Sep 27, 2020

How to hone your creativity in isolation: an Artist's social distancing survival guide

For lots of Artists, inspiration springs up in the middle of a daily routine. In the comfortable happenings of day to day life, like a morning commute or coffee with friends, creative ideas make their appearance. For me, an evening walk to the library, right before a frantic study session, always provides some much-needed moments of introspection. Without these experiences, an artistic lull settles over many of our minds. This is why (on top of many other reasons, of course) COVID-19 sucks. During these lengthy pandemic isolation periods, creative inspiration becomes elusive, and then nearly impossible to find. As social distancing requirements stretch into the summer, here are three ways to hone your creativity, even in isolation.      

1. Seek out community

Although the pandemic makes in-person gatherings difficult, the digital age offers countless opportunities to connect with other Artists. From Zoom editing sessions to virtual conversations over coffee, chances for meaningful, creative interaction exist everywhere. 

For example, Doodle Addicts is a free online community where artists and illustrators can showcase work and complete challenges from fellow creatives. With over 25,000 doodlers involved, artists confined to their homes can still find moments of shared creativity. The platform even hosts a #ColorInQuarantine challenge, introducing free coloring book pages every day for bored followers to color and compare. Using this platform, Artists can find both connection and creative works to enjoy, which leads me to my next tip.                   

2. Enjoy the work of other Artists.

Sometimes, even the most dedicated creatives lose steam, and this is especially likely to happen in the middle of a pandemic. In these moments, seeing the finished masterpieces of other Artists reignites a desire to create. The intricate, thought-provoking themes of another person’s work can kickstart your own imagination, and reminds us of the value of our labor-intensive, time-consuming creative acts. 

For Artists seeking new sources of inspiration, I’ve found that online, expert-created compilation videos provide the best recommendations. Art curators, music enthusiasts, and film lovers organize these videos according to theme, making it easy to find works dealing with your favorite ideas.For example, The Art Assignment, a Youtube channel dedicated to exploring art and history, offers videos analyzing topics like gender, empathy, and social media’s effect on Artists. From famous paintings to popular video games, host Sarah Urist Green celebrates the beauty of each work, breaking down their messages for unfamiliar viewers. 

For TV and film aficionados, The Take releases multiple video essays about popular entertainment on their Youtube channel each week. Its creators spend their time dissecting movie tropes and highlighting the merit of everyday amusements. From bashing the infamous ending of How I Met Your Mother to calling out the widespread prejudice within Hollywood, this platform is perfect for the passionate but idea-less artist.                     

3. Set deadlines, and treat each one like a challenge.  

In a perfect world, Artistic minds would never need deadlines to fuel their creativity. In this world, inspiration never evades us, and ideas for new songs, books, or paintings always surface in our minds. Although ideal, this easy-to-access creativity rarely characterizes an Artist’s life. Rather, in the face of creative slumps, experienced Artists set deadlines for their own work, and treat each project like a challenge. 

By working in the absence of motivation, many people find that inspiration rises with every word written, string plucked, or brush dipped in paint. Since deadlines drive Artists to begin working, these time limits can help workers reconnect with their creativity. As Rita Mae Brown, the bestselling author of Rubyfruit Jungle, once said, “A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.” 

As this pandemic stretches into the future, our joint periods of isolation will likely continue. So, with nothing else to occupy our time, why not fill these quiet moments with bursts of creative activity? In a time dominated by infection updates and political squabbles, the world could certainly use a little more Art.

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