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Visuals speak in the days of COVID-19

Everyone is talking about COVID-19. The disruption to the normal days is huge. Some people are understandably concerned about elderly or vulnerable relatives. Many entrepreneurs are worried about the financial consequences. Multiple work contracts are being cancelled at an alarming rate. The security of being fully booked over the next months has suddenly been replaced by great uncertainty about the future.

Some are looking on the positive side. They hope it might be a time of healing for the earth as there are less flight emissions and less air pollution from factories. Some even see it as an additional occasion to spend with the family, a moment for self-learning, for re-evaluation and even, an opportunity for the elusive, but much needed rest.

For me it brought multiple sides. Being an introvert and an entrepreneur who works mostly from home, the effect was subtle, almost difficult to describe. My small entrepreneur endeavour just turned a year old when the pandemic started. I was ready to apply what I learned over the past year and I was certain that this year will be better. My small business was being established. I had a line-up of work. And after all, Wuhan is far away from Helsinki.

By March, the borders were closed. Since most of my work involves travelling and the gathering of people, I knew that most of my work are cancelled. Any possibility of future work is now unforeseen. The present reality became overwhelming. I had to find the best way to manoeuvre in this new situation. However, as a visual practitioner, I know visuals have no borders. Visuals are not confined to the four corners of my flat. Visuals have spoken words. With these in mind, I created letterings with messages of hope. I drew fun illustrations to get to the lighter side of the pandemic. I made illustrations to portrait the heroism of the front-liners. I even drew hands to remind people of personal hygiene! Drawing each day gave me the peace and stability I needed. My illustrations gave me a way to communicate to the world.

Then I was asked to draw illustrations for COVID-19 prevention materials. Many resources are already published by international organisations but illustrations that will speak to the local context are needed to reach out to people who belong to the lesser known languages. These illustrations are now being used by different organisations as they produced COVID-19 materials for local languages.

In a very unexpectedly way, visual creation became my small contributions in times like this. Visuals speak in the days of COVID-19.

As a visual practitioner, what is your unique contribution in this time of crisis? How can your visuals reach out to others?