How To Protect Your Creativity And Passion From Burnout
We’re all breathing a collective sigh of relief as 2020 comes to a close. Many of us are hopeful for a better start come 2021, but until then, burnout and exhaustion remain our close friends.
A book, some wine or a beach day might be enough to keep the burnout at bay for the majority of us, but creatives—whose livelihoods are reliant on maintaining endless amounts of creativity and passion, irrespective of lockdowns—have had to employ some more interesting techniques.
We spoke to three creatives from the Gen.T community across Asia to hear how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted them and what steps they took to protect their passion. For some, the pandemic served as an opportunity to stop, slow down and reflect on their lives and their work—resulting in some pretty incredible artistic breakthroughs. Here’s what we learned.
TAKE THIS TIME TO RE-EVALUATE YOUR WORK AND DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS ACCORDINGLY
Singaporean artist who uses their work to make powerful social commentary
Self-care definitely came to the forefront during this period as I reassessed my work and lifestyle. Physical activity helped regulate my mood and I observed how taking care of my body greatly improved my mental health. This was the first and most important step.
I then picked up a new skill that I had put off due to prior commitments, which in my case was 3D modelling. I’ve always loved to sculpt and started to see certain limitations in the work I wanted to create. I decided to learn this skill to better adapt to the changing times.
One of the biggest things this led to was re-evaluating the work I was putting out. I started asking personal questions and revisited old concepts I loved and neglected. I learnt a lot more about my passions in the process and focused my energy on creating more personal work, challenging myself with new concepts and techniques I would have otherwise taken a longer time to develop without this extra time. I learnt what I liked and what I disliked, and developed those further.
In short, this period of time has taught me to take better care of myself and my headspace in order to continue doing what I love.
APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS AND TRUST THE HEALING POWER OF ART
Chinese artist whose work seeks to reintroduce tradition to urban architecture
This year has not been an easy ride. In 2020, I learned to appreciate the small things and pleasures of life, to be grateful for the wonderful family that I have. I realised how things that seemed insignificant, like breakfast with all of us or just playing with my daughter, are the real moments that count the most. What kept me grounded was this time spent with my dearest ones, and the fact that I continued to think and produce art. It was a time for reflection over the outside world and also for self-reflection.
Art and art therapy has also had an important role during this period. I learned that many of my concerns, fears and insecurities can be healed by the power of looking at art, recognising the inspiring stories behind it, and understanding that there are many things to look forward to.
Exercising and producing art never left me, and many of my new works were born in that [lockdown] period. [My artwork] Kimo-Kawa, for example, shows the duality of the world we live in—’kimo’ meaning ‘disgust’ and ’kawa’ translated as ‘beauty’. [It tells] a story of a ‘disgustingly beautiful’ object born from the conflicting and opposite, yet complementary aspects of the reality that surrounds us—the same reality that through lockdown, showed us where true beauty and happiness lies.
Because of the lockdown, I had enough time to be introspective and to actually look at what is happening on a personal and intimate level, as well as taking the time to observe what the world really looks like nowadays. I was always going through life at such a fast pace, it was so hard to really stop and take the time to reflect internally. Had we not had this time, I’m sure that some of my works would have never been created.
Life helps me grow up, while art gives me the opportunity to express the stories and emotions I am going through. Through my art I want to show the world that everything happens with a purpose, and that we should all learn from this to become our better selves.
See also: Connect To Change: Using Creativity To Empower Students In Taiwan
FIND INSPIRATION IN YOUR COMMUNITY AND BUILD SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF
Founding partner of Hong Kong design and research studio Eskyiu, and co-founder and executive director of Design Trust
In the challenging context of the ongoing pandemic, and so many unknowns, I channeled a lot of new energy by creating, building and testing a new micro-initiative called Design Trust: Critically Homemade. I wanted to restore some social connection, spark collaboration across the design community and [showcase] their innovative creations to benefit and inspire the greater public.
This project has been fast-paced, yet sometimes there are moments of calm and repose; it has pushed me and motivated me to keep going. For me, protecting my creativity was under no limitations to “protect” per se, but to keep going, stay positive, build dialogue and connect with many creatives on this initiative.
As this is still ongoing. Design Trust: Critically Homemade is a reflection of the true spirit of Hong Kong—its ingenuity, creativity, humour, practicality, resourcefulness and diversity. It serves as a reminder of our shared experience, values and the humbling power of the community to come together to support each other. The adrenaline and motivation is still alive—I am not ready to stop. I have to admit, my creativity is fueled by other people’s creativity, as well as their willingness to experiment, collaborate and foster dialogue on the powerful role that design can play.
Interviews were edited for brevity and clarity.
See honourees from the Architecture & Design and The Arts categories of the Gen.T List 2020.