Creativity in the time of Covid-19
After all, home is where the heART is.
Art can take form anytime, anywhere and with anyone. I took the time to take advice from creatives around the world, to share how they are keeping their artistic juices going at home. Here's what they had to say.
Geoff Hewitt (Singer/Songwriter and Vlogger):
Writing has always been a process for me. When I’m out in the world experiencing things, I’m taking it in - storing it ready to turn into ideas when I’m less absorbed by my surroundings. For the next little while, I’ll be looking back through my experiences and turning them into ideas. At the time, I was deeply too deeply involved in the moment to be creative - now I can finally write something about those beautiful things.
Tina Blakeney (Producer and Filmmaker):
I’m doing a mix of digital and analogue - I’m working on a music video, but digital editing projects can be done at all levels and there’s lots of great options to get creative with existing or found footage or photo editing and montages. I’m updating my website, so all that meaning “to get to “archiving etc can be done now - square space and wix have free account options so having time to work on a personal portfolio is a great exercise right now. Finally moving away from digital I’m making cut out collages - scissors paper and glue. Playing with scale is super fun and gets you away from the screen. There’s lots of fun collage groups on insta such as februllage where there are weekly themes to work towards.
Akeem Hoyte-Charles (Comedian):
Try to keep it as much to a conversation as possible...a lot of times comedians tend to write in a way where their cadence is very predictable which gives more added pressure on the punch line.
Jonathan Beaton (Producer and Filmmaker):
1.) Keep your place clean.
2.) Keep your place cozy.
3.) Have a cat.
4.) Exercise as often as possible.
5.) Talk to people as often as possible.
6.) Watch things you like (for video) and pay attention to why you like them.
7.) Stick to a schedule, don't mix living with working.
8.) Invest in good tools! Like my computer saves me time by being super good and I use a fountain pen which for whatever reason makes me think more about the things I write.
I’d say that the hardest thing to do in quarantine situations is committing to something.
We’re usually always on the move and doing something that actually this is a welcome opportunity to take some time - even if it’s half an hour - to listen.
I’m finding the silence weirdly nice.
So re:creativity and inspiration, I think with spring on its way it’s comforting to remember that while the earth gives us stuff like this virus it also provides birdsong, blossom, crops.
It sounds cheesy but if the absence of bustle has made me realise anything it’s that you can really hear and feel the planet when you let yourself.
Julian McKenzie (Journalist, Broadcaster and Podcaster):
I find I come up with my most creative ideas, good or bad, when I'm busy doing something. I find I come up with my most creative ideas, good or bad, when I'm busy doing something. Keep your mind busy and surround yourself with creative material.
John St. Godard (Comedian):
Halfway through 3 - 4 films, alternating 3 novels, cooking crockpot after crockpot ... I forgot to go out for 2 days.
Philippe Hughes (Interactive Designer and Composer):
I suggest being mathematical in your creativity.
1.) Do limited permutation: For example: Explore a technique per day ex 3-4 techniques and cycle everyday between them.
I.e. Day 1 technique 1/Day 2 technique 2/Day 3 technique 3 /Day 4 technique 4 /Day 5 Technique 1 or 5 days per per technique.
Do a study of techniques 4 per month. Document them, through screen recording, voice recording, screen capturing or scan drawing. Sometimes they’ll be the start of something bigger and most importantly you’ll be able to note the progress.
2.) Daily doodles: Finish a doodle per day. Time it or not (as in 10min. creative doodles). Write 1 phrase or 1 paragraph about describing it or the process. Discover and or practice a section/technique of a software that you, but that a thing it does that you never explore.
3.) Learn a creative programming software that would benefit your domain, such as a Touch Designer.
4.) Cross medium or dimension shifting: Think about where your work could sit. For example, a book or poem converted to a place in a tree then you photograph it and the picture is now a visual representation of your writing. Even if no one can read it, it has now shifted dimension.
5.) Use rocks to create a song. Use cereal and bread in macro to create a landscape, that is panning endlessly and you draw that animation of a subject, in front of household textures.
6.) See things and bring them to life. Say you're looking super close and wood grain "ceinture de bois" that are thousands of little stories: take a close up picture all around your house and then in photoshop. Draw all you see and make the stories come out.
