In the dreariest of times, it’s easy to drown in pools of our own nostalgia; crawl under our bed sheets with a laptop and an appetite big enough to binge a whole series in one night. While some of us may be coping with schedules, and others with a bottle of wine and 6 seasons of Sex and The City, the true answer to all of this madness is staying connected—from a distance, of course.
One night, while watching Snail Mail's live-stream concert on my lonesome, I couldn’t help but realize that there’s no better time to be seen than in this moment. Not only do we have all the time in the world, but everyone is watching. I’m not sure if it was a manifestation or just a coincidence, but over the next week of quarantine, my feed began to flood with small artists finally embracing the empty hours that have somehow stretched into weeks. The rush of sprouting zine accounts and art collectives raised my eyebrow and a question: could this pandemic be a pusher for something other than a punch-drunk blow to our social lives? Could we possibly come out of this a bit more productive than before?
Self-isolation can feel numbing, but at the end of the day we turn to other humans to comfort us with their creativity. As I started to soak in the surplus of artistry I was witnessing on my socials, it changed my routine, spiked my drive, and inflated my determination. Whatever kick this chain link of inspiration was giving me, I wanted to pass it on. Below I hope to share some interviews with independent artists who have inspired me and others during this dystopian dreariness, in hopes that they’ll resurrect you up off your couch and into a better state of mind.
Email is back and better than ever!
If it wasn’t for Carol Li, I don’t think I would’ve ever even had the strength to paint my nails during quarantine. Since day five of this nightmarish lockdown, she’s sent out daily newsletters via email, keeping her subscribers sane, cultured, and constantly stocked on music, film, and books in which to indulge ourselves. Her whimsical writing style never fails to entertain and create a safe and honest space.
Adolescent Content: Any specific projects you’ve been working on?
Carol Li: So many. My favorite is this daily quarantine newsletter I’ve been sending out to people. It makes me feel like Carrie from Sex and the City, minus the transphobia but all the narcissim. I write a lot about my personal life so it’s a little dramatic, but I’m nerdy so I usually include some fun historical gossip here and there just to make my emo point.
Adolescent: What sparked this Y2K-esque letter subscription?
Carol: I was simply so bored [that] I started writing a diary entry. I threw in some poems and memes and I realized it was actually kind of a decent piece of writing. Writing a daily newsletter forces me to be more attentive to my thoughts during the day, and I find myself writing things down throughout the day. I think I’m using this more as a writing exercise, because even if it’s not any good, 2-3 pages of writing is better than none!
Adolescent: How do you think people are receiving your efforts to stay creative?
Carol: My roommate reads them every morning when she wakes up, and we discuss them over breakfast. My friends say that they really enjoy reading them during the day, and always come back with their reactions to the recommendations I’ve shared, which makes me blush. It’s really affirming for sure.
If you want to subscribe to Carol’s newsletter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Isolated Eye
18-year-old Noah Shaub is known best for his ability to capture moments of New York City’s social scene through his uniquely saturated eye. But during a time when social scenes are crippled, I was curious to see how Noah’s managing to continue to put out new work.
Adolescent: How have you been keeping yourself busy during quarantine?
Noah: I’ve been trying to continue to apply myself to photography. It’s been tough not to be able to see my friends who usually are featured in my photos. I’ve started to create a series featuring my little brother. The concept behind the series is still under development, but I plan on touching on themes such as toxic masculinity and isolation.
Adolescent: Has creating during isolation affected you personally at all?
Noah: I definitely know that I was getting bored of editing my old images. I think being able to create something when the world is in such a scary time is so important to bring light into the world rather than just sulking in the darkness.
Adolescent: Any messages to those struggling right now?
Noah: Try to get out of your comfort zone and create. Read a book. Take some nudes. Play Minecraft. There are so many things you can do! Although it feels like the end of the world, it isn’t and you’ll make it through stronger, smarter, hotter, and healthier.
Songs from a pandemic!
In crazy times, Annalise Maya knows how to let it all out. Sharing her daily songwriting is therapeutic for her and her followers as it creates an expectation and routine for us all.
Adolescent: What’s your main creative focus right now?
Annalise: During this time I started a project called Songs From A Pandemic. Each day I’ve challenged myself to write a song. I then record it on my iPhone and post it on YouTube. The night before [my school closed], my dad suggested a routine project of singing a song a day. I wanted to push myself to the next level by writing an original song and documenting my emotions almost like a diary entry for this time.
Adolescent: Have you noticed any benefits since starting this project?
Annalise: This project has made me connect with a lot of different creatives. It feels fulfilling to receive messages from people who are finding a sense of routine in knowing my video will come out every day. The songs are never perfect, and it’s rare where we see artists in that place. I think that’s what people respond to most.
Adolescent: What fueled your desire to create your own zine?
Emma: My inspiration behind Baby Zine was to create a space for creatives to share art in a way that’s authentic to their creation. Or in other words, it’s “a shitty mag for shitty creatives.” I’ve thought about making a zine for a long time, but my uncertainty about how I wanted to present it prevented me from creating it. As there are so many zines out there, it’s nearly impossible to find a niche.
Adolescent: Is there something that’s kept you going during this time?
Emma: I always tell myself that when in doubt, do something. It can be anything. In moments of doubt or simply whenever I feel overwhelmed, sometimes performing the simplest of tasks is enough to get me motivated again. It’s such an isolated, unstructured time in the world and in that, it’s easy to lose motivation. But I’m trying to take this time to do all the things that I’ve always wanted to do, and have been too scared to do.