The final sprint – By @sammcollinss

The final sprint 

Lockdown has been a time of emotional highs and lows, full of drawbacks – but also opportunities. 

As we enter the final part of our year, here’s my take on it. Given how the situation is developing, who knows how much of this will be relevant come August.

Job prospects

It’s grim. 

Many agencies have furloughed staff and more may postpone or cancel junior placements.

Advertising spend is down.

There is a 1000 year recession coming. 


Brands always need great creative solutions. 

Brands love cheap solutions. 

We are cheap. 

If our books are good and we’re creative with our approaches, agencies will want us.

When things are bleak, it’s easier to shine.

We are all at the school for a reason – we are all great creatives.

Impact on mental health and creativity

We’re all locked inside during a global pandemic. 

This insulation and the additional worry we have taken on, negatively effects mental health.

We worry about our health and that of other people we care about.

It makes for a more challenging environment in which you can get into child state and do great creative work.


We must make the effort to be extra KIND to ourselves.

We bloody deserve it. 

Wind down properly in the evenings.

Bath, candles, reading blabla – you know the fuckin drill.

Although finding inspiration closer to home is a challenge, it’s not impossible. 

Read, watch and listen to things that make you smile, laugh and make you excited to be alive.

Try not to be on your phone before bed. Leave it in another room. It’s a bit of a waste of time and doesn’t help the subconscious do its bits – connecting the dots that you haven’t been able to collect as usual. 

Reward yourself for not being on your phone by lying in a towel on your bed on a Saturday morning and get lost in Tiktok for 90 mins. Worth the wait. 

Yes set yourself SMART goals and plan your day carefully. But, if you don’t quite get it all done, that’s absolutely fucking fine.

We go again tomorrow!

None of this detracts from the fact that this is a time where everyone is worried more so than usual – and if your work isn’t what it quite should every fucking day, that’s just fine. 


The experience between a buzzing studio filled with people you trust and respect and that of being on your own at home, is incomparable. 

Inspiration is harder to find.

Museums are closed along with exhibitions, cinemas, bars, restaurants. Dots are harder to stumble upon. 

I also think that the number of times our environment changes in any given day, negatively impacts on our subconscious – at the moment, giving it less to play with. 

Lockdowns are bad for creativity and create an environment where it’s easy to slip into a ‘diving’ state.

You can plan your days to try and get out more but the fact is, this is the reality of a lockdown.

It’s a lockdown. 

Screen time 

Students have to spend all day on screens – townhall, presentations, WIPs – all on screens.

We have been asked to retain an online presence all day – in slack, and on the virtual studio. 

I think the impact of this is underestimated. 

When we were at school, we’d be looking at screens for a lot of the time. 

Now though, we prepare for presentations on a screen, present on a screen and get feedback, on a screen. 

Calls catch ups, quizzes – all on screens. 

There is little we can do to mitigate this – we’re going to be looking at screens for a big part of the next 11 weeks.

You can plan your days to include hours without screens, but again this is just a fact of lockdown. 

The school’s response

For us, some of the best creatives out there, the message has largely been business as usual. 

In fact, more than that – it’s time for us to shine, to come alive. 

However we are told we aren’t doing enough to ‘make noise.’ 

Maybe we aren’t ‘one of those years.’

I don’t think this message takes much of the above into account.

The way we are advised to plan our time during the week massively underestimates how many hours there actually are in the day!

This creates pressure. 

Pressure is good until it negatively impacts your mood and mental health. 

We have had the most amazing online support from school, and I know we’re all so grateful for that. 

However I feel the emphasis on productivity, competition and attaining greatness has been completely over the top.

I feel it’s negatively impacted on students’ mental health.

For the last 10 weeks of school, I’d love the message to be one of support, inspiration, compassion, togetherness and joy wherever possible. 

I love this class and everyone in it. It feels like a special year at this school. 

If we properly acknowledge all of the inherent downsides to lockdown (from which we all suffer) and change our rhetoric and structure accordingly – I think we can harness our creativity more often and all be flying far more regularly in the run up to Portfolio Day. 

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