In 2006 Paul Vanzella, Peter Styles, and I co-founded Redbubble. From the first day, our principle was “We stand for artists, we honour them, their work, and their passions.” We built the company with an appreciation that the more creativity you bring into the world, the more vibrant the world becomes.
In 2018, I stepped down as CEO of Redbubble Group. I was, to be frank, a bit burnt out after leading the company for so long. Last month, the board decided to replace the CEO who succeeded me and asked me to come back. Having spent 18 months away, I was refreshed and also missed this beautiful and engaging community. So I willingly accepted.
It has been less than a month since I have been back and now we all face an unprecedented situation related to the coronavirus outbreak. I was chatting with my 87-year-old mother who said she had seen nothing like it since the Great Depression and World War II. Unlike other events, the global pandemic has reached into all of our homes and lives in a personal way. There are no bystanders, and Redbubble has a role to play.
With this in mind, I want to reach out to any of you who are ill with COVID-19, or have loved ones who are. We hold you in the light. We hope for your speedy and full recovery. To any of you who may be grieving, we all at Redbubble and in the Redbubble community grieve with you.
We are all experiencing anxiety and fear. This is to be expected as we are seeing our world change. But we can be sure a new one will emerge. And it can be better if we choose to make it so. A world that acts more as a global community, where we recognise our shared humanity, and where strong local institutions are valued.
In all of this, Redbubble (and our sister site TeePublic) can help. We can do so by enabling all of you in our artist communities to do what you do. My colleague, Adam Schwartz, at TeePublic beautifully captured this through “An Artist Call to Arms.” In a few short paragraphs he articulates the extraordinary importance that art can have at a time like this:
“In times of human struggle, the world needs art. Crises such as this are too complex, too nuanced to put into words, but art is a higher form of language. When we don’t know what to feel, art can illustrate emotion … [As an artist] You do have a sword to wield. Can you push through anxiety and find the space to be creative? Can you find your voice and whisper to us, a joke, an idea, or a memory of some better time? I implore you to try … as an artist community our voices echo more loudly than one could ever do alone.”
I endorse this sentiment as we all try to find ways to help our fracturing communities. I urge you to pursue and share your creative passions. No matter how small they may seem. When asked “what does art do?” my answer has always been “it provides meaning.” Now more than ever the world needs meaning.
Creativity will help us get through this.
Martin Hosking, Redbubble Co-founder and CEO