How have I coped with lockdown you may ask?... Well quite frankly I haven’t. Never in my life did I think that I would experience a Pandemic; especially not at the end of my degree. I was about ¾ of the way through my final year of University when Corona Virus hit. Although
I believe it may have been a blessing in disguise.
I was struggling from the beginning of the year to find myself; I think one of the main problems artists have in the period, is when you’re unsure of who you are or what kind of work you want to create. I knew that I loved patterns but did not know where to take it. I continued like this for months experimenting with my work. It wasn’t until I attempted the Urdd Competition alongside the Welsh Books council to illustrate a children’s book “Y Soddgarw”. This was one of the projects that really got me to where I am today. I started experimenting with my work and created illustrations that featured patterns rather than creating patterns and trying to incorporate illustrations. The Soddgarw project really helped me to realise what I was capable of, before I had a lot of self-doubt; but after finishing the Soddgarw project and entering the competition I was extremely proud of myself and knew that this was just the beginning for me. Although, this project helped me gain some self-confidence and belief it was really lockdown that helped me the most. It gave me the opportunity to work from early in the morning until late at night, there was less pressure being by myself rather than surrounded by my very talented friends and feeling even more lost.
I have dealt with a lot during this lockdown. For starters after the university shut because of Government guidelines I had nowhere to do my university work. I was staying with my boyfriend who was also finishing his final year in university so I couldn’t use his desk. For the first 2 weeks of lockdown I was doing my university work sat on the floor down the side of the sofa with a small table. This restricted me a lot in what I could do and how it was affecting me mentally, being in such a small enclosed space really limited my imagination and my mental health because it made me feel very closed off and squished.
As well as this I had to deal with extra stress and added mental health problems because of bullying. I know right, 21 years old, you think that university students who are 21-24 would know better right? WRONG. It affected my confidence in my work a lot after being attacked for my lack of “talent” as well as my disability… which is something I cannot control. This pushed me a lot during lockdown. It encouraged me to work harder and create beautiful illustrations in my own style and to spread positivity and happiness to anyone I can, as well as being able to give a big middle finger to my fellow peers who felt the need to tear me down. I have also focused my time during lockdown on improving my branding as an Illustrator and trying to grow my different social media platforms, especially Instagram. I have joined a lot of new groups in order to find more positive people like me to make sure I surround myself with the best people who will encourage my work and positivity rather than destroy it. I would not have been able to cope with the stress of the bullying if it was not for my boyfriend and my amazing university friends! (who are also Illustrators, you should definitely check them out! I will link them at the end). They supported me through this difficult situation and helped me through the complaint process, it was really horrible to have to go through all the nasty messages they had said about me. This had been three years in the making and I had a mass amount of evidence to provide to the university, but my friends and family really helped reassure me that I was not in the wrong and I did not deserve this. I did often catch myself thinking like that “What did I do to deserve this?” some of these people I thought were my friends, I was always polite and friendly. I had never been stabbed in the back by so many people at one time.
Like I said, this was a blessing in disguise! Now I felt that I had something to prove, that what they said wasn’t true. It wasn’t, but I knew I could push myself to be my best possible self. I achieved this, even the lecturers and I saw a drastic change in my Illustrations over a span of 2 weeks after this ordeal. I started pushing myself to explore different areas I hadn’t had time to yet. For my final submission I explored packaging, card designs, Illustrations of interiors, editorials and more. My favourite out of them all by far was the interior illustrations, I decided to take a new approach and use the grid technique to better help me organise my illustrations and to make them look like a bedroom or a bathroom rather than a flat illustration. I also started experimenting with drawing plants, and this sparked my love for including elements of nature in my work. As you can see in one of my examples.
After all my progression… I DID IT! I finished my degree; 3 years of hard work have led up to this and I have never felt more confident and prouder of myself in all my life! I have really been focusing on building my online presence since my final submission, I cannot possibly sit still and do nothing. Drawing is my life and I am going to continue to grow as a person and an illustrator and I will spread my positivity as far and wide as I possibly can. If you are going through a similar situation just remember, you are not alone, and you are stronger than they are!