Creativity is flourishing under quarantine.
More and more, selfies and home videos are shedding the scrappy DIY stigma that marked them as minor-league masterpieces. Instead, at-home digital creation is gaining a growing air of legitimacy as creative professionals trade in high-gloss operations for homespun productions and turn to online outlets for expression.
On April 8, 2020, rock band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down released the first major music video created entirely on Zoom, introducing a new class of highly orchestrated digital choreography.
That same month, a slew of television shows pivoted with home hosting and production set-ups. The CBS show All Rise released an all-virtual episode featuring footage filmed over FaceTime, WebEx and Zoom, marking the first primetime scripted series to resume production amid stay-at-home mandates. NBC pivoted with Saturday Night Live At Home, releasing new episodes written, directed and filmed from the comedians’ living rooms with whatever props and tools they had on hand. These follow late-night talk shows, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which have released virtually produced episodes including interviews conducted over videoconferencing platforms like Zoom.
Theater, too, is adopting digital creation strategies. With Broadway closed at least until June—and industry leaders predicting that it likely won’t open until months later—theater productions are starting to take to the digital stage. The Understudy is a new online radio play starring Stephen Fry. Actors recorded their respective parts separately at home, with the full production broadcasting online on May 20 and 27.
Meanwhile, creative kingpins are taking to virtual platforms to foster community and inspire creativity. From April 10, Gucci invited famous creatives including Elton John, Dakota Fanning and Jane Fonda to publish original content across the brand’s channels in an effort to encourage creativity. On March 21, Dazed launched #AloneTogether, “a creative community in times of crisis.” The initiative enlists creative VIPs in music, art, fashion, food and design to set daily creative exercises for Dazed’s audience. At the end of March, fashion label Ganni launched Home Is Where the Heart Is, an online creative competition. The label invited anyone to submit an oeuvre of their choosing, with the winning artworks featured in a pop-up exhibition in Copenhagen in August 2020.
For novices and hobbyists looking to up their game, a slew of offerings from creative institutions are here to help. In April, Apple launched Today at Apple at Home, a streamable series of free classes from creative pros at Apple. The classes teach users how to elevate their artistic pursuits on Apple devices, including how to draw playful portraits on an iPad, how to capture striking photography and how to make movies more cinematic on an iPhone. In March, Alexander McQueen’s foundation Sarabande launched free lectures on creativity to inspire and support artistic visionaries, featuring sessions led by heavyweights including Thom Browne, Tim Walker and Molly Goddard. Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry launched Grayson’s Art Club, a televised six-part series with guided art lessons aimed to “unleash our collective creativity during lockdown.”
These initiatives powerfully illustrate that creativity cannot be confined by lockdown. As digital creative output gains legitimacy and becomes more refined by the day, increasingly sophisticated techniques and tools will continue to emerge and propel industries.
Main image by Sandy Kim for Dazed #AloneTogether