open for opportunities. I have found myself being far more passionate about ideas and how to help. Donating time, energy and resources. That’s when I know my brain is running on all one cylinder left. It doesn’t care about money, business, reward or anything other than getting a good idea out into the crapmosphere and HELP. And for some odd reason, I am wired that way for just about anything. The worse it gets, the more I push.  So nothing is all that different, because I am always looking for something different. 

Are you staying creatively active?

YES! 100%, being at home is like being in a box, and creative minds love being in a box, and then trying like hell to figure out a way out of it. I have till June to figure it out.  I love the old riddle, You are stuck in a box with one stick. How do you get out?  

How are you sparking yourself creatively?

Well, I just invented a new word, Crapmosphere. And my team at the office and on the client side are amazing. Simply amazing, and we talk a lot on Google Hangouts, ZOOM and it helps. A LOT! Our team is an amazing group. We know  each other and respect the hell out of each other and never has that trust and fun been so important. I recommend anything you can do to see folks when you are talking with them. 

I have learned some new things that I will carry into the real world:

MUTE! We should all have a personal MUTE button in meetings. That way you can babble on and no one hears you. I am happy, they are happier, and life is good. 

BOUNDARIES. I am a very early riser, my brain works better in the early morning, but not for my coworkers, they are late nighters, so we have set real business hours to Basecamp. 9-6 it helps. Even if I get one ping from that thing, it’s all work. So we respect that. 

I am also very excited about a new feel of production. Facetime type imagery and bad audio make stuff feel more real now. We have turned a corner on that. It’s become normal. I think we will see more and more of this. And then snap back to beautiful film, but it will be a conscious choice for the art director. 

I know this may seem a tad crazy, but one day you will look back and see all this crapmosphere we are in and ask yourself, what did I do? Did I step forward, or retreat. Did I pretend it wasn’t happening, or do I participate?  I look back on 911 and recall the “Thanks For Traveling” campaign we did for Choice Hotels on 9/12 and had it out in the market that week. It changed the way people saw travel. I am proud of that and being able to help. And I think today even though it may seem scary to do.

HELP! It’s a sure way to survive all this and see things in a different way. 

(If you are trying to figure out the answer to the riddle, you’ve got time.  If you do, let me know in the comment section.)

Matt’s original Capitol Communicator profile can be seen here

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