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Election anxiety is real? IG creatives give us tips on how to deal

The 2020-election is stirring up a whole lot of anxiety across the nation and people are in need of tips to help cope…

The dishwasher in Jessi Olarsch’s apartment broke last week. Olarsch, an oil portrait painter based in Philadelphia, didn’t expect the broken appliance to occupy her thought as much as it did. 

But it has. So much so, that it began to influence her art. “We all lost our minds over this dishwasher incident,” she said. “So I painted a bunch of angry, fast-motion chaotic pieces of the dishwasher and the kitchen and just like the chaos of the scene.”

Why, might you ask did the broken dishwasher create such intense feelings? “The election,” says Olarsch.

Need tips? The truth about election anxiety…

“We all just got super upset about it because we have voted already, and we can’t control the results of the election any more than we currently are, and we needed something to think about.” 

Jessi Olarsch
election anxiety
via Jessi Olarsch

Olarsch is far from the only person experiencing increased tension and stress around the currently still undecided election. With a stressful campaign period, election day, and week, many have reported feeling increased anxiety.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association “more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their life.” Google searches for the combination “election” and “anxiety” have skyrocketed in the last few days.

The hashtag “electionanxiety” has more than nine thousand posts on Instagram of which most were created in the last six days. The posts range from infographics on how to deal with anxiety to selfies of anxious voters.

We’re right in the middle of it…

Kulture Hub reached out to creatives on the platform to see if they had any tips on how to cope with the ongoing election anxiety and the stress of the current political situation. 

Jessi Olarsch, whose art previously wasn’t overtly political, started a “painting-a-day” project recently to explore new mediums and loosen her hand a little bit. While she didn’t set out to paint about the election, she noticed it happening anyway.

“As we got closer and closer to the election, [the painting] was just getting imbued with [election-related thoughts], and my work kind of became a little more political in general.” 

Jessi Olarsch

Part of this new project was painting on found materials.

“I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is one of the most important swing states. We’ve been getting a ton of mail from both the republicans and the democrats asking us to vote for their candidate (..) to the point where it’s piling and piling up in our house for the past three months,” Olarsch said.

Using what is around you

“So, I’ve been collecting it and working on top of that, which has been super enlightening for my practice.”

Jessi Olarsch

Olarsch said that nothing in the paintings is explicitly about the election but the anxiety during this time that drove her creatively.

“It’s the anxiety about it all that drives the creative process and the way the brushstrokes are violently moving across the page.”

Jessi Olarsch

The dishwasher series is definitely not just about the dishwasher, Olarsch said. Instead, “it’s about politics and feeling like I’m not in control.”

Into the unknown

Natalie Dupille is a cartoonist, illustrator, and writer based in Seattle. She describes her work as “slightly whimsical, definitely neurotic, and humorous.” It’s often autobiographical and when for publications, it often revolves around current events.

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A post shared by Natalie Dupille (she/her) (@nataliekdupille) on

Dupille has experienced a great feeling of the unknown around the election.

“We don’t know what will happen if either candidate wins and it just seems like there’s this incredible divide through this country that I have no idea how it will merge back to any type of union.”

Natalie Dupille

She recently wrote an article for the LA times exploring politicized emergency preparedness and what this divide might mean for those in need of tips on how to deal with election anxiety.

Not only has Dupille’s public-facing art been influenced by US politics and current events but so has her more personal art.

“The personal is very political and I think this presidency especially has shown many of us that so many aspects of our identities, of our life’s, are not protected from government hostility or societal hostility,” Dupille said.

“And I think that that definitely comes through in my cartoons.”

Since her work has always reflected current events, she doesn’t directly feel like her cartoons have changed because of the election but it has made her branch out more.

More election anxiety tips… Channel that negative energy through different mediums

“Somedays when I don’t feel like drawing, I just need to write all of my thoughts down, and I have been channeling that into more creative writing whether that’s an op-ed or a personal narrative.” 

Natalie Dupille

Jess Goldsmith, artist and curator of Instagram page @womenoftype, has also experienced election anxious. “I do my best to stay informed without completely depleting my mental health in the process,” she said.

“The anxiety of it manifests emotionally and physically. It hasn’t been a fun time for anyone.”

Jess Goldsmith

Most of what Goldsmith reposts on her IG page Women of Type is political in some way.

“I find that a lot of typography and lettering artists express their hopes, wishes, fears, and anxieties of certain government policies in their work…”

Jess Goldsmith

She continued, “which not only makes for excellent and relevant content but helps to promote worthy causes in a creative and educational way.”

The work is geared towards promoting human rights and “equality for the black community, LGBTQ+ community, transgender rights, antisemitism, women’s equality, and wage gaps, the rights of indigenous people.” 

In her own art, Goldsmith has also been involved in the election.

Making a creative impact is always a good way to defeat that election anxiety

“I’ve worked with LinkNYC and the Public Square Project to create signage to promote people to actually get out there and vote,” Goldsmith explained.

The sign, a poster that reads ‘NYC mail in your Vote Vote Vote’, is a clear example of Goldsmith’s fun, colorful, and bold designs. 

The election and the anxiety surrounding it has also influenced the type of art Goldsmith wants to make. “I really do try to create work that will put a smile on people’s faces especially for what I post on social media,” Goldsmith said.

One of the most important tips when it comes to dealing with election anxiety: Beware of the doom scroll!

