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James Garden


"I often draw on days where I’m feeling pretty low, allowing me to channel any negativity that I might be clinging to, and as a way to help escape it.

Back in 2014 I started sketching using sketchbook pro app on iPad just using my finger to draw all of them. I probably drew about 50 different pictures over a couple of months but I never shared them as I was always filled with self doubt of my work and due to a lot of negativity that I see online I was too scared to say “hey everyone look what I’ve done”. All of these thoughts eventually led to me forgetting about my drawing. In November 2017 my anxiety and depression completely took hold of me, I ended up having a huge break down, I didn’t look forward to anything and just merely existed for my friends and family, I had a lot of suicidal thoughts on a daily basis, this entire time I did not take any medication or talk to anyone about how I was feeling. After my breakdown I went to see a doctor and received medication but it only helped a little. Months went on and back in August 2017 I picked up my iPad and started drawing again. I must’ve drawn another 50 pictures in a few weeks. I’d spent hours looking through my own pictures and found that when drawing I completely switched off from the outside world. After a whole day of drawing from when I woke up in the morning to late in the evening, I was looking back through the pictures and found myself smiling for what seemed like the first time in months. I had a moment where I thought “these pictures make me happy, and that’s what matters, if others don’t like it then that’s up to them but I’m proud of what I’ve drawn” I shared it to my own Facebook page, in those first few hours I was nervous to even look at my phone, when I did look I couldn’t believe how much love the picture had received (the first picture was the crying man in the rain). I posted a few more pictures online and they received the same response. People I knew from work were private messaging asking if I could draw artwork for them to use on their albums, one particular guy who asked first said what would I charge, instantly I knew that all the profits I made from these pictures should go to a mental health charity. I set up a Facebook page a couple of weeks later and within a day had received over 250 likes. My colleague, Brian at work mentioned his wife had seen them and absolutely loved them and how she felt so incredibly emotional looking at them. This encouraged me to set up Instagram and a deviant art page, all of which had loads of likes. I was getting messages from people with similar problems, and I realised I really wasn’t alone. I did posts on my on Facebook telling my story and the whole world opened up to me. To have these messages from strangers saying they found some pieces incredibly uplifting was incredible. I felt like I had purpose, everyday is different, if I have a bad day, I can express that via my artwork and I have been encouraging others to do so too. I will never give up, even if I’m anxious and depressed for the rest of my life (which I don’t believe will happen) knowing that even one of my drawings might bring a smile to a stranger’s face when they’re feeling at their absolute lowest will make everything worth it"

See more of James' work on Instagram and Facebook.

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