31 Positive Creative Projects in Uncertain Times – Features
Super free colouring downloads, posters for charity and general optimism in art.
We’ve been covering the effects of these strange new times on Digital Arts with in-depth reads on the impact on art publishing, stock imagery, signage and creative courses.
There have been all sorts of unique creative solutions that have caught our eye, too, like Animal Crossing exhibitions, virtual art shows, the need for illustration and AR in communications, taking photos of artwork at home, Coronavirus-themed picture books, CGI balcony GIFs, Slack communes and remote design tips.
With so much inspiration out there from the creative community, we thought it was high-time to round up over 30 of the best free colouring downloads, charitable projects and inspiring works that celebrate the pluses of people and playful lockdown life during pandemic.
We’ll also recently decided to be highlight creative ventures that go beyond Blackout Tuesday, showcasing the equally inspiring responses that have come about in response to the ongoing world protests on race and equality. This is part of a conversation against prejudice at large, both against each other and the planet, so we’re also celebrating projects that seek to protect the environment and those whose voices are drowned out in current conversations (and who will suffer the most from the climate crisis as it continues to unfold.)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s Poster House museum teamed up with PRINT Magazine, Times Square Arts, and For Freedoms to launch a citywide public art campaign featuring PSAs and messages of love, gratitude, and solidarity with New York City’s frontline workers.
The PSAs were found throughout New York City on nearly 1,800 digital screens and billboards, courtesy of creators like Jessica Hische, Debbie Millman, Zipeng Zhu, Klaas Verplancke (above) and Paula Scher. Milton Glaser also created a piece, one of his last before his recent passing away.
See all the #COMBATCOVID posters here, wonderfully animated in GIF form.
Eat Less Plastic!
“Living in Lisbon means we’re in daily contact with the moods, majesty… and misery of our Ocean,” explains global studio How & How. “The plastic washing up on our beaches is a very real and obvious threat. But there’s an awful hidden danger we barely notice — the degraded plastic particles we’re all ingesting through water, which have infiltrated the system. And we’re ingesting these at an alarming scale: a credit card-sized amount of them, per person each week.
“Our ongoing studio projects (called BeHalf on behalf of the planet) are a series of mini-campaigns we’re developing in-house with Mother Earth as our client. Use Less Plastic, Eat Less Plastic was a quick four-day sprint — developed to coincide with #plasticfreejuly 2020 — which was all about keeping it simple, while conveying a lot: Use. Less. Plastic. Eat. Less. Plastic.”
See the whole project here on the How & How website.
Abi Stevens’s Spoonie Pins
Illustrator Abi Stevens is creating enamel pins for various chronic illnesses, helping to raise awareness and enable open dialogue about the experiences of long-term illness for the 15 million people in the UK who live with one.
Inspired by her own experiences of chronic migraines, Abi launched the first collection in 2019 with “Chronic Warrior” and “Migraine Warrior” pins; now Abi has launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand the range to cover a larger range of chronic health issues to spread the message of strength and support to as many people as possible.
The new pins include designs saying “Spoonie Sisterhood”, “Fatigued and Fabulous”, “Fibromyalgia Fighter” and “Autoimmune Warrior”.
Spoonie is a term established by the chronically ill to explain what it’s like when they run out of energy for the day. Spoon theory explores how every activity takes a single spoon and, for the chronically ill, those spoons can run out far too quickly to be able to effectively function on any given day.
“The first design, “Spoonie Sisterhood”, was inspired by the bond I have with my own sister, who is also a spoonie, as well as the many supportive and encouraging spoonie women who have helped me feel less alone.
“I’ve also included other new designs for those dealing with autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Over time I plan to continue expanding my range of pins to include as many people as possible, including mental health, ADHD, autism, and physical disabilities.”
Signs Of Change (SOC) is a platform advocating positive change in the world through design.
“We believe posters are the simplest and quickest way to communicate a single message,” SOC founder Ellis Sargeant-Long tells us. “Small enough to make you refine exactly what needs to be on it and what doesn’t, but big enough to tell the world what you want to say. Posters and protests go hand in hand you can rarely have one without the other, which is why the more impactful the poster the more it amplifies the purpose of the protest.
