In late 2019, 4 artists got here collectively to collaborate on the horror anthology comedian “Comeuppance” to lift cash for the Artwork Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.
All through 2020, they principally went their separate methods, however just lately talked to the Solar about how they managed to remain artistic and sane all through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whereas Manitoba’s first circumstances of COVID-19 emerged on March 12, Curt Shoultz advised the Solar that the truth of the scenario didn’t hit him till the following day, when his deliberate cartooning session at Alexander College was abruptly cancelled.
“After which that subsequent week, ‘Growth,’ all the pieces was shut down,” the 63-year-old remembers.
Fortunately Shoultz, who labored as a contract illustrator and designer for DC Comics till 2002, is greater than only a gifted artist.
Since then, he has devoted his skilled life to post-secondary training, at the moment serving because the director of Brandon College’s Centre for Educating, Studying and Expertise.
Shoultz stated that this position is what occupied most of his time in the course of the first few months of the pandemic, since he was answerable for getting his fellow BU educators arrange for distant studying.
“So my spring and summer season was mainly time-and-a-half, speaking individuals into getting on-line,” he stated. “And I beloved it. I’ve all the time appreciated serving to individuals, and this was a chance for me to do one thing the place I truly have an effect.”
A part of what allowed Shoultz to thrive on this setting is his previous expertise working as a contract artist, which required him to remain related along with his employers by means of no matter know-how was out there on the time.
“My know-how background comes from attempting to be aggressive in graphic design within the ’90s, so I’ve been utilizing Apple merchandise for 25 years,” he stated.
“So I’ll need to say, I’m tech-savvy in some methods. I perceive what’s occurring. And I’ve an perspective that claims ‘if I don’t know what it’s, I can in all probability determine it out.’”
Regardless of being productive for many of 2020, Shoultz admitted that lots of his artwork initiatives took a again seat throughout this time, with the college demanding much more of his consideration.
Nevertheless, this all modified across the holidays, when he began portray once more and vowed to finish a brand new work each week to kick off 2021.
As of proper now, Shoultz has caught by this schedule and accomplished 10 work up to now this yr, having discovered a significantly better stability between work and creative pursuits in the course of the pandemic.
“I can step away in between Zoom conferences and perform a little portray, perform a little drawing, and so long as I’m OK with a sure incremental method … it does add up by the tip of the week,” he stated. “And I’m discovering that increasingly satisfying.”
However Shoultz isn’t the one one who has been holding busy in the course of the previous 12 months, since Nevin Arnold has been utilizing this time to place collectively a model new horror anthology by means of his firm, Hangman Comics.
Identical to earlier initiatives printed beneath this banner, “The 4 Chambers of Fright #1” consists of scripts and art work from quite a lot of collaborators that’s strung collectively by a supernatural narrator.
Nevertheless, Arnold — who lived in Brandon for greater than 15 years earlier than transferring out west — revealed that the artistic course of for this newest venture was rather less private than common, since he and his fellow artists on Vancouver Island couldn’t simply meet up in particular person to brainstorm concepts.
“With ‘The 4 Chambers of Fright,’ it was just about executed all on-line and over the telephone and thru texts and all that,” he stated. “So on this sense, you’re extra left to your individual artistic gadgets. You’re not capable of actually draw any of that artistic enter from any face-to-face interplay.”
Arnold can be involved about how COVID restrictions will eat into his income for this newest concern that’s set to be launched someday this month.
In spite of everything, a big chunk of his gross sales for Hangman Comics are made by means of massive in-person gatherings at shops and conventions — occasions that can in all probability be off the desk for at the least the primary quarter of 2021.
“You may nonetheless drop off the books at comedian shops and guide shops and all the pieces, however it’s not fairly the identical as with the ability to do a signing and sit out entrance and have that massive launch date,” he stated.
Regardless of all these setbacks, Arnold remains to be joyful about how this newest venture turned out and isn’t fearful about working dry on concepts, because the pandemic hasn’t put a dent in his artistic spirit as of but.
“I nonetheless spend all my spare time in a room simply drawing and writing,” he stated. “So whether or not there may be chaos occurring on the planet or not, it doesn’t actually have an effect on me as a lot as it might for most individuals.”
