These Instagram illustrations exactly capture the realities of life on lockdown

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Anna Brech
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A new generation of Instagram illustrators are bringing to life the good, the bad and the ugly of staying at home during coronavirus – with small observations that speak to us all.

How are you spending your lockdown life? You may have grand ideas of creative writing or launching that new business, but the reality is likely to be more… wine-stained. An experience that is studded by dramatic shower crys, abandoned DIY projects and a growing comfort with wearing the same pair of ancient joggers every day for a week.

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It’s for this reason that we’re finding solace with a growing troupe of Instagram illustrators right now. These compulsive drawers are based all over the globe, but they’re nearly all in isolation – and they know well our rollercoaster ride of confinement hopes and fears.

Better still, they’re bringing these feelings to life via a string of hilarious and very familiar sketches that tackle everything from third-floor city sunbathing to the freedom of unshaven legs. Below are just a few of our favourites (not forgetting the excellent work of artist Cary Cochrane in the image above):

Self-company saviours

Hastings-based illustrator Nina Cosford is known for her endearing sketches, and these snapshots from her stay-at-home routine are delightfully familiar. Who hasn’t tried (and failed) at some random craft, or wasted hours to fruitless window-gazing?

Single in times of Corona

Bravo to Berlin artist Laura Breiling, who is all of us under lockdown in this hairy-legged, wine-swilling caricature for daily newspaper Berliner Zeitung. It’s typical of her illustrations made through a fearless, and often quite political, lens.

Poetic panic at dawn

Cartoonist and Londoner Ruby Etc throws open the dialogue on mental health, with drawings that are both hilarious and touching. We love this nod to the pressure we’re all putting on ourselves right now to do something productive or extraordinary. Even that has become an anxiety, on top of everything else.

Sunbathing in confinement

French illustrator Agathe Sorlet is able to capture a multitude of feelings in her minimal two-tone drawings. This sweet scenario rings true for all us lockdown sunseekers out there, who will adapt no matter what.

This foreign place

NYC-based writer and artist Mari Andrew and her writer friend Suleika Jaouad have come up with the great idea of journaling their isolation as if they were in a foreign land. Because, as Mari says, “We are all going through collective culture shock right now.” Her observations of this wild new place we’re all in are instantly familiar, from the “sofa of safety” to “pleasantly oblivious” plants and cats. 

Quarantine looks

British cartoonist and self-confessed pug lady Gemma Correll is a dab hand when it comes to depicting our existential worries – not least during coronavirus. Her illustrations deal with everyday anxieties in a light-hearted but cathartic way, and are oh-so relatable. We’ve probably run the full gauntlet of these quarantine looks by now, especially “dramatic shower cry” (what are showers for, after all?).

Keeping oneself busy

Petra Eriksson is a Swedish illustrator and artist based in Barcelona. She’s been conjuring up a series of beautiful, colour-infused drawings during this lockdown period, and this one contains a few nods to her friends, as a way of staying connected. We’re putting hula hoops onto our list of confinement ideas, along with a reading corner.

No news, all wine

Sometimes in life, you just need to shore up your defences. We are fully behind this smart little motif about lockdown from New York-based artist Abbey Lossing, which is all about turning off the news and pouring the wine (with a cat on the side for good measure).

Becoming a houseplant

As well as meticulously tending to our crop of houseplants right now, all this sedentary staying at home activity means we may actually be turning into them, too. A lovely little insight here from Danish illustrator Maja Säfström.

Today’s sweat awards

Freelance illustrator Julie Houts is here to liven up all our lives with her hilariously frank take on the struggles of womankind. This eccentric little vignette is a tribute to the lockdown sweats we all know and love.

Top image: Cary Cochrane on Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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