For Tim Kellner, a nomadic photographer and filmmaker in the program, the COVID-19 pandemic led to taking a step back from his art. “Quarantine gave me time to think more deeply about the types of things I wanted to create,” he says. “I was surprised after that break to feel a drive to create again that I hadn't felt for a few years.”
Tim is one of Google Pixel’s Creator Labs artists who’s been exploring the side effects of spending more time alone. Creator Labs is an incubator for emerging photographers, directors and YouTubers that launched last winter, pre-pandemic. All nine of the program’s recurring artists pivoted to working virtually with us this past summer.
Armed with the Pixel 5 and their imaginations, the artists set out to create work grounded in social impact and cultural narrative (captured in a COVID-safe way, of course).One theme all of the current Creator Labs artists are embracing is the idea of space. Los Angeles-based Creator Labs veteran Glassface has been exploring isolation and mental health throughout his tenure in the program. “We’re all going through a mass shared traumatic experience right now. It feels like a really necessary time for meaningful art. I’ve been able to hone in on the art and music I want to be making, and I’ve been reminded of why I create in the first place,” Glassface says. “I think art can be a guiding light during difficult times like right now, and that’s informed and inspired my approach heavily. I’m taking a lot more risks and only putting my energy into the creative projects that mean the most to me.”
New York-based program-newcomer,Andre Wagner, like Tim, decided to turn the camera on himself “I’m always making self portraits but something about this time in particular led me to putting more focus on myself as the subject matter. There have definitely been surprises, and for me that’s needed because it helps sustain the effort.”
Other self portraits celebrated the artists’ heritage, including Los Angeles-based photographers June Canedo and Andrew Thomas Huang. June photographed herself wearing an embroidered handkerchief, representing her family’s history of domestic work, while Andrew’s photos pay homage to the Chinese Zodiac—with a Sci-Fi twist.
The work of our Creator Labs artists is a reminder for all of us that isolation can have a silver lining—in this case, giving us more space to think, reflect, refresh and create.