Watch 270+ Short Documentaries of Artists at Work, and Let Them Inspire Your Creative Process

Imag­ine if come­di­an Amy Sedaris were self-iso­lat­ing with artists Mar­cel Dza­ma and Ray­mond Pet­ti­bon.

Per­haps they’d bar­ri­cade them­selves into sep­a­rate rooms, hunched over their indi­vid­ual screens, curs­ing their room­mates for slow­ing down their livestreams, but we pre­fer to think they’d busy them­selves with projects such as Dzama’s short film, “Dance Floor Drac­u­la, Pre­lude in C‑Sharp Minor.”

Enjoy a glimpse into the friends’ col­lab­o­ra­tive cre­ative process, above, com­pli­ments of Art21’s Extend­ed Play, a short doc­u­men­tary series offer­ing back­stage access to liv­ing, work­ing artists, from estab­lished to emerg­ing.

Much of the con­tent seems ger­mane to the world we find our­selves in now, when the cre­ative play­ing field feels remark­ably open to our par­tic­i­pa­tion, thanks to crowd­sourced projects like the ongo­ing pho­to chal­lenge where­in ordi­nary cit­i­zens are using their phones and house­hold objects to recre­ate famous art­works at home.

Painter Tala Madani takes view­ers through her sketch­book and talks about its val­ue as a method of cap­tur­ing ideas and as the “most imme­di­ate record of the think­ing process.” The car­toon­ish qual­i­ty of her sketch­es may help those who’d let a lack of con­fi­dence in their artis­tic abil­i­ty stop them from attempt­ing to doc­u­ment their obser­va­tions of our changed real­i­ty visu­al­ly. A sketch­book is also a great place for the seeds of future projects to ger­mi­nate.

The prepa­ra­tions for Oakland’s Cre­ative Growth Art Center’s annu­al fash­ion show, Beyond Trend, could send you scut­tling to your clos­et or recy­cling bin, inspired by William Scott’s papi­er-mâché Franken­stein mask—a five day effort—or the patch­es Chris­tine Sze­to embroi­ders with titles of favorite Tay­lor Swift songs, then sews to her jeans in order­ly columns.

This sort of wear­able art does­n’t require advanced nee­dle skills or knowl­edge of how gar­ments are put togeth­er, mak­ing it per­fect­ly tai­lored to those open to explor­ing new sides of them­selves in iso­la­tion.

That said, we are sure the fea­tured design­ers are anx­ious­ly await­ing the reopen­ing of Cre­ative Growth, which serves artists with devel­op­men­tal, men­tal, and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.

Com­mu­ni­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty are show­ing them­selves to be equal­ly essen­tial to our well­be­ing.

Watch all 270+ episodes of Art21’s Extend­ed Play here, or right below:

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The Sev­en Road-Test­ed Habits of Effec­tive Artists

Moe­bius Gives 18 Wis­dom-Filled Tips to Aspir­ing Artists

Love the Art, Hate the Artist: How to Approach the Art of Dis­graced Artists

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.