For Inktober 2016, artist Shawn Coss chose mental health as his muse. Every day throughout the month of October, he created a new personification of a different mental health behaviour.
People all over the world responded to Coss’s art, connecting immediately to the accurate depiction of something that they had experienced on a painfully intimate level. Mental health professionals across both Europe and the USA now use the artwork to help connect with their patients.
On a personal level, Coss has claimed that his art has also given him the opportunity to openly discuss his own battle with depression and to communicate his emotions authentically.
In February 2018, Coss launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to turn these images into a book: It’s All In Your Head. The collection is expected to be over 170 pages long with a beautiful hardback cover.
As well as the art that inspired so many people back in 2016, the book will include descriptions of each condition depicted and some information about the inspiration behind each piece. Coss claims that he hopes his book will “remove the stigma around mental health so that we can all begin the healing, together”.
Although the campaign was only launched a few days ago, the book had no trouble reaching its initial goal of $12,000. Not only that, but it has already reached its first stretch goal of $25,000.
This achievement means that the book will now include artwork from Derek Hess, a creator that Coss describes as his “very first influence into the art world”. Hess has also spoken out about his own struggle with mental illness and hosts an annual festival in Cleveland called Acting Out, which raises awareness of mental health.
Coss has laid out plans for further stretch goals up to a total of $50,000. Many of them offer the inclusion of his other projects, such as his Se7en Sins and Zodiacs series, while others would provide spot varnish and a slip case for the book itself.
The $50,000 goal itself remains a mystery.
Pledges start at just $5, with the lowest payments being donated to mental health charities. As well as the book in both hardback and pdf form, the higher tier pledges include written letters, signed editions, original artwork and even the creation of a new depiction of a behaviour of your choice.
With weeks still left to go on the campaign, it would be reasonable to guess that it will hit at least a couple more stretch goals. Already, the final product is shaping up to be a seriously impressive collection.