We’ve all heard the phrase “back to normal” thrown around as the world impatiently tries to revert to what it was before the pandemic, yet, while restrictions are slowly lifted, it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has changed life as we once knew it. However, this also gives us a golden opportunity to reflect on what we have learned during lockdown and how we can thrive going forward in this post-pandemic environment.
As an artist, I experienced lockdown as a series of contradictions. On the one hand, I had a lot more time at home to work on new projects, but on the other hand, I was lacking in structure and inspiration and found it hard to get anything done. While it’s true that some artists adapted to the hermit lifestyle better than most, it is also important to remember that exploring the world outside of your four walls is crucial for your creativity.
Like all of you, I’ve had to learn how to navigate through this new world of ups and downs, but in doing so I’ve had the joy of rediscovering all the things that can inspire me in my day to day life. Exploring my surroundings and engaging in new experiences has helped me focus on my work with a new sense of optimism and hope. Despite all the changes, venturing into the “new normal” has put me back on track.
Here are the five things I recommend all artists keep in mind as they start their new post-pandemic chapter:
1. Keep track of your life
While I have been practising journaling as a way to improve my mental health for years, I have never found it as essential as I do today. With more and more places reopening and restrictions being lifted, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of engagements suddenly flooding in. Whether it’s scheduling meetings, running errands or organizing commissions and assignments, using my journal to stay organized helps me feel a lot less stressed. When it comes to what system I use, my personal preference is to draw out my own timetable and journal pages, so that they are perfectly suited for my needs. I do this digitally with my drawing tablet and then print them for me to scribble in. It may seem like a lot of work, but I have always found the process therapeutic and a good way to practice my design skills.
2. Go outside
This may seem like a pretty obvious point to make, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to cement yourself in the comfortable bubble of your own home. After spending some much time indoors, it can feel strange to wander busy streets again, especially when the rules around keep changing. However, changing your environment is definitely an essential part of any creative process, and one we mustn’t underestimate. I found it a little worrying at first, but quickly remembered how the city is filled with life and art all around. It is incredibly liberating to daydream free of distractions. The more I wandered outside, the more I got inspired to create when I returned home.
3. Connect with others
If there’s one universal lesson that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we should never take the time we can spend close to others for granted. For this reason, a big part of getting back out there should include spending time with the people you love and your community. I definitely craved time with my friends and family during lockdown, so when I was allowed to see them again I had no hesitation. However, I have also made more of an effort to spend time with the people in my community. People’s stories, experiences, skills and cultures are a priceless source of inspiration and learning that should not be overlooked. I can assure you that the more time you spend with other people, the more you will grow as an artist and as a person.
4. Visit galleries and museums
Whenever I travel to a new country or city, I always make it my priority to check out any exhibitions. Yet, I often forget to do the same with all the stunning museums or galleries in my own area. Therefore, as soon as these venues started to reopen I made sure to go show them my appreciation. Viewing other people’s pieces up close is a great way to feel inspired and learn new methods that you can apply to your own work. Also, exploring other mediums or subjects, whether it be a film screening or an exhibition on Ancient Roman jewellery, is the best way to look at the world outside of your own perspective and create something truly unique.
5. Keep the online presence
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, particularly after I’ve insisted that you should immerse yourself in your outdoor environment, but that doesn’t mean you should completely abandon the creative space that you may have created online. During the pandemic, many artists channelled their energies on digital platforms and, in doing so, developed a following. While online interactions will never replace the experience of spending time in person, it is doubtlessly comforting to know you are part of a community of fellow creatives that support you. Not to mention that there are also endless online workshops, tutorials, talks and creators that you can learn from. For this reason, it is important to find the right balance between the time you spend online and the time you spend exploring the outside world.
We all know that this “new normal” will take some getting used to. It might all seem a little intimidating at first, but it’s important to think of this moment as an opportunity to grow. As you begin to venture outside, get back into a routine and explore all that this world has to offer, remember that inspiration can come at any moment, so keep an open mind and don’t be afraid of what the future holds.