Creative Circle is thrilled to share that we have won ClearlyRated’s 2024 Client and Talent Awards for service excellence! This marks the sixth consecutive year winning the award on the talent side, and the fourth consecutive year for clients. 

ClearlyRated, a satisfaction research firm, presented these awards in partnership with Gold sponsor ClearEdge Marketing based on the 2023 results of weekly surveys that Creative Circle administered to clients and candidates. 

“At Creative Circle, our guiding principle is to deliver a uniquely outstanding customer experience,” said Creative Circle President, Matt Riley. “We’re extremely proud to see our dedication to that goal recognized in these awards from ClearlyRated. I want to thank every Creative Circle employee for ensuring our clients’ and candidates’ experiences remain our topmost priority.” 

“I’m so excited to introduce the 2024 winners alongside their verified ratings and reviews on,” said ClearlyRated CEO, Eric Gregg. “Creative Circle again proved their commitment to providing outstanding experiences and superior service. They’re raising the bar for excellence and I couldn’t be more proud to celebrate their success.” 

Client Results 

Our clients completed 775 satisfaction surveys in 2023, rating us on average as a 9.1 out of 10. Our Net Promoter Score of 71.2% is nearly double the industry average of 36% and categorizes us as “excellent” in client satisfaction. 

Clients rated us most highly — with more than 97% rating us positively — in communication speed/responsiveness, candidate presentation, and communication clarity. 93.4% of clients agreed that they will partner with Creative Circle again in the future. 

Here are a few of our favorite responses: 

  • “As the VP of Marketing, my team balances a lot of initiatives and has high levels of accountability to drive growth for our company. I need to find ways to expand my team’s capacity and capability without breaking the budget or opening a full-time role. Creative Circle is the perfect solution to this challenge. I am to quickly scale my team with high-quality talent for specific projects or for longer-term engagements that require part-time work. I’ve worked with Creative Circle for more than 5 years at several different companies and they’ve helped source designers, PPC strategists, content writers and SEO experts. They are my first call when I need to expand my team short term or long term. Highly recommend!” 
    • Kathleen O., VP of marketing for a software company 
  • “You provided pre-vetted candidates that have a reliable level of experience in the field. You’re also very (extremely) responsive.” 
    • Amy M., creative director for an advertising agency 
  • “Creative Circle made the process simple for me. I have a lot on my plate and sourcing well-qualified talent takes time. We were able to get up and running with our new freelancers in just days. The portal made communication and selection so easy. It feels great to be supported by the team at Creative Circle.” 
    • Dawn C., senior marketing services manager for a nonprofit 

Candidate Results 

Our candidates completed nearly 4,000 satisfaction surveys in 2023, rating us on average as a 9.1 out of 10. Our Net Promoter Score of 72.2% is more than double the industry average of 30% and categorizes us as “excellent” in client satisfaction. 

Candidates rated us most highly — with more than 92% rating us positively — in Creative Circle’s communication and responsiveness, how they were treated by our clients, and how prepared they felt for their roles. 

Here are just a few of the positive responses we received: 

  • “Creative Circle is professional, friendly, and fast. I know they want me to do well. The positions are incredible opportunities. I feel they have my interests in mind as well as the interests of their employer clients.” 
    • Chris A., marketing automation manager 
  • “The opportunities I’ve received with big organizations and companies through Creative Circle is beyond compare. Being represented and having support from recruiters makes a huge difference when looking for a job. I’ve had a wonderful experience working with different Creative Circle offices and recruiters.” 
    • Jenny B., content creator 
  • “I love how Creative Circle supports their clients and resources. They were with me every step of the way during my contract and we’re quick to solve any issues that may have come about. I can always depend on Creative Circle to provide great quality service. They are #1 when it comes to recruitment hands down.” 
    • Arshaun C., information architect 

To get in touch with Creative Circle for marketing or creative services, fill out this form and somebody will be in touch shortly. If you’re a candidate looking for work, apply to roles on the Creative Circle website here. 

About Creative Circle 

Creative Circle provides marketing and creative services, including studio and flex bench teams, agency services, talent acquisition, and consulting. Our strength comes from our talent community, and our power lies in leveraging this network to provide flexible custom solutions for our clients. 

Creative Circle is part of the Commercial Segment of ASGN Incorporated (NYSE: ASGN). To learn more, visit 

About ClearlyRated 

Rooted in satisfaction research for professional service firms, ClearlyRated utilizes a Net Promoter® Score survey program to help professional service firms measure their service experience, build online reputation, and differentiate on service quality. Learn more at 

Creative Circle gives back in a number of ways, including charitable donations, volunteer opportunities, socially conscious policies, and local investment. One of our main efforts comes at the end of every year through our Circle of Caring program, when each Creative Circle team has the opportunity to select nonprofits to receive charitable donations.

This year, we’re thrilled to share that we donated over $30,000 across 45+ nonprofit organizations! These organizations were hand-picked by our employees, each with a mission that’s near and dear to our hearts.

