No matter how much ink may be spilled about mental illness, sometimes a picture can speak a thousand—well, you know. And a whole collection of images might start a host of more thoughtful conversations and reflections.
That’s the spirit behind Shawn Coss’s series of jarringly vulnerable images drawn for Inktober, the annual exercise many artists use to tackle the goal of a different illustration each day this month.
If broaching the subject alone entails a certain amount of risk, portraying disorder after disorder can arouse shock, sadness, anger, or alarm. But Coss goes beyond what’s now increasingly familiar—however well or poorly understood—to include afflictions that aren’t often seen or considered side by side: PTSD shares space with OCD, anorexia nervosa with agoraphobia. You may not have ever heard of Capgras Syndrome or Cotard’s Delusion, but they’re there too, as real as the rest.
In a strange twist, Coss’s art has wound up particularly well-timed. Rapper Kid Cudi caused a stir this month by admitting he checked himself in to treatment for potentially suicidal depression—then drew what appeared to be ridicule around the issue from Drake, who had wound on up the receiving end of an online Cudi rant. Unlike many spats between stars, this one spawned an encouraging hashtag—#YouGoodMan—based around hip-hop tracks that go there on the topic of mental health. If there’s one thing we can agree on, art can often make all the difference for those in pain.