Creating Art in Unprecedented Times

  • January 6, 2021

The pandemic has had different effects on students in several ways, including students in Arts Technology Academy (ATA). ATA, in past years, has been in charge of several projects ranging from the decor and art we see around campus, as well as hosting shows and galleries. Isabelle Monterroso interviewed Victor Zapata and Cori Youngblood, two Gahr seniors, about their experiences these past months producing art during quarantine. 

Victor Zapata



Isabelle Monterroso: “In what ways has quarantine affected you and your art? For the better or the worse?” Victor Zapata: “Well, the start of quarantine gave me lots of free time, most of which was dedicated to my art. There were just hours upon hours of just drawing, which was good for practice and entertainment. As time went on, I got very burned out and became frustrated with art altogether, so I took a break which I am now bouncing back from. It has been a learning experience in patience and self-discipline.” Isabelle Monterroso: “Because of these things like being burned out and then growing to experience patience, did it make it harder or easier to find inspiration or at least open a new perspective on things?” Victor Zapata: “Inspiration was something that became more present as the year progressed. The longer I was stuck indoors, the more I found different creative ways to express myself, finding inspiration for my pieces in things like music, shows, and even the sky at times. I also noticed that I was bolder in terms of how I presented myself and my artwork. I used more color and contrast that I would have been afraid to use before.” Isabelle Monterroso: “So because of this new development that you have seen in yourself, what are some changes in your style that you have developed over these past few months in contrast to what it was prior?” Victor Zapata: “I’ve noticed that as time goes on, I’m incorporating more color into my pieces. The use of blues, purples, and greens in hair and skin. The pinks and oranges in hands. Things like that. I’ve also noticed that I’m more and more focused on creating realistic pieces, layering colors over and over again until it’s one final, united piece. I’ve begun to be driven by things that I am inspired by, rather than what I feel my audience would like, something that was more present than I thought it was.” Isabelle Monterroso: “That’s good to hear that you’re now being more true to what you like to do than what appeals to others! Although, now that we have returned to school has it been difficult finding time for your schoolwork and your artwork?” Victor Zapata: “Oh definitely. I somehow ended up with 3 art classes, which I’m grateful for but still confused about. And that, combined with my monthly commissions and personal artworks is a lot to handle sometimes. The schoolwork isn’t hard but it does get in the way of my drawing, which I consider to be my stress reliever. One of my classes is an AP art class, which makes balancing work just a little bit harder. But I try not to let the school work cloud my artwork and the opposite too. It’s all about finding a healthy balance” Isabelle Monterroso: “That’s good that you’ve found a healthy balance in off of that work. You also mentioned that within those 3 art classes you are taking an art course as well. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of doing ATA online?” Victor Zapata: “Well, I think the biggest disadvantage of doing ATA online is just the absence of an in-person environment. Having supplies provided for you daily, with all your classmates and teachers around to give you hands-on advice and ideas is something that can’t be replicated online. As for advantages, the new online curriculum has allowed us to explore new aspects of art from our rooms. It’s more intriguing and challenging to work with what you have at home and make it work, rather than having everything at your disposal.” Isabelle Monterroso: “Ah, I’m sorry to hear that but I’m glad that you were able to work around that. Perhaps if you had the chance, would you go back to school? Do you prefer online or in-person classes?” Victor Zapata: “If the conditions were safe, I would consider going back. As much as I like the new challenges that come with learning online and the alterations that keep you on your toes, I still really miss being in classrooms. I’m not the best at focusing in class, and I do find it a little more difficult to focus through online learning. I also just miss being around friends, but if staying home means a healthier and quicker recovery, I don’t mind learning from home” Isabelle Monterroso: “It’s always good to try and be positive during times like these. Finally, what were you most looking forward to doing this year? Trips or projects and what they are about if you don't mind” Victor Zapata: “Honestly one of the biggest things I was looking forward to was the ATA fashion show. It’s this giant event where we all get a prompt that we have to bring to life through hands-on clothes making. I was looking forward to also selling my art there, one of the features present at the event. We also had a Warner Bros Studio Tour that originally was going to take place last year but got postponed to this year, which isn’t gonna happen either. I also just wanted to work on my AP portfolio (about 12 pieces of your best artworks that can be used later on for art school applications) in class. But that’s still available at home, it’s just less social.” Isabelle Monterroso: “I’m sorry to hear that and it sounds like so much fun too! I hope that you can at least get more opportunities that can replace those you’ve lost. Also thank you for helping me with this interview and I wish you the best! Again thank you so much” Victor Zapata: “Of course! Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity as well! Best of luck with your school year!”

