The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life for the time being. The government has enforced lockdown measures, and all but key workers have to work from home. A lot of design businesses have been working remotely for a couple of weeks now. And while a lot of work can be done from home, the design industry also relies on face-to-face “sparks” and live events. To fill this absence, institutions and agencies have set up a range of platforms to support designers who suddenly find themselves working from home – offering inspiration, opportunities to finetune their skills and new communities at a time of isolation.
You can find Design Week’s coverage of how COVID-19 is affecting the design industry here, ranging from advice for freelancers to ongoing reaction from the design world. The latest resources have been added to the top of our guide.
Type design classes
Monotype designer Juan Villanueva has set up an online one-to-one critiquing service for type design students. 48 designers have already signed up to the mentoring service, Type Crit Crew – and any “experienced” designer is able to sign up. Students simply need to look at the Type Crit Crew Spreadsheet, and reach out to a type designer of their preference for feedback. Critiques will be between 15-20 minutes, and there are no dumb questions. It aims to spread “love and passion for type” as well as making the field “more inclusive and diverse”.
You can find out more information here.
Digital design calendar, from Design Museum
In April, London’s Design Museum launched a digital series of events. Its director, Tim Marlow, says that this is “the moment to reach out, to be responsive and to ask questions”. Partners include Designers Ron Arad, Morag Myerscough and fashion designer Christopher Raeburn. The events will be delivered through four strands, from kids to adults. Particularly interesting are the #DesignDispatches – Instagram Lives with leading designers and Marlow. The first was with transport designer Paul Priestman, and can be re-watched on the museum’s Instagram.
The full line-up can be viewed on the Design Museum’s website.
Free design courses, from Pluralsight
Not everyone is reacting to the pandemic in the same way, but some are finding themselves with extra time, which means there could be more time to brush up on skills. Pluralsight, which has over 7,000 online courses in various fields, is offering its services for free for the month. In terms of design, there’s a digital focus; Justin Marshall, a computer graphics designer who worked on Jurassic Park and Toy Story has a course. As does MJ Jones, who has worked as a designer on videogames series like Call of Duty. Jon Flanders, an expert in AR, is also teaching about mobile development and the Internet of Things.
The courses are free for month of April.
The Digital Culture Network, from Arts Council England
“As these unprecedented times require us to work in unprecedented ways, we’re here to help you,” says Arts Council England about its new digital network. The Digital Culture Network which will “collate free resources, webinars and support organisations”. Perhaps most importantly, its ‘tech champions’ will be on hand to provide one-to-one support in areas such as maintain audience engagement, generating income through online retail and “maximising your website offer”.
Slack spaces for designers
I’ve set up Slack workspace for agency owners/directors, to share info, resources, but also new work ops for agencies who might be struggling with impact of the pandemic.
If you’re an agency owner/director and you’d like an invite let me know.
Together we’ll go further.
— ⚡️ Ben ⚡️ (@BenSteers) March 16, 2020
Social networks have provided communities for designers eager for contact. Ben Steers, from Fiasco Design, created a Slack group and tells Design Week that it aims to creative “safe space”. Slack was the “obvious platform” for designers to come together and “share insight, advice, knowledge and even work opportunities”.
Within 18 hours of his first Tweet about the group, Steers received 150 membership requests from designers all around the world. “Our number one priority has been on making sure the team is kept fully aware of what’s going on and implications of the pandemic on business, across the industry,” he adds. You can send a request to join through Steers’ Twitter.
In the long term, Steers hopes that the crisis might have a positive consequence: “Strength comes from adversity and maybe if anything good comes from all of this, it’s that we will end up better connected and more conscious of the power of the collective.” A trend is emerging across the sector; Ben the Illustrator has also set up a Slack space specifically for illustrators.
Portfolio reviews and mentoring classes
Chris Algar, senior designer at Design Bridge, is offering online mentoring for graphic design students whose studies have been disrupted by COVID-19. The tutorials will take place online, in 15-minute slots. Algar has teamed up with online magazine Intern to spread the message. More information is available here.
London-based design studio Handsome Frank has set up free online portfolio reviews for designers. Jon Cockley, the studio’s co-founder, tells Design Week that the motivation for the classes came from a “feeling of slight hopelessness”. The response to the initiative has been “overwhelming”, Cockley says. The studio is committed to talking to three people a day about their work for around 15 minutes. “We chat about their work, portfolio, aims and ambitions and then try to offer some advice and inspiration to help them progress with their work,” Cockley explains. Designers of all levels can apply through Twitter, by using the hashtag #hfreview.
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Youth, an interior and product design studio based in Manchester is also offering online sessions for design students affected by university closures, from portfolio advice to career steps. You can apply by emailing the studio: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch up with the cult of Helvetica
Documentarian Gary Hustwit announced that he’d be streaming one of his films for free every week during the COVID-19 crisis. The American filmmaker’s first free documentary, Helvetica, tracks the proliferation of the typeface into our urban environments, world of advertising and more. It features input from Michael Bierut, Stefan Sagmeister and Paula Scher. Hustwit’s other films include a documentary about Dieter Rams and Objectified, which revolves around “our complex relationship with manufactured objects”. The films are available to stream here.
On iPlayer, you can also catch a six-part series that takes viewers behind the scenes at the V&A (and read our interview with one of the show’s producers here). And if you have a Netflix subscription, you can watch both series of Abstract: the Art of Design – featuring the likes of Olafur Eliasson and Ruth Carter – and catch our interview with the show’s co-creator here.
Online art and design courses, from the National Art Library
The National Art Library, housed in the V&A, is closed for the foreseeable future. But it has made collated a list of art and design courses that are (freely) available. There’s a wide breath of research available, from archives on British and Irish furniture to Graphikportal, a site that holds dozens of print rooms across Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
You can access the collection here.
Adobe opens up its services for free
Adobe has offered its Creative Cloud services for free, for two months until the end of May. Although open to everyone, it is aimed at design students who are now continuing their studies from home without campus facilities.
While product launches might have been postponed by coronavirus, a digital platform has been released early which seeks to encourage collaboration between creatives. Wiip allows designers to create “visual collaborations” (think mood boards), as a way to “aid dispersed creatives during this critical time of self-isolation”. The pro version has been made free for 12 months.
The banner image is from Chris Algar and his mentoring initiative.
Have you set up or heard about an online service for designers during the coronavirus outbreak? Let us know in the comments below.