- Eternal Flame
Creatives Explore, Create, and Inspire
Updated: Apr 20, 2021
By: Kaitlyn Hyde
A creative is an artist, someone who sees the world differently. An individual who is unique, someone who doesn’t fit inside any box or mold. A creative is an influencer, not necessarily through personality, but through sharing their gifts and talents to anyone who comes across their work.
Creatives create art to make a difference in people’s lives while doing what they love. However, since the beginning of 2020, these individuals had to think outside of the box to fight against COVID-19 in order to keep their businesses afloat.
There has been a long history of pandemic outbreaks in the United States. Since we are in the middle of one, it can be difficult to determine the long-term economic and societal effects it will have in the future. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many businesses to close and for many freelancers and creatives, this had a major impact on their lives.
Joe Pedrasa, former WT student, takes pictures in downtown Amarillo in his free time and for photoshoots with clients. Photo provided by Joe Pedrasa.
“I think there are a lot of ways you can describe a creative or a creative person,” said Pedrasa. “I would say it’s some type of person who has an interest or passion in making any form of art, and someone who isn’t doing it just for fun, or for a career, but doing it because they genuinely enjoy it.”
For Joe Pedrasa, a West Texas A&M student from 2015-2016, trying to start his own photography business at the beginning of a pandemic was not an easy feat. In the beginning, photography never crossed his mind until he bought the iPhone 11 Pro in September 2019. A few months after, he decided to buy his first camera and took a shot at starting a photography business.
“COVID was a situation I was never expecting,” said Pedrasa. “When it made its way here in March, that was around the time I was actually starting to get a lot of bookings in, I was finally starting to get my name out there.”
Of course, Pedrasa’s main concern for his clients was their safety, along with his own. He still wanted to find ways to take portraits for families, graduating seniors, and his close friends without having to stop his business completely.
Mariah Rome poses in a framed shot during a photoshoot. Photo provided by Joe Pedrasa.
He tried shortening his sessions with clients and only allowed to have a limited number of people at each photoshoot, but still, it seemed difficult for him with only having one or two sessions a month. However, with the decrease in having bookings with clients, Pedrasa found new ways to take his love for photography to the next level.
Pedrasa enjoyed photography so much that even after seeing a decline in his clientele, he decided to branch out and explore other types of photography other than just taking portraits.
“I figured why should I stop and only learn how to be good at one sub-genre of photography and spend the extra time I have to get better with other types, like landscape and astrophotography,” he explained.
While Pedrasa continued to grow with his photography skills, Mireya Medina, a WT nursing graduate, did everything she could to stay in business. What started out as a hobby in 2017 grew into something that is now a part of Medina’s everyday life.
Mireya Medina, WT alum, takes pictures in Amarillo as well as other states to meet with clients. This photo was taken in El Paso, Texas. Photo provided by Mireya Medina.
Over the years, she has had the opportunity to travel across the country for shoots from California to Florida to take part in engagement and wedding photoshoots, as well as major events such as Miss Teen Universe.
Once COVID-19 hit, Medina had to cancel her travel plans for shoots she had scheduled and focused her business on local clients. Due to the vulnerability of newborns, Medina had to cancel newborn baby photoshoots, which led to a major effect on her clientele. Since Medina also works at Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo, she didn’t want to put any of her clients or their children at risk of being exposed to the virus. But even with the decline in her clientele, Medina was able to use that time to focus on graduating nursing school.
“Things got really boring for a while,” Medina recalled as she described the decline in clientele she had experienced. “I started doing a lot of car photography when I couldn’t book with people, but that was pretty much it.”
Leslie and Juan pose for an engagement shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Photo provided by Mireya Medina.
With creatives being stuck at home, it brought on new challenges, which may have been discouraging at first but it helped them grow, as individuals and for their business. This is the case for Krista Orr, who is an artist and instructor in Amarillo.
Orr explained that she “was scared as to how [she] was going to continue considering most of [her] business was face-to-face with [her] customers and the studio was dependent on people coming in to use it.” Orr’s business is an important source of income for her family, so when the pandemic hit, she went into survival mode. She “knew [she] didn’t have a choice but to make it work.”
Orr is working on her general studies degree with an emphasis in business and marketing at WT. Her business began 10 years ago when she started teaching in a local paper crafting studio and it grew from there. Now she teaches lettering, painting, paper crafting, and fiber arts. Orr also now owns a shared creative space, The Art Plug-In, where other artists and creatives have access to tools, supplies, and other equipment so they can make their own fun creations. But once COVID-19 hit, Orr was forced to close her studio and stay home for weeks.
COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing hurting Orr’s business. Last September, a fire happened, which closed down Orr’s business along with 16 others.
“As a creative that can kill your motivation and inspiration,” Orr said. “I felt trapped and had a serious meltdown. My husband literally picked me up off the ground, put me to bed and the next day said, ‘You’re going to work’.”
That’s exactly what she did. Orr explained that because of COVID-19 they had to go fully online from March to mid-summer. After the fire happened, her business bounced back because of the help and support from the community and customers, The Art Plug-In was able to quickly get a new space. Orr explained that because of all the help her business received, her creative vision changed. Her vision became more family-focused.
She taught all her classes and helped her customers from the computer as well as offering curbside rentals and pick-ups on products and/or equipment. Despite everything that happened, Orr’s advice is to “take what’s in your head and make it happen! Whether it be with your hands, tools, via a computer, or leading a team, it’s making something amazing from all these little parts.”
Orr explained that she had a pretty good year, considering all her business had gone through. She says it’s because she thought outside the box, didn’t give up, and was willing to do whatever it took to keep income coming in even if it was only 10 dollars here or there.
With the pandemic, the appeal of freelancing was put to the test as all these creatives experienced the nationwide lockdown as well as the loss of clients. But these three artists didn’t stop at anything to keep them from doing what they love.
But this is what being a creative means, to change your original perspective and solve problems in new ways every day. Creatives take risks by doing something different everyday and they face these new challenges without losing sight of why they started.