How Not To Burn Out On Creativity—When Your Job Demands It Daily


How do you keep creativity alive when you do it for a living? Old Navy senior creative director Jeanine Celeste Pang shares her secrets to keeping inspiration flowing in today's installation of "Shortlisted."

You know what's most interesting about Old Navy? They don't take themselves too seriously. They insert wit and humor into pretty much everything they do. And today, we're spending time with the woman who's responsible for that voice. Jeanine Celeste Pang is a former Vogue and W magazine editor who is now Senior Creative Director, Voice, at Old Navy.

What does that mean? "Basically, I co-lead concepting from a storytelling and voice perspective," she says. "I also lead all editorial and copy for all channels—whether you see it in-store, on social, on site, or on the splashiest billboard in the middle of Times Square."

That's a big job that comes with a lot of pressure to be clever and creative all the time. So many of us channel our creative energy in our side hustles and in our free time—but how do you turn it on, on command?

Pang explains how she curates inspiration in her daily life and allows it to fuel her passion and her day job—without ever burning out on that insatiable hunger for new ideas. Oh, and she shares some pretty solid beauty tips along the way as well. 


Power Mantra: Do the damn thing.

"Never thought a Mack 10 lyric would speak so well to me, but there you go. Basically don't overthink things, just be true to yourself and do it already. Also related: Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk, where she talks about perfection being the death of joy." 


Skin saver: My morning cocktail

"I love drinking a skin cocktail in the morning. I mix a bunch of little potions and dusts in diluted cashew yogurt, the most consistent ones being Tonifying Schisandra Berry and brightening camu camu powder (a.k.a. vitamin C on steroids). Also, a heaping spoonful of collagen protein. Let me tell you, the whole thing tastes pretty funky, which means it must be working!" 


Cant-miss podcast: NPR's "Fresh Air"

"Terry Gross' voice alone is like a soothing balm after a long day, and I think the art of asking the right question at the right time is a worthwhile, life-long pursuit. If you haven't heard her beautiful interview with Maurice Sendak, listen here." 


Happy-place outfit: A sweater and overalls

"A colorful striped sweater (Old Navy makes a great one) and a pair of fitted overalls. It's hard not to see the glass half-full when you're dressed like an adult version of Rainbow Brite." 


Currently reading: The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

"Ariel Levy's memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply is one of those laugh one second, sob the next page-turners. She lost her 19-week-old son on the floor of a Mongolian hotel room, alone and on assignment for The New Yorker, which she chronicles in the new book and also in this Pulitzer-winning essay. Somehow she manages to cope with Nora Ephron-levels of wit and levity, which I find incredibly admirable." 

Currently listening to: Moses Sumney's "Aromanaticism." 


Productivity hack: Constant inspiration.

"Treat life like a moving inspiration board. I'm constantly dissecting and tracking trends with specific words, turns of phrase, and new ways to tell a story—and I jot down as many as I can for future reference. I can't tell you how many conversations I've awkwardly paused so I can whip out my iPhone and text myself a snippet of what someone said, or how many photos are just blurry captures of everything from graffiti to menus to storefront easels.

"I've turned my writers onto this, and now we do this "street stalker" email where we share photos of IRL inspiration. The last great one was from a mom-and-pop shades and blinds store in Oakland with a marquee that read, 'We can help you go 50 shades darker.'" 


Most opened app: Instagram.

"Instagram is definitely where I source a lot of my concepting inspiration. I also use it like a Gchat with my friends." 

daydreaming of love:home, henry evans from st helena, november 1960

A post shared by Jeanine Celeste Pang (@jcpthatsme) on


Good-hair secret weapon: Beer-tinged shampoo from Lush.

"I've been using Lush's Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo on-and-off for the past twenty years. The first ingredient is beer which leaves your hair all bouncy and shiny." 


"Lanvin flats in the summer, A.P.C. boots in the winter." 


Self-care method of choice: Dating myself. 

"I take myself out to dinner and a movie at least once a month. Regardless of relationship status, I've always liked the idea of dating yourself. Nothing too fancy, though... maybe P.F. Chang's or somewhere with amazing, super fatty cheesecake. It's like my current self is dating my high school self." 


Words: Neha Gandhi
Photo: Frederic Aranda