COVID-19 lockdown is unleashing people's creativity

Armed with today's advanced digital tools and itching to express ourselves, "boredom" is bringing out the best in us.

graphic with person's silhouette, lines, and geometric shapes
Shutterstock
  • While staying at home, many are exploring their creative sides to unprecedented levels, sharing their creations with the world in similarly novel, and sometimes collaborative, ways.
  • People are finding amazing ways to create and to share from the safety of their homes using apps designed to promote expression and not simply distract users.
  • Creative professionals are also stuck at home, facing unemployment, and a lack of access to their usual creative outlets.


In the mess of bad news surrounding COVID-19, it can be hard to see a silver lining. There have, however, been some positive outcomes. People are learning new skills, bonding with family, helping once-anonymous neighbors, and connecting with their wider communities.

While millions are stuck at home during lockdown, many are also exploring their creative sides to unprecedented levels – and are sharing their creations with the world in similarly novel, and sometimes collaborative, ways.

So what is it about forced isolation that brings out people's creative sides? Apparently, boredom has a lot to do with it, at least according to science.

The inspiration of boredom 

Pandemic-related lockdowns and social distancing restrictions have led to millions of people around the world being shut in, isolated and increasingly bored. But might that actually be a good thing?

Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and author of the books "The Upside of Downtime" and "The Science of Boredom," is researching how boredom can be a creative force.

In fact, being bored during this time is unleashing a veritable global creative renaissance. Of course, for many impacted by the virus, boredom is a luxury. Millions are out of work, including many creative professionals, and others are too busy dealing with working from home or job loss, homeschooling children without an end in sight, or are tragically coping with the virus itself.

However, for many, boredom has become a common theme in this new normal – and that might not be the worst thing. Mann advises her audience to "Harness your boredom by getting bored," explaining that when you really let yourself be bored without distraction, you are forced to let your mind wander and find new ways to occupy itself.

"That means real boredom, which is where you have to let your mind wander," she says. "This is the real key. Daydreaming and mind wandering. Don't turn to the internet or try to scroll your boredom away."

While scrolling away might not fuel creativity, people are finding amazing ways to create and to share from the safety of their homes using apps designed to promote expression and not simply distract users. In one survey from Lightricks, a software company that specializes in mobile tools for creative expression, over 70 percent of respondents said that using a creativity app helped them overcome anxiety and more than 90 percent responded that they use creativity apps to combat boredom.

What are people doing to get creative under quarantine?

Every day people are going deep with amazing art projects and finding ingenious ways to stay occupied. The trend is, in part, inspired by the need to keep kids busy and engaged, but the wave of creativity goes way beyond this motivation.

Instead of shutting down and switching off, people have become creators of content rather than just passive consumers.

  • Early on in the pandemic, families and friends found ways to keep busy and have fun with creative TikTok dance videos. This trend has only picked up as the months have wore on, with COVID-19 related hashtags like #quarantine and #happyathome connecting users across the globe.
  • Pinterest is another tech platform that is helping people get creative at home. With searches up 60 percent from this time last year and over 30 million new users joining the platform from January to June, DIY and craft projects are some of the most popular pins.
  • With public places becoming breeding grounds for coronavirus infection, classes and clubs for art forms like parkour and capoeira have moved to virtual spaces, with different modes of movement.
  • New apps are also offering a digital space to be creative and maintain social networks, support others, and maintain mental health. One such app is Quickart. In a press release, the creators of the app explained that the pandemic has "accelerated consumer appetite for powerful, easy-to-use creative tools that empower users to unleash their artistic expression while offering them an escape." With filters like Split Colours (below) and AI-enhanced animation tools, this app is blowing users away and putting the power of advanced editing in the hand of every person – no professional skills required.


@sereiadosuburbio via Instagram

  • In one incredible project, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles tweeted a challenge for people to recreate famous works of art at home. This unleashed an amazing display of creativity as people everywhere reached for everyday objects to reimagine masterpieces.
  • Using an app called Mudeo, people are recording themselves singing, or playing instruments, and then layering additional tracks on top of themselves to create rich self-accompanied arrangements on the fly.

Creative professionals are getting in on the fun

Creative professionals are also stuck at home, facing unemployment and a lack of access to their usual creative outlets.

With amazing resilience, this sector is rising to the occasion in amazing ways that, thanks to technology, are inspiring millions of people around the world.

  • Professional musicians and DJs are playing free-access online concerts and dance parties. Collaborating from their homes in Brooklyn and Paris, for example, one rock school recorded a "family jam" of "With a Little Help From My Friends" by the Beatles, captioned with the words: "Created Under Confinement."
  • The #QuarantineFiction campaign encourages authors (and aspiring authors) to write and share their stories, whether it's a memoir or a work of fiction. People can even compose together, and the best stories will be compiled in a book and made accessible all over the world.
  • A home mural festival featuring artists from around the world, giving them the opportunity to come together and find a creative outlet together. One of the artists involved in the mural project, Jacoba Niepoort, told This Is Colossal: "Being cooped up has presented an opportunity to come together in new ways, both as coordinators and as artists. To share visuals of the space and time we're standing in now, created in solitude, but with the solidarity and simultaneousness being an important value-factor."
window ink mural of birds

@daviddelamano_ via Instagram

Adapting creativity to suit the strange circumstances has born inspiring fruit with many otherwise disconnected aspiring artists finding connection, community and opportunities to create and distribute their work.

This, in turn, is helping to ease the anxiety, loneliness and boredom of lockdown. Of course, all of this creativity is propelled by the ability to share it with an unlimited audience online.

Locked down and spreading wings

In 1665, the Great Plague raged across Europe, and Isaac Newton was sent home from his post at Cambridge. Confined indefinitely to his home, Newton got creative and invented calculus.

COVID-19 is another pandemic proving the creative force of adversity and boredom to inspire ingenuity and art. With agility and perseverance, people will find new ways to cultivate creativity and express themselves. With fun and jaw-dropping tools available on any phone, people everywhere are using their devices to create content and share it with the world, to inspire and be inspired.


COVID-19 amplified America’s devastating health gap. Can we bridge it?

The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.

Willie Mae Daniels makes melted cheese sandwiches with her granddaughter, Karyah Davis, 6, after being laid off from her job as a food service cashier at the University of Miami on March 17, 2020.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
  • Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
  • To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
Keep reading Show less

Who is the highest selling artist from your state?

What’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota?

Eminem may be 'from' Detroit, but he was born in Missouri
Culture & Religion

This is a mysterious map. Obviously about music, or more precisely musicians. But what’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota? None of these musicians are from those states! Everyone knows that! Is this map that stupid, or just looking for a fight? Let’s pause a moment and consider our attention spans, shrinking faster than polar ice caps.

Keep reading Show less

Skyborne whales: The rise (and fall) of the airship

Can passenger airships make a triumphantly 'green' comeback?

R. Humphrey/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

Large airships were too sensitive to wind gusts and too sluggish to win against aeroplanes. But today, they have a chance to make a spectacular return.

Keep reading Show less

Vegans are more likely to suffer broken bones, study finds

Vegans and vegetarians often have nutrient deficiencies and lower BMI, which can increase the risk of fractures.

Credit: Jukov studi via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • The study found that vegans were 43% more likely to suffer fractures than meat eaters.
  • Similar results were observed for vegetarians and fish eaters, though to a lesser extent.
  • It's possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, though it takes some strategic planning to compensate for the nutrients that a plant-based diet can't easily provide.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast