In the midst of lockdown, it can be hard to keep your creativity flowing. Motivation can be lacking when you’re at home all day, unable to go out and get inspired by the world and the people filling it.
Here at YOUTH, we interviewed five teenagers and asked them about their experiences as creative people dealing with a lockdown, and how they overcome the limitations that come with it. Meet Aaliya (@aaliyaparvez), Jacob (@jacob.ben13), Aydan (@focusedboredom), Evelyn (@evelynruddock) and Luana (@luanabodely), as we delve deep into their lockdown life and get a taste for their artistic minds.
How has lockdown affected your creativity?
The main thing affected by lockdown is my motivation; I’m not doing a lot, going outside. Sometimes I just spend the day gaming and getting distracted. Another thing that’s hard is I’m in a band. We can't rehearse so instead we’re focusing on song writing and our band image, so when we get out we can focus on playing.
It's difficult to stay inspired because a lot of my inspiration comes from getting out, seeing people, going to art galleries and exhibitions, which we obviously can't do now.
I find it hard to stay motivated now that I'm out of the classroom. School structures me and I can be inspired by seeing everyone else's work which I can't do anymore. It's harder to stay focused when you haven't got a productive setting.
I started the first lockdown on a high of creativity because of all this time I had, which in the end left me feeling unmotivated. Before lockdown, I would usually go to art galleries for inspiration (Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery in London particularly) because it's nice to be able to read the meanings behind each piece, but now I can't do that.
Things were ok at the start but now it's harder to get myself to do things and stay motivated. I'm someone who needs a structure that's not self inflicted. I find it hard to produce work when I'm not in the right environment. Because I'm not at college, my surroundings have changed and that shift is disrupting.
How have you overcome these obstacles?
The way I approach my music making is I do it when I want to, instead of forcing myself. Only when I feel inspired then I do something. I find if I feel unmotivated I try not to push myself too much, I work on something simpler and less challenging. If you try and force yourself then you will most likely get into a rut.
I'm staying in contact with people, still talking to them and getting inspired by them. I find getting off my phone and forcing myself to get out the house is also important, I can still be inspired by going for walks and taking in my surroundings. I'm using my resources as well, using the internet, listening to podcasts, experimenting and seeing what's out there.
I take a lot of inspiration from Instagram, Pinterest, and friends. I make a lot of mood boards on Pinterest and follow a lot of photographers on Instagram. I'm very inspired by political movements, for example the photography of the Black Lives Matter movement.
I set myself challenges that I previously hadn't fulfilled, and was able to finish them. I also won a competition in lockdown which meant my art was on the cover of the book 'The Resilience of Being' by Emma Willingham, which gave me a lot of confidence. I also did collaborations with other artists on Instagram which was cool.
I've been reading a lot of fashion books, listening to music and video calling a lot of my friends for inspiration. I also feel like because there is no structure to our days, you can sometimes create your own little bubble that may distort your thoughts. So when you talk o your friends, they bring you out of that; they have their own opinions and ideas which inspire you and they bring you back to reality. Some of my inspiration is influenced by aspects of nature, so I get out a lot and I'm constantly taking pictures of things that will influence me.
Is this lockdown different to the first lockdown for you?
This lockdown is harder because I’m more tired of the situation. A month ago I hyper-fixated on my music and that lead to a creative burn out, so I’m trying to keep a balance between the two.
I feel I am much more creative this time. Everything was new the first lockdown and I had a lot to worry about. Now I feel motivated to get stuff done. Also, I just have to accept this is my reality, we're not getting out anytime soon so I might as well make the most out of it and be productive.
The first lockdown was a lot easier for me. I had a lot more structure from school, being set specific photography tasks. Now, as we are working on our own projects, it's harder to stay on task when I'm not surrounded by my peers and teachers and I'm given more freedom.
I feel in this lockdown there is a lot more to take inspiration from than the first lockdown. Also in the first lockdown, I had the mindset that I should be doing a painting everyday, and if I didn't, then two the next day. As much as I progressed because of all the time I had, I also was putting lots of pressure on myself to achieve that.
I feel like with this lockdown we're just back where we were. I'm more motivated now though, not because it's easier but more because I have future plans, like university, motivating me.
Has your creativity progressed as a result of lockdown?
Before the summer, GCSE’s were cancelled which gave me a lot of free time. It hasn’t changed my progress massively though, because my passion is mainly what has motivated me.
It has because being in a pandemic, at our age, is a massive perspective change. I use what’s at home, making the most of my limited resources. It’s given me a lot more time to be creative and experiment. I can concentrate better and I feel like I can get more done.
Yes and no. I've had a lot more time work on my photography but I work better in a school environment. I don't have access to models at school and I struggle taking photos of myself as self-confidence is an issue I struggle with, but I'm now exploring still life photography so this lockdown is enabling me to experiment more.
My style of art has definitely developed. In the first lockdown, I painted a self-portrait that I wasn't entirely happy with, and then recently I tried to do a similar self-portrait, and it was really interesting to see the differences between the two and the improvements I have made in that time.
No, I’d say if I was around people I would be doing better, I procrastinate a lot so being at college and seeing other people's work helps me stay on task and motivated.
What is your top tip for someone who is finding it hard to stay creative through the lockdown?
Go easy on yourself and be inspired by the little things. You don't always have to be achieving the best part of yourself all the time. Remember to take breaks.
Try something new; we’re in lockdown, you might as well! People are losing interest so doing that helps a lot.
Listen to music, I find music influences my photography. To me, a certain lyric can influence concepts and elements such as lighting, colours and editing for a shoot.
Surround yourself with creative people! Make sure to follow them online and keep in contact with your creative friends through lockdown.
Try your hardest to fit a structure into your day, make a to-do list on things you want to achieve.
Aydan Linney is a seventeen-year-old musician, who explores many musical genres and instruments, but focuses on bass and drums. He loved art a lot when he was little, but it wasn’t until year 8 when his friends decided to start a band that he really got into music. This led him to get a bass, and he hasn't stopped playing since. He started composing for his GCSE’s and it’s developed into a great passion for him.
"I influence myself really, it’s extremely gratifying when you’re working on something and it meets your expectations. Then you’re like 'oh my god, I’m kinda good actually!' and that makes you want to go on and you don’t wanna stop because you see something great you can achieve", he says. A lot of bands influence him such as The Stone Roses, - which he first began listening to at the age of three - The Smiths, Maxïmo Park, Kaiser Chiefs; most of his influences stem from post-punk, alt-rock, indie rock. "I just listen to so much and take inspiration from everywhere. My music is an outrageous mix of genres, you will hear metal and funk in majority of my songs" he told us.
Luana Bodely is a multi-creative sixteen-year-old specialising in music, dance and art. She started dancing when she was three years old and hasn't stopped since. Both of her parents are creative, and with her mum being a graphic designer (@moonflower.design), she has been creating art for a long time; she studied art for her GCSE's and now studies it at A-Level. "Everything was a domino's effect. When I started dance, I got into piano, and later drums, all my creativity has grown from one another."
She likes to make things her own, experimenting a lot with different mediums in each of her creative areas. Her main styles in dance include tap, street and ballet, which she describes as "a good balance between freestyle and stricter dancing". For her art, she predominantly focuses on acrylics and oil paint, but recently has been exploring the use of spray paint. "A big inspiration of mine is street art. I’ve been to London to see all the street art. I feel like a lot of stuff has influenced me. But with music, I have taken more a classic approach."
Aaliya Parvez is a sixteen-year-old photographer. It began when she was younger, growing up in New Zealand: “I’ve been a creative person since I was younger. My mum used to do arts and crafts with me.” She would always be found with a camera in her hand, taking photos and videos of everything. Aaliya later learned about screen recording and editing clips; she made films with her dolls when she was younger and would make music videos to post online. In Year 9, Aaliya did a piece focused on her time in New Zealand and how moving affected her. “[Creativity is] definitely about life experiences and everyone has had different experiences", she said.
It wasn’t until she took photography at GCSE that she really invested her time and creativity as a photographer, and it grew to become her favourite subject. Now, Aaliya takes photography at sixth form as an A-Level. “Recently I was thinking about my career options and I wouldn’t like to go into photography but into the development of games,” she told us. “Photography could help with the designing and I could use my creative skills in that career route.”
From his earliest memories, Jacob Walden can remember art being part of his life; having a mum who was also into art and creativity really influenced him. When painting, Jacob takes preference to acrylics, but more so oil paints, because he enjoys the texture more. He enjoys painting portraits to focus on composition, and really likes going big with them and paying close attention to the balance between light and dark. He also enjoys digital art (an app called Krita), more so for illustrative art because he can really refine the details.
He spoke about how he always aspired to be as talented as his mum, as well as being inspired by his favourite artists; for example, Lucian Freud. Jacob also mentioned how picture books influenced his art as he grew up. "I could probably recite every Julia Donaldson book," he laughed, "I really enjoyed the bold style of the illustrations." Film and TV also inspire Jacob, he likes to pick out colours and landscapes for his paintings.
Evelyn Ruddock is nineteen-years-old and is currently doing an art foundation course at college. She loves a lot of mediums including; painting, drawing, jewellery making, singing, pottery, printmaking, fashion and more. A main outlet for her is in the creation of upcyling garments, "I hate fast fashion and unethically made clothes, I also sometimes can't find things that I want to wear so I create my own".
Her found love for her creativity started when she was little; she would collect lots of nick-nacks that inspired her and made her feel comforted. "I'm somewhat of a hoarder, I used to collect little interesting bits and bobs and make things out of them." She also loved documenting the world throughout secondary school through photography.
A lot influences Evelyn, but she is particularly drawn to nature and textures from outside, "I use Pinterest a lot and right now. I'm liking the influences of the 60s, looking at modernist and space age fashion." She finds her course at college really interesting and says it a great way to "experiment and test different pathways".
Article written by Imogen Morris and Molly Locke.