“At the moment our only concern is supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. However, we are a platform which in essence is dictated by the public, when a new cause gets brought to the forefront of society we will respond. It is not for us to dictate what causes deserve the platform but merely be a facilitator of conversation.”
Designer Alex Fowkes has created bespoke flags flying across four streets in London, Mayfair, designed to spread love and positivity in the city.
Thank you, Healthcare Workers
The last few months have really highlighted the crucial role of our healthcare workers around the world. To recognise and celebrate the tireless work of these extraordinary people, the DNEG Feature Animation team has put together an animated short, above, featuring the team’s Queen’s Guard mascot.
Caring for You
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NNUH has established a Wellbeing and Support service called Caring For You, which offers their staff dedicated counselling support to help them cope with this unprecedented global pandemic.
NNUH approached JDO Brand Design for help in creating an identity for Caring For You, together with support collateral to raise awareness for its launch
JDO created a colourful new identity featuring four hospital characters made out of speech bubbles to deliver personality and a human touch, whilst conveying that communication is critical amongst all the diverse frontline staff affected by Covid-19. Everyone from nurses, doctors, paramedics, porters, morgue technicians, receptionists to the hospital managerial staff are all trying to support their teams, each other and the patients.
The logo incorporates the Hospital’s PRIDE colour palette, to ensure it held the same hospital values, and was recognisable to staff as an NNUH initiative.
Anthony Burrill brings Love Hope & Joy to London
June’s end saw optimist type and poster legend Anthony Burrill unveil a 4 storey tall (56ft) poster art installation in Covent Garden as a love letter to London and the World, a celebration of the reopening of the area and July’s reopening of restaurants in the UK.
100 copies of the Love Hope & Joy poster are on sale here with proceeds going to NHS Charities Together.
Quentin Blake’s Rainbow Mugs
Sir Quentin Blake, illustrator of Roald Dahl’s books (which are still a joy despite Dahl’s reputation), has teamed up with north London charity NHS-OS to illustrate a new range of rainbow mugs to help raise money for NHS Charities Together.
The mugs are available in three unique designs (Rainbow Hat, Dog Kennel and Children on Plates) and are being sold exclusively on Skinny Dip London for £20, with 100% of all profits being donated to NHS Charities Together, just like the Burrill prints above.
Posters for the People
Molu Designs, Studio Build and Hyro are the latest names to create artworks for In Good Company’s Posters for the People, a charity campaign to thank and support key workers who have helped keep the country running during the pandemic supported by FYI.
As we emerge from lockdown, the Leeds-based street art initiative is taking their original billboards site in the city one last time, to reflect on the impact of coronavirus and how we might move forward as a society.
The first of the three billboards features Unity by London-based creative studio Molu Designs. A specialist in lettering, sign-painting and typographic installations, Molu wanted to bring a message of community and a reminder to be kind and work together through times of adversity.
Elsewhere, Studio Build has reworked its Conversations Make Rainbows artwork (below) in collaboration with Asbury & Asbury to reflect Pride, saying “Every single LGBTQI+ person’s life is important – Pride is not for a day, a month – it is life.”
Meanwhile street artist Hyrograff has taken inspiration from his new body of work, Her Story, which portrays women of colour as “powerful and vibrant beings” in digitally manipulated pieces. Titled RBG, the piece features red, black and green to create a bold palette inspired by Dead Prez’s Revolutionary but Gangsta album.
Animal Crossing Pride parade
As part of Pride celebrations this year, Global Pride organised the first international virtual Pride festival to be hosted on Animal Crossing, replacing the real life festivities which have been hindered by the big bad virus.
The festival is one of the activities supporting Global Pride 2020, which was launched this year on April 1 as a partnership between InterPride, the European Pride Organizers Association and national Pride networks globally in response to the cancellation of Pride events due to COVID-19.
June 27th’s #GlobalPrideCrossing campaign – conceptualised and created by We Are Social Singapore – served as a safe space for people of any gender, orientation, colour or ethnicity who are part of LGBTI+ and ally communities across the world to celebrate.
