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Alumni Takeover: Art and creativity in lockdown

Alumna Louise Brown talks to us about her studies, her art, and how the UK lockdown has affected her creative practice.

“I am a recent Newcastle University graduate, founder and small business owner of Goodstrangevibes. Goodstrangevibes is an art business which promotes body positivity and mental health messages through my colourful illustrations which I post onto Instagram. I print these illustrations on tops, posters, postcards and notebooks which you can view and buy via my website.

“I set up Goodstrangevibes while studying Politics, Psychology and Sociology at Newcastle University. Studying topics such as feminism and body image through a multidisciplinary lens has been influential to the artwork I produce. The values behind Goodstrangevibes stem from my personal experiences, my views of society and my academic knowledge. For instance, I harnessed my dissertation to shape and improve my creations by investigating body positive artwork in the context of promoting positive body image. My body positive work originally stemmed from my past experience with an eating disorder. I started to draw my body in the times I used to critique it and this helped me to see my body as art and worthy of appreciation. My art is also influenced by my current mental health conditions (Anxiety and OCD). I love to share mental health and body positive messages with others and I also need to hear and internalise them myself! Moreover, my work is inspired by other body positive, queer and mental health artists and activists like @bodyposipanda, @pinkbits, @hazel.mead and @frances.cannon among many more!

“Lockdown has undeniable implications for creatives and I have no doubt that experiences will be vastly different, but here are two suggestions to help with creativity that have worked for me:

  1. Attend art classes on zoom. For me, this not only provides a structured space to create and specific tasks to work on but also allows me to feel connected to other artists and feel a sense of community. Whatever form your creative practice is, look ways to restore structure and community to your working.
  2. Struggling to find your creative flow? If you’re a visual artist/illustrator, you could try to draw with your eyes closed to free up your creativity. Trying not to think about the end product and letting my hand lead the way free from critique has been a great method of getting me into the right zone to create. Other art forms have similar games and exercises that can help you find inspiration.

“During lockdown, I have launched a new product line of recycled notebooks which you can see alongside my upcycled screen printed tops over on my website. Investing in products that are environmentally friendly is key to my business practises. I really enjoy thinking creatively about how to use old materials and resources to develop my environmental practises. I always save old packaging, envelopes and scraps of paper to create recycled packaging for my products. I recently found some scrap material which I have been cutting into strips to form ribbon to tie parcels together. Not only do I feel strongly about reusing materials, but I also love the unique look of recycled packaging. If you run a business, I highly recommend getting creative with old materials to make more environmentally friendly packaging.

“I've had support from Newcastle's START UP programme since 2018 and I am excited to continue benefitting from this service now I have graduated. START UP gives me access to incredible advisors for one to one support tailored to my business needs. It really is an amazing resource and I highly recommend getting in touch if you are student or a recent graduate who is starting a business, freelance or portfolio career.”

You can check out Louise’s work by following Goodstrangevibes on Instagram or taking a look at her website.

Would you like to share your expertise with Newcastle’s alumni community? Email with your story for a chance to be featured.

Louise Brown

published on: 25 August 2020