Artist Musings

Filma Tuesday – 5 Tips for a Creative Quarantine

What’s up, readers of the Filma blog; how the hell are ya? If you’re in our neck of the woods you’re probably well aware now that quarantine will be extended (to when… we still don’t know). While the counties are intending to loosen things up slightly, shelter in place fundamentally remains in place. While we know this thing is on the way out, we’re all still going to be sheltering for a while. I guess we’re well beyond preparation, so instead maybe we can make this time healthier and more productive?

If there’s one thing we understand well here – idle hands are the devils playground. Having a projects you can embed yourself in can not only help you pass the time, it can be a significant positive contribution to your mental health. And, of course, you may end up discovering the depths of yourself all the while passing time too – there’s really about a million good reasons to create art yourself… and very few reasons why you shouldn’t.

Today we’ll share with you five tips for being creative during your quarantine.

Btw, before you go educate yourself, please sign up for your mailing list!

5 Tips for a Creative Quarantine

Tip 1: Use what you have

Stuck at home and all the art stores are closed? Don’t have money to send to Jeff Bezos to have creative opportunities delivered to your door?

Whatever your reasons is, we don’t think that anything should stop you from being creative, unless of course you don’t want to be creative. Creating with what’s available to you is one of an artist’s greatest skills; we do it all the time in Filma (budget constraints are real!). You can, and should, create with whatever you can find, you’ll probably surprise yourself at how amazing it can be to work within your own limitations.

Ranging from things you intend to throw away to things you find to things you 3d print, there’s stuff you can use to make art everywhere, you just need to look fro it. You’ve probably got some interesting tidbits laying around your house, remember that quarter can of paint you never used? Find stuff you don’t need and build something out of it (don’t build things out of stuff you need though…). Just look around and, well, be creative, you’ll surprise yourself at how many incredible art making materials are waiting for you to discover them.

Fwiw, in our case we make art out of trash all the time. Equally creative is how we re-use our own art to make art; cannibalistic but it gets the job done. Have the new art you want to do eat up the old art you have, it’s totally fine.

Tip 2: Do something new or uncomfortable

Not sure where to begin? Consider learning something new. Remember, art is about the joy of creation, if you’re not an expert or you’re not comfortable with a medium or technology, fuck it… go learn about it anyway. Maybe you won’t be pushing out the world’s next #1 best selling book or painting, but maybe you’ll develop a new skill and realize a new passion.

Our artist Robert Graf is a great example of this. Since quarantine, he’s decided he would explore embroidery and over the last 8 weeks has started producing patches to raise money for other artists in our extended community. Going from knowing nothing to realizing he has a new passion in just a few weeks. This could be you, all you have to do is try something new.

Tip 3: You can still collaborate from quarantine just… improvise!

Feeling isolated and alone? Are you missing the collaboration of doing art with friends and colleagues? There’s literally no reason this has to be your reality if you’re creative enough. The trick to being remotely creative with someone is, well, to be creative. How can you work with other people online on art? It turns out there’s a million ways, if you want them to be.

In my case (I’m Carl btw, the person writing this section) I make music and have been finding ways to involve my friends, musical or not, in the music I create. My approach has been to enable people to contribute, without requiring them to prepare or know anything about music. For me, my favorite way to do this is to turn to the principles of improvisation: I come up with a really weird idea and then I just start asking facebook if anyone will video themselves answering my question or telling their story. Then I take that video, cut it up… and now I’ve got a nice song about raving in space. I love asking people to just ‘do something’ and working with whatever it is; I surprise myself doing this all the time.

Improvisation is a fantastic way to connect with people in more ways than what I mentioned. The trick though, is to just go with it, and not worry about what comes out. Or, in other words, “say yes”. Imagine ways you could do art with your friends, simply give them control:

“Hey, I’m going to paint, do you wanna call out colors or objects you’d like to see?”

“Hey, tell me a story about a time when you were a kid, I want to write a poem about it?”

“Hey, I wrote a scene for my new play, wanna be one of my actors and do a table reading?”

The ways in which you can collaborate with people online is truly endless, all you gotta do is… say yes.

Record some poetry, send it to a friend, maybe you’ll end up in a song too?

Tip 4: Take an online class

If you’d prefer something more structured or realize you simply need an expert to get the data you need to be successful in your creative endeavors, consider taking an online class. Not only do you get to learn cool stuff, you get to support arts organizations who very much need your support. Our favorite arts organizations are all offering online classes during the pandemic and we’re certain you can find more if you do a little digging on your own.

Heck, just this friday The Crucible will be hosting an online artist talk. You should attend, it’s going to be bloody fantastic (and hopefully not bloody).

Other ways you can find out about creative online offerings, just look around a bit. Sites like are a great hub for online happenings, and you can also learn about them from organizations like GrayArea or The Crucible directly (of course we like to stay in the know by following these organizations on instagram).

Tip 5: Take care of yourself

(Tip #5 comes from Elliot, Thanks Elliot for writing this fantastic creative tip)

You wash your brushes.
You tune your instruments.
You repair your machines. You sweep the sawdust away.

You regularly make sure everything involved with your creative processes is clean, repaired, maintained, and ready to start making things. But what about the maker?

How easy is it to be immersed in a creative project and forego basic necessities? How easy is it to be immersed in a global crisis and forego basic care? It’s okay to acknowledge your situation is both of these situations being compounded — meaning it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re good.

We would very much like to encourage you to take care of yourself right now.

The most helpful phrase I’ve come across these last few months is “it’s okay to not be at your most productive when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic.” And, being totally honest, it totally is.

When you’re creating, break it down to basics. What about creating makes you happy? Maybe don’t give yourself a project like “build a house”, or something similarly enormous and complicated — maybe you look inside and see that the thing you really love about house building is making all the pieces fit together really well. Maybe you can get that same “fix” from building a model. Maybe you can build a birdhouse instead.

The thing is — we’re all growing, all of us, all the time. Yes, even in such strange soil as the current events we find ourselves in. Time did not stop, you did not stop growing. It is now under a different condition.

But…well…just look at Bob

Image may contain: one or more people

Is that what a Chia Pet is supposed to look like? Some sprouts shoot out horizontally and then build up strength to push leaves up vertically, while other seeds seem like they’ll never take the hint and sprout at all. Yea… not quite.

There’s the old familiar back-of-the-brain voice chiming in:
“Things are not supposed to be this way.”

But is that okay? Is it stressful that they’re doing that? Is it a problem?

Or is it a just a different kind of growth? Something the surrounding circumstances assembled together, multiplied by time and sunlight and water, and this is just a reflection of what those are.

It’s okay to shoot off in one direction and then pivot until you find the right place to blossom. It’s okay to have a good direction but never really sprout. It’s okay to kinda try and end up drooping down Bob’s neck. These are all valid plants, even if they are kinda goofy looking.

So… take a moment to acknowledge what “you in this situation” really looks like; what makes that person healthy and happy and ready to find creative bliss; how that person can grow even in such extreme climates. Then, just show up, every day, and change out the water appreciating what’s new.

You just might enjoy yourself. Bob certainly seems to be.