We talked with visual artist Tash Mok about what she is doing to stay positive during lockdown, the advice she has for artists, and the projects she is currently working on.
Do you have any advice for artists on how they might utilise their time during lockdown?
Having all of this free time at the moment is a blessing and a curse because it can be refreshing to be able to spend more time focusing on creating work, but sometimes it’s easy to become unmotivated if I don’t have a deadline to work towards.
My head can be filled with a jumble of ideas and that can be a bit overwhelming. I've found that writing down a list of things that I've been meaning to create allows me to focus on specific projects.It’s a relief to get it down onto paper rather than over thinking it and it helps with organising my head space.
Making work also depends on my mood because every day is different. Some days I’m up for doing particular things: one day I might feel like drawing and painting, on another I might be in the mood for printing or sewing so I try to listen to what feels right. Plus, I want to be able to enjoy doing it rather than having the pressure to create for the sake of it.
That’s another important thing to bear in mind, being experimental and having fun with what you make as well. It could be something silly and unrelated to your usual practice, to send off to family and friends. Have fun with it!
Also, being productive is rewarding but it’s ok to not make anything on some days. I’m guilty, and I’m sure others are too, of putting pressure on myself to be constantly making things. But I’ve learnt that I need time to take a step back from churning out drawings and take a break from feeling the need to make something new every day. It’s fine to not do as much or nothing at all from time to time.
Have you engaged with anything creative in the last month?
I’ve been making bits at home, mostly drawing and printing. Lino printing and monoprinting are simple to do without complicated equipment so its been fun experimenting with that. I feel quite lucky because I have quite a lot of materials at home and my studio’s not too far from me so I managed to grab a few bits before which has been helpful with keeping me occupied.
I also set myself a personal project of doing a daily drawing on a large paper roll, which I started at the beginning of lock down. I’m finding it interesting to see what medium and colours I choose every day depending on how I’m feeling, and am excited to see what the end result looks like when it’s unrolled.
Another project I’ve worked on is creating videos for an organisation I work with, Talk About Arts, for their YouTube channel. Simple things such as drawing in pairs, taking alternate goes to make a mark and using it as a form of communication; finding bits around the house to turn into printing tools to make wrapping paper or cards to send in the post. Accessible exercises that children and adults can easily do at home and hopefully have fun with!
Do you have any finance-related advice for creatives right now? For example, how to find work or any useful resources that you yourself have used?
I think exposure is quite key at the moment. By putting work out there on platforms such as Instagram and linking it to your own website where people can see a body of work altogether is helpful. It also enables you to think on a more professional level regarding your work and potentially selling it on sites such as Etsy and Tictail.
Arts Council also provide financial support for artist, practitioners and freelancers, and you can apply for up to a £2500 grant. It covers a wide range of disciplines so it’s definitely worth looking into.
What are your concerns about the impact of lockdown to the arts industry and your practice?
I’m trying to stay optimistic about it after lockdown but I think some areas within the industry will still struggle. Digital and online specialisms will thrive, as they are now, but for the area that I work in where I am in constant contact with children and older adults, it will take longer to return to normal. Once it does get back up and running it will probably have to adapt to a new type of normal where certain classes may be continuing online, or decreasing the number of individuals in a class to ease people back in.
Besides all of this, I think it’s interesting that it’s making us think more creatively to suit the situation at the moment, and new ideas are constantly being thought of, which is quite refreshing. I’d never created content for online tutorials before but because I’ve been encouraged to do it now, learning new skills such as this is going to help in the future, since it’s something that will be more common.
I think it will take time to readjust to a new normal but I’m sure we will all learn how to see our own skills in a different light and put them to good use.