The worldwide lockdown caused by Covid-19 during the first half of 2020 was especially challenging for the arts. Exhibitions were cancelled and projects curtailed. For artists, who are often self employed, there was next to no government help.
For many, innovation and creativity were needed. Virtual exhibitions and new ways of thinking were required in order to keep going. Initiatives such as the Artist Support Pledge provided a valuable means of selling work. For many it meant working in a different way. Social media in particular gained ever more importance. Artists found themselves having to move away from more traditional means of art selling and getting used to something new.
With this series of art online interviews we explored just what artists were doing during lockdown. How were people making the most of their time? How were they innovating and what else were they doing to keep motivated? The following series captures a moment in time and helps to answer some of those questions.
Art Online – Interviews in Lockdown
Episode 24 – Matthew Burrows
The artist behind the Artist Support Pledge was Matthew Burrows. By the time we catch up at the end of lockdown, the pledge has had over 250,000 posts on instagram. The initiative has been a game changer for many artists suddenly struggling to know where income was coming from . The premise of the pledge was simple and completely based around trust and integrity. Sell works for no more than £200 and then when you reach £1000 worth of sales you pledge to buy work from another artist. It created a little micro economy which ensured that money was being more equitably shared. Read our interview with Matthew Burrows here.
Episode 23 – Elno, Wom Collective
Elno is a Spanish street artist based in London. She is one of the founders of the WOM Collective. A group of female artists all working together to promote and support each other. During March 2020, just before lockdown, her WOM Inspired event was one of the last shows we visited.
Episode 22 – Dave Stuart, Shoreditch Street Art Tours
Dave Stuart is the founder of Shoreditch Street Art Tours and a fountain of information on the street art scene in London. The street art tour industry has had to take a back seat during Covid-19 and as we speak it is only tentatively starting up again. As an observer of the growth and development of street art there really is no one better to talk to.
Episode 21 – Michael Wallner
Michael Wallner is an artist well used to collaborative exhibitions. Taking part in the V-ART show we managed to catch up with him on his first day back in the studio. The disruption caused by Covid-19 resulted in a total of 7 planned exhibitions having to be cancelled. Michael had planned a number of them as part of a tour of the states to showcase his work.
Episode 20 – Alex McIntyre
Alex McIntyre is an artist known for her beautiful and evocative landscapes. She was also one of the artists experimenting with the online world. Banding together with a group of artists, they established the V-ART Platform and exhibition space. Inviting the viewers into their studios it resulted in a unique and intimate opportunity to talk one to one with artists in lockdown.
Episode 19 – LUAP
Paul Robinson is the artist known as LUAP. His Pink Bear is one which has taken on an almost cult like status over the years. A photographer as well as a fine artist he travels the world with the bear. Taking it to far flung places it has, to an extent, become part of the artist himself. We talk about where the bear came from and how it came about through congitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A treasured memory from the past which now the artist carry’s with him throughout his art.
Episode 18 – Bablu Miah, Trapped in Zone One
Bablu Miah is the founder of ‘Trapped in Zone One‘. A community arts agency he works with groups using public art as a means to bring together people. During lockdown Bablu has been looking for new ways to spread his message. Using online forums more and more, the community focus of Trapped in Zone One has, if anything, intensified during lockdown.
Episode 17 – Findac
Findac is one of the World’s most popular and identifiable street artists. His female portraits are often depicted with a coloured band across the eyes. It is this feature which really took his work and recognition to a different level. During lockdown he shared a story about how he got into street art in the first place. Inspired by Banksy’s CANS Festival in 2008 he shares with us his own origin story and we talk about some of the seminal moments in his street art career.
Episode 16 – Jon Reid, Mood of Collapse
We’ve mainly known Jon Reid through his excellent blog Mood of Collapse. An artist as well as a blogger he is based in Aberdeen and is also a key part of the Nuart Festival which happens in the city. This year of course the festival had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. As a response the artists taking part produced a series of paste ups to be sent up and shared with the people of the city. Jon was the man, who along with others, went around finding the locations and putting them up.
Episode 15 – Roys People
Roy Tyson is the behind the Roy’s People Art Fair. Due to take place during April 2020 it was another large scale event which had to be cancelled. It can take up to six months to plan such an event. In the end though the plug had to be pulled just over a week prior to the start of it. Art Fairs are crucial events in the calendar. Artists prepare heavily for them and their loss during the period really impacted a number of creatives. Roy takes to me about the art fair, how it began and what the impact has been.
Episode 14 – Emmylou Shine
Emmylou Shine is an artist who has used lockdown to take to the airwaves. Focusing on youtube she’s been creating content aimed at helping people paint. Her kids channel especially has been well received as parents struggle to educate kids during the time. Emmylou talks to us about what she’s been doing and the impact that it’s had on her own wellbeing.
Episode 13 – Paul Harfleet
Paul Harfleet is an artist known primarily for his Pansy Project. During lockdown though he’s been exploring different avenues in his art. In particular he’s been finding solace in the natural world. Enjoying the sound of birdsong and nature. His ‘Birds Can Fly’ project has been aimed at raising awareness of different types of birds. Once drawn he creates a factsheet about them and a download which people can print off and colour in. We use the chat to talk about his art and our mutual love of birds.
