Inspiration Survival Skills for Creatives

How artists are surviving and thriving during COVID-19. 

Adam Garcia is an artist, creative director, dancer, and dungeon master. He lives in Los Angeles, where he works on Apple Music’s creative team and produces the podcast First Generation Burden, a series of conversations with immigrants and the children of immigrants. He spoke to Adobe Create about how the COVID-19 pandemic’s social distancing has affected his life and work so far.

It’s been overwhelming, to say the least. The biggest challenge for me has been attempting to balance being informed without being overwhelmed, being productive without feeling utterly anxiety-ridden. I’ve been trying to focus on personal needs while figuring out how to give back and feel “of value” when things are falling apart around us. It’s a process that we’re all experiencing, especially those of us who have devoted our lives to creativity.

Here are a few things I’ve been doing to find balance in my life while practising social distancing. And if you take away even a tiny nugget of value, that’s awesome.

Learn Some Sh*t

Last week I had some down-time (believe it or not) and decided to learn something new. I realized I couldn’t name a whole lot of countries that are actually real countries, so I took my geographically-challenged brain and a few hours a night and memorized every world flag (including territories, et al.): 254 total in three days. Memorized. From Andorra to Zimbabwe, from Azerbaijan to Zambia. All the flags are now burned into my consciousness. It perfectly mixed my symbolic-design mind, world history, modern geo-politics, and a process of mnemonic devices to get through ’em all. I then got excited and joined the North American Vexillological Association (seriously). If my simple brain can do that, you can do ANYTHING. And definitely holler at me about world flags next time we see each other.

Play. Play. Play.

If you’re reading this you’re probably a self-described “creative.” Creating collaborative games, systems of play, etc., is something you’re probably pretty good at. Besides, like, playing tag with my partner in the apartment (dangerous if you’ve got stairs), I play role-playing games over VC with friends in Portland and New York (shout out Numenera) and I got my girlfriend addicted to Minecraft. I tried to make it into a conceptual art project by creating a duplicate of our quarantine apartment in Minecraft. Play relentlessly. Move your body I’m not good at exercise. I’ve got the knees of an old mule and sweat makes me angry. However, I used to be a dancer and we’ve got some big-ass mirrors in our apartment, so I wiggle around like it’s America’s Got Talent every time my girlfriend leaves the room. That keeps me from becoming a total potato..

Create Rituals

Social distancing week one was sad, but kind of like a vacation. We didn’t know how long this would last, and it didn’t seem quite real yet. Week two got dark. Reality set in, and we all realized this thing may be around for a while. Week three and we started coming to terms with the fact that the world won’t ever be the same after this. In the meanwhile, our lives have lost a sense of structure, days melt into one another, and our four walls have become our reality. Structure is something that we all need, and creating new structures with meaning is something we need. I try to wake up and watch the sunset in the mornings, and my girlfriend and I go to the roof to watch the sunset when we can. It’s not only a ritual that gives temporal structure, but it puts things in perspective.

Do Nothing

All of the above aside, these are unprecedented times, and we are all processing. It’s a lot to think about, and if you’re not feeling some kind of anxiety from these circumstances you’re probably not paying enough attention. We will most likely all feel a kind of residual process from this, and right now, to sit in it, internalize, and just be here is okay. To feel overwhelmed and nearly paralyzed by what we’re in is okay. To not do anything is okay. Just remember, it will pass, our lives will move on, and we will be more connected to one another through this than we were before.


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