Catherine Halprin (Founder of Arcade Consulting and Digital Media Expert):
Keeping kids creative while also keeping yourself creative during a time of severe isolation is something I liken to keeping wild things in captivity - they aren’t used to it and they don’t like it. Not to say that we do either. Being able to function with a 3-year old and 5-year old requires some outside the box thinking. We’ve tried to keep things on a routine without mimicking a school experience because this isn’t school or homeschool (we are not elementary school teachers) but it is a place where we can and do teach & educate our children everyday. We are their first teacher, after all.
While my kids might think they’re on some long-term Spring break, we know better, but we try to keep things fun. Markers, paper and cardboard boxes can be turned into rocket ships, faerie wings and garage ramps for trucks. Cooking becomes a science lesson and cork-boards can be used to keep track of progress on learning letters and practicing reading. While screens are still around in our house,
they’re being used for educational lessons, watching videos of stars and supernovas and catching the next great
David Attenborough animal special. For the adults in the house, photography of a very empty city-scape has been an impromptu art project, a still documentary of our Covid-19 time. Conference calls while walking the dog are an acutely timed activity as trying to work at home with kids around is proving incredibly difficult. We do our best to keep balance between work and school but the truth is, the kids are taking up 90% of our time. So, we’re making the best of it and letting our clients and business partners know that our response time is delayed. When we do have some downtime we try have Spotify dance parties playing everything from The Banana Boat song to Billy Holiday for the kids and so far the cabin-fever has been kept at bay.
Oh and my daughter, Vivi, is helping me write the kid’s book I’m writing - she’s my editor!
Justin Toppetta (Photographer and Cinematographer):
Look through all your belongings and remember (or try to) the stories behind all of them. Who gave them to you or what they mean to you.
Smoke / drink / meditate.
Take an opportunity to try something completely out of your boundaries, and / or learn a new skill
And take inspiration from said skill.
Lucas Lawton (International and Professional Irish Dancer):
Being quarantined or isolated comes with many challenges for everyone, especially those who are used to leading busy and active lives. As a professional dancer, this quarantine period that I’m currently in (as I was working abroad) has been especially difficult and has presented itself with many challenges as I am so used to being active, being creative and ultimately sharing social experiences with other people everyday. I can’t speak to what works for everyone, but I’ve made the conscious effort to try and recreate the things I’m used to doing outside the house, inside. One of the most important things to me is staying active. When I’m on tour I typically do 6 shows a week, all of which include an extensive warmup and cool down. Being active is a part of the job. But seeing as my current tour of France was canceled, and all future work has been put on hold, not dancing can come as a serious shock to my body. Thats why I’ve made a conscious effort to be as active as possible inside the house. I’ve dug up old workout videos and scoured the internet for new ways to exercise without extensive equipment. While I still feel like nothing compares to the workout I get from dancing, its important to me and my mental health to sweat it out everyday the same way I would if I was on tour. Another thing that’s very important to me is staying creative. As a dancer and choreographer I always have new ideas and dance is an amazing outlet for me to release my creativity. Just yesterday, I cleared out my small home studio (which was being used for storage while I was away) and put together a little step and took a video of it. Just taking the hour to think creatively and take my mind off the isolation made for a great day and made me feel accomplished.
This can be done in so many different ways…writing a poem or short story, drawing or painting…there are endless possibilities! Seeing as most people are isolated right now, share what you did on social media! This could potentially help to inspire others and is a great way to gain some satisfaction from what you created as you are bound to receive some positive feedback. Finally, one thing I’m most used to when I’m away from home is social interaction. On tour we eat, travel, rehearse and even sleep together, as in most cases we have a roommate. I am almost always in some kind of social setting. So the idea of “social distance” can be difficult when thats all we know as traveling dancers. I’ve made it a point to call or FaceTime different people everyday. To be completely honest, I think I’ve talked to more people in my life over the past 7 days of quarantine than I have in the last few months! This isolation has forced us all to come together and I’m actually really enjoying the quality time I’m getting to spend with friends and family (even if it is across the internet). That being said, I recommend ignoring the elephant in the room.
We can all talk about COVID-19 until we are blue in the face…but ultimately its not going to change anything. We all just have to do our part by washing our hands and staying inside. Ask your friends and family new things, play a game or go through old pictures and reminisce on memories you’ve created together…You are bound to have a good laugh! While isolation and social distance might be difficult for us, try to find new ways to bring what you are used to doing outside the house, and rework them so that they can be done inside. I like to set small goals for myself everyday by creating a list and checking them off as a I go. Even something as simple as “go for a walk” or “read some of my book”. Checking off things on your list will help you to feel more accomplished in your day throughout this isolation period. Oh, and a little Netflix doesn’t hurt either.