- May 29, 2020

PIXERF’ #stayhomestaycreative initiative kicked off with a challenge that asked people to wear a mask, take a selfie, and draw a smile in their own style. The response will put a smile your face.  

What do you get when you ask people to put on a smile over their masks? Oodles and oodles of creative ideas, it turned out. That’s what our team at PIXERF discovered after launching the first challenge in our #stayhomestaycreative initiative.


How it came together

The inspiration for this initiative struck just as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading rapidly around the globe. As more countries enforced lockdowns and social distancing measures to flatten the curve, members of the creative community around the world came up with ingenious ways to keep their creative juices flowing. Concert halls and theatres began streaming recitals and musicals from their official Youtube channels, renowned musician Yo-yo Ma serenaded Twitter users with #SongsofComfort, while brands like Apple engaged photographers to collaborate and document their quarantine experience with creative twists. The message is clear: social distancing sets us physically apart, but creativity keeps us connected through our screens.

This outpouring of creativity across borders gave us an idea: Why not create a platform where Asia’s creators can unleash that pent-up creative energy and turn their quarantine blues into something positive? But that wasn’t the only goal. In this difficult time, the campaign wants to pay tribute and applaud frontline and essential workers at the heart of the battle against COVID-19. And what better way to show this support than a smile?

Okay, but what’s the mask about?

Masks are an essential tool in the fight against the coronavirus. In countries like Japan and South Korea, the use of masks is part of the everyday culture, but this isn’t the case in many parts of the world. Before this pandemic, “are you sick?” was the common reaction to a co-worker spotted wearing a mask. During the early days of the crisis, it was not uncommon to see people scooting away from masked commuters. In a way, this reaction is a natural one: a mask covers a person’s mouth, where we typically look for signs of someone’s friendliness. But wearing a mask is in fact a gesture of kindness and love. It shows that people are willing to endure the inconvenience of going through the day with their nose and mouth covered (because face it, it’s kind of stuffy in there) to keep their loved ones and total strangers safe. If that isn’t total solidarity, what is?

That’s why we chose to kick off the initiative with the #wearasmile campaign. The rule is simple: take a photo of yourself wearing a mask, put a smile on it, and share it on social media. For that icing on top, the campaign also encourages participants to write a message of cheer, encouragement and hope for frontliners and essential workers in their community.

The responses are definitely worth a smile.

What started out as a tiny grassroots campaign took off beyond our expectations, netting around 100 wow-worthy submissions (shout out to Malaysia and Indonesia for submitting the most), coverage from Campaign Brief Asia and even a Like from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. But the sweetest reward is seeing Asia’s creative talents put their best face forward with boundless imagination and wildly different styles.

So what’s next? Tune in.

The #stayhomestaycreative series chugged on with challenges like #OutsideMyWindow, #SuddenlyChef and #4FrameStories, challenging photographers to think outside the box while staying inside! To check out the latest challenges, submissions and how to join the fun, just go to https://pixerf.com/#/stayhomestaycreative. At this time of social distancing, let our creative spirit bring us closer together.

Love the pics? You’ll love the compilation video of the best submissions for our #wearasmile campaign below. Enjoy!