In this post, Hazel Laing a recent Illustration graduate from the Edinburgh College of Art describes two crucial interventions for students when learning digitally; incorporating routines into daily life to maximise productivity and arranging the aesthetics of your room to fashion a mentally healthy workspace…
The prospect of learning in lockdown and completing degree work from home was very strange. The studio spaces at ECA were a sacred place for learning, ideas and of course friendships. It provided motivation to keep creating work and it felt reliant on these spaces.
Learning in lockdown, initially, was the exact opposite of this studio utopia. Absent of the general chatter, admiring other students’ creations and people taking pictures of the castle view our desks proudly sat under; working from home was lonely. Without the shared facilities and workshops, it was difficult to imagine completing work which was working towards the idea of a physical degree show.
Lockdown called for a new working routine. The first week or so saw a period of adjustment from studio to home, and extensive planning. I enjoyed creating a new home working space by arranging my favourite postcards and prints to brighten up my little room. Spending all day indoors, a routine became essential in order to complete work whilst also allowing time to stretch legs away from the desk. Albeit, there were more than a few days spent solely in pyjamas, but as a whole, the new routine gave needed structure.
It appreciated the smaller things. It was making nice coffee in the mornings before I started to work. It was the luxury of taking my dog out for an hour after lunch and enjoying the fields and woodland areas next to my home. It was setting up my laptop and sketchbooks in the garden on the warm days. For the most part of lockdown, I felt fresher and fitter. Before I would have spent my days cooped up inside studio only eating Sainsbury’s sandwiches, instead I was establishing balance between working, eating well and getting fresh air.
We had frequent online meetings with the class and tutors, which on the whole were uplifting and motivating. We were easily able to share work, ask for opinions and keep up to date with everyone’s projects. I feared communication would be difficult during home learning, but the Blackboard video meetings and sharing boards were easy and a joy to be part of as they captured a small aspect of the social studio space, we had all been missing.
The heart of my time at ECA lies within the illustration studio. The workshops, shared spaces, critiques and physical displays of work are essential in gaining confidence, developing your practice and building relationships with your creative peers. Our year was lucky that we had already established this. I hope that within the safety regulations, the future ECA students will be able to experience the fruitful, practical experience it is to be at the college of art. Where they are able to explore and learn in the shared spaces and workshops and to make lifelong friendships as a result of the studios.