Wunderman Thompson London
4 months ago
“Yay, I can do loads of art work now I’m trapped inside!”
Said no-one, ever. That’s not really a normal reaction to endless days of working from home, isolation and general nerves amidst a global pandemic.
But by week two, I found I was killing time doing exactly that - work almost became a coping mechanism.
The thing with creative work is that it feels best when it’s free of external pressure, whether that be an allocated time limit, a vague brief or so on.
Usually, this stuff is imposed upon you. You have to be a bit more selective with what you should and shouldn’t draw - is anyone really going to understand that your cartoon octopus is a cutting critique of capitalism, but also a mascot for cruelty-free makeup? When you only have so many hours in a week to get creative, you need to focus your efforts to make sure you haven’t just ‘wasted’ your time.
I say ‘wasted’ in inverted commas because as much as I love the process, the brainstorming, the agonising over every detail: it doesn’t matter to clients if they don’t get something good out of it. You can’t really afford to throw hours away.
But now I have the flexibility to experiment, to follow weird little ideas wherever they lead me.
At the moment, they’re pointing me towards architecture.
Because I miss holidays, sightseeing, walking down random lanes and getting lost in something beautiful - the local Tesco isn’t exactly St. Paul’s.
So I’ve started my own mini project, bringing wonderful places to life on paper and canvas. I explored new styles while rooting myself in two key traits that have always lived in my work: bright colours and loads of detail.
And that’s pretty much been my focus. I didn’t want to fall into the ‘Oh, this doesn’t look realistic enough’ trap. I prioritised enjoying the process for what it is, which was me fundamentally capturing the vibrancy and intricacy of places I just like the look of - amplifying detail and colour through my own lens, the way I see it.
In terms of my process, it usually starts by finding a photo I want to recreate, thinking about what features could do with a bit of character here, a little spruce-up there; in my head, I almost try imagining what it would look like if it had been in an all-singing, all-dancing Disney movie.
It sounds a bit cheesy, but to be honest, so are some of life’s best moments - tell me with a straight face that you’re not into power ballads.
After my ‘Disney-vision’, I decide on colours - usually watercolours. From there, I build up depth and detail, either with the same paints or, for extra finishes, a little bit of intricate biro does the trick.
And that’s pretty much it.
There’s plenty of places to look for tips and tricks. The Royal Academy’s Twitter account is running daily drawing challenges, and Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted Talk on creativity will give you that much-needed kick to pick up a pen.
Just don’t think about it too much. Like with any side-project or hobby, it’s easy to get hung up on the ‘end result’ needing to be good. It doesn’t have to be good. It can be rubbish - some of mine are.
Just do it, as Shia LaBeouf would say. Enjoy the process of just creating something for the hell of it. Patterns, doodles, political sea creatures - you don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to. It’s rewarding.
… and that’s kind of what we all need at the moment.
Nadzia Laskar is strategist at Wunderman Thompson UKWunderman Thompson London, 4 months ago