How have you been? A covid-19 check-in with Zahra Zainal

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Zahra Zainal

Zahra Zainal

Graphic recorder, Illustrator and Strategic Visualisation Consultant

How you are doing now?

I’m doing much better, thank you! I felt pretty depressed at the start of the COVID-19 restrictions in Australia. The mass hoarding behaviour, cancelled projects, family overseas, clouds of gloom and uncertainty – it was a lot, for everyone! But I gave myself time and didn’t guilt myself for it – lots of eating, sleeping and Netflix.

After a few weeks, the sadness lifted and was replaced by a feeling of support. I’m so thankful for local businesses and essential workers that continued to deliver supplies and food. Clients also began to reach out again once the dust settled, and that always feels like magic.

How has your work changed (no doubt lots have dried up but maybe something new has emerged)?

I was actually pushing for a lot of live events and in-person illustrating before the pandemic! Then we all had to stay home, so I switched back to remote work REAL quick! Fortunately, alongside my live work, I’ve been working remotely for many years, so it wasn’t a huge transition.

I’ve learned how to scribe virtually, which opens up many possibilities.

My amazing visual community came to the rescue with phone calls, Zoom tests, and resources.

Not travelling to events also eases the intensity that comes with live graphic recording, which is nice.

If visualisation is helping you personally in any way during this challenging time?

Absolutely. When I was trying to manage my emotions, it helped to draw them. Seeing my feelings reduced their enormity, and helped the unknown become known. I also started drawing what I hope to feel and see in the future, and that has helped me keep a positive headspace.

The article was written by Natalia Tsygankova. Natalia has always loved words and talking to people. She has put that passion to good use and has been sharing people’s stories in the community radio, TV and print media for the last 10 years. Natalia is also a big fan of true storytelling events and regularly volunteers at the most famous one – The Moth, interviewing the winner. You can hear her own story of moving to Australia from Russia in 1999 here. Natalia believes that everyone has a story – So what’s yours? Contact her today to share your story.

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