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Intersecting voices of wellness vs. rawness in illustration

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This article reflects on the use of illustration as a tool in mental health, and attempts to answer the question, can depicting wellness or rawness of mental health experiences in illustration contribute towards recovery? The two authors of this article speak from their experiences from several roles: as illustrators; a disability adviser and mental health practitioner; as teachers and women of colour. They explore their own creative practices through their intersectionality. The first author presents wellness in illustration, the origins of both black illustrators communicating through their work alongside how black people are represented in illustration. This uncovers societal cultural preference, authenticity and overarchingly, the question of who decides our narratives. In exploring rawness, the role of illustrator, and how it connects to others through honest human experiences, the second author questions where this is impacted. The reflection throughout this article encourages true consideration of intersectionality in the creation, engagement and taught aspects of illustration, considering how this communicative instrument can continue to be used to promote wellness. This article proves that illustration can provide a space for recovery in a mental health context, ultimately demonstrating how illustration is used to portray experiences where words cannot, providing a cathartic process for practitioners, and is used as a tool to promote powerful inclusivity.
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Keywords: disability; intersectionality; mental health; microaggression; race; rawness; wellness; women of colour

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000085170017University of the Arts London 2: Illustrator

Publication date: August 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Illustration is a rapidly evolving field with an excitingly broad scope. Despite its cultural significance and rich history, illustration has rarely been subject to deep academic scrutiny. The Journal of Illustration provides an international forum for scholarly research and investigation of a range of cultural, political, philosophical, historical, and contemporary issues, in relation to illustration. The journal encourages new critical writing on illustration, associated visual communication, and the role of the illustrator as visualizer, thinker, and facilitator, within a wide variety of disciplines and professional contexts.

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