With lockdowns in place and photography and freelance projects grinding to a halt, we spoke to five creatives around the world about how they’re dealing with the pandemic and what it means for them moving forward. Together with photographer Gianluca Malavolta we have started an isolation shoot project to keep our creative juices going and prove the physical restrictions will not be a barrier to creative expression.

GIANLUCA MALAVOLTA (@gianlucamalavolta, Photographer)
Big time limitations involve big time changes. A lockdown could sound like the end, but I personally think that everything can always be seen as a new start...if you wear the right pair of lenses. This project is a way to overcome obstacles finding a new way to reinvent the bond between photographer and model.

In the social media era we are living, a screen can still radiate warmness and deeper connections can be established when you are deaf to the noises of your city.”


ESTHER BRENNER (@sebrestt)

Half Ukrainian and half Hungarian, Esther comes from a small town in West Ukraine, where she lived until recently. She had always stood out as a child because of her atypical curly hair and name, but instead of choosing to blend in, she has continuously experimented with her appearance, falling in love with second hand shops and developing her own signature style. This led to various creatives noticing her, casting her in subversive projects - which is how, unexpectedly for her, she got into the modelling industry. Initially seeing this as a risky freelance job, she eventually found an agency that gave her the opportunity to work in China. Transported into a different reality, her outlook on life changed drastically as her hometown started to seem too small for her ambitions. Esther is now based in Berlin, hoping to find new sources of inspiration from the diversity that surrounds her. She wonders - who will she become, how will Berlin transform her? 


“Being stuck in quarantine should be seen as the perfect time to decide on our true desires and priorities by understanding what is really important for each of us. We should still strive for everyday growth and inspire ourselves to reach the day when we are out of this state. All the ordinary things we took for granted… now we can truly appreciate them. Night gatherings with a bunch of friends, travel, exhibitions, parties, dating. It’s time to find the motivation to come up with a better plan for our future.”


KIM GERLACH (@kim.gerlach.sunandrise)

Kim is a consultant of fashion sustainability working within project management and business development. Based in Sweden, she believes the Scandinavian minimalism has strongly shaped her aesthetics, receiving enormous pleasure out of the right aesthetic stimulation. She uses Instagram as a creative outlet, playing with colour, visuals, and thought-provoking captions (only if she is in the mood for deep texts, though). A multi-talented generalist with a yellow heart for all things sustainable, Kim has worked with a variety of creators to produce playful and experimental content. In 2015, Kim started a blog - Kim goes Eko - which led to developing her own consultancy firm, Sun and Rise. For the past three years, she has worked around progressive Scandinavian aesthetics, also appearing at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit as a representative of sustainable labels: “I have found calm and beauty”, she says. 


“What helps me activate my creative juices is mental clarity. Having no mess around me frees up the space in my mind as well. Good literature is also indispensable. I think the positive side of the current situation is that we are forced to come up with new solutions - I am impressed by the collective innovation I am witnessing.”


MAËVA LE ROUX (@rebornputri

Maeva is a half French and half Indonesian model. She is proud of having lived in twelve different countries and is now studying cultural diplomacy in Berlin. Her art is an expression of the intense and wondrous blend of cultures she has experienced. She is also on board with the ECP-Future Generation, a platform which strives to promote the work of young artists and cultural managers across Europe, the discovery of new talents being what refreshes her spirit these days. 


“When this crisis started mid-March, I felt the strong impulse to start painting. It is quite convenient as it is a project that you carry alone, at your own pace. Painting helped me cope with solitude better than I expected to. Each day, the colours and shapes I paint translate my current state of mind on the canvas. I recently did a portrait with abstract components. Towards the end, I focused a lot on the woman’s face, sometimes I felt it was a mirror, sometimes a companion. I think producing art actually helps me go through the lockdown, rather than it keeping me away from being creative. However, I miss experiencing gallery exhibitions with others. Of course, there are all these virtual networks to share ideas, but the consumption is mostly done alone. Still, networks push for connection, which is why I was attracted to this project with YUGEN - it shows we can still produce creativity in restrictive circumstances.


Another thing that nurtures my flow of inspiration is revisiting memories of my old self. Since high school, I have developed the habit of keeping track of ideas in notebooks. I also keep them as diaries when traveling. In them I sketch, glue flyers and souvenir images, I write my thoughts and, sometimes, poems. These notebooks are all over the place - I come across them in random moments. So, my past-self inspires me with rough sketches of abandoned projects. My present-self may have the courage or the answers I didn’t have then.”


ANNA JEGEUS (@annajegeus)

Anna is 22 years old and based in Stockholm. She describes herself as a third-culture kid - the question of identity has always been very central in her life, especially since she has rarely seen herself represented in the media. She stumbled upon the opportunity of modelling by chance two and a half years ago, falling in love with the concept of using her own body as an instrument for creating images that tell her story. She is the type of person with too many thoughts and ideas, and what she loves most is channeling them through creative expressions. 


“The pursuit of creativity and storytelling really is what defines and motivates me in life. I am inspired by other creators who keep producing art and are finding new ways to create while safely social distancing. Art is so important right now because it helps keep people inspired and entertained, it's a great distraction when you need a break from the endless flow of bad news. I think it’s easy to go a little crazy when you are forced to spend so much time at home, but I feel grateful for the fact that I have more time to actually work on creative projects and get stuff done. 

The people who are working so hard right now, scientists, people working in health care, people keeping shops open, those who are providing food and health services to elders and those in risk groups, etc. - they are my biggest inspiration in these moments because they are doing their best for the rest of us at home. I feel like, as a creative, I should step up my game and do the best I can too.”



MARIE DUTECH (@maloe_dtch)

Marie is a creative director working in an agency based in Paris. She has also been modelling since her teenage years, which is what keeps her active and creative. Marie has fallen in love with Chinese culture while living in Shanghai, but she also loves surfing - and admittedly hates all kinds of vegetables. 

“During this lockdown I have been inspired by new music through random Spotify playlists. I visit different virtual galleries every week to stay updated with the art industry, and I also try to take one cool picture a day - whether it’s a building, a landscape, the sunset from my window, or just the reflections through a glass of water, this quarantine made me realise that beauty could be hiding anywhere.”


by Alexa Chirila

Photography: Gianluca Malavolta

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