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Diary of an artist and designer in Covid-19

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: ‘Disruptive Leadership’ on Radio 4

Week 3 - 30 March 2020

Connecting more dots: Covid-19 Visors York.

Cycle delivery: and a bit more.

Fag packet logo: Covid-19 Visors York.

First visors prototype.

Learn something new: Design Trust teach creative skills online course week 1.

Food parcels: Friends know me too well!

The art of creative thinking: Re-Discovering old books.

Learn something new: Surveys for my Design Trust homework.

More reminders to eat well

Design Covid-19 Visors York logo

Ask for help: Homework out in my newsletter.

Too many ideas: Making sense of it all.

Learn something new: Testing a better microphone.

Make do and mend: Blue peter special, making a camera boom.

Snap: Doing too much temporary melt down.

Breathe - connect with nature: Early morning breakfast in the sun. A whole day


Week 4 - 6 April 2020

Coming soon.

Mmm, so I don't seem to have found the time to update with this for now.

I'm loving learning new skills and the bizarley the challenging of diversifying. Who's have thought good things would have come out of having my business turned upside down!

I've lots of notes and photo to add, so hope to come back to it soon. Lots of news to come.


My main achievements so far...

The two main projects I've been working on for the past two weeks are these...

Helping with COVID-19 Visors York

A project to supply free PPE visors for font line workers in York.

Find out more on my COVID-19 Visors York blog.

Learning to teach online workshops

As all my teaching in-person linocut workshops been postponed, I’m learning to create workshops online. No quick fix but a step in the right direction. 

In order to be able to create professional and engaging online learning, I have invested in The Design Trust’s ‘Teach Creative Skills Online’ course. This is a 3 week course with over 40 hours of homework. The aim is to have us launching a new online course in 6 weeks time! 


Things that have helped....

The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins

If you've lost your creative mojo and are in a creative pickle yourself. I'd recommend reading The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins. I bought it years ago, while I was at a hugely creative low in a corporate design role.

It’s been interesting to read again, while I'm on a surprisingly creative high. So many things resinated, these are two...

"To produce anything worthwhile, you have to be proactive and generate it..."

Rod Judkins

"We learn by walking, falling over, getting up and trying again. There is no right way of doing things. So you must find your way."

Rod Judkins

Support your local independent bookstore or listen to it on Audible.

Thank you for listening.



Let me know what you think...

I always love to hear your feedback on new designs. Especially in theses uncertain times. Please do comment below.

To be first to hear about my latest designs, inspiration and workshops please join my mailing list or let me know.

I always love to hear your feedback on my blogs. Especially in these uncertain times. Please do comment below.


About the artist

Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour. Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.

Keep in touch

Keep up to date with work in progress and positive messages on....

My newsletter join my mailing list. There is also a link my contact page or let me know.

My website and online shop and

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