Adapting as an artist to the impact of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

Plans Gone Awry

This was going to be the year that I really put my efforts into getting my artwork out into more places, in January I had decided that I should be attending more local markets with my stall, and that my work should be submitted to more galleries.  Then the Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown happened, and alongside many other artists, key sources of exposure and income were taken away from me.  People before profit should be a mantra for us all, and so we all have to adapt to a new way of living and working through this pandemic. In my opinion, it’s a good thing to have to think differently about the way you do things anyway, and shaking things up a bit can provide a number of positives, it stops ideas from becoming stale, it can stop the monotony of tasks, and fresh ideas can develop, it’s like Springtime is blooming for the mind.   

Positive Work At Home

On the plus side, it has given me the opportunity to focus more on my admin tasks, not the reason I’m an artist at all!  I’ve updated my online Etsy shop, and I’m finally looking at my business plan, I’m tailoring a marketing strategy, and I’m taking part in virtual business courses run by South East Enterprise, they offer free advice and courses to local businesses and are proving to be an invaluable source of information for me.

I’m trying to coin the phrase ‘Riot Chic’

Balancing Family Life

My artwork has had to adapt to the lockdown situation too. Not least because I am home schooling my son who is in year four, and learning and entertaining time is often all consuming so my creative time has had to take a back seat. I’m making sure that we have some creative time together as much as possible, and his love of creating artwork has increased dramatically, alongside his love for watching Bob Ross shows! 

Artistic Change Of Direction

For the past few years my work has focussed heavily on ceramics, much of that is completed in studio time at college, but when the adult education centre closed in March for lockdown, that was pretty much the end of that.  I’d love to own a kiln at home, but that is not within my budget, so my kiln work is done at college, and besides I would miss the fantastic mentoring that I have from my ceramics tutor, Anja Lubach. So in the absence of being a potter, my artistic endeavours have changed in lockdown, I have been painting more.  In fact, I’ve created a whole range of work under the title ‘Sweary Landscapes’.

Sweary Landscapes

A whole new world has opened up to me in these strange times of COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve created the world of ‘Sweary Landscapes’.  These are made up of landscape paintings, so far I’ve used watercolours and oils, with imagined scenery that has included mountains, beaches, and lavender fields, I then add a profanity in pen to the painting. Landscapes have never been my thing previously, but I’m finding the process really enjoyable, maybe in the whole lockdown scenario my brain is able to escape to these idyllic places when my body is unable to do so. I’m definitely seeing them as a product of this Coronavirus pandemic and I’m claiming them as a therapeutic tool to get me through these times of confinement. I’ve added some of the original artworks, and also some prints to my Etsy shop if you’d like to see them, or check the gallery section of my website or my social media posts.

Virtual Markets

With no actual markets taking place to attend in person, I’ve recently taken part in the Makers Market From Home on Instagram, it’s a great initiative by artist Andy Greenacre, where makers each set up a stall in their own homes and then photograph and video them to post for others to see.  You can view posts by searching on Instagram for the hashtag #makersmarketfromhome  Over one hundred makers took part in the last market, and with another one planned for Saturday 23rd May, it’s definitely something to look out for.  I’ll be taking part again, with some special offers throughout the day too, so I hope you can follow my posts then. 

Adapting To An Uncertain Future

Now that art fairs, exhibitions and workshops are indefinitely put on hold, the way artists conduct their business is having to change.  I will continue to adapt, not only the way I promote and offer my work, but my work itself.  The approach to my artwork has changed and as the professional landscape shifts around us all, being innovative is more important than ever.  Us creative types need to create, it’s a necessary part of maintaining good mental health, so create we will, even if our only sources of promotion are online.

Changing the way I run my art business

Here are just a few ways that I’m changing the way I work, and they may be helpful to you too:

1.         Strengthening my online presence.  I’m doing this in a number of ways including:

  • Doing an audit of my social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), making sure that everything is up to date and that all information is necessary.
  • Updating the information provided on my website, including creating links to other websites that are relevant.
  • Creating blog posts, admittedly this is a work in progress, this being my second ever blog, but the intention is there to do more.

2.         Creating new artwork, and learning new skills.  I’m enrolled on a couple of virtual watercolour courses to hone my skills with the LSEC

3.         Updating my online shop on Etsy, and ensuring that the prices I list are the lowest I can offer. I’ve also included free postage to UK addresses now.

4.         Sorting out my workshop space. Again, this is very much a work in progress, I’ve given myself a deadline of completing it by the end of this month so my family can       have the dining table back!

5.         Sorting out the paperwork and admin, it’s not pretty but it is necessary.

6.         Planning ahead – I started a wall planner at the beginning of the year, and it’s looking pretty bare for the upcoming months, but it exists and will prove to be a positive visual stimulant once things pick up and markets and galleries are open again, and in the meantime I can fill it with virtual markets and things to do on a daily basis. Today I am finishing this blog!

‘Fuck It 6’ by Harper Bizarre Art

7.         Video tutorials – I created my first one a few weeks ago and it’s up on YouTube, a real time video of creating a quick and easy watercolour landscape which was then turned into a Sweary Landscape (later titled ‘Fuck It 6‘). The video is a bit dull and I’ve learnt that I should have talked through the process, but hey, it can only improve, and hopefully it will inspire someone to pick up a paintbrush or pen.

8.         Using my time to mentor my son in art, this needs no further explanation other than to say that it is a perfect thing to do! He even asked to do his own art video tutorials that are included on my YouTube channel!

‘Sending Love’ by Harper Bizarre Art

9.         Creating artwork to help others – I’ve done a few pieces that are to be included in projects to help others.  I created a watercolour landscape titled ‘Sending Love‘ which will be printed and included in the ‘Busy Bags For The Isolated In Greenwich‘ project     for the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice organised by Crafta, check out their Facebook page. I’m also working on a collaboration for Background Bob’s project in which lots of artists collaborate to design works that will be displayed in a hospital and then auctioned off to raise funds for them.  Please do check the project out if you have a minute or two.

10.       Art swaps – This is a great time to do art swaps with other artists, we’re all looking at our walls and wouldn’t it be good to change them up for a few new works to look at?

Get creative!

We may be in the midst of a pandemic, and our lives may have altered dramatically as a result of the lockdown situation, but I’ve yet to find time to be bored at home.  Creating art or making things is a great way to pass the time, and focusing on something to take your mind off all the external pressures and worries and tragedy, is good for your mental well-being. Give it a go, you may surprise yourself at where your imagination takes you. Remember, there is no such thing as bad art, it’s all subjective.   

Stay safe people, it’s a jungle out there.

Sarah

www.harperbizarreart.com

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