We’ve always believed that creativity can change the world. And in this moment in time, when we’re facing one of the biggest changes in recent memory, we need that creativity more than ever. With that in mind, WePresent is supporting the UN to visualize and raise awareness of key messages associated with stopping the spread of COVID-19, calling on creative thinkers from every corner of the globe to help.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Professor Dumbledore’s notorious advice may refer to defeating a dementor, but it’s a sentiment that seems to matter now, more than ever.
For some of us the “light” is creativity. We use it to see and understand the world in new ways. Creativity can bring hope and happiness in a time of fear, and help us feel connected when we’re miles apart.
That’s why we support the initiative of the the United Nations (UN) to call on creatives around the world to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The brief was to engage and inform people across different cultures, communities and platforms. Anyone could enter and use any creative medium to get across one of six messages around personal hygiene, physical distancing, knowing the symptoms, spreading kindness, myth-busting and solidarity.
We selected our favorite entries from the UN’s top 1000 artworks and, in the spirit of spreading positivity, asked each artist what makes them really, really happy.
I’m a multidisciplinary designer currently finishing my last year of graphic design at Camberwell College of Arts. Born from a Taiwanese mother and a French father, I grew up in France and Hong Kong before coming to study in London. I love observing people – my parents tell me that when I was a baby I would stare at people with wide open eyes (a bit like Dory in Finding Nemo) – and my happiness stems from other people’s joy. Two summers ago, I remember sitting at the dinner table surrounded by all my family from my father’s side. With our bellies full and our wine glasses empty, we turned on the music really loud and started to dance and sing. Everyone was full of joy, with big smiles on their faces, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Zoë van Kuyk
As an illustrator and motion designer, I’m intrigued by the different ways people express themselves without using words. I have a real passion for character design, and getting inspired or inspiring others is when I’m happiest. I love to surround myself with other creative minds to get new ideas, learn new techniques and watch each other grow. Working at Studio Plankton gives me the opportunity to create visual content for companies like Wrangler and Eastpak, and the diversity of projects keeps me inspired.
I am inspired by old and new styles of art, which are significant to my hometown of Antwerp, Belgium. One of my favorite painters is Antwerp icon Peter Paul Rubens. He captures the emotions of his subjects in such a dramatic yet beautiful way and that is what I wanted to achieve for the character in my video.
The thing that makes me the happiest is very small and simple. It’s the moment I sit down, alone in my studio, and wonder, what will I make today? When it comes to creativity, I believe the more you use it the more it grows. I’m a multidisciplinary artist working across a wide range of media. Originally trained in woven textiles, I’ve worked as a dyer, painter, sculptor, printer and, occasionally, an illustrator. I exhibit regularly and enjoy doing commissioned work. I find inspiration everywhere – looking at nature, drawing from life, visiting exhibitions, listening to music or swimming in the chilly waters of the Irish Sea. I love color and enjoy experimenting with different materials and processes, which often leads me in new directions. Making mistakes and trying new things is a vital part of my creativity. I also like painting small, detailed portraits of family, friends or people I know. This suits my workspace – a small studio in my leafy back garden in Dublin. I’m lucky to have it, but my dream is to someday have a bigger space of my own. I wonder what I will make then?
My name is Pedro Ninja, I'm a 29-year-old artist from the city of Belo Horizonte – the capital of Minas Gerais state in Brazil. Working on my art is what brings me happiness in this world. When I’m creating something I feel real, I feel free. In fact, for me, creating is a matter of need, and I’m happy God allows me to do it. Being able to play the guitar or to draw and paint on the walls is to have the privilege of materializing my soul. I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in drawing and over the last decade, I’ve painted many walls in Brazil. And now I’m starting a new career as a musician, developing my own beats and singing or rhyming over them. Long live hip-hop.
My name is Rafael de Araujo, I'm a Los Angeles-based animator, director and graphic artist originally from São Paulo in Brazil. I'm constantly producing something and I learn through the process. I love 2D, GIF art, flat colors and games. The small things in my daily routine are what bring me continuous joy – but a swimming pool on a sunny day makes me really happy too. I'm very grateful for my situation during this period; I have a house, a job and my family and I are safe. I wish the same safety and positive energy for everybody.
What makes me happy? Definitely family, food and garden gatherings with the people I love. I'm a visual artist based in Guadalajara, Mexico and I primarily create images of characters with undefined forms surrounded by flowers, plants or something in between. My main medium is rotoscope animation, where I make a video, separate it into frames, print them, paint on top of them, reshoot frame per frame, click play and watch the animation come to life. (That’s another thing that makes me really happy.) I graduated from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 2016 with a focus on illustration, animation and digital installation. Lately I’ve been directing animated videos for different musicians, as well as working with brand identity, murals and brand commissions. I like to think my work is a little bit mysterious and revealing through the eyes of simplicity.
Knowing the symptoms
I’m Holly, I am a 22-year-old aspiring creative designer. I’m at my happiest when I’m so invested in a project or illustration it almost becomes a form of meditation. When you’re so focused on the act of creating that everything else just melts away. That’s one of the most powerful things about art for me, not the end product as such, but the way it makes you feel while you’re creating it. I recently graduated from advertising and branding design, then I went on to do a placement at the University of Bedfordshire as a marketing and communications assistant. I’ve moved around quite a bit, including living in Leipzig, Germany for six years, but now I’m settled in Harpenden. If money was no object, I would start a non-profit shop to help clean up the oceans.
