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Staying Creative During Quarantine

By Eva Brickman
     We have all been affected by coronavirus and the resulting quarantine and stay at home orders put in place to keep us safe. While very important to uphold, the rules have transformed the way all of society functions, especially artists and creatives. It has become challenging to maintain a creative atmosphere when the very roots of our creativity have been stifled; yet it also can be seen as an invitation to be resourceful, and explore new elements of creativity to produce art.
     From history, we know that creativity and innovation rise in times of crisis. Van Gogh created his masterpiece Starry Night by the moonlight streaming from his window inside an insane asylum in Saint-Remy. Amy Winehouse wrote her hit song Back to Black to describe her descent into heroin addiction following a difficult breakup. This pandemic must too inspire us to find new perspectives and new ways of creating and expressing ourselves.
     SPEC is a creative collective of individuals at the University of Southern California, brought together to produce content for the first entirely student written, photographed, designed, and published fashion and culture magazine on campus. “SPEC⬝” is an acronym that stands for the aspiration of success, with campus presence, encouraging self-expression as a culture publication, without any specific commission or instruction. SPEC’s most recent content focuses on artists and creators on and around campus, mental health and wellness, skincare, surf and skate culture, and much more. Our magazine is constantly evolving based on the ingenuity and creativity of our membership. And I am constantly in awe of the content that SPEC’s members develop.
     In the wake of quarantine and a virtual learning environment, SPEC has faced and overcame challenges at every corner. The university campus was--and continues to be--shut down, and gatherings of more than 10 are banned, so SPEC members now meet virtually every other Tuesday. Since state law requires that we always remain at least 6 feet away from each other, we have shifted our photoshoots to FaceTime, hosted bonding sessions over Zoom, and placed an even greater emphasis on our digitally illustrated graphics. Our funding was cut due to the virtual nature of the semester, so our magazine will be released in an entirely digital format this semester. We can no longer have in person gatherings, so the Events and Fundraising team has been hard at work coming up with creative events such as live hair tutorials with a professional stylist via zoom, virtual workout sessions with a trainer, a virtual fashion show, and more. With each hurdle, we embrace the chance to adapt and overcome.
     Our team has gone further to create content inspired by recent events and use this period to highlight the ways that all of us have coped. This semester SPEC will feature a spread about online dating, how the fashion world is integrating masks into their designs, and a piece celebrating the things we love about the college apartments we are now spending so much time in. Though our efforts at SPEC obviously cannot eradicate coronavirus, they surely can make grappling with it a more bearable and stimulating experience.
     2020 has dealt us all a hand that forces us to live with grit, create with ingenuity, and find joy in the little things. History will highlight these unprecedented times for centuries to come. And the SPEC community will continue to persevere—thrive, even--regardless of what is thrown our way.
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