MTV’s Rich Tu remembers the days just before the shutdowns. He went to work in Times Square, shortly before it got turned into a dead zone.
Tu works for ViacomCBS as VP Digital Designer for MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo. He lives in Brooklyn, which in April was marked the most dangerous county in the U.S for COVID-19.
And much like many other Americans, he’s now stuck working in a make-shift home office. Yet the craziness has made for some serious inspiration.
“I started doing what I do best as an artist and creator, just making work that was responsive to [COVID-19. I also wanted to kind of put a positive spin on my feelings towards the Coronavirus and something of that kind of uplifting content, so the way that manifests itself would be in visuals.”
Art and creation have become mediums for normalcy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many artists have been outspoken on the impacts of quarantine on their work, from family life to exhibit cancelations.
Some organizations have begun providing awards for artists during the pandemic, like Getty Images’ ‘Creatives in Quarantine’ grant that rewards 10 select winners with $2000.
For those in a creative block, Tu recommends keeping the element of control.
“I would say that we’re at a unique time. So what happens now though, we do have an element of control in terms of how we maintain our sense of balance, and how we maintain our schedules, and how we maintain the way that we interact with each other.”
Studies have linked daily routines to mental health improvements, including a study published in 2018 linking them to healthier sleeping habits. Online, many influencers and others have taken to sharing their routines with friends and family.
For Tu, his day begins with creativity. A 6 am wake up call gets his day started, after which he spends 1-2 hours getting creative.
Then, Tu goes for a run and spends the rest of his day at his home office. Tu notes that this time spent creating helps him maintain good mental health during the lockdown.
“When I have those personal creative hours in the morning or on the weekend, I’ll usually make work that tries to help maintain my own mental health because I’m expressing myself. It’s also something that my audience can feel good about or at least reinforced social distancing.”
Although quarantine is difficult, the best that can be done is learning to manage the present and to look onward to a 2020-free future.
“We’re in a new normal, so there’s an intermingling of everything. My personal energy, my personal work, it’s pretty much going to stay the same. The way that I go about it, I’ll just try to be responsive to it. I look forward to being able to have a more conventional work life experience, whatever that might mean in 2020 and beyond.”