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Coping with COVID-19: Q&A with Nate Rodriguez-Vera

Nate Rodriguez-Vera is a Puerto Rico born digital artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Specializing in 3D computer graphics, his body of work encompasses a dreamy aesthetic that ranges from vast, mythical desert landscapes to minimalist geometric abstractions.

As an artist that works in virtual tandem with our West coast studio, he was happy to share his perspective on the impact a nationwide lockdown has had on an artist like himself.

H+: We love a good home office. Tell us about your workspace!

N: It’s a long, narrow second bedroom in my apartment that functions as office / storage space random things. It’s more utilitarian than anything. All the decoration you’ll find there is stacks of boxes and other random things off to a side, and then my desk with all my gear sitting in the middle. It does the job. And gets great light during the day which is a plus.

H+: How does a daily practice of isolation and social distancing impact your working world?

N: A lot of my work was done remotely even before quarantine. That part of my workflow hasn’t changed. However another big chunk of work is done onsite at studios or agencies and that’s all been put on hold. In addition to the obvious economic impact, it’s taken away a source of human interaction which I kind of miss. I’m social. I like people. Working all year without ever interacting with anyone in-person is not my preference - I like to balance it out - but I understand the need to help keep the pandemic under control.

H+: Now that we have limited access to nature and social settings, what do you do to exercise your brain and stay inspired?

N: I still go on bike rides when the weather allows - I just make sure to keep my distance. It’s good exercise and the dopamine release helps my creativity. Riding also allows me to clear my head, take in the scenery, etc.

Creatively, I’ve been doing a mix of personal design/animation exercises and playing with music gadgets. Otherwise, I’ll read something, watch a movie, or some TV.

H+: Have you discovered any hidden talents you can offer to potential clients looking for remote assistance?

N: Aside from continuing to keep 3D design/animation/direction sharp and evolving, I’ve also been revamping my former music production, composition, and sound design abilities. It’s a useful skill to help elevate any visual work to a higher, more immersive experience.

H+: This has been an overwhelming and stressful time for so many people. Can you share some advice for coping while being a creative?

N: I think there’s a lot of pressure to “take advantage of this situation” in order to be more creative or better yourself in some way, which just further overwhelms and stresses a lot of people.

What I tell myself is “Relax. Don’t force anything. Do other things and let the inspiration flow back to you naturally. Also, don’t feel forced to do anything. It’s ok to take a break.”

What works for me may not necessarily work for the next person though. I also speak from a point of privilege. I’ve been lucky to be in a situation where I can choose how to utilize my time during all this, and I try to be mindful of those who can’t. Helps put things in perspective and gets me to calm down whenever I feel like I’m losing my patience.

H+: Everyone needs a solid playlist to listen to while staying on task. Name your favorite music to work to!

N: I haven’t been listening to that much new music. Most of it is stuff from the 80s, 90s, early 00s. Disco, funk, r&b, hip hop, dancehall, reggaeton, house, techno, drum&bass, electro, breaks, other forms of electronic music. It’s all over the place. But it’s all stuff that helps take me back to simpler times and out of the present heaviness. Like musical comfort food.

Check out more of Nate's work by following him on Instagram at @somenerv

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