COVID-induced isolation proved to be a type of a silver lining for Merissa Mayhew as effectively, since she used the previous 12 months to buckle down and additional her profession as an expert artist.
The BU High quality Arts grad advised the Solar earlier this month that the “Comeuppance” comedian, which was launched within the fall of 2019, marked the second time her work has been printed.
Earlier than that, Mayhew’s fantasy-themed illustrations have been principally relegated to her personal private assortment, which implies this horror anthology was the foremost stepping stone she was on the lookout for.
“I believe having that second venture to contribute to, and truly have printed out, cemented the concept that is one thing I actually get pleasure from and one thing I wish to do extra of,” she stated. “And I’ve been pursuing that since then.”
In reality, one in every of Mayhew’s greatest accomplishments all through 2020 was turning into a featured artist in “Gothic Tales of Haunted Futures,” one other comedian guide anthology that was curated by Winnipeg-based creator and editor S.M. Beiko.
This assortment options over a dozen unique tales that straddle the road between horror, science fiction and romance, with Mayhew’s entry, “Till One Day,” specializing in a ghost who follows her lover’s descendants into the far future.
Regardless of having to work on this venture beneath lockdown circumstances, Mayhew stated the slower tempo truly offered a whole lot of readability for her artistic course of and future profession aspirations.
“It was good to have one thing to give attention to and to have the ability to additional develop my very own abilities,” she stated. “I assume, in a method, it gave me the prospect to decelerate and have extra time to consider how you can additional pursue my ardour and profession.”
At the moment, Mayhew works as a graphic designer for a big building firm, which pays the payments however doesn’t actually feed her artistic spirit.
As such, the illustrator is hoping that these final couple initiatives will result in extra skilled gigs down the road, particularly since she’s lastly beginning to discover her voice as a creator.
“I’m undoubtedly nonetheless studying,” stated Mayhew. “I’m nonetheless determining all of the ropes and strategies and studying to beat.”
Nevertheless, the lifetime of an expert artist isn’t with out its pitfalls, particularly for a tattooist like Lee Elvers, who has been out of labor for many of the previous 12 months as a result of pandemic.
Fortunately, Elvers lastly bought to return to his house at Ward’s Tattoo Store final month following the province’s resolution to loosen public well being restrictions for sure companies.
Thus far, the native tattoo artist revealed that he has been overwhelmed by a backlog of shoppers, who’ve gone with out skilled providers in the course of the bulk of the outbreak.
“I’ve been tremendous busy since I bought again, and everyone I do know within the enterprise has been tremendous busy, too,” he advised the Solar in late February. “It’s definitely good to be again doing what you’re presupposed to be doing.”
Elvers admits that he did wrestle to regulate to his time without work in the course of the pandemic since he has by no means taken such an extended break prior to now 19 years that he has been working within the business.
However similar to Mayhew, he did attempt to embrace the slower tempo of this era, selecting to shine off some artwork initiatives within the background and reconnect along with his family members.
“I did a few commissions. I lastly completed a print that I’ve been engaged on for some time,” stated Elvers on Feb. 26. “I simply did just a little little bit of artwork, however I spent a while with my household, which a whole lot of instances I don’t have time for as a result of I’m working. So I attempted to benefit from it so far as that went.”
For proper now, Elvers is joyful to be again doing what he loves, though he’s absolutely conscious of the truth that this might change straight away if the province’s COVID-19 circumstances take a foul flip.
“It’s onerous to really feel optimistic in regards to the state of the world proper now,” he stated. “However … I’m simply attempting to take it a day at a time proper now. I assume that’s actually all you are able to do.”
General, though these 4 artists handled the pandemic in numerous methods, Shoultz believes all of them share the will to reconnect as soon as all the pieces will get again to regular, both for a brand new collaborative venture or simply to hang around at a conference.
“We’ll get again collectively once more and we’ll have perhaps much more enjoyable,” he stated. “And I’m actually curious to see what of us are doing in their very own studios with this unusual additional time that we’re getting.”
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson