A/D/O by MINI | Time to Get Creative


Time to Get Creative

Social distancing and self-isolation can have their perks. Seize the opportunity to revisit artistic skills or try a new creative pursuit, says Dan Howarth in his first column for The Journal.

As an extrovert, being stuck indoors with no company is one of my worst nightmares. But heeding wise and important advice to “social distance” – a hot contender for Collins’ word(s) of the year 2020, along with “self-isolation,” “quarantine,” and “pandemic” – here I am, alone in my apartment for the foreseeable future. And many around the world are facing a similar life-lockdown situation. Although a little lonely, I’m very fortunate to have work to keep me occupied through the day. I know lots of people who do not and are in need of entertainment, and others who would appreciate ideas to keep them busy during breaks, evenings and weekends.

Let’s face it: there’s only so much Netflix to stream, Instagram to scroll through, or endless news cycles to endure. After a whole weekend of catching up on TV shows and movies (I binged all of 100 Humans, which I would recommend, and rewatched the Sherlock Holmes movie, which I would not), I realized that there’s no way I can spend the next few weeks slowly becoming part of my couch – even though it’s brand new and I’m slightly obsessed with it. 

For a lot of people these days, particularly my fellow Millennials, spending their spare time typically involves technology or going out to socialize. Some younger folk struggle to operate beyond their friends and their phones. In today’s society, it’s very easy to feel down, become anxious, and get disheartened by the fact that our social lives will be severely impacted over the coming weeks (and maybe months). But this is the new normal, at least for now, so we need to make the best of it.

Forms of expression often bloom fullest during dark or uncertain times. Activities and distractions that get the creative juices flowing are proven to be calming, cathartic, and will crucially help to pass the time. Art, design, craft, music, writing, cooking, and other pursuits that spur our imaginations and unlock our talents are going to be fundamental in getting through this bizarre situation. Since we might be in for the long haul, what better time to begin or resume a creative project?

Forms of expression often bloom fullest during dark or uncertain times.

For example, I recently moved into a new apartment (hence the sofa fixation). Although the place is coming together nicely, I’m excited to use my free time to hang pictures that have been sitting on the floor since early February, pick out throw pillows that I can have delivered, organize my chaotic closets, and plan the finishing touches to the space. Using this time to flex my interior design muscles, while I can’t make it to the gym to exercise my body’s, is helping me to feel better about my time indoors. 

Importantly, there are myriad activities you can partake in without spending a penny. All you need is some paper and a pencil or pen to sketch still-life compositions in your apartment. Draw portraits of those hunkered down with you, if you’re lucky enough to have company, or use the mirror if you’re alone. If the recycling is piling up, build something useful or fun out of it. If you’ve played all of your board games, invent a new one. There are online tutorials for almost anything you can think of – from origami to simple science experiments – that require nothing but items you can find around the house.

Not sure where to start, or overrun with options? A fun approach is to choose one creative thing you’re going to accomplish each day. Set yourself a challenge in the morning; review your progress at night. You may end up with enough artworks to host an exhibition for your friends once social restrictions are lifted. Or perform a set of songs that you composed. Better yet, share the things you’ve made with your circles via FaceTime or social media now – you might inspire them to do the same.

Dust off those paintbrushes. Delve into that craft box. Download Duolingo.

This is also a great moment to support professional artists, designers, photographers, illustrators and others in the creative industries who might not have a steady income – and who will likely be impacted by the current economy. There’s plenty of time to check in on what your favorite creatives have been up to recently, or do some digging into upcoming talents by browsing Etsy, Behance, Instagram, or other design platforms. If you find something you love or relate to, share and spread the work on your own channels and credit the creators to help drum up support for them.

It’s true, not everyone has an artistic flair or creative streak. For those, remember promising yourself you would learn a new language? That new business idea that you jotted down months ago and forgot about? No doubt there are many lingering New Year’s resolutions that deserve attention right now too. Maybe, like me, you need to get inventive with your workouts. Several household objects can substitute for dumbbells and weights, while lots of personal trainers and yoga instructors are posting free sessions to Instagram and Youtube.

It’s also possible to get your cultural fix without leaving the house. Several museums offer virtual tours, allowing you to browse and learn about the world’s masterpieces from your living room. Recordings of old concerts, live music performances, audiobooks of literary classics, and much more are mere clicks away. Whether as background noise while working from home, or an evening’s entertainment, absorb the arts while you can.

There’s really no excuse to be bored. Use your time at home as productively as possible. Dust off those paintbrushes. Delve into that craft box. Download Duolingo. In the midst of an awful and scary global crisis, try to think positive, and know that there’s never been a better time to get creative.

We want to see your creativity! Email dan@a-d-o.com with examples of what you’ve been working on during social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine – along with a few sentences about how the experience has affected you in a positive way – and we’ll publish a selection.

Text by Dan Howarth.

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