Using Art for My Mental Health: A 30 Day Challenge with @Women_Make_

March 29, 2022

collage of artwork with the hashtag #40worksofart

Hi, I'm Rochelle, a business designer and artist. I focused on creating 40 Works of Art during the @Women_Make_ Just F*ing Ship It! challenge in March 2022.

40 Works of Art for the @Women_Make Challenge in March 2022

I'm a lot like you (most likely) in that I had a really tough time with my mental health during the pandemic. I owe my recovery to a lot of things, but re-igniting my creative hobbies and prioritizing art in my life has helpful on a level I didn't expect.

What's the Just F*ing Ship It! Challenge?

The concept of the Just F*ing Ship It! challenge is to create and launch something over 30 days alongside other women makers. We chose our own challenges and shared our progress in a private Telegram group chat.

As far as I know, I was the only one with an artistic self-challenge. I noticed a lot of SaaS folks in there. Blogs were launched. There was some AR gaming happening. Someone even made a vibrator. A lot of the progress updates went over my head, not being that kind of techie (I'm techie but not that techie!) but I'm still so grateful that I joined in!

My Chosen Project

Back in college I used to make art all the time, mostly in the form of Disney or anime fanart, or tiny polymer clay sculptures. I went to architecture school and the creative drive completely dried up. I stopped enjoying creating things, and I even fell out of love with stationery/office supply stores. Sigh.

Corporate work as a graphic designer further stifled/killed that creative drive.

During my most recent bout with depression, I felt a tug to change that around. I re-branded (which is honestly just fancy talk for "I stopped making graphics that bored me to tears and started making fun, loud, colorful collage graphics that lit me up even if they probably wouldn't impress the big business gurus out there") and started getting curious again.

For this challenge I initially described my project as:

#40WorksofArt: A collection/combination of digital art, sketches in my sketchbook, upcycling old jewelry into new earrings, paintings... maybe a dance? That's the stretch goal.

I just wanted to see if I could keep up the artsy habit every day. I knew deep down it would be good for me.

The number 40 has significant meaning for me, being a cradle Catholic (but don't assume too fast... I'm also very much a cafeteria Catholic). It matched the 30 day challenge and left room for days when I'd likely find a groove and create more than one thing for the day.

Plus the challenge happened to fall during Lent, so, yeah. Perfect!

I also knew that once the challenge ended on March 31st, there would be about two weeks left for me to DO something with all the artwork I had made. My overachieving brain said, "I shall make an Etsy store! I shall become an influencer on IG and sell prints of my artwork!"

You can guess what happened.

In practice, my self-challenge did not go as planned (of course)

I'll be blunt: I am not a "do this every day" kind of person. I'm not a fan of routine. I knew that before this challenge and I know that now that I've proven I can't even do it with something I enjoy doing.

It's the same reason I quit being a group fitness instructor at my local gyms. I enjoyed teaching, but I noticed it felt like I was just living my life between the weekly classes I was teaching. I'm not a fan of auto pilot, and again, I'm not a fan of routine.

I have lots of interests, and some days I chose to play video games or watch Fullmetal Alchemist for 3 hours instead of making something.

Some days I took my autistic brother to a theme park and by the time we were home, fed, showered, and resting, I didn't feel like drawing something.

Also, I struggled a bit with the concept of a "work of art." So I couldn't just sketch something real quick? It's art, but is it a WORK of art? (Good ol' overthinking Aquarius rising, here!)

Not that I have lots of sketches hidden away in a "not good enough" vault somewhere. I didn't make art every day and that's what happened.

So, did I MAKE IT? Where are the 40 Works of Art?

Unless you skipped down to this section, you know the answer.

I didn't make it.

The final count of my works of art created during the month of March:

  • 3 Chibi Animals
  • 1 night time painting scene
  • 1 flower arrangement drawing
  • 2 self portraits
  • 5 pairs of earrings
  • 1 scratch-off floral abstract drawing
  • 1 watercolor pencil bear drawing
  • 1 original puffy heart crochet pattern
  • 1 Fullmetal Alchemist fanart drawing

16 Works of Art, total.

That's 16 big wins, for me!

Considering I haven't made any art for myself and not for work, for YEARS. My non-work artwork counts for previous years was zero, so the fact that I made time for my own creative juices and produced 16 things-in-a-month is an awesome, big deal, and I'm proud of myself.

When's the next challenge?

For me, personally... we'll see! Follow my art account on Instagram at where I'll share updates. I'll make an announcement once I do hit my 40th work of art this year.

For the @Women_Make_ challenge, I believe they may be hosting another one later in 2022. Maybe. (If you've ever hosted a public-anything, you know that timing can be complicated).

But I encourage you to join Women Make if you can! It's reasonably priced and not limited to only this challenge. There are almost 600 people in the community and it's growing every week.

Thanks for following along with me on this challenge!

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