Morgan Allan, GB&I
At the start of the quarantine, I was made part-time by MUNDIAL; two months later and I had been let go. I understand that this is the nature of working for a small business in a time of crisis but it was still less than ideal. Firstly, it was sad to leave a job that I really enjoyed, one that challenged me daily to become a better creative. Not only that, but I was being made to leave through no fault of my own. It wasn’t down to poor job performance, or falling out with a colleague, it was just one of those things. A pandemic out of everyone’s control. That lack of a tangible thing to blame it on made the redundancy even harder to take - it’s difficult to be angry at a virus that you can’t see. I also had to contend with the fact that I didn’t have something that I needed to do everyday anymore. I am, by nature, a person that needs structure to work at my best and I really thrived when I was working in highly pressurised situations against tight deadlines at MUNDIAL. Suddenly, that was gone. My to-do list had been taken away and my safety net had disappeared. I needed to find something new to fill my time.
When I initially went part time, I reached out to a few friends who I knew to be working on small independent projects. Although I knew joining these projects wasn’t going to pay the bills, I still had my part-time wage coming in from MUNDIAL and really wanted to try something new. Having been working in the same office and with the same people for an extended period of time, it was exciting to hear of projects where I would be given a larger opportunity to express myself. One of these projects was Unsettled Magazine. Two of my friends had taken up running it at the start of the new and had built a decent following on social media. Around the same time as I was made part-time, they had a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce a print edition of the magazine. Given my experience in print and my newfound free time, it made perfect sense to come aboard as an Art Director.
Unsettled is a lifestyle magazine with a particular focus on art and music. It was initially a UAL-based publication but, with the help of the Kickstarter, they have become independent. I came on board with a particular focus on the print edition but, due to the extended lockdown period, the print date had to be pushed back. After discussions with MUNDIAL’s Lead Creative James Bird, we decided to focus on building Unsettled’s social media following, creating an audience that would be looking forward to the print issue in the future. As an editorial team, we have revamped the social media and have worked with established artists to increase engagement and get the word out. This has been a successful tactic and we recently reached the 1000 follower mark.
All in all, it has been a strange time. Because my work is such a big part of my life, it has taken some time to readjust to it not being there anymore. I am having to learn how to exist outside of the 9-5. I wrote some words on this subject for Unsettled’s “Quarantine Diaries” series:
“I read a post on Humans of New York the other week about a man called Wayne. It was a lovely story about a man who was larger than life and, even after he died, someone who brought happiness to those close to him. If you haven’t read it already, I would highly recommend. One line that really stuck out to me was about Wayne’s philosophy on the world: “He always stopped for life. That’s one thing he taught me—if you want fullness in life, you have to stop for it”. Stopping for life. The Ferris-Buelleriean idea that sometimes, to really appreciate what’s going on, you need to take a little breather.
I’ve gone back home for the quarantine. Swapped my tower block in South London for the East Kent coast and, after a few weeks of trying to fill every minute with something to work on, I’m learning how to take that breather. Life in London is fast-paced and, for the most part, I love it, happily hurtling about the place, avoiding the one thing that I hate more than anything: doing nothing. One global pandemic and a government-enforced lockdown later, and I’ve had to accept that doing nothing is a fairly significant part of my life now. But, instead of crumbling under the usual anxiety that I’m somehow wasting time, that life is passing me by, I’ve stopped. Inspired by Wayne, I’ve decided to try and appreciate what’s around me.
My mum still lives a ten-minute walk away from where I went to primary school. I’ve been doing the same walk my brother and I used to do, through the same park, along the same footpaths, up and down the same hills. The only difference, a decade later, is that I’ve brought my camera instead of my bookbag. That, and I’m walking it much, much slower.”
I am trying to live my life in a healthy, satisfying way. For a long time, this satisfaction came from putting my energies into creative projects and producing outcomes that I liked and was proud of. While I still intend on doing that during lockdown, I am now realising that it’s not possible to work as hard and as productively as I was in the current climate. Instead, I am learning how to reflect, how to slow down and how to be ok with doing nothing. It has been a difficult period but I hope to come out of it a better and more well-rounded creative.