We're back this month with our second interview of the series. Shreyasi Bose, fondly called Bose, is a very talented lady, who I've had the pleasure of being friends with for more than three years.
Please introduce yourself.
Okay then! I am a neurodivergent, bisexual feminist. I am also a designer, writer, artist, poet, memer, podcaster, and I have an affirmation app on Google for and by mentally ill people. I am also a cat parent and an enlightened potato.
Tell us a little about your journey as a designer.
I used to draw things as a child, then I kinda stopped. My childhood and teenage room is filled with poems, and drawings, and stickers. I always liked being surrounded by all forms of art. I took up painting again in 2016 when I was mentally at my worst. I painted what I felt and I still paint only when the art is coming out from me. So, I started and never stopped. I am self-taught and I don't even know what I learned. I just figured things out and then I put everything on canvas. I love mixed media art, and I've used almost everything, from glass paints to tissue paper on canvas. No one told me what to do, so I did whatever I wanted. And that gave me emotional release. I love the paint stains on my hands, the ones on my clothes, me sitting for hours, hyper-fixating on a painting or a project, using whatever I can find in my house to articulate whatever's going on in my mind. I have done commissioned art and I have sold my art, but I have given away a lot of my art. I like knowing that someone is looking at my art and a bit of me is with them always. I do art for myself and no one else. It is my medium of expression. It is sacrosanct. So, now I paint when it comes to me and I get to know myself a little better each time.
Of all the wonderful art you've created, do you have a favourite? What's the story behind this art piece? Why is it your favourite?
I painted a piece in 2016, that has never been put up for sale. It's me. It shows the vulnerability and depression I felt at that time, and somehow I had put a bit of my soul into it. So, that's my favourite.
How do you add a dash of your personality into your work?
I don't think I do. I think I put my consciousness on canvas and not how I behave.
Why are you passionate about mental health?
I have been dealing with mental health issues since 2012 and I had very little help and information, and the system had failed me. I got diagnosed with ADHD at 30, last year. Even before this, I wanted to de-stigmatise mental health issues. I started a mental health support group on Facebook in 2016 because I couldn't find an Indian one. I have always been a fighter for the right causes, and I want to provide help to people so that they don't have to do it alone like I did, I am a neurodivergent living in a neurotypical world, so of course I want it to be friendlier to us. Being ignored and dismissed isn't something we'd like to continue.
How do you think an artist can raise awareness for mental health?
What I say to everyone. Talk about it. Don't be ashamed of it. Express yourself through art. Start the conversation and then keep it going.
How do you keep yourself constantly motivated and inspired as a designer?
That's a myth. At least for me. I don't think consistency is the goal. I think what matters is that we keep coming back to it. And constant motivation is also a myth. We shouldn't push ourselves if we don't feel like it.
How does a typical day look like for you, as an artist clinically diagnosed with ADHD?
I wake up late, log in to work, drink a lot of coffee, often forget to eat, of course forget the medicines despite alarms, and I am constantly stimulating my brain with multiple things. I must have background noise while I work or concentrate. I can multitask and sometimes I have a conversation and text at the same time. I end up making some form of art when I feel like it some days. But mostly I just do what I feel like in the moment. Except work. That I kind of have to do so I can pay my rent. Then I stay up really late because that time is mine and no one can take that time from me. And the cycle continues.
How do you deal with anxiety and self-doubt?
Poorly. However, that's why I have a support system that reassures me, everyday.
Any tips for tackling creative block?
You and your mental health come first. You breathe, take your time, deal with the anxiety, and get back to art. And if you are like me, just start doodling and scribbling and drawing.
Is there a book/blog/podcast you would recommend for fellow artists and designers?
Follow artists on Instagram. I am in awe of some of them.
If you could give one piece of advice to artists and designers living with mental health conditions, what would it be?
Let no one tell you you are great because you are mentally ill. You are talented and great at art despite having difficulties with mental health. You are not your diagnosis. Your talent is yours.