In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, my creative output quickly diminished for some time. I very soon found myself burnt out from making so many life changes in such a short time, and as a result I largely stopped making and consuming art.
After a lengthy break, though, the urge to create did return. But I couldn't seem to focus on the projects I had planned before. Everything I had previously wanted to do seemed somewhat hollow during that uneasy time—with so much of the world in turmoil. So I started sketching and thinking about these feelings, and found myself returning to this mantra: "Keep Well".
The words came from the greatest wish I had at the time: that all people—including my family and I—would once again find a sense of balance and peace. And that we would re-focus ourselves on what mattered most to us, whatever that may be. I wished that we would find this sense of purpose and keep it well, not only in terms of personal well-being, but in terms of that which is "well kept". Keep Well became a term that embodied the idea of being one's best self.
Of course, being an artist, this exploration gave rise to a myriad of ideas for works of art and designs. Eventually, I combined this energy with that of my dear wife, Holli, and together we started work on the Keep Well project.
Our first venture was centered around one product: personalized greeting cards. The goal of the Keep Well project was, in part, to benefit a population in great need of support at the time: medical professionals and frontline workers of the pandemic. The idea was that for every customer's purchase of a personalized card, hand-written by us, we would that send one of our own to hopefully surprise and delight an unsuspecting frontline worker with a message of gratitude.
Our first card, pictured below, was to be our primary offering as it displayed our brand and message: Keep Well.
This design was also used to create our first (and currently only) piece of merch: a die-cut sticker.
After our initial launch, we introduced this series of cards featuring some of my Lost Rest characters, with messages of appreciation.
And later, we reintroduced the characters to feature in out holiday card.
The following is a group of illustrative assets I created for our website, which we used to help tell our story and explain what we offered. The first illustration on the left depicts my wife and I hard at work.
At some point, I had decided to explore a more streamlined and simplified look for our site, in which illustration would play a greater role in our storytelling and the user experience. However, this direction was never used.
Here is a short selection of social media assets we used. The first was for a special we ran to celebrate my wife's and my wedding anniversary. The next two were used to announce our shift from strictly supporting frontline workers, to supporting foster families. When the crisis of the pandemic began to settle down, we felt the time had come to move on to this important issue moving forward, as it has long been close to our hearts.
Below are designs I created to be used on textiles and other products. They can be used as stand-alone images, cropped in for abstraction, or configured as seamless patterns.
At the time of this writing, the Keep Well project is still active, but has been on an unofficial hiatus as we rethink and retool our offerings and activities. We do have plans to revisit and relaunch Keep Well in some form, and while we may no longer provide the card writing service, we will continue to focus on a mission of promoting wellbeing through creativity.