El Camino College artists adapt to COVID-19

As a result of the stay-at-home order issued in March, artists of El Camino College have changed business strategies to account for a decrease in demand for their services.

Kyle Nguyen, a photographer who does wedding photography and portraits, has been unable to work any jobs due to the nature of his business.

“All my business activity is postponed or cancelled.” Nguyen said.

Aside from cancellations, there is also the added complication of being unable to organize photo shoots because every shoot requires that Nguyen assemble a team.

“There are a few people who are necessary to be part of a portrait session such as makeup artists, designers and wardrobe stylists.” Nguyen said.

Nguyen has been in the photography business for two years, and his hiring process is quick and accessible.

“My clients mostly come from social media or email directly to my business email. My client and I have to come meet up first then we will discuss and sign a contract,” Nguyen said, “so it typically won’t take long.”

Despite setbacks, Nguyen continues to find motivation and be productive by practicing his photography on inanimate objects or family members.

“I can continue taking pictures of everything that surrounds me. Moreover, when I have a good idea that is worth trying, I can set up a studio with my object,” Nguyen said.

Without his regular photography work, Nguyen has also turned his focus towards developing his drawing skills, he said. Some artists, however, are struggling to keep that motivation going.

Wolfgang Okazaki creates and sells music beats to artists through Soundcloud or Spotify, and has been struggling with motivation and technical business aspects.

“Things are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. I work on music, work on my craft, but I haven’t been able to really sell,” Okazaki said.

Okazaki, who has been making beats for four years, handles commissions through Instagram and takes payment in person, but is unable to set up an online system because he has no bank account. Since the stay-at-home order, he hasn’t been able to receive any payments.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Nieto, lead designer of the clothing brand On The Moon, is concerned about the lack of expendable income of his customers.

“It’s definitely impacting us,” Nieto said. “A lot of people aren’t working, so for us to put things out, we need people to buy, and if it’s not in their best interest to buy right now then it’s bad for the both of us.”

Along with his partners, Amanpreet Multani and Jose Aguirre, Nieto created On The Moon to increase mental health awareness through solidarity and positivity. The brand dropped its first release several months ago, Nieto said.

On The Moon released a hoodie two months ago with screen print and patch of a little astronaut standing on the moon, “to show that sometimes you feel like you’re alone in a place where there’s no one else,” Nieto said, relating it back to the message of the brand.

Not only has the demand for their work decreased, there are also delays in getting samples, further complicating the production process for On the Moon, Nieto said.

However, On The Moon is determined to stay positive and support its client base during these tough times by increasing its social media presence to show its support for followers who may be having a rough time with their quarantine.

“We want to have a positive impact,” Nieto said.

On The Moon is focusing its efforts towards reinforcing a positive and supportive outlook for its followers, and being as accessible as possible.

“This is our message, this is what we stand for,” Nieto said. “If you’re feeling like you’re an outsider, if you’re feeling like you don’t really have anyone, we’re showing you that you’re here and we’ve been through that, and if you need to reach out, join us.”