In a society where hustle culture has become the norm, lockdown has created a challenging paradox: how does one stay productive from home? Despite its often vacuous nature, social media has provided us with a vessel for communication and, it turns out, innovation. An immense increase in online traffic has presented an altruistic opportunity for creative student hustlers wanting to use their talents to effectuate change. The campaign Creatives Against Covid-19, established by design agency RichardsDee and a group of Irish creatives, calls on gifted individuals to donate their art for Women’s Aid and ISPCC Childline, thus giving hustlers a forum for their art that benefits others. In a time clouded by anxiety and confusion, the campaign elevates images of “optimism, resilience and hope”.
“The campaign Creatives Against Covid-19, established by design agency RichardsDee and a group of Irish creatives, calls on gifted individuals to donate their art for Women’s aid and ISPCC childline.”
For Aisling Larkin, a DCU multimedia student, getting involved with the campaign was a “no brainer” due to the devastating social impact of lockdown. “I thought about the homeless, the people in direct provision, and of course, the women and children stuck in dangerous home situations.” Larkin aspires to provoke social awareness, creating political pieces based on civil injustices happening around the world. Her incredible graphics draw inspiration from Matisse’s use of complementary primary colours and graphic designer Ryan Carl’s simple, block colour designs. Working as a graphic designer, Larkin spends “all day every day” creating for other people. Lockdown has given her time to go through old sketchbooks and create designs that she personally believes in. Nature is at the forefront of her art, which is evident in her stunning Creatives Against Covid-19 poster. The piece acknowledges the feelings of unease and injustice we possess at this tremulous time, “but reminds people that there is still a beautiful, natural world that we can return to someday soon.” Larkin hopes that those struggling with feelings of hopelessness about the current situation find refuge in her art.
Trinity neuroscience graduate, Sinaoife Andrews, centred her poster around the reassurance that can be found within nature. Her beautiful paintings, influenced by classic botanic pictures from 18th and 19th century journals and magazines, pairs her passions, science and art, in a magnificent blend. Whilst illustrating for Trinity News, Andrews nurtured her style, focusing on detailed, realistic drawings. Lockdown has provided her with an opportunity to experiment in different mediums and incorporate more complex colour into her illustrations. Living near the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin means that she has an abundance of inspiration from the surrounding nature. By studying nature, she has learnt a great deal about the biology of flowers: “I enjoy the precision involved in capturing the intricate anatomical structure of flowers.” Her incredibly realistic paintings include labels, as she aspires “to help make science accessible for everyone”. Although Andrews uses Etsy, most of her work is displayed on her Instagram, which she describes as an “efficient and clean platform”.
Grace Brennan, a Visual Communication Design student, hopes that her stunning entry, Space Between Us, is seen by women and children affected by isolation during the pandemic. “My submission aims to communicate how although there is physical distance between us, we are still connected.” Brennan’s work is inspired by a range of artists and designers including typographer Patrick Thomas and installation designer Michael Murphy. Her art heavily features pictograms and symbols. “I’m quite interested in psychology so the idea that a simple line drawing or contrasting symbol can send an instant message to your brain, fascinates me.” Brennan has recently been involved in a range of fascinating projects including a photography shoot that addresses smoking, a board game called Lockdown and currently, a book project that addresses both mental and physical health. Like the other designers, Instagram is the main platform for showcasing her work. “I think Instagram can be an easy way to open up the design conversation with people all over the world but also to join a platform of Irish artists by following, liking and commenting on each other’s works.”
Another pioneering individual contributing to the campaign is Caoimhe Hill, a fashion designer from Cork. Hill studied fashion design at the National College of Art and Design and has most recently worked for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s brand The Row and modular jewellery brand LIMNIA in New York. After discovering the campaign through friends in the industry she was inspired to enter as it provided a platform where she could “do something useful at a time when we all felt we couldn’t do much to help from home”. Social consciousness is at the forefront of Hill’s work. Her involvement in the industry has made her aware of the devastating collateral damage mass fashion production has on the planet. Taking inspiration from sustainable brands such as Marine Serre, Chopeva Lowena and Eileen Fisher, Hill’s recent creations are made from unwanted or old garments that otherwise would have ended up in charity shops, or more likely landfill sites. “The end garment acts as an artefact, an object to treasure and is displayed as in a museum. A symbol that clothing should be durable and last, a reaction to today’s disposable culture worldwide.”
The pandemic has prompted a mass appetite for online content that has the potential to manifest into huge pressure for creators. Larkin says that despite external influences she tries to “avoid falling into the hole of simply creating for other people”, instead focusing on what she wants to say in the world. The artists emphasise the importance of spending time doing other things outside social media, which can become an all-consuming vacuum. Andrews finds relief in exploring nearby parks when searching for inspiration for her next piece, whilst Hill has been using free time to create masks as a non-profit project. “This is something I hadn’t expected to ever make but with the skill set in this current climate I think it is important to do so.” Brennan has continued creating during lockdown by participating in the “365: A Drawing a Day” challenge, inspired by illustrator David Litchfield, that challenges artists to create at least one work each day during lockdown. “The aim of this challenge is also to be that bit closer to spending 10,000 hours on drawing; 10,000 hours is the number of hours suggested to equal mastery in your chosen subject.”
“The artists emphasise the importance of spending time doing other things outside social media, which can become an all-consuming vacuum.”
With incredible minds such as these submitting entries, it is no surprise that the Creatives Against Covid-19 movement has been an immense success. The campaign has had over 1,000 poster entries from over 30 countries. It is an inspiring example of artistic people taking action to help fight social issues. Whilst the future may seem daunting, we may find comfort in the knowledge that our generation has many innovative individuals, ready to make a difference.
“Whilst the future may seem daunting, we may find comfort in the knowledge that our generation has many innovative individuals, ready to make a difference.”