Fuzzco is a creative studio specializing in brand, digital and content with offices in New York, Seattle, and Charleston. We’re happy when we feel safe, loved and purposeful. Simple things like organizing our homes, riding our bikes, being outside, setting up bird feeders, cooking good food, making things, exercising and laughing. Just being kind to ourselves and others makes us feel happy. Perhaps most of all, and especially in times like these, the feeling of sharing our experiences and knowing we’re all in this together brings us both comfort and fulfillment.
I’m a Montreal-based illustrator and cartoonist who loves to laugh and to draw. You’ll usually find me sipping a coffee while listening to jazz and drawing. I thrive when my work triggers reactions; either laughter, a smile, a reflection or deeper thoughts. Images and words are my tools for communicating ideas and I’m always looking for the right combination to help me articulate the world. Coffee is what makes me happiest. Quite simply. Coffee is a central part of my visual world and my favorite ongoing subject. It’s my companion as I create. I draw coffee, I draw with coffee, I draw in coffee shops, I draw coffee machines... you get the picture. Even the word “coffee” is beautiful to me. It’s my ritual to ground myself, to find inspiration and to keep positive energies in my work. So grab an espresso while you watch my work – cheers.
My name is Binderiya Sanduijav and I’m a graphic designer and illustrator from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I feel happiness when people share my illustrations with others to spread positivity, and when I can change someone’s negative mind with my work. Lately I’ve been trying to find happiness in the little things in my everyday life, like when the first sip of coffee touches my soul. In those moments I want to focus entirely on what I’m doing. I want to be living in the present – it’s easy to lose my mind sometimes when I create. Music is also an important thing in my life. I always listen to upbeat songs in the morning, it helps to keep up my energy. And I’ve recently discovered a new hobby: film photography. The most exciting moment is when I’m unloading the films and seeing what I’ve captured, because I can’t see the photos until they’re developed.
What makes me happy? What a cool question. There are a lot of things that make me really happy – both big and small. I love the feeling of being so absorbed in my creative flow that my hot cup of tea gets cold. I was born in New Zealand, grew up in The Netherlands, then returned to New Zealand to discover my roots. I loved it so much I decided to stay, eventually settling in the beautiful town of Motueka, where I set up Studio Soph. For the last five years I’ve been lucky enough to make a living doing what I love the most – creating art. My childhood was spent dreaming up fairytales, building huts and climbing trees. Although my love for drawing has never waned (and I continue to draw on whatever I can get my hands on), clay is now my favorite medium. I inherited this passion from my mother and grandparents, who are successful ceramicists back in The Netherlands. I love to fill my pieces with brightly colored designs; from naked women and bearded men to crazy and quirky creatures.
I actually don’t know how to define myself and what I do. My name is Gaia, I’m from Italy and I’m not an illustrator, nor a graphic designer, nor a photographer. People always tell me, “Gaia, you have to choose!” But, here I am, still undecided. Thinking about what makes us happy is always a good challenge. Happiness is something we take for granted when we feel it, so we rarely dig for the reasons why. Many things make me happy, but when I really think about it, the biggest feelings of happiness always come from something very, very small, like a single red thread woven into a much bigger picture. It could be restoring my grandma’s shirt or hearing an untold story for the first time. That small red thread, for me, comes from creating light and taking care of one another.
I’m Andi Yanto, a creative thinker based in London. What makes me feel really, really happy? Simple things like spending time with friends and family. The best thing about life is you get to share things – good, bad and anything in between. Sometimes life is full of laughter, sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on. The important thing is that we do it together.
I’m Azlif, a creative director and graphic designer from the Maldives. I’ve always admired the quote “Live humbly and work with your hands” from lettering artist Dana Tanamachi. However something as seemingly simple as working with one’s hands has become rather unattainable in a world dominated by the digital sphere. A magic word that speaks to me is coffee. Waking up to brew a fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning is the simplest form of luxury. The art of measuring and grinding to perfect ratios, getting the water temperature just right and paying homage to the farmers with every sip, is a ritual of simplest pleasures. A daily luxury I can afford to live by.
I'm Catherine, a freelance illustrator based in Bordeaux, France. I'm half French, half Italian and eating a tasty plate of Italian pasta is one of my favorite things to do – just thinking about it makes me happy. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and illustration, and with a lot of patience and hard work my style and graphic universe have evolved over the years. I love exploring colors and textures. The projects I work on are never the same, and I enjoy the challenge of being diverse. I'm a curious person and I'm always excited to begin new work. Lately I've been illustrating a children's book about animal documentaries, and next I want to learn about ceramics. I don't take my work for granted and find it important to stay dynamic and innovate.
The things that make me very, very happy are: going for a long walk outdoors and feeling safe; sad twinkly music; coffee; flowers; my close friends; beauty; drawing; safe spaces for all women; a garden; a swing; small animals; children enjoying themselves; very old trees. I’m a designer and illustrator with a focus on societal issues like identity, feminism and women’s rights. I live in Lahore, Pakistan where I lead an independent studio which collaborates on a range of projects, from fashion and publication design to illustration and branding.
I grew up, and still live, in Brazil. I feel great when I’m cycling in the woods, but going for a ride in the city is also pretty good – choosing bikes over cars can help the planet in many different ways. As an illustrator I like to explore themes I find relevant and meaningful. Although these are usually serious issues, I prefer to approach them in a more simple and beautiful way, aiming to inspire other people. I don't know if what I do really makes a difference, but I certainly hope it does.