If you’re looking for additional gift and giving options this season and beyond, consider donating to our collection of nonprofit organizations listed below. We hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season!

The speed and scale at which generative AI works is truly game-changing, but could it really be that artificial intelligence brings with it only good news? The answer depends on your approach. While the benefits of the technology are manifold, unsupervised AI runs the risk of being clouded by bias, and potentially creating content that puts organizations in jeopardy of noncompliance and other risk. 

In fact, Capgemini found 51% of executives say that lack of clarity on underlying data used to train generative Al programs is their top concern, followed by 45% who say they lack confidence that the generative Al programs are fair (inclusive of all population groups). These concerns highlight just how crucial it is for organizations to take steps to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the development and deployment of AI programs in order to build trust. 

Reducing Bias Requires Transparency and Oversight 

Transparency and oversight are the name of the game when it comes to working with AI. As a technology created by human beings, no matter how advanced, it’s inherently exposed to bias from the get-go. However, with the right combination of talent and tools, you can nip bias in the bud and generate inclusive content that truly stands out. 

Creative teams that are skilled at working with AI should understand what to look for in the tools they use to pick out bias. They want transparency on the methods used to generate content and oversight on the way AI models are trained, so they can correct bias in their content and better understand where it originates. 

Choosing the right third-party tools and platforms to facilitate this is crucial, as is a partnership with the data science teams that implement them. With the right tools and data, and the skills to back it all up, teams can better understand how to craft effective prompts that generate inclusive content and implement methods to eliminate bias in the first place. 

Compliance Takes Expert AI and Expert Humans 

Compliance can take many forms. In regulated industries like healthcare and financial services, it requires adherence to industry guidelines. For other organizations, it may consist of how consumer data is used to market. It’s true that artificial intelligence can be taught rules to follow, but these rules are often highly nuanced and fast-changing.  

Simply relying on AI alone to create content will not result in compliant content. It takes skilled creative teams that are well-versed in the areas of compliance and know where and when to rely on other internal experts to check that content is ready for its audiences. While AI can be trained on compliance and regulations, in a fast-moving world of ever-changing requirements, highly trained human teams can work with artificial intelligence to create marketing content that is both highly personalized and fully compliant. 

This all means that compliance review must be built into a process that also includes dynamic generation of personalized content from the beginning. A highly trained creative team understands the elements of a marketing campaign that can and should be personalized, as well as those that need to remain unchanged for compliance reasons. 

After all, there won’t be a substitute for human insights and strategic thinking any time soon. Thus, the real strength of utilizing AI isn’t in replacing strong team members; it is in augmenting them. Or, as Barry Asin, President of SIA, puts it, “Generative AI won’t take your job, but someone using it will…It’s not technology alone, it’s the ability of people to work with the technology.” 




The rise of generative AI we’re currently witnessing has the capability to dramatically expand the scope of content creation in a way we’ve never seen before — and this new era comes with its own unique set of challenges. Getting the best possible results takes a not-so-secret ingredient: talented creatives who are skilled in the methods that enable artificial intelligence to shine, while understanding where humans still have a vital role to play. 

If you’re looking to get truly outstanding results from working with generative AI, you’ve come to the right place! Check out our latest release, The CMO’s Guide to Exceptional AI Content, to learn exactly how you can do it too. 

Download the Guide

Creative Circle, a leading recruiting and consulting services company, announced today that they have won the Best of Staffing Client Award for providing superior service to their clients. Presented in partnership with presenting sponsor Indeed and gold sponsor, ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing® Award winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients.  

On average, clients of winning agencies are 70% more likely to be completely satisfied with the services provided compared to those working with non-winning agencies. Creative Circle received a Net Promoter® Score of 73.4%, more than double the industry’s average of 31% in 2022. 

“I’m extremely proud of our organization for being recognized for outstanding client service for the third year in a row,” said Creative Circle President Matt Riley. “Customer service is at the heart of everything we do at Creative Circle. No matter what unique challenges our clients face, we strive to provide a consultative approach and a tailored talent solution. I want to thank and congratulate all of our hardworking employees for their unwavering commitment to our customers.” 

Here’s what just a few hiring managers had to say about their experience working with Creative Circle: 

  • “Everything was seamless, easy, and the communication was fantastic. I had several qualified candidates within hours, and interviews were scheduled within days. Great service!” 
  • “You always give me outstanding candidates that go above and beyond the call of duty. You work with me within my budget. Your customer service is stellar! I know I can count on you to answer any question or concern promptly and the issue is always fixed.” 
  • “I love working with the CC team because they’re frank, honest and clear. We’ve frequently had our needs change and sometimes when needs change, pivoting around them needs to be addressed. Creative Circle works hard to identify the best candidates with top-tier skills whenever I provide them with the challenging placement needs we may come across.” 

“I am pleased to introduce the 2023 Best of Staffing winners alongside their validated service ratings on,” said ClearlyRated’s CEO, Eric Gregg. “These firms have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to delivering amazing experiences, despite another year of upheaval and macroeconomic uncertainty. Hats off to these service leaders — it’s truly an honor to recognize and celebrate their achievements.” 

