Hi Ryan and Nikita. Thanks for chatting with us! How are you both?
Quite well, thank you, excited that spring sunshine is on the way!
All things considered, I'm doing very well, thank you!
Could you tell us a bit about your creative practice?
In some ways, my practice is practice. I love to explore and create in a variety of ways, usually with a playful, process-driven style. I’m always enamoured by the energy and feeling that can be created by the simple interplay of minimal forms, type, color and composition. Lately I’ve been experimenting quite a lot with repetition and pattern-making, and sequential studies that move from simplicity to complexity or complexity to simplicity. I think the underlying structure and predictability is comforting and serves as a form of meditation for me.
My practice essentially revolves around experimenting with quite utilitarian forms such as typography through the ever-changing lens of technology. Utilitarian ideas have always been a key ingredient in my work, simply because I don't enjoy clutter that muddles the communication. Though the experimental aspect in my practice also holds just as much weight, as uniformity can only go so far until it becomes too neutral and boring. I think that 'spark' that is created through the collision of both of those ideas is where my work lies.
How has COVID-19, or even just the year 2020, impacted your creativity and mental wellbeing? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
I live in a small town north of NYC and I’m used to working from my home studio, so in some ways I wasn’t impacted as much as others. I have mostly been thankful to spend more time with my children and to be able to navigate all of this together. The *mostly* refers to those inevitable moments where I wish things were a bit more quiet so I could focus and be more productive.
One thing I’ve tried to do is really change my perception of what productivity actually means, not placing too much pressure on myself and being okay slowing down. Overall, 2020 certainly was a heavy and emotional year and my hope moving forward is that we all truly learn from and act upon the many lessons learned during this time.
For me personally, the loss of structure hit quite hard. When the pandemic started I didn't quite realize the importance of dedicated spaces for certain activities (sports/leisure/work).
Everything was bottled into this one tiny space that is your home. Now, I usually don't have a problem with staying at home for prolonged amounts of time, but in the long term, it is not very ideal for your overall well-being. I think this definitely changed the meaning of 'home' for me.
I wasn't able to escape my day-to-day to gather some stimulus through galleries, restaurants or even social events. It all now happened in one place. There were times that I dreaded to start working on a project just from the lack of interest in anything visual. I very much look forward to life not just happening on a screen!
What have you changed in your life lately to make it more enjoyable?
Honestly for me, it’s a pretty consistent challenge to have a healthy work-life balance. As someone who is self-taught and often a one-person shop, I sometimes place too much pressure on myself to work super-hard and keep the momentum going. I’m also very thankful and genuinely love being able to explore and create for a living, and in some ways, my self-initiated work is quite therapeutic. But it’s still so essential to take time to rest and recharge, for myself and for those around me, to be fully present and engaged. Lately, I’m just trying to go easier on myself and to soak up the joy from everyday moments and make sure I have the capacity to truly be there for my loved ones.
One thing that really helped is finding some structure in the chaos that was surrounding us in 2020. I started experimenting and reading daily again, which didn't only improve my mental health but also fuelled quite a positive change in my design practice. The things we do daily, our habits, shape us as people. Finding that simple realisation once again felt very rewarding. Other than that, I think it was also a really important time for self-care, which was usually quite easily forgotten during pre-pandemic times.
As an industry, how do you think we can better support creatives and their mental health? How do we bring about collective hope?
Understanding that mental health is something we all need to be able to discuss honestly and without fear of judgment is a starting point. Setting values and boundaries that respect the need for a healthier work-life balance is the next step and one that I hope all organisations are addressing. We all need a collective commitment to having more empathy and awareness, and doing the work to ensure that our organisations actively reflect that. Let’s all do a better job taking care of each other.
Real change needs to happen on an individual level. It's hard to prescribe a 'fix' for all, but I think empathy is a great place to start. Empathy for the people around you, empathy for our environment, empathy for yourself. Once someone steps outside of their ego, it is far easier to see the real problems with a fresh pair of eyes. I think that striving to be a better person will ultimately inspire others to do the same, which will hopefully lead to collective change.
Lastly, what has working on this project meant to you?
Thankful to be invited and always appreciate the opportunity to connect and contribute to projects that are meaningful and thought-provoking. I’ve been enjoying Nikita’s work for quite awhile and it was lovely to work with him. We have a shared interest in type and pattern/repetition so it was a really smooth collaboration.
It was a great opportunity to finally connect with Ryan whose work I have been admiring and following for years. This collaboration also being for a good cause makes it all the more exciting!