Artwork by Victor Zapata

 Cori Youngblood


Artwork by Cori Youngblood


Isabelle Monterroso: “In what ways has quarantine affected you and your art?” Cori Youngblood: “Honestly, I'd say my creativity has increased because when I, before this whole quarantine happened, my sister plays volleyball so we were constantly on the go everywhere and with school and everything even with my ATA classes I didn't find the time to do the art that I wanted to do. I feel like once we were all stuck at home, there wasn't as much to do. I got the chance to just find my style and the things that I liked and the things that I didn't like, and I think I'm in a good place now.” Isabelle Monterroso: “By any chance, was it harder to find inspiration since you have been in quarantine, or has it created a new type of perspective for you?” Cori Youngblood: “I think a little bit of both, sometimes it's hard to find inspiration when you're stuck in the same place doing the same thing. So I decided to switch things up and, my inspiration I like to draw from reference most of the time therefore I go to Pinterest to youtube, and I watch movies different things like that. It has been more difficult but I think I'm managing fine at the moment” Isabelle Monterroso: “Are there any Pros and Cons of doing ATA Online?” Cori Youngblood: “Yes, the cons would be the lack of access to different types of technology in the classroom, different materials that would help us a lot better if we were not at home, that's been a challenge on trying to figure out and putting our best foot forward, with the things we have a lack of access to. The pros would be, I'm not sure, because I know it's senior years and I know there was going to be a big thing with the fashion show and all that. At this point all the projects are up to us most of the time and we can choose what we want to do and the projects we want to work on and I think that type of freedom is cool now that we are all at home.” Isabelle Monterroso: “I was actually about to mention that, ATA is known for its fashion show, so what are some projects that you were unable to do because of covid that you wish you could have done?” Cori Youngblood: “Every year we have an animation segment where we can do little types of animation and do little movies so I have always had a good time with that and animating is one of my favorite things to do when I get the chance to do it so because we don't have different things like the cameras and the computers and all that stuff it's been kind of sad *laughs* but, yeah that's one of the things we haven't been able to do this year. Along with teh field trips as well. Isabelle Monterroso: “What field trips did you guys go to? I don't know If it was ATA who went to the Getty but I do know that they do go on a lot of notable trips.” Cori Youngblood: “Yes, that was one of them and we went to another museum in L.A. We were planning, before we got shut down back in March, we were planning to go to Warner Bros. Studios and we were going to tour their cooperation thing. So yeah, different things that are focused on different kinds of art that revolve, that was for fashion and business kind of, and Warner Bros. was for film and stuff like that and animation, museums are for more like the fine arts, so like drawing, painting, sculptures, and stuff like that. But yeah they are all interesting and I miss them a lot.” Isabelle Monterroso: “I'm sorry to hear that, but, what do you miss from your ATA classes?” Cori Youngblood: “I just miss being around everyone honestly, we are all close, and because we are in ATA many of us are in the same classes so I just really miss just hanging out and messing around and doing things outside of school and going on field trips together and you know stress out together” Isabelle Monterroso: “Ah, are there any projects that you are looking forward to this year that you have done for an online class?” Cori Youngblood: “The one I am working on at the moment is a film, not technically animation but we just had to film, it's called a ‘camera angles film’, and we had to film our daily lives and film what we were doing from different perspectives. I enjoyed doing it because I haven't done things like that before and I don't really like being in front of the camera sometimes like that. So it was different and I enjoyed it” Isabelle Monterroso: ”I'm really glad that you were able to, has it been difficult toggling your homework and your schoolwork with ATA?” Cori Youngblood: “Yes and no. Yes because I procrastinate and I slip a little bit but honestly ATA, they don't give a lot of homework or it's never usually really tedious compared to other classes. It only ever becomes tedious if you let it, like if you slack off and ignore it for a while, so ATA hasn't been too bad but the school has been getting a little hectic with finals and stuff like that so, it hasn't been too bad with ATA, it hasn't been too crazy.`` Isabelle Monterroso: “That's good to hear because some people have AP classes and Arts Honors class and they have multiple art classes and it makes it difficult to handle overall, but that's good. What are some new opportunities that stemmed from this new type of learning?” Cori Youngblood: “My motivation is something that has grown a lot, I mean I started an art account on Instagram, and like I was super nervous about posting things on social media and putting it out in the world. Yeah, I got to do that and it has grown a little bit and I am proud of it. I think that is one of the things that, or the opportunities that I have been able to do. I have also been applying to art schools and so I'm really happy about that. Isabelle Monterroso: “I'm really happy to hear that you jumped that barrier or obstacle because I like to draw or doodle in my free time and I'm constantly also in that loop, and I'm proud of you so good job. I wish I could do that *Laughs* Continuing, if you had the chance to go back to school would you go back to school or would you stay online?” Cori Youngblood: “I have been thinking about this one for a while too because people have been saying, “Oh we're going to go back, ohh''. Honestly, it's a mix of both for me. I am an introvert so I really like being alone and I love doing my own thing but I also miss going to school and I took that for granted. When we all got stuck here I was like oh wow, and it feels like a lifetime ago too, so to go back, it would be great but I know that we would have to be wearing the mask 8 hours a day then staying away from everybody. And I kind of feel like it would be torture but I don't know, I've gotten used to being at home, I have my little routine but I don't mind seeing anyone again. Isabelle Monterroso: “Lastly, How has your art developed through the quarantine? I heard that many peoples art style changed or either improved throughout quarantine because of the time” Cori Youngblood: “Yeah, my art style is pretty cartoony, and I have or used to have a hard time with real things. Especially when it came to painting. And so I did try to just work on different realistic things. Yeah, I think many of us just get stuck in our ways and we don't like to try and do different things like that. Even though I didn't enjoy it at first, I'm glad I was able to do that. It's tedious but I'm proud of it and I'm proud of myself. Isabelle Monterroso: “yeah I feel that too. I feel like at the beginning of drawing we like to compare ourselves a lot to other people and we realize how much we have grown until we're like “Hey! Like side by side, we went far”. Are you inspired by any artist in particular? Cori Youngblood: “Ah yes! There's this girl named Filipa Santos and she has a youtube channel and I've been watching her since I have been a freshman in high school. She's based in the UK and she just graduated from art school and I just love her account. She has an art shop and she has inspired me to do the things she's doing as well. So she has been the person I looked up to throughout the years.” Isabelle Monterroso: “That's good to hear and interesting. I've never heard of her but I'll check her out, that's cool. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions”

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