About Creative Circle 

Creative Circle is a recruiting and consulting services company. We specialize in digital marketing and creative staffing, managed services, and in-house studio development. Our strength comes from our talent community, and our power lies in leveraging this network to provide flexible custom solutions for our clients — from Fortune 500 companies to boutique agencies and budding startups. Creative Circle is part of ASGN Incorporated (NYSE: ASGN). To learn more, visit

About ClearlyRated 

Rooted in satisfaction research for professional service firms, ClearlyRated utilizes a Net Promoter® Score survey program to help professional service firms measure their service experience, build online reputation, and differentiate on service quality. Learn more at 

About Best of Staffing
ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing® Award is the only award in the U.S. and Canada that recognizes staffing agencies that have proven superior service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients, placed talent, and internal employees. Award winners are showcased by city and area of expertise on — an online business directory that helps buyers of professional services find service leaders and vet prospective firms with the help of validated client ratings and testimonials.

The buzz around ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) took flight on February 7, 2023, when OpenAI — an artificial intelligence research and deployment company — asked a limited number of people to test it. The initial reviews were rave, and by the end of March millions of people worldwide were using ChatGPT to create content. A student in the UK asked ChatGPT to write a letter to the city council protesting a parking ticket, and her fine was revoked. And this is just the beginning.

For the uninitiated, if there are any of you left out there, ChatGPT is one of the most popular and widely used large language models (LLMs) in circulation. ChatGPT can follow complex instructions given in spoken language and solve challenging problems accurately — imagine if Alexa or Siri could contribute to a creative process. Its capabilities are as astonishing as they are simple:

  • generate, edit, and revise in collaboration with users on creative/technical writing tasks, including songwriting and screenwriting
  • learn an individual user’s writing style
  • accept images for inputs and generate captions, classifications, and analyses
  • handle more than 25K words and support longform content creation, extended conversations, and document search/analysis.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech companies have developed similar models. And AI is stretching far beyond just smart chatbots. There are already several iterations of:

  • text-to-image models that create realistic images from natural language
  • image captioning models that describe pictures with words
  • open-source applications that will classify and summarize text
  • vision libraries that enable computers to detect and track objects.

These tools have spurred a tremendous amount of both excitement and distress in the world of work. Will AI take our jobs? Make us more productive? Or a combination of both?

Let’s examine ChatGPT as it’s used in the advertising industry specifically for a closer look.

The Limitations of AI

From OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT: “While we have safeguards in place, the system may occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information and produce offensive or biased content. It is not intended to give advice.” OpenAI admits to three core limitations of ChatGPT:

  • may occasionally generate incorrect information
  • may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content
  • limited knowledge of world and events after 2021.

These limitations bespeak the need for human participation in any and every AI project. According to Todd Reinhart and Bill Skrief of AdAge, AI should streamline the human creative process, but it shouldn’t produce final deliverables:

“Just because a technology is in use doesn’t mean it’s ready for prime time. AI has been a media darling, but creative leaders need to look beyond the hype to determine if AI is right for their process and internal needs and if it synergizes with the comfort level and requirements of clients and partners.”

Reinhart and Skrief warn of the necessity to properly govern AI. Essentially, users must be fully aware and transparent about what it can and can’t do, as well as what it should and shouldn’t do.

For example, FreedomGPT is an LLM-based chatbot trained to have neither guardrails nor inhibitions. The tool was built by AI venture capital firm Age of AI and dispenses with most forms of censorship: it can explain how to build a bomb, it can use racial epithets and slurs and will, with the right input, happily praise Adolf Hitler. This has some unsettling implications. As recently as April, President Joe Biden told his council of science and technology advisors it remains to be seen if artificial intelligence is dangerous, but technology companies must ensure their products are safe.

Right now, ChatGPT is going through growing pains and working through a number of ethical and legal issues. It’s become apparent that human oversight is still required to recognize the technology’s potential for bias and toxicity.

How AI Can Help Ad Agencies

With only a few key phrases, ChatGPT can quickly generate multiple ad copy options. This can shorten the time usually devoted to brainstorming sessions or first drafts, giving copywriters and editors a head start. How simple is it? Ask ChatGPT, “write me ad copy for ______________.” So let it be written, so let it be done.

ChatGPT can also analyze consumer data and identify the most effective ways to reach specific consumer groups. The program can:

  • help advertisers determine the best social media platforms to use for their ad campaigns
  • determine the most effective times of day to target a particular market
  • generate new interests and audience groups.

ChatGPT can also conduct market research, another boon to ad agencies. This is immeasurably useful for advertisers looking to target consumer groups and/or specific demographics and discern their likes, their interests, and their overall buying personas. Some advertising experts even predict ChatGPT will eventually provide wireframes for the development and deployment of individual campaigns.