Episode 12 – Andrea Tyrimos
Andrea Tyrimos is an artist whose career we’ve followed for the longest time. Her work in the field of Mental Health in particular has always been an inspiration. During lockdown she’s been exploring the theme again. Though this time using portraiture both visual and audio to look at how people are supporting their positive mental health. The result is her Rainbow Collection, a series of portraits exploring positivity in lockdown.
Episode 11 – Andy ‘Dice’ Davies
Andy Davies is the founder of the Cheltenham Paint Festival. It’s only a few years old but has already become a looked forward to event on the street art map. For years he’s been a driving force for street art in the town. Arranging paint jams in legal spots, the evolution to full festival has resulted in some great works of art. During lockdown Andy had the idea to create a separate virtual festival. Using pictures of walls from around the town. Artists were asked to imagine what their work would look like on them. The result is Cheltenham transformed with some amazing virtual street art.
Episode 10 – Jenny Foulds
Jenny Foulds is a poet who we also know from the street art world. Her book Happy Graffiti was about capturing positive images of graffiti. Now Jenny hosts the Rebel Soapbox in the basement of Monty’s Bar on Brick Lane. It’s become a popular and important outlet for poets and spoken word artists. During lockdown those meetings haven’t been able to happen though. Jenny talks to me about how she’s managed to keep going and take her poetry online.
Episode 9 – Steve Chapman
An artist, speaker and podcaster Steve Chapman is a man we’ve known for years. First crossing paths in the corporate world we now find ourselves in the art world. Like many people Steve has had his fair share of cancellations. However it’s given him an opportunity to really ramp up his creative side. His daily Instagram sketches in particular have been bringing a lot of joy. Steve’s studio at the bottom of his garden is also a haven. Full of colour and eccentricity he reveals to us where the magic happens.
Episode 8 – ATM Street Art
For many lockdown has been an opportunity to really connect more with the natural world. As the great human pause continues, nature seems to be been making the most of it. Personally I’ve been loving seeing more birds and hearing birdsong. One artist who is a particular expert in this area is ATM. We’ve featured his work many times and his murals of birds and other species are hugely popular in the communities he paints in. For this chat we basically talk about birds and what we should be looking out for.
Episode 7 – Apparan, Art House Project
Apparan is a driving force behind the Art House Project. Always focused on supporting local art and artists, her collective have been putting on smaller group pop up shows for years. During lockdown the Art House Project has been taking on a new lease of life online. Using social media first to promote local artists and then as a means of hosting exhibitions and discussion spaces. We talk about the importance of banding together and supporting local art during this time.
Episode 6 – Giulia Riva, Blocal Blog
Blocal Blog is one of our favourite street art blogs and Giulia is one of our favourite bloggers. From Italy originally she now lives and works in Amsterdam but we’ve met up at street art festivals in Aberdeen and Bristol. Her blog is at the heart of the street art scene. With insights and interviews from across Europe and the world it’s one of the best resources out there. Catching up with Giulia is always fun especially when we can talk about street art.
Episode 5 – Tim from Street Art Cities
Street Art Cities is an app and website run by street art lovers. It helps people to hunt out street art in towns and cities across the world. Tim is the founder and the main man behind the app. He also runs Street Art Antwerp and is a leading light in the thriving Belgian street art scene. We chat about street art cities but also what Belgian artists are doing to support healthcare workers during lockdown.
Episode 4 – Rachel List
Rachel List is an artist whose positive murals of healthcare workers went viral as lockdown began. Dotted around her hometown of Pontefract the street art she created caught the imagination. A muralist by profession street art wasn’t something she’d ever really tried before. Now though Pontefract has a little trail. We talk about the impact her murals have had on the town and how they’ve managed to bring joy during a difficult time.
Episode 3 – My Dog Sighs
My Dog Sighs is one of the UK’s most popular street artists. His free art friday initiative in particular is much loved. Based around the coastal town of Southsea, he has been giving away art for free for years. We talk about Free Art Friday and how he’s managed to keep it going. Early on in the lockdown we also talk about how it has affected him and his work.
Episode 2 – Delphian Gallery
The Delphian Gallery is an online gallery space run by Nick Thompson and Benjamin Murphy. They’ve become known for their pop up exhibitions and their eye for artists. Recognising that the lockdown was creating a difficult situation for many creatives they created the lockdown editions. These are timed print runs where all the money goes straight to the artists themselves. For the Delphian Gallery it was an opportunity to do something that might support given that they themselves have no physical overheads.
Episode 1 – Sam Peacock
Kicking us off on our run of Art Online interviews we start with Sam Peacock. A good friend of ours on the blog it was actually his idea to start talking to artists in this way. At the beginning we even called it something else, ‘Art in Isolation’. That was until we realised that this name had already been taken by a famous TV Art Dealer. Sam and I have a fun chat in his garden. He tells us about how he is keeping his art practice going, the impact of cancelled shows and how he’s started growing more veg.