Art in the time of COVID

Art in the time of COVID

As a human being, in times like this, ever since the pandemic started, we’ve all been crippled more or less by the fear of uncertainty about future. The future of this and of course our own future because uncertainty shakes our security, one of our most fundamental needs. And when that happens, it can have a very disruptive aftermath on our mental well being. Combine it with isolation and change of routine and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. 

The current situation is tough for most of us when it comes to our careers and jobs, and sometimes even exceptionally tough such as for the front-line health care workers. However I don’t know everyone’s story and I find it inadequate to talk on behalf of people working in fields that I’m not familiar with, but I can talk about my territory and my experience. I’ve been in the creative field for the past 8 years, mainly as a graphic designer and an illustrator but my focus has always been illustration and fine arts. 

For the past weeks of isolation I couldn’t help but think what happens with the creative field in times of a pandemic? Generally speaking, no matter how harsh it sounds, art has always been mostly a luxury not a necessity because unfortunately having a roof over your head and food on the table will most likely always be a priority, unlike buying a new painting or going to the theatre. In times like this, most people are uncertain about their financial future so investment into art is most likely declining… not to mention that the venues supporting artists have been closing because of the lockdown. Some artists have relocated to social media and thanks to that you can now enjoy perfomers of any kind, be them singers, dancer, actors, from the comfort of your own bed. Artist are still out there, striving, working hard, trying to stay afloat! And thanks to social media some, or maybe most of them, are doing pretty good, but in the end the number of likes, shares and views doesn’t support artists financially. And for those who do not have a second income, a partner with a stable income in times likes this, or who are struggling with debt and mortgage, the situation is getting tougher. 

The financial “chapter” when it comes to “Art in the time of COVID” is scary for most of us and it feels like being stuck in a rut. I’ve seen illustrators still managing to sell prints, originals and so on. I’ve seen artists asking for support, such as donations, from their fans and I’ve also seen artists shaming the ones who’ve been asking for support. I’ve seen illustrators vanishing from social media as well because this entire uncertainty can eat you up entirely, wipe out your creativity and replace it with hopelessness and despair. Some of the illustrators I follow have been advertising their products more often than usually lately and it’s understandable, but there’s also others not doing it anymore. I’ve chosen the latter, although I’m struggling financially, because it feels unfair and guilty to try and sell my art in times when some people fear that the next salary they get might be the next one. What is also somehow scary yet interesting enough to keep an eye on is the evolution of the supply and demand ratio when it comes to the creative field because right now in April, the supply has skyrocketed and sadly I’m expecting a sudden crash. For those of you reading, I wish I had some advice to give… I wish I found a solution, but unfortunately so far I haven’t been able to find any answers, not even for my own good. 

So what’s next? What’s left for us to do? What’s left for me to do?  Those who are in the same position as me, we’re stuck inside like everybody else but we feel lost and stuck in a mental loop. But the most wonderful thing about artists is undying passion for what they do. This is our core value! And in times like this, if possible, there’s nothing left better to do than to keep pushing because doing what we are passionate about keeps us sane and isolation and lockdown, no matter how distressing they are, in the end, are giving us the opportunity to focus more on evolution, improvement and experimenting. Drawing again for the 32th day in a row will feel pointless and in vain for sure, because it’s part of the hope-hopelessness mental loop some are dealing with, but in the end it’s a loop we have to go through and accept, until things get better or we manage to make things better. And in the end keep in mind that one of our purposes as artists is sharing. People all around the world are stuck inside, doing the same routine, walking around the same rooms and looking at the same view through the window everyday and trying to see something new, something fresh, something that spices up their day. And that’s what we can do. We may not be front-line heroes but we have the ability to help some people get through this isolation a little bit easier by bringing a little bit of novelty into their lives. 
I personally, have decided to look at this pandemic as an opportunity to finally focus on my work. Most of our distractions have been taken away from us because we were unable to actually manage them, which means we’re actually being forced by the circumstances to learn self discipline. It sounds harsh but it’s not, because in the end, personally, I am at last focusing on my art in it’s most pure way, not for numbers and stats, but for my well being and fullfillment and for the other’s comfort and hope.