How AI Can’t Help Ad Agencies

AI is a good tool for generating new ideas and first drafts, but from there, think of it as a cake pulled from the oven: you still need a pâtissier to ice and slice it and put it in a display case (which said pâtissier has set at the perfect temperature and arranged alluringly, etc.). An application like ChatGPT can give you a good starting point, but it takes human creativity, experience, and imagination to create something wholly memorable.

“…at best, ChatGPT is a tool, a powerful one, that can save time and help creative talent focus on bigger thinking, but at worst, it’s a shortcut to mediocrity at scale,” says M.T. Fletcher of AdAge. “You don’t need a gizmo; you need an idea. You need an idea for a story, because stories are what people remember. Make your consumer the protagonist, your brand the catalyst, and tell a tale of transformation, redemption or discovery. From myths to memes, stories are what we share. And campaigns are never-ending stories. Which means creativity and non-linear thinking are still the most powerful tools in your arsenal.”

Example: AI in Action

As an example of ChatGPT’s capabilities and limitations, we asked it the question in the title of this article: “AI and Advertising: How Should Agencies Balance Smart Tech and Human Talent?” Here’s its verbatim answer:

“Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed the advertising industry, enabling advertisers to target specific audiences, optimize ad campaigns, and measure results with greater accuracy. However, despite the benefits of AI, it is important for advertising agencies to strike a balance between smart tech and human talent.

 Here are some ways that agencies can balance AI and human talent in advertising:

  1. Identify areas where AI can add value: Agencies should identify areas where AI can add value, such as targeting specific audiences, analyzing data, and optimizing ad campaigns. This will enable agencies to leverage AI to improve their advertising efforts while also allowing human talent to focus on more strategic and creative tasks.
  2. Hire talent with the right skills: Agencies should hire talent with the right skills to work alongside AI technology. This includes individuals who have a deep understanding of AI, data analysis, and technology, as well as those with a strong creative skill set who can think outside the box.
  3. Encourage collaboration: To strike a balance between AI and human talent, agencies should encourage collaboration between the two groups. This will enable team members to share knowledge and expertise, and to leverage each other’s strengths.
  4. Emphasize the importance of creativity: While AI can help optimize ad campaigns, it cannot replace human creativity. Agencies should emphasize the importance of creativity in advertising and encourage their teams to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas that resonate with audiences.
  5. Use data to inform decisions: AI can help agencies collect and analyze data, but it is important to remember that data is only one piece of the puzzle. Agencies should use data to inform their decisions, but also rely on the insights and expertise of human talent to make informed decisions.

In summary, advertising agencies should strike a balance between AI and human talent by identifying areas where AI can add value, hiring talent with the right skills, encouraging collaboration, emphasizing the importance of creativity, and using data to inform decisions. By doing so, agencies can leverage the benefits of AI while also leveraging the unique strengths of human talent.”

As you can see, it’s a great start, but it’s largely just a start. The article is grammatically sharp with solid pacing, syntax, and tone, but the content overall is very general and offers few unique insights that truly educate the reader.

How the Right People Can Put AI to Work for Your Agency

AI content will often be “pretty good,” and “pretty good” is impressive when produced with such ease and speed. But anyone in advertising, communications or marketing knows that “pretty good” isn’t enough, especially in an increasingly incredible competitive market during economic headwinds.

So will the phrase “flesh-and-blood” become the “bricks-and-mortar” of the ‘20s, a way to describe increasingly irrelevant human capital as AI continues producing more and better content? In short, no, it shouldn’t.

Replacing your copywriters, editors, and proofreaders with large language models, or your animators, graphic designers, and illustrators with text-to-image AI applications, is a recipe for disappointment and failure. If you put together an orchestra without a conductor or set sail without a captain, you’re sure to find yourself face to face with disaster. In other words, you can’t just leave AI to AI.

AI is likely to change how your agency works and how your talent spends their time. It can grant you efficiency and increased speed by enabling you to produce more content in shorter periods of time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — AI is not likely to outright replace employees en masse anytime soon. At least, not for smart agencies and forward-thinking talent.

Because AI is so accessible and affordable, it’s helping to establish a baseline of competency that every agency can easily reach. To stay competitive, it’s more important than ever to have the very best creative talent. Brands will need the writers, editors, project managers, analysts, and more who can write careful prompts, fact-check and edit AI output, fine-tune content for specific customers, propose novel approaches to common client challenges, delight audiences with original ideas and, perhaps most importantly, stay keenly aware of AI’s quickly evolving abilities and pitfalls.

Jobseekers who stubbornly stick to old methods may soon find themselves becoming more and more replaceable. But the open-minded creatives who are eager to learn new tools, adapt their processes, and consistently challenge conventional thinking are going to be the most impactful contributors that a company can have. This is the type of talent that successful agencies will be seeking out, developing, learning from, and utilizing in the years ahead, and it’s the type of talent we work with at Creative Circle.

We are in an age of breakneck progress in artificial intelligence the chatbots have given way to AI tools that can create impressive, highly detailed images. Is it time to worry or rejoice?  

Say hello to an emerging and fast-evolving genre of AI known as text-to-image generation.

It’s a fascinating new front in artificial intelligence, where anyone can generate hyper-realistic images from a written text description.

