Beating the Covid blues: Five ways YUDU staff have kept creative during lockdown

By Emily Byrne, Marketing Executive at YUDU

Header image by Gemma Smith, Graphic Designer at YUDU

Covid19 and lockdown restrictions meant we’ve all had a lot more time to spend at home and become a little more creative. Whether this meant picking up a paintbrush, reading a book or dusting off the knitting needles, we’ve all benefited from a little extra me-time.

As lockdown measures ease and we’re able to visit pubs, shops and gyms, here at YUDU we’ll definitely be holding on to our creative pursuits. Here’s what we’ve been up to during lockdown.

Reading writing and blogging

This lockdown, I’ve taken the advice of my colleague Jim Preen: ‘Read, read, read. Write, write, write.’ I know that reading and writing will expand my vocabulary and improve my content. I’ve been blogging about all things business, sustainability and mental health on: Shameless plug, I know.

Here are a couple of cracking books I’ve read and what they’ve taught me:

How to Fail by Elisabeth Day

I found the chapters ‘How to fail at being Gwyneth Paltrow’ and ‘How to Fail at Work’ particularly useful, not to say hilarious.

‘How to Fail at being Gwyneth Paltrow’ journals Elisabeth’s attempt at following Gwyneth’s health plan, consisting of ridiculous treatment after treatment in boutique LA beauty bars. Day concludes this was more like a full-time job, than anything else and it really does pay to ‘look good’. This chapter taught me to become more accepting of my body and to love all it does for me. After all, when I’m much older, I’ll look back and regret all the time I spent worrying about my figure. Beauty is definitely more than skin deep, after all.

‘How to Fail at Work’ reinforced the fact it’s OK to make mistakes. I remember being told during my interview at YUDU, that if you make a mistake; learn from it. Work is somewhere we should thrive and grow. I used this chapter as a tool to reflect and realise how lucky I am to be both pushed and trusted in a role I love.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Not only was Normal People one of my favourite books EVER… (yes, it really is as good as the AMAZING TV series), it allowed me to question ‘What qualifies a person as normal?’ and ‘Do normal people in fact even exist?’ To this, I found the answer to be no. We are all intrinsically complex beings, just trying to muddle our way through life and at present, trying to muddle through a pandemic. Our differences and quirks are what make us unique and the novel encouraged me to celebrate this.

 James O’ Brien – Director of Customer Engagement

Here’s one you didn’t expect: James creates fantastic works of art using potatoes, he really is a Golden Wonder. During lockdown he held a series of potato-printing webinars, where eager members of the public, including myself, were able to try their hand at printing with spuds. It was honestly so much fun. Take a look at the results, by Gemma Smith and I.

Into the bargain James raised money for charity. He agreed to make potato portraits of famous footballers in return for some ready cash to support foodbanks. Take a look at my potato print of Frank Lampard, here.


Jim Preen – Director of Crisis Management

I spoke to Jim and asked what he had been up to and he had a question for me:

‘Emily, did lockdown leave you feeling lowdown? Has the pandemic made you feel less than angelic? I have the answer: play the bass guitar!

I’ve played regular guitar for years, but I was stuck in a musical rut. I wanted something good to come out of lockdown, so I contacted a young whizz-kid bass player and he gives me lesson every Saturday on Skype. He needs the money as all his gigs have dried up and in return, he’s somehow managed to turn me into a tolerable member of the rhythm section.

Of course, being a bass player means you’re the butt of terrible jokes: Q. How do you get a bass player off your doorstep? A. Pay for the pizza. But on the bright side you’d suffer much more abuse being a drummer.’

Thanks for that Jim, perhaps you could get someone to help you write better jokes! Maybe it’s time to put a company band together.

Gemma Smith – Graphic Designer

Our uber-talented graphic designer, Gemma Smith has been hosting events for her and her housemate at their London flat. Even though such events are attended by the duo alone, fancy dress is compulsory. Gemma called it: ‘Creating worlds and events within the small space we’re stuck in.’ Their events have included a reimagining of The MET Gala, Jazzercise classes, a Broadway musical night and a recreation of the catwalk, inspired by the Netflix hit-show, Next in Fashion… which we have both become obsessed with. Does your creativity ever cease Gemma!?

Richard Stephenson – YUDU CEO

Richard, our multi-skilled CEO, talks about writing children’s short stories during lockdown.

I read a quote from our great playwright Tom Stoppard that writing a play was like smashing a glass ashtray: you work backwards by assembling the broken pieces.

That got me wondering if I could construct some short stories using this technique. Lockdown writing was underway! It became a very rewarding experiment; pushing the boundaries of my imagination. I was able to start developing characters almost like a sculptor, shaping them from the clay of people I’ve known and met over the years. I now have five stories that I can chuckle over and when we get back to near normal, I hope I will continue to write. Now, how do I find a publisher?

As you can see, we’ve all been super busy following our creative pursuits here at YUDU. We’ve used our extra me-time to hone new skills and pursue new hobbies.

So, here’s the question: what creative pursuits have you been up to? We’d love to hear from you.

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