Creativity in Captivity – Notes from Designers on Creative Life in Isolation | 04

As we approach the hump of the (…3rd?) week, it’s safe to assume the novelty might be wearing off. You’ve probably spent more time looking out of the window lately, maybe formed some habits that you swore you’d avoid, or perhaps by this point you’ve given up altogether and resorted to watching Netflix in your underwear. Wherever you’re at, read on for some more insights, motivational notes and recommendations for you to keep your inspiration flowing and your goals in sight.

Salehe Bembury, VP of Sneakers, Versace 

Designers walk many different paths, have different talents, and backgrounds. However, one perspective that we all share, is we wish we had more time. The common distractions of a designer’s life frequently take away from the time required to bring resolved designs to fruition. Words like “procrastination”, “all-nighter”, and “deadline” become all too familiar for the active designer. I am staying creative during this time by simply utilizing it. Considering “time” is something I rarely have, I am using this period to learn, analyze, create, and evolve. I am surrounded by people saying they are bored, but to me that is more of a narrative on their lack of passion for a craft. My passion for footwear is keeping me creative during this time.

Dominic Ciambrone, Founder, The Shoe Surgeon

We are all creators… we are all a version of our own “surgeon”, I came up with the name surgeon years ago. What’s the similarity? A surgeon has to put in minimum 11 years, sometimes 16, to be a certified surgeon. That’s what I did… I became a surgeon in my own right, by spending the time and energy to perfect my own craft. And once you become a “surgeon” it enhances everything else you want to learn and do.

PERFECT THE CRAFT! As many of you know this wasn’t a traditional path. I forced myself unknowingly to learn. To learn something I was so passionate about no one could tell me otherwise.

Was it hard… YES? But I was passionate, I CREATE from home… I stay creative.

Creativity is what keeps me going.

This is the time of opportunity! I’m focusing on applying my skills and technique to create for the greater good. As artists, we have an opportunity to empower each other to see beyond the chaos and uncertainty, and take advantage of our abilities to support our community and spread positivity. This is also a time we are forced into designing things based on life’s necessities. These are the times I thrive in most – as everyone should!

Roger Pereira, Co-Founder & Creative Director, S.W.C

In these bonkers weeks I lean on the positives and find things then start to fall into place:

  • Time & focus: I have seen people from 3D designers to make-up artists have the time and freedom to experiment in their craft and really push boundaries. We will see a step-up in innovation and ideas. Seeing things like that is a huge motivator and inspiration for me.
  • New routines: I no longer have to commute for hours every week. I use this time hanging out with my toddler more and starting on my own creative solitary pursuits. I want to put together a ‘Quarantine Cookbook’; we will all likely be making meals more that use food which would otherwise spoil or remain forgotten. Would love to see other people’s quarantine culinary creations and what mad new combos work really well. I made a layered tower of poached salmon, chickpeas, blueberries, chestnuts, pak choi and shredded beetroot all held together with tahini. Check out Salvador Dali’s cookbook ‘Les dîners de Gala’ if you are ever stuck for presentation ideas.
  • Communicate: I shouldn’t really voice this, but I hope that during people’s exercise outings they start scrawling interesting/funny/insightful things in public places for others to read. Public scrawl hasn’t been the same since its peak in the 1980s.
  • Unity: People help each other out more at the moment. That’s one of the beautiful things in all this madness. I enjoy reading about companies mucking-in and making ventilators. Have you seen the improvised facemasks people are making? Loved the New Balance made of sneaker components. Someone please organise a gallery space after all this as it would be ace to see and exhibition of these facemasks and ventilators etc that are being created.


  • Treat yourself to an online purchase once a week. Support brands. But, don’t buy in excess with a mind to returning purchases. Returning things is a royal ball-ache at the moment. No point risking getting coughed-on in a Post Office queue returning those impulse-buy sequinned lederhosen. You knew were a bad idea from the start.
  • Be more tolerant of those you are isolating with. It’s just way more fun if you get along, don’t get annoyed about small meaningless things, be prepared to compromise a bit more, try to have a laugh and do some things (plural) every day to make someone else’s quarantine day happier. Easy.
  • Try and find positives in this unique situation. We will come out the other end and look back on these times. In many years we will constantly bore our grandchildren with stories of how we lived through this crazy period and tell quarantine anecdotes to people at bus stops (assuming we are ever allowed to be within 2m of each other, of course).


  • Jigsaw puzzles. Big fan! You can get images you love made into puzzles online quickly. Don’t do a jigsaw under 1000 pieces. You’re better than that…!


  • Jodorowski’s Dune (Documentary): Just a brilliant telling of something that never was but still ended up being super influential.
  • 15 Storeys High (British Comedy Series): One of the best shows I have ever seen. You are going to have to get it through YouTube or DVD though. Totally worth it.


  • ‘Replay’ by Ken Grimwood: These people exist.
  • ‘Lords of Chaos’ by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind: Documents one of my favourite music sub-culture movements.
  • ‘Interviews with Francis Bacon’ by David Sylvester: Insightful and honest thoughts from someone who’s creative process I admire.

I think everyone figures out and evolves their own creative processes and routines when their circumstances change. I truly believe everything always works out for the best; trust in this process and the journey. ‘Thoughts become things’…and the mind is capable of creating & controlling matter (we just haven’t fully mastered that yet, that’s all).

Also, try not to touch things that everyone else touches. x

Feel free to share your thoughts on Creativity in Captivity on the Conceptkicks IG and stay tuned for more insights.

Matthew Taylor

Footwear designer | Founder + Creative director of Auxiliary

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