While most users have generated work that leans toward the weird and absurd, like the Mona Lisa painting a portrait of Da Vinci, many are also experimenting with possible commercial applications. As you might imagine, this tech has stirred up deep existential and ethical questions about art, creating, and more. Who is the artist behind the creations — AI or its human user? Can machines be creative? And perhaps most germane for creatives — Will this new technology make certain creative industry jobs go *poof*?

Just this past midsummer 2022, a select few people in and adjacent to the tech industry were granted access to these text-to-image AI tools during initial beta testing. The two most prominent are Dall-E —derived from the name of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali and Pixar’s lovable animated robot Wall-E —and Midjourney. Dall-E was launched last year by OpenAI, a nonprofit research lab founded by Sam Altman, Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk, among others. Midjourney entered open beta in mid-July 2022 and comes from a self-funded AI research lab founded by David Holz.

These AI text-to-image tools are simple to use — but rife with controversy.

You can open the doors to a dazzling cornucopia of visual creation in seconds with just a few words or simple phrases. Here’s how these AI tools work: Users type in a text prompt like “a frog on a united states quarter” or “chickens gathered to watch human wrestling,” for example, and the results are wild. These programs can translate text into award-winning art that has roiled the art and design community.

The New York Times recently published an article, An A.I.-Generated Picture Won an Art Prize. Artists Aren’t Happy,” chronicling the brouhaha around the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition awarding Jason M. Allen, of Pueblo West, CO, with the blue-ribbon prize in Digital Art for a piece he had created with Midjourney (he won $300).

via Jason Allen

Allen’s work, “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” won the fair’s contest for emerging digital artists, making it one of the first AI-generated pieces to win such a prize, provoking fierce criticism from artists who accused him of “cheating.” Allen defended his work, which in submission he had explicitly labeled “Jason M. Allen via Midjourney.” After winning, Allen posted a photo of his prize piece to the Midjourney Discord chat, which made its way to Twitter, where it ignited heated debate and backlash. Here are some excerpts from the online mêlée.

  • This is so gross. I can see how AI art can be beneficial, but claiming you’re an artist by generating one? Absolutely not,” shared one Twitter user.
  • “We’re watching the death of artistry unfold right before our eyes,” another Twitter user wrote, who was quoted in the New York Times piece.
  • “No effort? Please,” another wrote. “If Jackson Pollock can splatter paint onto a canvas or Maurizio Cattelan can tape a banana to a wall, and both are called “art” (both which take hardly “any effort at all”), then this counts too.”
  • “Fine tuning and curating is the art here. If they just presented generic Midjourney art, then… It wouldn’t have won. Figuring out what looks like good digital art is the art itself.”

Some tweets excoriated Allen, while others defended him. Many argued that using AI is no different from using other digital image manipulation tools like Photoshop, and that human creativity was necessary to craft the right prompts and curate the final award-winning piece.

Controversy over new art-making technologies is nothing new.

The New York Times article shared that “controversy over new art-making technologies is nothing new. Many painters recoiled at the invention of the camera, which they saw as a debasement of human artistry. (Charles Baudelaire, the 19th-century French poet and art critic, called photography “art’s most mortal enemy.”).”

Is text-to-image AI different? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, human artists are, however, understandably anxious about their futures. Will anyone pay for art or design if they can just generate it themselves? Or are these just new tools that will augment concepting and prototyping, freeing artists, designers, marketers, and more to focus on the more directional components of creation?

Just this past June, Cosmopolitan commissioned art director and digital artist Karen X Cheng to produce the magazine’s first-ever AI-generated cover art — a strong woman shown as an astronaut, based on creative direction from Cheng and the Cosmo design team. The headline and lede on the cover read, “Meet the world’s first artificially intelligent magazine cover. And it only took 20 seconds to make.”  While it took Dall-E twenty seconds to render the image, that bombastic but attention-grabbing claim does not take into account the time it took to refine the art direction or compose the right prompt to achieve the final image.

Cheng documented the process and posted the video on Instagram, which showed the hundreds of iterations of text prompts she typed before coming up with: “wide-angle shot from below of a female astronaut with an athletic feminine body walking with swagger toward camera on Mars in an infinite universe, synthwave digital art.

Via Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan wasn’t the only magazine with an AI-produced cover this past June. The normally buttoned-up Economist deployed a Midjourney-created piece emblazoned with the headline: “AI’s New Frontier.” These examples are significant because they show how quickly digital technologies can go from bleeding edge to market, giving rise to a panoply of complex emotions.

What is the future of text-to-image AI, and what does it mean for artists and designers?

Advances in AI have often sparked concern about the displacement of human workers. While those concerns are legitimate, IBM CEO Ginny Rometty recently said, “If I considered the initials AI, I would have preferred augmented intelligence.”

One way to look at this new technology is that it can help push creative visions forward. Someone putting together a presentation might find they can communicate ideas visually that surpass their artistic abilities. The production team for a video shoot can quickly test out backdrops and props ahead of time. An advertising agency can tweak drafts of a new campaign before having artists work on the final concept.

The reality is that AI design tools are already a part of the creative industry. The Adobe Creative Suite is full of AI-enhanced features. Premiere Pro has proprietary Adobe Sensei AI embedded, allowing automated captions to be created. In Illustrator, the ability to trace and vectorize sketches is powered by AI, as well as the skin-smoothing and other retouching tools in Photoshop’s neural filters.

This compendium of AI use cases from the last several years shows how ubiquitous automated design has become, but it also demonstrates that without creative intervention from human artists and designers, the results of AI-generated design can feel derivative, regimented, and homogenized — making the case that without a human to steer the way, this technology has no intrinsic soul. Perhaps the future is for humans to be captains of creation, with a growing array of digital tools at their disposal.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.

Welcome to the land of economic “hurry up and wait.” 

The labor market is robust, yet gross domestic product growth appears to have slowed substantially and has perhaps nudged backward since last year’s boom. Things are up and down simultaneously, making forecasting what’s coming our way hard for experts and soothsayers alike.  

At the very end of July, the Federal Reserve announced (again) that it is raising interest rates to combat inflation, which stood at 9.1% from last June — the fastest rate of price increases in more than 40 years. The government also reported last month that GDP fell for the second straight quarter, a possible sign that the economy may be in a recession. 

Lloyd Blankfein, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and now its senior chairman, summed things up nicely: “Everybody is saying, ‘Where is the economy going?'” he said. “And I think a good point to make is it’s hard to predict the future, but right now it’s hard to predict the present.” 

“There’s a not insubstantial chance that we have a recession,” shared Blankfein. “I don’t think it’s baked in the cake. Some people say we’re already in a recession. A lot of people say a soft landing is very, very unlikely.”

And a soft landing is precisely what the Federal Reserve is trying to mastermind. They want raise interest rates enough to cool the economy without creating a job-killing recession. In other words, walking a tightrope at night while gargling with salt — considerably hard to do. 

Recession and the labor market

Most recessions do not have a pillowy landing. The Fed raises rates, and jobs are lost. Companies don’t just reduce their hiring plans; they contract. But here, we are starting from a different place — our financial system is actually in good shape. In the United States, there are more jobs than there are people to fill them. We are living in the era of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the glowing.  

The June jobs report was positive, and that was, to many, a surprise — 372,000 jobs were added, much better than expected. How was it possible to generate 372,000 jobs while we are potentially on the cliff of a recession?  

The first six months of 2022 were an extraordinary period for the United States labor market, as unemployment hovered at 50-year lows and job creation boomed. But what will the next six months bring? Will the job market remain robust? Will wages surge higher as demand tightens or will they be beaten back by inflation? When we posted a LinkedIn poll asking jobseekers about their job market sentiments, it was a nearly even divide between optimism and pessimism, with 21% unsure if things were up or down.   

Interest rates and inflation 

One thing is for sure — the headwinds have become more intense. The Fed is poised to keep raising interest rates, which makes businesses’ debt more expensive and may well prompt companies to slow their hiring plans. If inflation continues to rise, it will overtake whatever wage surge workers have gained. The good news? Inflation seems to be slowing down, and worker demand remains high — still far higher than before the pandemic. 

 While Covid created a big economic downturn, demand for goods like housing, cars, TVs, and more actually went up, which is unusual. One of the challenges facing the Fed is that their decades of data do not allow straightforward extrapolation for this pandemic outlier time. And the Fed has only one tool — interest rates — that can slow or speed the demand of interest-rate-sensitive parts of the economy.  

One of the big lessons from past inflation episodes is that raising the interest rate to reduce demand will not make inflation go away if your inflation comes from supply-side shocks. If wages go up more slowly than prices increase, people’s effective income decreases. If the Fed creates a recession to conquer inflation, in the short run, things are going to get worse because income will stagnate, people will lose their jobs, and unemployment will rise. The strongest part of today’s economy? A massively robust job market. A wrong move by the Fed may very well kill the part of the economy that is working well. 

The big picture

So, how did we land here? The pandemic played a role. We shut down the economy as if we shut off a valve. It was not the natural order of things, and now we are feeling some of the repercussions of that most unusual time. The unemployment rate currently stands at 3.6%, about what it was before the pandemic — almost a 50-year low. And yet, 58% of Americans are thought to be living paycheck to paycheck. In economics, there’s the BIG picture but also the smaller one for each household.   

In our age of 24-hour news cycles, fear may be the very thing we need to fear most. Our glut of nonstop punditry is built to send jolts of jitter into people; there is deep concern that the public might slip into a ‘doom loop’ that could scare the country into a downward economic spiral. The irony is, if we collectively pull back and stop going out to restaurants, for example, the very thing we are hoping to avoid — a deep recession — will likely happen.  

Job openings are still almost double the number of unemployed job seekers, though that could change as companies grow more wary of a possible recession. While companies may rein in their hiring plans as interest rates cool capital financing, things are likely to ebb and flow a bit as the markets strive for equilibrium.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.

It’s no surprise that “freedom” means different things to different people — but what does it mean to creative professionals as it relates to work? 

We are experiencing an ongoing revolution in the workplace. Traditional ideas about knowledge work are dissolving, and as a society, we are undergoing a radical change in how we think of work — especially for those who work in creative industries.

For decades, scientists have known that creativity often grows in a non-linear fashion and that creatives tend to be more neurotic and antisocial than others — aka, they live more in the world of daydreams and require some solitude to produce quality work.

Neuroscientists who study creativity find that it does not involve a single brain region or side of the brain as the “right brain” myth of creativity suggests; rather, it draws on the brain as a whole. The complex process of “creativity” comprises many interconnected unconscious and conscious cognitive systems and emotions, with discrete areas of the brain recruited to handle each task and work in concert to get the job done.

Creatives don’t always follow the classic 9-to-5 workweek flow, finding that doing work at night or early in the morning is often more beneficial. In other words, thinking out of the box is hard when you’ve been put into one. It’s fair to say that social environments can adversely impact creativity.

So, when are people most creative? A large study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley sought to better understand what drives creativity. They collected daily electronic logs from nearly 240 professionals working on 26 distinct creative projects, who reported on their emotions and perceptions of their work environment, along with their motivation and one notable event from each day.

They found that of all the positive events reported in the nearly 12,000 diaries collected, the most significant factors for generating positive emotions and perceptions of their work environment was making progress in meaningful work — moving forward on something that matters. They were not only more productive on those days, but more creative, too. Simply put, creativity has a lot to do with setting up the right work environment to allow motivation and imagination to thrive.

But the right environment isn’t the same for everyone.

For some, working from home stifles creativity because collaboration via Zoom doesn’t get their creative juices going vroom. In contrast, others find open office setups and their attendant distractions a major creativity killer. Recent research published in the journal Nature, based on fieldwork in five countries, found that video conferencing inhibits the production of creative ideas. But they also found that video conferencing was as effective as in-person meetings for choosing which innovative ideas to pursue, essentially proving that some folks prefer vanilla ice cream while others prefer strawberry (just kidding, sort of).

We set out to see what were the most essential creative workplace freedoms for Creative Circlers. While everyone wants control over their general process — including where, when, for whom, and on what they work — we learned that some aspects are definitely more important than others. To uncover which work freedoms matter most, we crafted a LinkedIn poll to which over 6,000 people responded.

We broke things down by looking at the overarching question: Which freedom is your #1 priority?

And these were the options:

  • Working with whom I want
  • Working where I want
  • Working when I want
  • Doing the work I want to do

Can you guess which option creatives valued most?

In this new age of widespread digital nomadism, we guessed that “working where I want” would take the cake. While this ranked high, there was something that mattered even more…

Here’s how our results broke out:

  • Doing the work I want to do: 41%
  • Working where I want: 34%
  • Working when I want: 21%
  • Working with whom I want: 4%

The number one thing for Creative Circlers? “Doing the work I want to do” — echoing the results of the Berkeley study.

Creativity is crucial for companies. It’s one of the elusive characteristics that managers seek in their employees so that their organizations can stay ahead in today’s cutthroat new-new-new marketplace. Research suggests that businesses would do well to remember that creativity is as much about communicating with creatives to set up the right work environment that lets motivation and imagination juices flow as it is about finding the right candidates.

People are most creative when motivated by interest, sincere enjoyment, and satisfaction with the work itself. That’s important for both creatives and those that employ them to remember.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.

During Mental Health Month, my feed was oversaturated with the same quick tips and urges for mindfulness, positivity, and gratitude. While these can be useful tools, they tell a very incomplete story and can be basically useless for anyone in any sort of real distress.  

Mental health is a multifaceted, complex concept that we have turned into a simplistic buzzword because that’s how the internet rolls. Here’s what I’ve learned: 

Find What Works for You 

There are no cure-alls in this life. What works for some people won’t necessarily work for others. What works for you now might not work in the future. 

I learned this as I healed from a concussion. I was used to relying on meditation and yoga practices as tools to manage generalized anxiety, but post- concussion, they just didn’t work for me anymore. My brain and body hurt in a way that made meditation even more stressful, and the body awareness of my yoga practice just made me feel worse. I had to find new tools. Sometimes that meant doing anything to distract myself from what I was feeling. Sometimes it meant isolating myself from my triggers (light and sound). The process labored and lingered for longer than I could have imagined, but now I’m mostly better. Not perfect, but better. It feels good enough for now. 

Of course, a concussion is a physical injury that requires professional medical attention (although if you have no structural damage and ongoing symptoms, that help is extremely hard to come by and rarely covered by insurance). But the point is that when you are struggling with something, you might have to try a bunch of things before you find what helps you find peace, calm, or a reset. They might be practices, supplements (please vet these carefully as they tend to be unregulated), or medications (only seek these out under the supervision of a medical professional). There is no inherently wrong way to help yourself feel better, as long as you’re not simultaneously causing harm. 