Jägermeister Saves the Night
For the first time in the brand’s history, Jägermeister has changed the front label of the iconic liqueur across countries and continents for the #SAVETHENIGHT Jägermeister Limited Edition Bottle. The bottle launches as part of an initiative to support nightlife communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
The #SAVETHENIGHT bottle and initiative is backed with the commitment from family-owned Mast-Jägermeister SE to generate 1 million euros for the global nightlife community, including artists, creatives, bartenders and club owners who are facing unprecedented hard times and struggling to make a living.
Here Design worked with Jägermeister to create this highly desirable limited edition bottle of its world-famous core product. The creation of the new bottle sees Jägermeister demonstrating its support for the industry that has carried it over the years and encouraging other drinks brands to follow suit to save the night life industry.
Here Design took this creative insight and partnered with illustrator Max Löffler, a German artist known for his connections to music and underground culture, to collaborate on the bottle design.
The new illustration includes a portal of escapism on the front label, with a shining light beam representing a beacon of hope and positivity in dark times. The label inverts the classic Jägermeister greens and oranges, amplifying the night-time vibe while continuing to honour the original, iconic Jägermeister design.
The graphic artwork is framed by an archway portraying the ‘gate to the night’. The frame is a poem by Here Design, dedicated to the nightlife community to create hope and solidarity. It declares: ‘the best nights are still to come and together we can save the night’. The back-label builds on the story and the cause.
Shepard Fairey and team take on the Truman
As the UK at long last reunited over a socially-distanced (and very risky) beer on Saturday, London’s Old Truman Brewery was transformed into a safe social drinking space through a smart street art installation.
Painted on the surface of the main yard, the artwork was developed by Stella Artois with Studio Number One, the team of world-renowned street artist Shepard Fairey – best known for the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster and Andre the Giant OBEY designs.
The work borrows techniques used in op art, urban planning, architecture and design to manage people’s movements and make keeping socially distant obvious and easy, without the use of off-putting physical barriers.
It features a careful combination of circles, flowing lines and bright, contrasting colours, set within a representation of a woman toasting with a beer, creating a design that is both functional and artistic – transforming an otherwise featureless space into a vibrant place to linger safely over a drink.
The colour-contrasted circles accommodate different-sized groups, allowing individuals from different households to meet in adjacent circles, with larger areas for several housemates to share a beer together.
And while the circles are precisely spaced to maintain social distancing, the range of sizes and flowing lines around them create a sense of freedom and movement – avoiding the stark feeling of being on a grid or the sense of disconnection found in other safe-social designs.
Save the Oceans!
EYEYAH!, the pro-social edutainment platform, together with Nickelodeon Asia and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), collaborated to draw children’s attention to ocean protection and sustainability through a 10-part animated series of public-service announcements (PSAs) that will began airing on 8 June in conjunction with World Oceans Day 2020.
To enable deeper learning and incite a creative response from viewers, each animation is supported by a free worksheet with activities such as designing a poster to raise awareness on sea pollution, and a crossword puzzle about the types of food that Great White Sharks eat. There is also a free Teachers Toolkit that uses the artworks to trigger conversation in the classroom.
Worksheets can be downloaded free here.
Study with Snoopy
As parents worldwide try to find new ways to keep their children engaged in learning during the coronavirus crisis, parents who speak languages other than English face a particularly challenging time. Now help comes—at no cost—from a familiar and beloved source: Snoopy.
Peanuts Worldwide, via the peanuts.com website, is offering free educational materials in 11 languages, giving students aged 4 through 14 the chance to develop their STEM, language arts, and social studies skills with the help of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the whole Peanuts Gang.
Several of the lesson plans feature Astronaut Snoopy exploring the thrill and science of space travel, and are complemented by the new series “Snoopy in Space,” now available for free on Apple TV+. Both were created in collaboration with NASA.
In other Peanuts online lesson plans, students can partner with Charlie Brown’s baseball teammates to sharpen their math skills; celebrate spring with the Peanuts gang while completing science, language arts, and math exercises; and learn about persistence—and enhance their own—through lessons from Charlie Brown, who never gave up trying to kick that football!
All the online educational materials were developed by the award-winning curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired (YMI), a leading provider of free educational outreach programs based in the U.S., and reviewed by their blue-ribbon panel of active North American teachers.
100% of net profits from sales of this brush will be donated to the Act Blue collection of groups listed here. These groups fight racism and police brutality.
Kyle is doing this fundraiser to show support for the Black community. As with most of his fundraisers, the brush is offered for FREE, but the acclaimed digital artist encourage those who can to make a donation of $1 or more.
Do good while being a perv with Out of Line, an adult colouring book to ease the boredom and horniness of lockdown.
The profits generated by this book will be donated to AKT, a charity supporting LGBTQ+ young people in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment.
We like that contributors include Simon Landrein and Marylou Faure, who we’ve both recently interviewed for our YouTube channel. There’s also Alva Skog, Ana Curbelo, Bobbi Rae, Minet Kim, Shawna X and Jinwha Jang.
I don’t know about you, but that roll call has made me horny.
19 Artists versus COVID-19
19 Artists versus COVID-19 is a limited-edition poster project by Italian paper manufacturer Fedrigoni and designer Alvaro Lopez, printed by PUSH London, in collaboration with 19 international artists including Noma Bar (above), to show support in the fight against COVID-19.
The posters are being sold online at 19vs19.co.uk for £19, with all profits going directly to NHS Charities Together. The first edition of each poster will be sold by auction at a later date. Once the lockdown is lifted and offices reopen, all 19 posters will also be exhibited in the Fedrigoni London Studio in Clerkenwell.
A smashing series of prints, postcard, colouring in & activity sheets with all profits to ‘Masks for NHS Heroes’.
Attempting to bring some much needed colour, joy and positivity to these tough times, Aniker’s vibrant and graphic artworks are perfect to stick in your window, gift to the keyworkers in your life and to send messages to loved ones on the colourful postcards. The colouring in sheet is a great form of relief from screens and stressful news updates, suitable for both adults and children. Acknowledging that the poster doesn’t include all the many skilled keyworkers we have, the artist has created an activity sheet to fill in with drawings of the keyworkers you want to thank.
NHS workers, Corner shops, Cleaners, Bus and Delivery drivers are just some of the keyworkers paid tribute to in Aniker’s poster. Filled with a bustling sense of movement, electrical wires interconnect with transport lines and wave-like patterns on food cans handled by food workers. The poster is made up of a series of frames which are teeming with patterns and a sense of movement that links them together, highlighting how vital and interconnected skilled keyworkers are to society.
Says Emmy, “this is a series I have been working on in lockdown, diarising the positives, mundane moments, highs and lows that are occurring right now. Illustrated in a decorative style, with pastel colours and patterns, they hope to bring a bit of joy and resonate with others who can see themselves in these moments.
“The illustrations include depictions of scenes such as writing letters to my nan, running outside, sunbathing inside, staring out of the window at night time, longing for a hug from a family member, and reading up on how to stay calm in a crisis.”
An HeARTistic campaign to encourage organ donation
Heart at home is a project about donating and sharing #WorksofHeart to encourage people to share their organ donation decision.
There are some incredible artists and illustrators involved like All Good Co (above), both from the UK and internationally. You can see the list and artworks here: https://www.heartathome.org/portfolio-1
The campaign – run in partnership with the NHS and a collection of donation organisations – also offers support to those who’ve had or who need transplants, whom the government lists as the most vulnerable to the corona virus.
Hope & Love colouring sheets
Says Agency Rush, “we wanted to find a way to channel some Hope & Love and contribute in a creative way to bring, well, some Hope & Love to the stressful reality of living with and coping with the effects of the virus.
“Here you will find some illustrated Hope & Love – you can download to print, black & white versions to colour in and a blank template for you to create your own Hope & Love. So please download and post and send us your versions and your kids coloured in ones and we can build more and more Hope & Love. Remember to tag #hopeandlove and #agencyrush.”
The banner above is by Asako Masunouchi.
The Collective Colouring Book
A 70+ page colouring book, from 30+ artists across the globe to offer some light relief to creatives during this time, featuring Genie Espinosa, Alex Gamsu Jenkins, Yeye Weller, Mr Misang and Choi Sungmin (Saio Comics, one of the Korean illustrators who contributed to this book of cute doggy art.)
Artists and creatives bring some light to these dark times with stickers, including Fergadelic, Linder Sterling, NTS, Peter Saville and Joy Division.
All profits go to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, raising crucial funds for all the brave NHS workers and volunteers.
For Spring of Hope, agency Fine Acts partnered with hope-based comms, a new global initiative for change-makers who want to modernise the way nonprofits talk, based on the idea that people need hope if they are to engage in social change activism or have empathy for others.
Participating artists like Kyle Platts and Cachette Jack were asked to read for inspiration the guide on hope based communications that looks at hope as a strategy for social change. See link above for free and uplifting illustrations below and enjoy new works every week until the end of May.
Designer Laetitia Rouget supports the NHS Charities
Laetitia Rouget has designed a new range of small gifts (including plates, artworks, cards and napkins) with 50% of the sales going direct to the NHS Charities.
Inspired by some of the themes of social distancing, and in keeping with Laetitia’s playful house-style, the range includes prints and plates with slogans such as ‘No Snogging Allowed’ and ‘Keep Your Distance’.
Cards Against Corona
Says design duo Oimachi, “we invited 55 designers from all across the globe to visualise the pandemic in their own creative way. Think toilet paper hoarding, video-hangouts, sanitiser-madness, social distancing, quarantining, Wuhan-bats etc.
“We are now excited to introduce Cards Against Corona to the world – a pandemic-themed card deck, co-created by 55 creatives to form a diverse and visually amazing set of playing cards. The artworks are made by illustrators, designers and artists from more than 30 countries and features both young, new talents and internationally recognised visual magicians. All profits are donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.”
To raise money for NHS Charities Together, Split’s creative director, Oli Bentley, has designed and printed some giant ‘thank you’ posters.
One and a half metres wide and a metre tall, they are hand-printed on the People Powered Press, holder of the Guinness World Record as the largest letterpress printing press of its kind in the world.
You can nominate someone to receive one of these massive messages of thanks through Split’s website, and they’ll receive their print in the post. All proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together.
Says Leo, “I was commissioned by MTV to create an ID that says thank you to the heroes of the COVID outbreak, the first responders: public health workers, doctors, nurses, administrators and hospital cleaning staff who are on the front lines of this pandemic.
“These people, often dealing with limited or rudimentary resources, are risking their own health and facing many challenges as they tirelessly work to support us. While we are staying home, they are stepping up.
“This ID is part of a series, and it’s connected with the MTV campaign #AloneTogether launched around the pandemic.”
Check out Leo’s recent Saul Bass-esque branding for a film festival.
A fab series of quarantine-inspired characters offering some humour and lightness to ease the heavy mood from COVID-19.
Says Studio Lennarts & de Bruijn and Overdeschreef, “People need to stay the fuck home so our lifesavers can do what they do best: saving lives. This means that it’s our job as visual communication gurus to inspire people to stay at bay. And that’s where you’ll come into play.
“We want you to design posters to:
1 – Keep our lifesavers sane. Think happy and uplifting.
2 – Inspire the general population to stay safely inside.”
Countless posters have been uploaded so far by the likes of Kris Andrew Small and Cachete Jack.
Breda poster takeover
“Stay safe, take care of each other, keep your distance, call your grandparents”, all frequently heard comments lately. Residents of Breda in the Netherlands can now also find them on the street. The Dutch city – with the most cases of COVID-19 in the country – has been covered in hundreds of colourful posters as a reaction to the pandemic.
In the Netherlands, people are still allowed to go outside, albeit for a short walk or groceries. By spreading these posters throughout the city, Graphic Matters hopes to enlighten those valuable moments outside with a positive message in the form of colourful posters.
The posters were made by several designers and exhibited by cultural organisation Graphic Matters, with the aim of encouraging healthcare workers, grocery workers, postal workers, garbage men and residents of Breda. Graphic Matters selected 12 posters that depict the current crisis in a striking way and had them spread across the city in 275 poster frames – almost every single frame in the city, which are normally used for advertising – basically turning them into positive public service announcements.
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