When we chose to relocate our central operations to Cincinnati, Ohio, we knew we would want to quickly find the most interesting, inspiring parts of the city to sustain our creativity and sense of wonder. Our favorite finds are below—some perhaps obvious, and others hidden gems.


1 | Eden Park

With a steady stream of concerts, films, and live theater, Eden Park is an obvious choice for engaging one’s creativity. For even further inspiration though, the park is a scene of natural beauty, a respite from the bustle of downtown. 

The lush botanical gardens at Krohn Conservatory are home to an incredible variety of over 3000 plant species, dappled with colorful flowers and unique leaf patterns. Nearby, the Spencer Overlook displays a grand view of the Ohio River and the hills of Kentucky beyond.

With many creatives working in front of a screen all day, spending time in nature can be a unique opportunity to slow down and find creative inspiration with an exploratory eye and a wandering mind.


2 | Cincinnati Art Museum

Nothing inspires artists like other artists. Located within Eden Park is the Cincinnati Art Museum, which displays an impressively diverse collection of work created by artists from around the world, representing thousands of years of art history. From paintings by European masters, like Van Gogh and Monet, to Jordanian sculptures from the 2nd century, there is endless fodder for a hungry creative mind.

Being exposed to a variety of artistic sources is so important, because it provides opportunities to learn new creative perspectives from styles and mediums that are seemingly disconnected. The stroke of Van Gogh’s brush might inspire the curves of typographer’s letterforms, or the shadows on an ancient sculpture might encourage a photographer to explore different methods of lighting in their studio.


3 | The Cinci Book Bus

For a face-to-face experience with a creative mind, visit retired school teacher Melanie Moore and her Book Bus, a 1962 VW Transporter she was inspired to turn into a mobile bookstore. Similarly to the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Book Bus offers an array of literature both new and old, another source of endless inspiration.

But Melanie herself is just as inspiring: she wanted a physical book store, but didn’t want to be tied down to a specific location; as a former teacher, she was also aware of the lack of classroom books in low income areas of Cincinnati. With both of these issues in mind, she created the Cinci Book Bus, which allows her to run a bookstore with freedom to move, and she takes the earned profits to buy books for kids who might not otherwise have access to them. She’s a brilliant example of someone who came up with a creative solution to multiple problems, drawing from her own experiences and looking outward to see how her creativity could positively affect other people.


4 | Cincinnati Music Hall

Built more than 140 years ago, the Cincinnati Music Hall is a piece of architectural heritage in the Victorian Gothic Revival style. As a venue, it hosts a range of artistic expressions, namely symphonic orchestras, choral performances, and ballet. Music is a frequently cited source of creative inspiration, but less obvious inspirations like the movement of ballet can help us consider alternative ways that creativity can manifest.

In addition to the creativity happening inside the building, the Cincinnati Music Hall uses its exterior as a brilliant piece of visual branding. The grand Rose Window serves as an icon for the venue, utilized as a representative symbol on everything from tumbler glasses to Christmas tree ornaments. A closer look at the exterior will reveal ornamental sculptures of various instruments, a subtle way of architecturally communicating on the outside what kind of artistic expression takes place on the inside. These flourishes are a testament to how the power of detailed symbolism can provide long lasting relevance, in this case, even a century and a half later.


5 | The Roebling Suspension Bridge

Another 19th century architectural wonder is the Roebling Suspension Bridge, a structure reaching over the Ohio River to connect the cities of Cincinnati and Covington. Similarly to the Cincinnati Music Hall, the bridge is an example of the timelessness of design, supported both visually and structurally by massive stone towers. In an era where changes in trend occur rapidly, seeing an evergreen design is a welcome reminder to create things with staying power.

Relaxation, exercise, and social interaction are just as important to a productive creative life as the day-to-day work. And while less marvelous than its architectural grandeur, the bridge facilitates pedestrian exploration as one can enjoy the shops, bars, and restaurants from both riverfronts.


6 | Mr. Redlegs Benches

More than just creative inspiration, a true lesson in audience engagement can be learned from the Cincinnati Reds brilliant us of public art: its 24 benches scattered across Cincinnati with a sculpture of mascot Mr. Redlegs inviting their target audience to take a seat. Big corporations often seem cold and distant, but the Reds took their commercial brand and made it personable and friendly. 

This integration of brand and audience doesn’t stop at this interaction. It’s a natural photo opportunity for visitors and residents, who will inevitably share the fun images with their family and friends on Instagram and Facebook. They’ve effectively turned the Cincinnati public into brand ambassadors. This integrates brand and audience; it’s no longer just a corporation communicating to an audience, it’s a an audience becoming a part of the corporation’s voice.


Conclusion

Whether you’re in Cincinnati or any other city in the world, finding local creative inspiration is essential for both creatives and companies. Artists and designers are constantly outputting their own creative vision, but no one creates in a vacuum, so it’s important to be intentional about the creativity being input. Anybody can benefit from an eye-opening artistic experience, but companies in particular benefit from understanding their audience’s surroundings: what kind of visual language they’re seeing, what grabs their attention, and what is meaningful to them.

These are our favorite finds in Cincinnati thus far, but let us know your favorite sources as we continue our exploration of the Queen City.