Sometimes It’s Physical: Calming the Nervous System 

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) encompasses the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric nervous systems. These are systems that function without our being conscious of them. To super simplify things, the sympathetic nervous system rules “fight or flight,” while the parasympathetic rules “rest and digest.” To calm our nervous system, we’ll want to activate that parasympathetic nervous system. 

A lot of these practices are hyped up with the term biohacking. I’m not a huge fan of this term because it implies “quick and easy,” which, depending on where we’re at physically, mentally, and emotionally, these practices might not be. There are also all sorts of gadgets designed to help with the “hacking” part, but are definitely not necessary. (I did use some to help heal from post-concussion syndrome, but don’t know if it was time, the devices, or other therapies that did the trick. Probably a combo.) While these practices can be super helpful at regulating the nervous system and stimulating the vagus nerve which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, it’s not some sort of magic bullet cure-all for all your stress and anxiety. It can take time to use these tools well. Still, they may work quickly for some people. Here are some ways to stimulate the vagus nerve: 

Wading Through the Mire of Grief and Loss 

While the above exercises might help you out when wading through tough times, there is no substitute for wading through the mire of grief and loss. And it can truly be a mire, a bog, an endless labyrinth with no means of escape. But for most of us, at least 90%, there is an end to the hardest part and a way to move forward.  

Here are some ideas on ways to carry yourself through a loss. These may work for you at different points in your process. And remember, we experience grief in a spiral. Feeling a wave of it over something you thought you were “over” isn’t a “relapse,” it’s just your body and mind expressing the process of your own humanity. You could: 

  • Talk to someone. A therapist, a partner, a friend, a support group, or anyone you feel safe enough opening up to. There are hotlines if you don’t want to talk to someone you know personally. 
  • Collapse on the floor and cry. 
  • Write or draw it out. Creative expression is a beautiful way to process grief. Don’t be afraid of letting it get dark. There is magic there. 
  • Create meaning. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe we can create meaning out of tragic circumstances. (I discuss this and other spiritual jargon in-depth here). 
  • Remember to eat, sleep, and move your body. It may not make you feel better, but it could prevent you from feeling even worse. Similarly, don’t beat yourself up if that is not something you’re capable of at the moment.  

What if you’re trying to help someone who is moving through grief and loss? 

  • Validate their feelings and listen. 
  • Do not try to minimize or compare their loss.  
  • Offer tangible help like household chores, getting food, or helping with errands. 
  • Check in and keep them included.

Where Is It Coming From? Exploring Locus Of Control 

When someone comes to me because they’re struggling with their feelings and wondering what is wrong with them, I ask one very important question:  

Are you having a mental health issue, or are you having a normal response to your circumstances?  

While studies show having an internal locus of control or seeing yourself as the master of your fate is associated with higher resilience, recognizing when your feelings are a product of your circumstances can help you sort them out and make changes where possible. Your anger and frustration and sadness is not a problem; it’s an indicator. That’s a big part of therapy — figuring out where those threads come from. Is it about what’s happening right now, or is something from your past making you react more intensely to this circumstance?  

I want to acknowledge that while therapy is becoming more accessible for some, it still isn’t for many.    

The Community Solution  

The one great balm we can all rely on, however, seems to be community, and maybe that’s another reason we’re living in an increasingly stressed, anxious, and depressed world. Our communities are fractured as a result of work schedules, ways of life, and geography. But building upon any foundation we might have can be a huge help.  

According to group psychotherapists Irving Yalom and Malov Leszcz in The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, ”we are built for connection, and nothing is more important to our well-being and health than deep and meaningful relatedness.” In fact, it’s more than our mental health at stake here. Physical health is deeply connected to social connection. Yalom and Leszcz cite: “Social isolation is as much a risk factor for early mortality as such obvious factors as smoking and obesity.”  

Developing community takes time. If you’re feeling isolated, here are some places you can start: 

  • Check in on your local friends 
  • Try a Meet Up group 
  • Join a local running or book club 
  • Volunteer with a community center or clean up initiatives 
  • If your friends and family are far, set up a recurring phone call to catch up 
  • Find a creative outlet class like drawing, dancing, or improv

Remember, There Are No True Quick Fixes 

None of these are tips or tricks. They are tools that may or may not work for you. Some may help a lot at first and then plateau. Some may take a while to have any effect at all and then pay dividends. Some may have worked in the past but don’t anymore.  

There are people out there who can help, from friends to professionals if you need them. You are not alone in this uncertain place.  

If you need immediate assistance, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. 

About the author.

Alessandra is your friendly neighborhood writer, coach, and facilitator with a varied history of experience from digital agencies and corporations to yoga studios and gyms. Her expertise and interests range from fitness and wellness to self-care and personal development to intersectionality and justice to science and creative cultivation. She has worked on and off with Creative Circle since 2014, originally as an NYC recruiter, later as an internal sourcer, and currently as a community wellness and culture specialist as well as a contributing writer for this here blog. You can find up-to-date offerings or sign up for her newsletter at