What happened and what did you do?
My Social Action project was all about destigmatising mental illness and spreading positive awareness of it. I drew large inspiration from The Sad Ghost Club for this, in the end deciding to create a colouring book page as an example of the work I could produce, given more time. It contained the character I designed of a little alien, who represents the viewer and anyone who suffers from mental illness. In the piece the alien is gazing upon a UFO abduction in a dreamy mountainous setting, with a banner displaying the words “Take Me Home” above its head.
To create this I did some research into mental illness, artists who create work surrounding mental health issues, and drew inspiration from them. I also did some experimentation with unconventional mediums and type, and played around with what my project outcome could be before settling on creating a colouring book. With the time frame left of my project by the time I came to that idea, I knew I would not be able to produce an entire book of colouring pages before the deadline. Therefore, I created one page as a taster of what I could produce, and can perhaps pick up again and complete when I have more time.
What was inspiring about the project to you, how did you translate this into your work?
This project was all about creating art surrounding a topic we’re passionate about, so I chose mental illness. I myself have been suffering from it for years, and many of the people I love do too (including my Mom and my best friends), so it is a topic I hold very close to my heart. I was inspired by the grit and determination of the people suffering every day, and the daily struggle I go through myself. I tried to emulate the kind of reassurance I know I don’t find patronising in my work while making it approachable and engaging to any viewer that may find it.
Did you manage to achieve what you set out to do at the beginning of the project?
No and yes – initially I set out to create t-shirts or tote bags or some kind of merchandise as a final outcome, but surrounding the same topic of mental illness. This idea was born with the idea that not only would the merchandise be owned and be a reminder to those who need it, it would also be shown to anybody in the general public when worn outdoors in a public setting.
However, after thinking this over I really liked the idea of people interacting with my art and making it even more personal to them. Therefore, I changed my idea to creating a colouring book in order to let people make my art something meaningful to them. It is also a kind of self-help as many people (including myself) find solace from anxiety by using adult colouring books. I hope to emulate this, while the picture itself reassures the user as well.
Overall, what did not go as well as anticipated through the project? Why?
I was disappointed in myself for not leaving enough time to create multiple outcomes for my project. While I am proud of the piece I created, I would have liked to create more images to display what else my colouring book has to offer.
If you attempted something different within the project, how did that new approach work?
I think this is the first project I have done where I haven’t used a multitude of colours in my work, as I will be leaving the colouring to the user. I did create a coloured version of my final on Photoshop to display what a coloured outcome could look like, but that is just my own take on how it could be coloured in. I quite liked creating an image where the intention is to easily colour it in, it really made me think about composition and placement of lines.
I really enjoyed putting all my thoughts and feelings on this topic into my work, knowing that it is interactive and people from so many different backgrounds can contribute to it and show their own story through how they decorate it. I love the idea of collaborative art – especially with people who thoroughly relate to the topic at hand. I wish I had more time to create more pages, but perhaps I can pick this idea back up when I have some free time. My vision was to spread positive awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental illness, and I believe I did that notion proud.