It almost seems like we are living in our own version of the apocalypse. There is an eerie silence around us and a terrifying sense of uncertainty. The outbreak of Covid-19 has upended our very sense of being. The pandemic, an international calamity of monstrous proportions, has gotten us all realigning our goals to the greater good of what is needed to survive.
So how does one adapt to the new normal? Extraordinary times like this require us to be receptive to the extraordinary measures that we need to take. As sad, hurtful realities unfold, we have to be resilient to what is the need of the hour: stay indoors. Every little action counts.
ELLE as a magazine has always been empathetic of the current climate. We took the informed decision to not carry our planned cover shoot. It just wouldn’t be right-—and it wouldn’t be fair on our readers, especially when our world is at the edge of a breakdown. Instead, we worked with three exceptional artists to create imagery that would be symbiotic of our world view right now.
We asked the Franco-German artist, Kera Till, to showcase her idea of social distancing. (In fact, Kera’s illustrated map, ‘Commuting in Corona Times’ went viral last month.) Kera immediately agreed to create something unique for us that in some way would resonate with the very idea of flattenning the curve. “For me India is all about colour. To create a cover it is important to think about the graphic impact first. I tried to visualise social distancing without making it scary or dark, and because it is still about connection, I used the dashed lines,” says Kera. But the real reason I love Kera is this: she is a hands-on mum to one year old Louis, works out of her apartment in Munich, and is under lockdown—but not once did she flinch about the multiple changes and suggestions we bombarded her with. I am eternally grateful for this show of resilience.
Closer home, we worked with Juhi Vishnani and Shiva Nallaperumal of November, who instantly agreed to join forces to create our cover. The duo, who has been one of ELLE’s most trusted collaborators since the past year, played with typography to explore the idea of dispersion and the contact that results in the spread of this virus. We also partnered with Aniruddh Mehta of Studio Big Fat whose visual play of the words will bring a smile to your face.
When we spoke to Kera, Shiva and Aniruddh, the idea was to emphasise that we are all in some way connected, and in this together. There is a great amount of fear of the unknown, and what to expect, and how the post-Covid-19 world will unfold. But we wanted to find some semblance of sanity and solidarity together. We wanted our covers to resonate that faith.
We have also taken the decision to release the magazine digitally for all our readers around the world. At this point of time, we wanted to extend the universe a little more joy in any way we can.
Here’s hoping that we pray for positivity, strength and niceness for the rest of 2020. Huge gratitude to the caregivers and service providers around the world, a million prayers for the migrant workers—young and old—who are all making their way home. And immense love to my team, the very heartbeat of ELLE, who have worked tirelessly to bring this issue to you—by being together apart.