Keeping creative during Covid

Creativity has been truly tested to its limits over the past year, as brands and advertisers have had to adjust their strategies to meet their audiences’ changing needs. As creatives, it is broadly assumed that we are vessels of infinite inspiration: simply bursting with ingenuity and original thought. This is not untrue, but perhaps more true in normal times, where our minds and senses are more free to roam, regularly bombarded by the fizzle of daily activity that comes from leading vibrant lives: the ever-changing landscapes, the spontaneous human interactions.

When you think of the classic coffee table book collection – an stack of compendia comprising culture, travel, food, and the work of other creatives – it becomes clear that much of our inspiration evolves from the people, places and things that we are yet to discover. The source may be extraordinary or something perfectly mundane, but the real lightening-bolt ideas occur in the serendipitous moments when we are in the right place, at the right time, in the right frame of mind. 

So how do creatives prosper in a pandemic, when all the normal routes towards enlightenment are closed? Simply, how can we keep our minds free when life is not?

As a team, we’ve found real solace in keeping connected to our community. Staying in touch with our neighbours, clients, friends and peers, and having meaningful conversations, not just about business but about how we’re all feeling and faring, has inspired many a new idea. Not least our Ilkley is Open campaign, the inspiration for which came about over a coffee and a catch up. The pandemic has shown how vital a sense of community is to all of us, and it’s inspiring to know that our own community is rich with support and warmth.

We’ve also grown to appreciate the value of time. Whilst some found themselves with more time on their hands, others have unrelentingly kept the pedal to the metal in attempts to keep the world turning. Making time to step outside of the box, go for a jog, call a friend, or just head out and switch off for a while, has been a rewarding way to dial down some of the monotony. Giving ourselves this time and space has allowed us to reset our senses and be more open to those valuable Sliding Doors moments.

So what will we take away from trying to keep creative during Covid? We’ve learned to make a plan – even if you go off it, it’s good to keep your original goal in mind! It provides a focal point to look back on, and encourages us to reflect on how we reached the end point.

We’ve also seized the opportunity to upskill, by turning our creativity to other means of communication. Exploring new software, different aesthetics and alternative strategies – switching up the mode has broadened the scope of possibility, which in itself has inspired new ideas and projects.

Essentially, we’ve not just had to get creative with where we look for inspiration, but be more creative in general. We’ve had to push beyond what’s readily in front of us in normal circumstances, work harder, and look deeper. We’ve had to get into our heads and out of them at the same time, been forced to get more inventive than ever, and had to call upon the most resourceful parts of ourselves to solve problems like we’ve never before encountered, and solve them well. And in reality, isn’t that what creativity really is, discovering solutions to problems in the most beautiful way?