Creativity Realignment

@ToriAshtun, Photo courtesy Lucky Brand Homemade Holiday 2020

Create to Inspire

Open Mind, Open Hearts. The Power of Art.

photos courtesy of Lucky Brand

Creativity has been known to be the driving force in many industries, yet 2020 has altered the way creators create.

In a recent webinar by AdWeek, they discussed the state of creativity with Kristian Grove Miller of 72andSunny, Matt Cunningham of Edelman Data & Intelligence, and Sarah Casillas and Lindsay Morris of Adobe Stock. Discussing the impacts the pandemic has had on creativity, workflow, levels of reported stress, they shed light on the long-term outlook of how design will have to shift. While the reported levels of anxiety and stress have catapulted this year, particularly as we near the second wave of the coronavirus, it seems artists and creatives are utilizing design and new ways of doing things by sheer innovation and ingenuity. But before we celebrate too soon, we have to look at the 2020 effect.

When posed with the question of heightened pressures from all angles, an alarming average of 80 percent of participants revealed that they’re being asked to create more content in less time, that their team’s creative workflow could be more efficient, and that they feel more pressure working with clients who are risk averse. “Our current environment is also impacting business overall, which is adding significant pressure on teams as well,” says Cunningham. “Our research finds that creators are feeling pressured to do more with less and clients want to play it safe more now than ever before, which makes it even more challenging to break through.”

While there may be an uptick in stress creatives are feeling, it has pushed brands and artists to see things through a different lens, forcing a creative evolution of sorts. How we approach the work we do in the midst of a global pandemic matters.

Creativity is power, art is healing, and being mindful in our lives is the only way we find our center amid the growing uncertainties we all face. When it comes to backing that mindset, we look to those doing an unbelievable amount of scientific based research on art, creativity, and mindfulness. Charles Limb (musician, scholar, educator), said in a Salzburg Global seminar on the Neuroscience of Art in 2015 that creativity is the generation of something new and that art is the most homogenous form of total creativity. Limb believes that, “artistic creativity is a hard-wired, deep-seated trait necessary for human survival. We have always needed to innovate; adaptability is at the core of our biology.”

Here at ATOD, we believe 2020 has epitomized the need for adaptability, and many brands and visionaries are adjusting accordingly by raising creatives up. So how does that translate into the everyday application? This holiday season, one major apparel brand has heeded the call to showcase creativity in a new and exciting way. We wanted to shine some light on some creatives doing something unique and one brand’s commitment to doing their part to support that.


The major apparel company, Lucky Brand has taken its platform, recognizing the impacts of the pandemic, self-isolation, the need for creativity and connectedness, and is using it to showcase several Los Angeles artists in a campaign they’re calling, Homemade Holiday. Focused on the positivity art induces, they enlisted model and painter Torin Ashtun, founder of The Shift Creative Alexis Andra, Musician and DJ Danny Dodge, Rowdy Cowlick Chainstitch Embroider Hilary Corts, and the Plant Provocateur/Botanist Hank Jenkins. Each artist and creative has a beautiful story about where their journey has taken them.

[columns_row width=”fourth”] [column][/column] [column][/column] [column][/column] [column][/column] [/columns_row]

Tori Ashtun (cover photo) may be a model but painting has become the ying to her modeling yang, and the result is an emotive feminine momentum that pushes through her pieces. “One of my most memorable pieces is ‘She Sold Herself for 2k.’ It is also my largest piece to date. The painting is meant to question your self worth and the price one may put on that.

A silhouette is holding a sign that says ‘Not For Sale’ with the ‘Not’ crossed out showing how indecisive I can be about my own worth. – Tori Ashtun

Utilizing her desire to showcase the power of taking control of how we view ourselves, her use of bold colors, defined shapes and metaphoric messaging, the pieces she creates exude the female grace and the unshakable strength of a woman. In the wake of the pandemic and a slowdown in gallery exhibitions, she’s reinvented how she shares her work. “I’m working on putting together a virtual art tour of my studio to showcase all my pieces thus far. If possible, even allow private scheduled tours of the studio.”

[columns_row width=”half”] [column] [/column] [column][/column] [/columns_row]

It feels like now more than ever, individualism and self-expression are being celebrated in a way that encourages us to be ourselves. — Hilary Corts

Corts grew up as a daughter of a contemporary quilt designer. Her mother battled breast cancer throughout her childhood, so after receiving her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, she decided to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy knowing she too carried the BRCA2 genetic mutation, predisposing her to breast cancer. That’s also when she began embroidering and her passion for creating and embroidering grew, and Rowdy Cowlick was born. Launched in 2015, she recalls, “There I was introduced to hand embroidery by a friend. The concept of ‘painting’ with thread enraptured me, especially as I was never much of a painter anyway. Working by hand reinvigorated my love for slowness and detail, and ultimately led me to chainstitch embroidery.”

