Written by Georgina Russell
Now, I’m not sure about you, but most of the time in lockdown I found myself staring into space, using my phone as a pastime and wondering how on earth I could fill my days now that I actually had free time! I began to wonder how I could release those endorphins and produce the serotonin my mind so desperately needed, having been starved for 3 lockdowns and counting.
It turns out that during lockdown so many of us were all drawn towards a similar outlet – art! Whether that be painting, drawing, sewing, photography (or even macaroni art!), creating became our new saviour. Not only was it a form of relaxation, but it was also the pleasure of doing something different that we all craved during what felt like Groundhog Day.
To really explore whether lockdown has encouraged more people to try art-based hobbies, myself and Domino (Owner of Cotton On MCR) conducted a poll on our Instagram platforms asking just 5 questions around art and lockdown.
- During lockdown, have you been creative (painting, photography, sewing, anything!) for the first time?
My results: Yes: 56% No: 44% / Cotton On MCR’s results: Yes: 65% No: 35%
- Due to lockdown, and having more time at home, have you found you’ve been able to re-engage with your love of art?
My results: Yes: 61% No: 39% / Cotton On MCR’s results: Yes: 64% No: 36%
- Are you more likely to visit/take part in an art gallery/exhibition/workshop after lockdown than before?
My results: Yes: 59% No: 41% / Cotton On MCR’s results: Yes: 85% No: 15%
- Due to lockdown/furlough, have you thought about or created a small creative business?
My results: Yes: 41% No: 59% / Cotton On MCR’s results: Yes: 55% No: 45%
- Throughout lockdown, have you been supporting/shopping smaller? E.g. through Etsy, friends etc.
My results: Yes: 80% No: 20% / Cotton On MCR’s results: Yes: 92% No: 8%
Clearly, I was not on my own when I felt like art had become so much more important to people individually than it ever had before! I loved to see how, during lockdown, many people had picked up a paint brush or pencil for the very first time as well as re-engaging with a past love that had been long forgotten. It was amazing and heart-warming to see people’s inner child released and imaginations able to run wild!
Entrepreneurial skills also grew over lockdown, with more time and creativity allowed to be let loose, I certainly noticed an increase in my friends creating their own small business selling everything from cards and gifts to candles and paintings! With many more of us shopping online due to High Street stores closing, it wasn’t only online giants like Amazon and Asos thriving, it was also small business creators. Individual personalised gifts became highly sort after and, as a small business myself, I noticed my sales increase when a new lockdown was put in place.
To understand this from a small creative business’s point of view, I asked some Manchester based Etsy artists whether they noticed any differences in sales, how they felt about creativity in lockdown and if they themselves had been purchasing from smaller Manchester based businesses more.
Sue Scott (Owner of SLScottArt – https://etsy.me/36eNSUH ) is a painter/illustrator who splits her time between Manchester and Aberdeen exploring urban scenes and cityscapes. Her main inspiration is Manchester due to its contrast of historical and contemporary architecture, rich heritage and culture.
Sue similarly noticed her sales increase during lockdown and had been promoting her business online before joining Etsy in 2014. One of the questions I asked her was whether, due to lockdown and having more time, she was able to focus on her creativity more. To this she agreed, ‘‘Lockdown has enabled me to be more creative as I wanted to make some changes to my creative focus – lockdown gave me the space to do this.’’.
I also contacted Egoiste Gallery, owned by Andrew Courtenay, an independent ‘Award Winning Contemporary Art Gallery’ based in Manchester city centre. They not only use online platforms such as their website to sell but also Etsy too (EgoisteGallery), including resident artists’ works, fine art prints as well as gifts and cards. When asked about whether Manchester’s art scene is expanding, Courtenay replied ‘‘Yes, we really do. There are so many interesting ways to explore and be part of art – in both active, creative ways and more passive ways too.’’
This links back to one of the questions featured on mine and Cotton On MCR’s poll, with a whopping 85% of Cotton On MCR’s followers saying they are more likely to take part in workshops, visits galleries etc after lockdown than before. The art world is expanding and we’re all for it!
With Boris’ new announcement there will finally be a (slow!) reopening of the arts and creativity sector from the 12th April onwards after what feels like years since we have been able to set foot into an art gallery or exhibition. Workshops will also be able to get back up and running with plenty of new and exciting mediums and techniques to try over on Cotton On MCR’s workshop page – so get booking! The key date however is the June 21st when we can finally hug our loved ones again and put the past year behind us but definitely bringing with us the old love and the newfound love of creating art in lockdown.
Our guest blogger is Georgina Russell, she says ‘I am a second year Fine Art student and am excited to have secured an art placement starting this August. I specialise in painting/illustration and love the little details highlighting the beauty in the world around us. Art for me is about escapism and appreciating all aspects of creativity and vibrancy within the art community. I can be found at @georginarose_designs on Instagram.