Sow Ay describes himself as an “Anxious dreamer hidden under my hood with loud music in my headphones, I live in a world full of music, pop culture and DIY.”
Sow is a 20 something who is currently living in beautiful Auvergne, France. He is a freelance self-taught illustrator who makes visuals and artworks for various projects, exhbitions and comics. He started his site Forsaken Star in 2012 and he works daily on creating visuals for posters, merchandising, CD covers, comics and videos.
I had the privilege of interviewing Sow about his remarkably honest and insightful illustrations below.
Question: “How many years have you been illustrating?”
Answer: “I would say I started when I was a kid and I never stopped. At school, I drew to make my friends laugh and I created my first blog in 2007. In 2013, I became a freelance illustrator after every art school refused me. Drawing is an amazing way for me to express myself, as I am really bad at explaining my thoughts.”
Q: “When did you become diagnosed with your anxiety and depression?”
A: “I first talked to a doctor because I couldn’t sleep about 5 years ago. We never found why, I did blood tests and took many vitamins. I looked “normal” since I was working a lot and had many hobbies. But the problem was that I didn’t know how to talk about my mental issues – until I burnt out last year. I could no longer work or leave my house because the anxiety and panic attacks were so strong. So I had to try to tell my doctor. It was hard to find the words, I spent days (and most of the night) thinking about what I could say. And when I did – that’s when the diagnosis came.”
“More recently, an old memory of a doctor telling my mom I was bitting my nails because I had anxiety came back to me. It’s always been there. And I’m still bitting my nails until they bleed.”
Q: “Does illustrating help you through it?”
A: “It helps a lot. I feel like I’m cleaning my brain by putting my thoughts on paper. The feedback and response is also an amazing support. I feel useful and that gives me a reason to keep creating.”
Q: “What is the main concept or ideas behind these illustrations?”
A: “I mostly draw to tell people how I feel. And to make people understand what things can be like in the head of someone suffering with mental illness. I try to not think too much because that’s my most personnal work and I would start to panic and remove everything.”
Q: “Is there anything else you’d like people to know about dealing with mental illness?”
A: “I’m always scared to look pretencious while giving advice but I’d like to tell them everyone lives their mental illness differently. That’s why the treatments can be very different for everyone and take more or less time.”
Q: “What message do you have to other people who are also suffering through anxiety and depression?”
A: “I would like to tell them that they are not alone. And to not be affraid to talk with their friends, family or doctor. People are way more supportive than our mental demon makes us think they are.”
Thank you Sow for reminding us that no matter how scary mental illness can be and no matter how alone you feel, you never really are.
Keep inspiring the world through your work.