“We’re all doom scrolling, and if something I make can give someone a tiny break from panic, that’s a win.”

Jess Goldsmith

Singer Emclay talks battling anxiety in newest single, ‘Sorry, I’m Venting’

Emclay is an artist whose words and poignant themes resonate with her fans in a visual and visceral manner.

At one point in time, we’ve all been in the feels. Regardless of our backstory, there’s a moment where we experience doubt or uncertainty, which, in turn, causes us to be our hardest critic.

Subsequently, as a human race, we’re forced to go through multiple changes that can either make or break us. Emclay, a genre-bending, singer-songwriter, understands our inner struggles because she’s also experienced them.

“Sorry, I’m Venting”

Her newest track, “Sorry, I’m Venting,” scratches beneath the surface of feeling down in the dumps. At the same time, however, Emclay provides listeners with words of encouragement, saying, “Might have lost myself lately, but I know I’ll save me.”

Additionally, Emclay showcases introspective lyrics that unveil her troubles with letting go along with the demons she’s been fighting. When further detailing her emotions, she belts out the lyrics with passion, “Got this noise in my head/Doubting my mind/Sometimes I can’t breathe.”

“During this challenging time we live in, music like this helps to get us through it all. We are all facing some sort of genuine existential struggle at the moment. While we can feel isolated, overwhelmed, anxious, outraged, and unsure at times, ‘Sorry, I’m Just Venting’ roots us in knowing that this is all part of the human experience. Most importantly, it reminds us we are not alone,” Emclay told us.

Poignant themes

The ambient pop offering, led by a beating drum, touches on challenging topics like mental health, body image, dependency, confusion, self-doubt, and anxiety.

Not to mention, Emclay expresses to audiences worldwide that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed with these emotions in today’s society, all while giving them a shoulder to lean on.

Because of her full transparency, one person feels less alone. “Sorry, I’m Just Venting” is said to be her most personal song to date.

“This song just came to me. I wrote it in a session or two, and that was that. I was in a super anxiety-ridden loop in my head at the time, and I tried to get it all out of me and onto the page. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. It felt like a stream of conscious word vomit. It was super therapeutic. In life, venting to someone can make you feel better. As I kept writing, I realized that that was what was happening, and it felt so good to get it all out,” she says.

A visual interpretation

The song is assisted by a plethora of visual interpretations that were curated by different artists. The first picture, crafted by Sarah Russo, displays three drawings of cartoon-like statues.

While one of them holds a flower and has their right eye crossed out, the other two are seen exchanging thoughts through a black line. If you look closer, you’ll also see what seems to be a crowd of similar figurines looking at the trio. The words on the picture read, “Don’t look now.”

Sarah says,

“Emclay’s ‘Sorry, I’m Just Venting’ is an ode to the times. During a time when I am stripping down everything I knew and believed in, to face some extremely real and challenging truths, the song creates a safe space for me to feel the confusion and hurt while embracing the process of it all.

From the first time I listened, I knew this painting was going to be different. For a long time, I had clung begrudgingly to traditional painting and drawing, never feeling like it represented how I saw the world. This year, in particular, I stripped away those fine art “rules” like our world’s false truths to reveal what lies beneath.

I want to note the influences of some of my favorite artists, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat, two artists who were revolutionary to me in the visual arts realm and evoked powerful political, social, and personal trials and tribulations that transcend time. The future is uncertain but never have I felt so connected and free to face it.”

A different interpretation

The second and third image, created by Molly Coyne, sees a girl with blonde hair and hands over her ears. The words “IMPOSTER” are embroidered in red.

Molly’s second painting shows a girl covering her eye as a huge green insect-looking monster hovers over her with the words, “Who do you think you are?”

Molly says,

“The chorus immediately resonated with me, especially Emclay’s lyrics, ‘got this noise in my head, this doubt in my mind.’

At my lowest of lows throughout the pandemic, I have felt like my head is Nothing but a loop of these lyrics, gradually getting louder and louder until I can’t hear anything else. The biggest doubt in my mind? Being an imposter. Who AM I without my art? And what’s the point of it all at a time like this!?

The second image I came up with is what I picture my anxiety monster looks like. You know the one. We’ve all got one. And my monster put me in a dark place towards the end of March. I’m so grateful Emclay shared, “Sorry, I’m Just Venting” with me.

Putting pen to paper and translating the mess of images in my head to these two pieces was incredibly therapeutic and just a reminder that in times when the darkest of the dark takes over, ART IS ESSENTIAL at helping us express our feelings and process grief.”

Additional interpretations

The last images, made by Kat Kempe, show a collage of different pictures and a collage of red and blue backgrounds.

Kat says,

“Creating these pieces was an outlet I was unaware I needed and was incredibly cathartic.collegethe collage has fairly obvious meaning, the song led me to ponder how often I vent about the state of the country and my anxiety that stems from it. The four tiled pieces is a representation of that; of our flag, the red white and blue, our ‘American values’ and how they are bleeding, in all the wrong directions.”

Emclay, whose real name is Emily Claman, got her moniker from friends. Her musical journey was unintentional.

Previously, she was pursuing a career in dance, and after a bad injury, Emclay turned to writing and singing as a form of expressing herself. “Nothing in my life ever felt so correct. I’ve been making music ever since,” she adds.

You can see the rest of the images below: