‘Shopping Your Way to Creativity

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I’m sad to say that I never met John Puglia. WhiteSpace Creative’s beloved, former creative director lost his battle with cancer in 2013, long before I was hired. When I see his vibrant work, which continues to grace nearly every corner of our headquarters, I know I missed meeting a person I would’ve deeply connected with and enjoyed.

There’s a phrase of John’s (also the title of his blog) that you’ll see around WhiteSpace: “Never Not Working.” It shouldn’t be confused with a larger comment concerning work/life balance, or a statement about pouring every second into clients’ projects. They wouldn’t necessarily want that anyway. Because that would make us exhausted, disenchanted people, not creative people.

What I understand this phrase to mean is that creative people have a singular compulsion to make stuff. John’s incredible body of work, and stories of his ceaseless curiosity and constant creation, are evidence of this compulsion. “Never Not Working” means we are always creating. In fact, we can’t stop.


Three months ago (mostly because I wanted a new and better desktop picture), I thought I’d offer my colleagues a chance to tap into that creative urge and go bananas in a way that wasn’t directly work, or client related. So I started a Photoshop contest wherein I offer random prizes to the person who best alters, modifies, jacks-up, enhances or otherwise arts-up a photo of my choosing. The competition is about imagination and play, and is open to anyone at WhiteSpace, no matter what their job title is.                                 

Now, I’m not going to say that everyone jumped on it right away, but in the last three months I’ve been delighted by some serious left-field thinking from my co-workers. Left-field like this:

Burger Boy

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Matt Labyk, graphic designer, won this challenge through some incredible food-based graffiti.

Cat Bridge

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What would a herd of cats do under a bridge? Play bridge. Susan Breen, associate creative director, rocked this by letting her imagination run free.


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Sometimes simple is better. The joy in this creation from account manager Helen Davis earned her a runner-up nod.

Keeven Underground

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Our fearless leader, Keeven White, took top honors with this frightful scene under the streets of Akron.


John Puglia knew that idea of “Never Not Working” is powerful stuff. Yes, it might not always be related directly to our accounts, but the creative work we are compelled to do, to stretch our creative thinking in wilder ways, ultimately benefits our clients. This is the “work” that fills up our creative well and helps inspire us as we apply our creativity to unique, left-field solutions for the marketing puzzles our clients are facing.

It’s a concept John built into WhiteSpace, which still thrives in our hearts and minds. But bragging rights and a few random prizes never hurt.

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