5 Questions for 5 Artists

Local artists are finding creative ways to implement the strain of quarantine into their daily lives and work.

By Nathan Tippmann

Innovation is defined as, “something new or different being introduced.” Amid a worldwide pandemic, scientific innovation is taking place actively to combat the blunders of different governments globally. While the press keeps its nation’s citizens informed about the leaps and bounds taking place in the field of public health and scientific research, one place experiencing much less press coverage is the field of art. Before the pandemic flipped our lives upside down, one thing I was lucky enough to do was befriend an array of passionate artists. As a journalist, a writer, and a creative myself, I felt I should tap into and provide a voice for an area receiving much less coverage. Granted, medical professionals are saving lives in ways art cannot, this field of cultural evolution and self-expression is experiencing a hit in the sense of human connection. Below are testimonials from some of the artists I am closest to.

Nathan Tippmann: What has been the most difficult part of this pandemic for you personally?

Ali Weber on Instagram: @holyterror.art

Ali Weber, artist, and college student: For me, the most frustrating part of this whole situation is having to leave my school and my peers. I really value input and critique from other artists and the fact that I physically cannot be in a studio with my classmates to talk about our work has been weird. There is not really any quarantine equivalent I can do to get this same kind of artistic input, which is difficult

Delaney Nelson, creative, and college student: I find that anger is the emotion I have felt the most because of this pandemic. Of course, I am mad about the changes that have occurred in my life that I didn’t plan for, but I’m angrier about the lack of leadership in this country and their value on profit over people. It is heartbreaking to know what people are going through and to feel so helpless about it.

Eva Nichols on Instagram: @444archiv

Eva Nichols, artist, and high school student: For me, I have struggled with the balance of homework and hobbies. I am used to this homebody lifestyle, so staying inside is not a big deal. It has brought me way more free time to invest in my hobby, creating. This shift does worry me, in the sense that my priorities are not always my schoolwork, even when school is still technically in session. The stress of that situation seems to be the most difficult for me.

NT: How has isolation impacted your work?

Skye Hurley, artist, and college student: At the start of the pandemic, my mother said to me, “You have to change your mindset, right now. You’re an artist in residence.” This time at home has helped me expand where my mind is going, in turn expanding my work.

Hope Christofferson, illustrator, and college student: My artistic practice has seen a huge shift since the shutdown of my college. I have really been able to do my own thing creatively, which has been amazing and one thing to be thankful for in the midst of the negativity that accompanied the outbreak. With fewer assignments to take up my time, I am finding more inspiration in nature on hikes and walks. With more alone time comes less pressure to fit in that I did not even realize I had until I took a step back from normal life. Over the last few weeks, the things I have been making have begun to take on illustrative fantasy related themes that explore the connection between people, folklore, and the environment. (Editor’s Note: The headline image is courtesy of Hope.)

NT: Where have you been pulling inspiration from? Any specific feelings or scenarios?

Wyatt Fenner, musician, and songwriter: Talk about a period of reflection! Most people are living very different lives from their usual normal and many people are beginning to feel emotionally isolated on top of already being in physical isolation. I have found it is a great time to look back on good memories, communicating with friends about those good times, because who knows what tomorrow brings. It would be a lie to say we are all not feeling cabin fever, even though the world feels quite apocalyptic. Those would be my main points of inspiration currently.

Hope: I have been finding my inspiration in the plants like the pasque flowers and other plants that have been emerging from the sleep of winter. I also love looking at the work of other artists from different parts of the world on illustration blogs like Juxtapose, Hyperallergic, and Creative Boom. Looking at how other creatives in the world are still making their work and finding inspiration helps me when I hit an artistic block.

Hope Christfferson Instagram: @hopechristofferson

Delaney: Visually, I am constantly being inspired by the textures around me and the feelings they evoke. I am also visually inspired by my dreams. Both of those really tie into the type of media I have been creating. The constant themes looming over us are the same themes driving my work. Such as rethinking our food sources, marginalized people always being impacted the most negatively, the effect of loneliness on the body, humans adapting to change, and the meaning of freedom.

Skye: Every artist is on the internet right now; live streaming, posting thoughts, sharing their art. I have found incredible inspiration from others’ words and ideas. During this dark time, I have been subconsciously creating light and lively pieces. Lots of sunshine and fluffy clouds.

Skye Hurley on Instagram: @skyeelise_

NT: In your perspective, how is the pandemic effecting artists on a broader scale?

Eva: I feel that the pandemic has reinforced a drive to create in those procrastinating to do so, allowing those with potential to really start getting to work. I have seen so many people tap back into their creative energy and others who have begun to use their creativity and art as a place of grounding, a place of tranquility.

Ali:  I think this pandemic is really giving artists time to work on their crafts, which is always good. On a broader scale, I think (or I hope) that everyone staying at home helps people to realize how important creatives are for our culture. Can you imagine what this pandemic would be like without Netflix? People have been turning to all forms of art to entertain themselves, so I think artists and creatives in general have been celebrated in this strange time.

Hope: Financially, I know a lot of people who do commissioned freelance work are having a harder time, because there is not the stability or benefits that traditional jobs have. On the brighter side, many of us have been finding beauty in the spaces and objects of our homes in a way that I have never seen before. I hope the art made during this period reminds us of what we learned to value throughout this ordeal.

Delaney: The idea of who identifies as an artist still confuses me, so for the sake of this answer I will define them as people who integrate creating into their everyday life. I think besides the huge financial burden that this pandemic is causing, like for most people, artists are feeling the pressure to create more because of increased time to do so. I think this pressure is ineffective. Artists create for the sake of creating, not due to the feeling of productivity. Capitalism teaches us to work as much as possible and that productivity is the priority. We do not have to listen to that. Create when you are ready.

NT: Finally, what have you been doing to stay sane?

Skye: Brushing my teeth, drinking subpar coffee, and watching clouds roll by. 

Wyatt: My usual hobbies of roommate coexistence, skateboarding, movie and television consumption, meditation, and cooking. However, as far as normalcy goes, I think we are all going to have to redefine our “normal.” For now, we are going to have to find simple joys, like watching the clouds roll by and letting the wind remind us that we are alive, right now.

Wyatt Fenner on Instagram: @everything_is_weird

Eva: Painting and cooking! That is all I’ve been doing, and I feel so at ease with everything. Learning to cook and filling in gaps in my knowledge of painting has ensured a sense of normalcy. Also, digesting news in a knowledgeable manner, rather than getting out of pocket.

Hope: Writing letters to friends and pretending to be a character in a Jane Austen novel have been fun escapes for me. It is a way of communicating that I appreciate more now that I have the time to imagine what life was like before social media and video chatting. I have also started to play around one the ukulele, which has been a fun way to pass the time.

Hopefully, this Q & A has informed readers about their local artists and inspires them to get artsy themselves. Now is always better than later and with all this time on our collective hands, learning a new painting technique or two or three could not possibly hurt. Our local art community is pulsing with life, a fact very few take note of. Artists are surviving, but only with the support of our communities.

Find and follow these wonderful humans on Instagram!

​Ali: @holyterror.art

​Hope: @hopechristofferson

​Skye: @skyeelise_

​Eva: @444archiv

​Wyatt: @everything_is_weird