Our worlds have gotten a little smaller, our adventures a little closer to home. Those cross country trips or transatlantic quests to uncover a new nugget of creativity are in the distant future, and for now, we get to celebrate the places nearest and dearest to us – our homes.
Now more than ever, it’s time to celebrate our cities, and give gratitude for the places and spaces that shelter us in the good time and the bad. The environments – circled by mountains, lined by skyscrapers, vibrant or serene – that nurture expression and foster creativity.
We asked Cyn Lagos to take us on a journey through her Miami, where she’s built up a career as a photographer. She used a mixture of archival footage, and new photo and video captured from a safe social distance to illuminate her perspective. And in the spirit of more places near and far, we tapped Skillshare teachers and fellow creatives Steve Sweatpants and Claudia Melchor del Rio for their tips on finding inspiration right at home.
Best yet, put those tips to practice and make a project inspired by your hometown. That could mean digging through your archives to repurpose an old photo or creative project, or wearing a mask and finding inspiration just outside your door.
Share your project on our classes here and be entered to win a free year of Skillshare Premium.
Cyn Lagos, Miami
Cyn Lagos is a visual storyteller with a focus on street photography, graphic design, and immersive technology. Her work aims to highlight social change and educate around the issues facing her own community of Miami, but also the world at large. Lately, she’s been working on the Escapism Project, a photo exploration deeply rooted in the current moment and our own drive for discovery.
What would you say to someone who wants to explore their creativity but feels really limited by where they’re living and the environment around them?
I would say try to get the details of something that maybe you’ve never observed up close. It’s kind of like that experience when you are a child and you grab an ant on your finger. You realize, “Oh, there’s this tiny little ant.” But then you start noticing the little details on your fingerprints. So get closer to things. Challenge yourself and capture those moments of things that are completely normal to you. It’s not always that the subject has to be the best thing. It’s more about: how many ways can you curate the world in a tiny little square?
Can you talk about your Escapism project? What was the intention with this project?
I was very inspired by our current circumstances. We don’t really understand how much we have in front of us until it’s taken from us. And one of the things that I was very sad about was not seeing the colorful, beautiful days of Miami, not being able to step outside. And so Escapism comes from me looking into my archives and finding windows to these moments. These time capsules that I used to enjoy here in Miami. And I look forward to enjoying again. I’m creating Escapism as an in-home print series to be able to share with anybody who wants to have a little window to a really bright day and Miami.
Steve Sweatpants, New York City
Steve John Irby, or Steve Sweatpants as he’s commonly known, was born and raised in New York City. He’s a Director and Co-Founder of Street Dreams Magazine, with a special affinity and talent for evocative street photography. A look through his Instagram feed is a walk through a black-and-white, personal portrayal of life in the city he calls home.
How are you finding inspiration where you are right now?
Finding inspiration in difficult times like this shouldn’t feel like a burden or a competition. I like to be self aware of what is going on with my peers, and in society in general, however I feel it’s crucial to find your own pace. For me, I strive to keep my needs and wants for creativity simple, and allow my thoughts to run loose within different mediums. Whether it’s video games, films, podcast, or music, I try to take my time and lose myself within each craft at a time. Being able to love something else, allows me to create images more freely. In that way, I am projecting my emotions into my work at my own cadence.
“There’s a story to be told in every nook and cranny in our society from your own unique perspective.”Steve Sweatpants
What advice do you have for creatives who feel limited by where they live? Or who want to be inspired their place in this time but don’t know how to start?
Coming from New York, it’s a lot of dualities in my city. So sometimes it’s important to set short term goals and long term goals that reflect how you can portray your environment and community. There’s a story to be told in every nook and cranny in our society from your own unique perspective, that I will never be able to understand or see. Unless you show the world, from an honest point of view.
Claudia Melchor del Rio, Basel
Claudia Melchor del Rio is an architect, artist, and illustrator based in Basel, Switzerland. She enjoys illustrating scenes centered around architecture, texture, materiality, and form. Her work is often inspired by where she lives, where she travels, and the new people she meets along the way. You can find her creating with watercolors, gouache and acrylic paints, and of course on digital as well.
How are you finding inspiration where you are right now?
There is always so much beauty hiding in the most unexpected places, you just have to look at it with a curious eye.
When it’s time to create and you feel overwhelmed by the need to be productive, because of course you are indoors, in quarantine, not able to do anything else than work… I like to take a step back and just make lists of priorities and goals.
Putting a time frame to what you actually want to achieve with your creativity makes it seem less daring, and actually knowing the goal behind your creative practice can help you refocus on what is important.
I’ve actually struggled with not feeling like I have achieved enough in one day, but in those moments I think of the days to come, where I will feel ready to tackle my to do lists and I try not to give myself a hard time for not being on top of everything all the time.
“There is always so much beauty hiding in the most unexpected places, you just have to look at it with a curious eye.”Claudia Melchor del Rio
What advice do you have for creatives who want to be inspired by their place in this time but don’t know where to start?
Taking pictures of my apartment using my camera has helped a lot in order to find inspiration in my surroundings. When you look at something through your camera lens you are instantly creating a composition with the objects in front of you. You are using your artistic direction skills in order to create a compelling image, and when using the camera you can focus on details, do zoom ins and frame the objects surrounding you in different ways.
It has been really interesting testing this technique out and experimenting with turning the pictures I have taken into very different artworks. Also I might have rearranged the furniture once or twice, added a new painting here and there, and overall just had fun with a little interior decoration.
I like to go on walks and look up. Normally I would go to work using my bike and I would always focus on the road, but walking you are able to look up to the buildings around you, the sky and nature… And you’ll see if you try to take a new route everyday you’ll find things you hadn’t seen before even in your own hometown! And those things are probably quite inspiring!
Celebrate Your City Contest
Make an ode to your hometown, whether it’s digging through the old archives, or capturing something special from a good social distance. You can start with our Love Your Hometown classes.
If you submit a project to any of the classes on our list before August 14, you’ll be entered to win a free year of Skillshare Premium. Full terms and conditions are here.
Celebrate Your City and Win
Share a project to our Love Your Hometown Classes and be entered to win a Skillshare Premium Membership for one year.