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Diary of an artist and designer in Covid-19

Updated: May 1, 2020

Like many other small businesses, my income streams vanished overnight. Cancelled workshops, cancelled art exhibitions and events, cancelled client projects.

These are:

  • My fears and challenges

  • Things I’ve learnt (Insights about me)

  • My ways of coping

Since Christmas I have been working on numerous new designs for York Open Studios 2020 and an exhibition at The Moors National Park Centre in Danby, North Yorkshire.

I’m using the word canceled and not postponed. Why? Many have been postponed to hopefully autumn but mostly 2021. But I am just one person. On the other side of Covid-19, there are no more hours in the day, days in a week.

I need to be realistic. I need to adapt to change. Accept that pause. I will never get this time back to fit in twice as much next year.

I can’t change the situation.

I can’t make money from the things I used to do.

I can’t just keep on creating art.

I can’t keep on pretending it’ll all be OK.

I can however, innovate.

I can look at fresh ideas.

I can learn something new.

I can upgrade my skills.

The solution to a problem

I’ve written heaps on ideas. Talked to my phone. Taken photos. Doodled ideas. Been onto the ‘mum and dad helpline’ bouncing ideas nearly every day. Saved articles I like. Saved images on Pinterest I like. Saved podcasts from Radio 4. Taken photos of things that have helped or inspired me.

The solution to a problem comes from bashing ideas out.

  • From being free

  • From being playful

  • From nothing being right or wrong

  • By giving yourself time out!

Focus - Narrow that down

It’s strange but my problem solving brain has taken to words. Why is that strange? I hate writing! I hated English at school. I agonise over everything I write. My emails, my blogs, my newsletters.

I’m guessing at this moment of crisis and big change, my brain thinks that writing is the quickest way to get things out.

But with that comes a problem. I get overwhelmed and confused. I can SEE words and link my ideas as I can with images. I THINK my first draft has to be perfect.

But then the penny dropped. Why is the creative process of writing and any different to the creative process of designing and making art.

Keep it simple

  • One step at a time

  • Narrow that down

And so after 3 weeks of writing, writing, writing. I think I’ve finally narrowed it down.

I’ve moved from pencil and paper to screen. Edited them as I type. This is one of the many, hopefully inspiring blogs I would like to share with you.

And now I’m going for a very long line down.

Then I’m hoping my next step out of this pickle. To pick up my tools and get creative again.


My weekly diary

These are some of the ways I’ve coped with such big change.

My intention is to pop little updates of my weeks with a few words.

My intention WAS to add more images than words. For the moment I'm exhausted by hours in front of a screen. So hope to come back to it.

Week 1 - 15 March 2020

In-person workshops: 3rd consecutive day of teaching linocut workshops.

Sharing my creative world: Catapulted from something I love doing and how I make my living, to what now?

YOS cancelled: I make my living solely from art and workshops. My world caves in.

Overthinking: 4am muesli munching begins.

Workshops postponed: Until when?

Reach out: Tuesday’s newsletter.

Support: Overwhelmed by newsletter replies.

Panic selling: I’m still here, look at me…

Pay it forward: Panic buying paper, frames and mounts

Social distancing ride: Friday ride with Bikes Bakes & Banter. My one definite day off in my week. A momentary escape and connection with friends.

Week 2 - 23 March 2020

Adapting to change: Working out what next

Deliveries by bike.

An anxious trip to the post office.

Learning to photograph myself: For possible PR

When was the last time I washed up?

Olive branch - Focus & purpose: Free Design Trust webinar about teaching online.

Mourning York Open Studios: Making the best of things. Cheering myself up. Decorate my window for York Open Studios

Brainstorm ideas: Scribbling ideas in my garden

Escape for a cycle ride: Comfort in trees and churches. Don’t know why. I’m not religious.

Reconnect with nature: The Simple Things magazine and a morning brew outside.

North York Moors exhibition at Danby cancelled: My world caves in again.

Feeling Isolated: Missing my regular Friday ride. Ride on my own.

First zoom coffee: With my cycling friends..

Sell a big print: Thank you Pyramid Gallery.

I’m an artist - I can’t make a difference.

I’m a creative thinker - I can help…

PPE face shields shortage: Who do I know that can help?

Joining the dots: I can make a difference. Finding others doing the same thing.

Progress: Covid-19 Face Visors York is born.

Listen to inspiring Ted Talk: