Fashion’s Digital Artists Are Today’s New Storytellers
“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” — Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
In the time of coronavirus lockdown, we need stories more than ever. Stories keep us connected, stories broaden our horizons, stories capture our imagination, stories enrich our lives. Now that we’re all cooped up in our own homes, we are looking all the more for ways to stay connected, not only with family and friends but also our other communities, we need to dream beyond our four walls and fill up our new-found down-time. With all other activities falling by the wayside, we are turning to online outlets to find not only news, but also points of identification, ways to betterment, entertainment, and escapism.
Fashion has always been a field of aspirations and dreams, a fertile ground for storytelling. With everyone’s lives and livelihoods on hold, we need our storytellers more than ever. But with the world on lockdown, non-essential travel ground to a halt and photoshoots canceled, the challenge is how to create new content without leaving your house. It’s almost impossible to maintain social distancing guidelines on a photoshoot – starting just with hair and makeup alone, not to mention styling, and anyway it’s too many people, even with just a bare-bones team of photographer and assistant.
Digital artists are uniquely positioned to work in solitude. They can produce content from the safety of their own homes. Collage artist Maxwell Burnstein, for example, creates hand-made collages out of unreleased, archival, stock imagery as well as sourced imagery with copyright. His work is fresh in normal times; it is a great alternative to traditionally produced content during lockdown. He can take us on a journey and pack in multiple layers of meaning without leaving his home: “Multiple concepts can be explored in a single piece of artwork that brings different types of viewers into a collective dialogue.”
Gina Duckworth, Director at Next Artists champions alternative approaches independently of the current situation.
I think a digital artist can tell a story much more interesting than a traditional photo shoot can. There are many aspects of emotions and movement within a digital piece that can never be portrayed within a still image.
– Gina Duckworth, Director at Next Digital
And when work evokes our emotions, that is what we remember. As Carl W. Buehner said: “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Since we are all feeling all sorts of things right now, the only possible guidance in terms of what tone to strike when communicating now is to be yourself, be genuine, and be kind.
Where are we going to be when we come out on the other side? Nobody knows. As with everything else in life, it is a complex, developing, fluid situation that we can each shape and affect in our own little way. If there’s one thing this pandemic made clear, it is how we are all connected and our impact upon one another. Despite the great loss and hardship the world is going through right now, the silver lining has to be that we learn from this complete disruption of our existing systems and structures and come up with innovative, perhaps even better, solutions. Since we can’t do things the way we have been, we have to find new ways. Maybe some things were broken anyway. At any rate, it’s time to come up with great ideas to build towards a better future. Macs Iotti put it more philosophically and eloquently.
Let’s see how all of it and all of us are going to be awakened and transformed after this global challenge we are globally living. Life is possible only through challenges and creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.
– Macs Iotti, Creative Director and Founder of MACSIOTTI