In her interview with Lucky Brand, she touches on what she’s doing now. “Before the pandemic hit, I started working on a collection of customized pieces for my pal Frank Iero from My Chemical Romance to wear onstage during his band’s reunion tour this year. The shows are obviously on hold now, but it has been exciting to work with an artist whose music I’ve been into since my teenage years. I also just finished up the first project I’ve ever done involving rhinestones—a jacket for fellow artist and musician Nick Steinhardt of Touché Amoré.”

The Holiday Home(made) Movement in my mind is inspired by bringing about visibility and acknowledgment of being creative and bringing that goodness into your life.” – Hank Jenkins

We caught up with Hank Jenkins, The Plant Provocateur. Finding his passion brought to life through the art of botany, Jenkins revels in the joy and inspiration nature provides. “My creations are prompted by a need to create positive momentum. I hate feeling stuck.” Jenkins adds, “I love being able to create or curate beautiful things, inspiring things, that connect and remind us to honor plants; to acknowledge the goodness of plants and the natural world. So the things I create are representative of that. The holiday wreaths and other products I create are things that people can use to bring the goodness of the natural world into their world.”

As for what drew him to the Home Made Holiday project, he is enthusiastic about the way the project not only profiles a diverse group of everyday people, it showcases the things they love, cultural representation, and in his words, “If we are open to the idea, the project can inspire us to positively create whatever our minds want to create. I love plants. I am passionate about plants. I use them as a means or a language to foster activism, wellness, community, and as a acknowledgement of the beauty they provide the human being.”

Living in Los Angeles, Jenkins also adds that he feels a strong creative current in LA. “I moved here some years ago from a community that felt so burned out as a creative place. This burn out was the result of a shift in cultural priorities. Art/Creativity in this community was suffocating. LA feels like a place where the conditions are right to ignite positive creativity and expression. LA is where I call home. It’s the place where, at times, I can participate with a community that reminds me, that even someone like me and those I represent, who have been marginalized, deserve to experience the same positive privilege and respect due to all people.” His creations are available online and for delivery.

[columns_row width=”half”] [column][/column] [column][/column] [/columns_row]

Local creative Alexis Andra, founder of The Shift Creative is devoted to utilizing creativity as an act of kindness. Her stylized approach to tapping into a brand’s creative spirit is much like watching a child get their first bite of chocolate: its sheer magic. Based in Southern California, mother/wife/creative marketing genius, Andra brings something truly sensational, honest, and fundamentally human to every campaign/event/idea she is posed with.

Use what you have, reach out to those you know and those you want to know, do your best work and BE A KIND HUMAN. — Alexis Andra

As a creative often lost in the swell of words dancing around my mind in hopes of landing on the vacant page or awaiting screen, the way she describes the creative process is something anyone who dares to see the world differently can relate to. “It goes something like this: This is an amazing idea. Shoot, this isn’t working out. UGH, THIS SUCKS. I suck. Wait, what if I tweak it a bit. This might work. This is AMAZING! I am amazing! HAHA. But really, this is exactly how it goes. Many times, it’s a rollercoaster of confidence and self-doubt all at once. Ultimately, you have to be willing to flex and rework your idea and see the beauty in the process.”

Perfectly put, Andra is a champion for realness and now you can learn more about how that plays out in her recently launched podcast called It’s Not What It Seems“We can get so caught up in social media that we compare our lives to others, wondering why they have that family, opportunity and material items that we don’t. We fail to realize that they, like us, have a story and many times it includes a struggle.”

Musician and DJ Danny Dodge rounds out their campaign by being the beacon of cultural infusion through his global beats, rare musical finds, and passion to bind the world through the understanding of music. “I try to play a lot of linear yet just-left-of-comfort-zone songs, like 50s American hits interpreted by Jamaicans, or Blondie in Spanish, or a Persian-sung ‘House of the Rising Sun.’ Maybe it’ll get people a little more comfortable with art from other cultures.”

I grew up in a family of musicians so I learned young that I can communicate with anyone through it. A second language type thing. — DJ Danny Dodge

Even Harvard Medical School admits that music can be a source of healing. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, “A growing body of research attests that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways.” If you want to groove to DJ Dodge’s eclectic Holiday Mixtape, check out the playlist on Spotify.

So whether you’re embroidering, painting, planting, playing, mixing, creating, or finding your creative footing, you’re on the right path.

Art is the world’s great unifier, and embracing the fortitude of oneness is why it matters. — Dawn Garcia

Lucky Brand’s commitment to unity through self-expression by introducing their global audience to California-bound creatives is not only refreshing, but incredibly necessary.

Neymar Stars in Beats by Dre #AboveTheNoise Film - SoccerBible

When you’re looking for artistic release, visit Art Therapy, Positive Psychology, Expressive Art Workshops, and I’ll be launching my Creative Writing/Screenwriting Webinar later this month.

To learn more about mindfulness, check out the free resources the UC San Diego’s School of Medicine, Institute of Mindfulness.