Painter John Kissick on How the COVID-19 Pandemic has Impacted Artists

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic began, the world has changed and with it almost every profession has been impacted. Like others, artists have been forced to adapt to the new reality, a reality that does not include art shows or exhibitions, courses, or workshops. This has resulted in artists having to do what they do best, getting creative and coming up with a solution that will guide the art community through this unprecedented time. 

John Kissick knows exactly what it feels like to be an artist living during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kissick is a native of Guelph, Ontario, who is a painter, published author, and an art professor at the University of Guelph’s School of Fine Art and Music. He provides some insight into a few key ways the pandemic has impacted artists and how they’ve overcome these challenges. 

Increased Online Presence

According to artist John Kissick, one of the main ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted artists is that it has forced many to strengthen their online presence. This has occurred as a result of exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and art shows being cancelled or postponed around the world. 

Kissick himself began focusing more on social media shortly after the pandemic began, as a way of showcasing his art and connecting with his audience, even when he couldn’t see anyone in person. Many artists like him have done the same, ramping up their presence on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Further, artists who didn’t already have a fully functioning website are increasing their efforts to make improvements to their site. Overall, promoting themselves via their websites, social media pages, and e-newsletters has been the focus of artists across the globe these past few months.

Renewed Focus on Creating Work

Across industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it some forced downtime. This couldn’t be more true for artists. Although we all wish we weren’t in this situation, one silver lining has been that it has given artists time to  focus on what’s most important: creating new works of art. Painter John Kissick of Guelph, Ontario, has taken the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on his past work and get inspired to create more work. 

The life of an artist is often very fast-paced, so it’s rare that artists would have otherwise had this long stretch of time to focus solely on creating art. The result is that many artists have had the time to experiment with new mediums, new ideas, and to take on longer-term projects. Again, while the circumstances that led us to this point are awful, some of the artwork that results from this period will be nothing short of transformational. However, the transition to creating art from home can be challenging for some. While some artists had their own studios prior to the pandemic, those that painted or sculpted in a shared space have been forced to carve out a space at home where they can work. 

John Kissick on Connecting Digitally

In addition to artists increasing their online presence for their own benefit, many artists have also chosen to use the internet to connect with other artists and the community as a whole. Like with every sector, the art sector has been decimated, with art galleries and museums forced to close and events being cancelled, leaving artists with no way to showcase their work. The result has been that artists are finding other ways to stay connected to the art community and the community at large during this isolating time. To do this, painters like John Kissick are harnessing the power of the internet to host their own events, workshops, and courses. 

Thanks to Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Facebook and Instagram Live, hosting a virtual event has never been easier. Several artists have been offered introductory online courses in their area of expertise for free. Another way artists have tried to stay connected is by creating large Facebook groups of artists in the same area, so that they can share their work on a page where it will be appreciated and critiqued by like-minded others. John Kissick of Guelph, Ontario, has even heard of artists who are taking direct inspiration from COVID-19, creating collaborative global projects where people are encouraged to express how they’re feeling during this trying time through art.