3 Visual Artists Share How the Quarantine Helps Shape Their Creative Flow
The ongoing lockdown gave us a lot of time to work on many things, sans the sunny outdoors. Being stuck at home paved way for energy that was usually exerted on hangouts with friends or studying for an exam or a outdoor adventures. The overwhelming bounty of hours in our hands right now is both a blessing and a curse and, depending on how you choose to work on those days, can be a cure or disruption in times of a crisis like this.
For most, choosing to be productive is the way to lessen the burden. When’s a better time to finally start those personal projects you’ve been meaning to do than now? Instead of not doing anything at all, this punch of creativity can be a message of hope and a spark of change. And for these yougn Filipino artists who continue to churn out their visual takes on spending life in quarantine, the process is a healing one for themselves and for their audiences as well.
Take Chicago-based illustrator Chanitoba, for instance, who was stuck in an artistic rut for some time—until the global pandemic shutdown happened. “When the quarantine was first issued in America, I went from barely drawing for almost three years to becoming addicted to it, literally,” she tells Chalk.
Decided to make a persona for this account; meet Chanitoba ✨ First syllable pronounced with a “Sha.” Here are a few bloggy shizniz: 1. I illustrated this with no figure reference out of stubbornness and also to challenge my current knowledge of proportion + perspective; WOW do I have a lot of studying to do 🤦🏻♀️ Will use references again for now. 2. Expect more drafty / unfinished posts; I want to be able to see my progress, but also be able to make more refined and confident work 🌹 3. Bonus points if you can tell what snack I’m eating here 🤪 Hint: it’s definitely Filipino. Been snacking on this all quarantine and I’ve run out. Help 😖 #illustration #characterdesign #art #procreate
Long hours at home produced a number of artworks that don’t just inspire, but also present a stance. Touching the topic of Philippine governance in her illustrations, as well as societal behaviors she questions as they are contradictory, Chanitoba’s art is a channel that nurtures her voice, as well as her pop-laden aesthetics. “The issues my current work focuses on include but go beyond Duterte. But thinking about such topics can get very frustrating and sad, so I try to make political commentary that encourages more feelings of delight and relatability—like comedy!” she describes.
“It’s like they’re canceling their own prayers!” // 1. TURON 😋 2. ...with that fake screenshot vibe cuz I obvi want an anime where Filipino human rights issues are a big theme 👀 3. I feel that Chanitoba’s personality would be similar to Satoshi Kon’s Paprika 🤔 #oustduterte #oustdu30 #dutertevirus #nodu30 #PopContraPop #fakescreenshot #politicalpun #turon #filipinx #dailylife
“I want folks to be able to deal with discomfort (and comfort) in ways that are productive, not dismissive,” the artist continues. Her visuals seek to incite open-mindedness and critical thinking, despite and especially through hard times like this. Art and its consumption is, and always, essential, Chanitoba believes—now more than ever.
Rbin Binuya (@mydoodlebin)
Letterist and designer Rbin Binuya agrees. “The art community is who we turn to in times of crisis,” he shares. And he’s right, as we can practically find a slew of artworks online, may it be a fundraiser or an act of expression from a socially aware millennial. Regardless of the reasons, Rbin acknowledges the importance of a creative outlet. In his regard, it serves as a reminder to stay connected—despite the physical distance—to feel empathy and compassion.
“The main goal of my art is to make people feel that they are not alone, we will fight, and we’re all in this together,” Rbin says. Taking inspiration from pop entertainment and current happenings, he works on phrases that speak to him and are relatable, statements that could spark hope and comfort to anxious minds and hearts. “I’d like to remind people to take care of their mental health and that it’s okay to acknowledge whatever they’re feeling now,” the 23-year-old adds.
Looking after yourself through art also means that going through a slump is forgivable, too. Rbin finds it essential to take time off to preserve the love for the craft. “I always remind myself that this is not a productivity race and productivity is not a requirement during the pandemic,” he explains. So if you find yourself falling on a black hole, don’t put unnecessary pressure on your shoulders—pace yourself out and start again, whenever you’re ready.
Faye Amante (@faye.amante)
If anything, this ECQ is a space for spontaneity. When you’re back on the roll, do not disregard even the most random of things! For illustrator and art director Faye Amante, the possibilities are in the mundane, like grocery runs, a meme that suddenly popped in her feed, or even yesterday’s merienda. She puts what seems trivial and ordinary in the spotlight, creating her personal interpretation of everyday events since the lockdown began.
“Art is everywhere, it can be anything random or inspired by whatever situation you are in, as long as you stay true to what you do,” she prompts. Whenever an idea pops, the 23-year-old immediately reaches for her tools and does the work. “I always think of how I can make it interesting,” Faye says.
The plus side—it’s free therapy. “Art makes stress, anxiety, or other discomforts caused by the sudden change in our life, somehow, bearable,” she muses.
Do it to entertain yourself or relieve the pressing weight of being in isolation. Either way, let your creativity serve its purpose for you, for now—and other things, recovery or another set of mundane frills, will follow suit.