Illini stay creative amid quarantine


Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Noren

Kathleen Noren, a freshman in Graphic Design, created these Illinois-themed coloring pages to raise money for United Way.

By Tianbin Chen, Staff Writer

It has been almost two months since the government has advised the public to stay at home. “How should I spend my day today?” has become a frequent question for people stuck inside during the pandemic. Time seems to be the cheapest asset people have right now, and some people decided to spend it artistically and with school spirit.

COVID-19 might stop people from hanging out, but never can it stop the spirit of the Illini. Kathleen Noren, freshman in Fine and Applied Arts, had a brilliant idea to spend her time making Illini-themed coloring pages and raising funds from it. 

Born in an artistic family, Noren was brought up to be a graphic designer. She was inspired by coloring pages in the New York Times that were thank you messages to essential workers. She then decided to make coloring pages for fellow students. The theme of the coloring pages is designed to express the love for the most popular places for students on campus, with phrases such as “I miss KAM’s” and “I miss Joe’s.” 

“We actually are selling the pages on Etsy, and we are not making any profit. All the money is going to the United Way of Champaign,” Noren said. “They do COVID relief, they help people in the Champaign community.”

United Way of Champaign County was founded in 1923. Their mission is to bring people and resources together to make positive change and long-lasting impact in the area they serve. During quarantine, they created the Champaign County COVID-19 relief fund to support neighbors who were struggling economically. 

“I just really wanted to do something with my time, to help others,” she said. “It is not like I have other things to do right now.”

Noren also shared her experience with digital crafting. She did most of her drawing on Adobe Illustrator, which is an industry-level graphic software. It is very different from traditional software in that people have to take a while to get familiar with the application.

“I think everyone can get into art. Adobe Illustrator is a great way to do something like this, but there are so many other programs to do digital art,” Noren said.

Another student posted a Reddit post ten days ago and received hundreds of likes. Sera Trigo, freshman in Engineering, has spent her time at home crocheting an Illini themed blanket. She said she picked the Illini colors because she was missing school a lot, and this project helped to bring her closer to the University.

“I definitely have a lot of love for the Illini, and I like making Illini gear,” Trigo said.

All the time spent indoors provided her the opportunity to pick up an old hobby. Trigo grew up with crocheting, but she had to drop this hobby when she was overwhelmed with college. The quarantine has given her an opportunity to rekindle her love for crocheting. Trigo said that if people can use their time wisely during the pandemic, quarantine can be good. 

Crocheting a huge blanket was a heavy project for Trigo. She created 120 small orange and blue color circles and connected them together with white yarn. It took her 60 to 65 hours to make the blanket from April 4 to April 25. 

“Getting materials under the quarantine was interesting,” Trigo said. Trigo and her mom were both crafting, and when they go out to get materials, the craft shelves are always empty. It is not difficult to go to the stores and get the materials. What is difficult for her is that the materials are gone. Apparently, many people pick up crafting amid the pandemic, so crafting items have been frequently out of stock. 

For beginners who want to crochet, Trigo recommended that Youtube is a great place to find tutorials. There are different techniques of crocheting, and Youtube videos are very accessible for people to learn to crochet. 

“Definitely be patient when it comes to crochet,” Trigo said. “Crocheting is hard to learn, but once you’ve learned it, it is easy.”

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