Samantha – 20 – San Francisco, USA

“It was like a movie. February 2nd, 2014. We sat in his car and I felt like the world was spinning. My heart was gonna leap out of my chest with how fast it was beating. He looked me deep in my eyes and counted down from 3 as he reassured me that everything would be okay.

“3, 2, 1…”

“I love you.”

He smiled and replied with “I love you too.”

Since then, it’s like we’ve only been climbing higher and higher. I know he’s the one I’ll marry. He’s helped me wash away all my insecurities and anxiety. In a world, where it felt like everything was trying to break me down – including my own father – he saved me.”

Artist: Maria Levesen
Medium: Merino wool and silk fibers needle felted onto felt sheet. 
Instagram: @froekenfilt


Ruzane – 28 – Pretoria, South Africa

“A couple of years ago I shaved my head. The reaction from my male friends were synonymous, everytime I saw one I was greeted by a resounding NO!
I was standing in a queue somewhere when a guy behind me said, hey man…the rest of the sentence eludes me, since it turns out what I thought was sexy Sinead O’Connor actually made me look like a man. Luckily hair has this tendency to grow back. Regardless of this little incident I still feel that shaving off your hair is a liberating experience. It proves to yourself and the world that you are more than the sum of your parts. That what defines you is not the meat covering a bone structure, it’s an unstoppable, unseen force deep inside you.”
“Everything has beauty but not everyone can see” –Confucius

Artist: Sophie Leigh Fraser
Medium: Digital
Instagram: @sophieleighart


Bianca – 35 – South Sweden

“I am born and raised in Germany but moved to Sweden when I was 16. I appreciate life and all beautiful things in it, because I am lucky to still be alive. I have been very, very sick and my life was hanging on a thread for many years. I have been deeply depressed and used self injury as a solution to deal with my emotional pain. That could have cost me my life and I am thankful that I made it through these years, now totally recovered!

I really did hit the bottom and the only way out was willpower and a goal. There were so many things in life I wanted to do and now that I am feeling well again I see things differently. I can see beauty in little things, enjoying small details and breathe fresh air instead of being hospitalized and not wanting to eat, get up or even live.
Today I love to travel and paint, I love my husband who stood by me all these years of mental illness and enjoying life with our 2 cats. I have learned a lot through all the hard times and I hope the experience made me a better and more understanding person. Now I can see the sun, the light and smile with all my heart!

Artist: Kellsey Murphy
Medium: Polychromos
Instagram: @artistkmurphy


Andrew – 31 – Ontario, Canada

“From a young age I was always fascinated by music. It could change a mood, force an emotion, you could get lost in it. It was safe.

I had many wild years as I was younger and endured many hardships (most due to my poor decisions). I was out of the house when I was 15, always worked, watched my father pass in front of me when I was 17, was homeless.. The story goes on.

The only constant through all of that, was music. It saved me from going fully down the wrong path. Gave me an outlet, an understanding. It gave me a purpose.

When I was younger, things got way too serious with a band and sucked the fun out of it. I quit music. Sold every piece of gear I had. After two years, I wanted to get back to me and what I loved. I picked up a guitar again and it was falling in love all over again.

Fast forward some years. I am now 31 years old. I play in an amazing band (Blackwood Sinners) and we are recording an album and gigging. I have a beautiful girl by my side supporting me, an amazing family, great job, car, house..

Do not ever give up. Do what makes you truly happy and never let anyone tell you different.

Artist: Dejan Koneski
Medium: Pencil/Charcoal
Instagram: @koneskiart


Amanda – 20 – Durban, South Africa

“I’m a 20 year-old University student who wants to learn to love herself.
I just cannot get it right to save my life. How do I learn to love my walk, my arms, how I talk and sometimes I swear I feel like my breathing is not quite normal either to be honest, but maybe that’s because of my smoking.

Growing up, I’ve always been teased about being fat. I don’t want to call it bullying because that would give any person who has ever said something about my weight power over me.

I remember walking down to my Grade 3 class with the boys from my class making fun of my weight because they thought it was funny. It wasn’t funny, looking back on it –
It is still not funny.

I remember auditioning for the role of Oprah Winfrey in my Grade 5 school concert. My English teacher told me I was too fat to play Oprah in the concert, and 9years later I can still hear her voice echoing in my ears.

Needless to say, I never had a problem with my body, or at least I never had the time to have a problem with it. My dislike for my body was uprooted by other people at a very early age. People I loved and trusted, like my teachers and peers.
Constantly hurting myself because it makes me feel better. Sometimes if I really feel like I’ve eaten too much, which is basically ALL the time – I move silently out of the room to go throw it up.
And now at the age of 20, I’m a virgin because I cannot stand to look at my body in the mirror and I often wonder how someone else will look at it.
I’m not worthy of love if I do not love myself.
Which is why I want to experience this revolution of self love that everyone speaks of.
I want to look into the mirror and smile because I’m happy with the imperfections I see.

Artist: Natalia Kryger
Medium: Watercolour
Instagram: @nkdraws


Courtenay – 20 – Tasmania, Australia

“I have had many struggles in the short amount of time I’ve been alive, I was bullied all though primary school and high school. I struggle putting on weight. I was in out of hospital for most of my life… I was also abused for four years as a child. But there is a happy ending to this story.

I starting weightlifting, my coach worked with troubled youth and picked me up along the way. I did weightlifting for 7 years. During that time I became the best in my weight class in the country. I got state record, national record and even one world record. Weightlifting is what saved me. I became mentally stronger. It became my vice.

After having to stop due to health issues I got into online gaming and began to help run a minecraft server for kids all around the world. I there met my fiancé, the man of my dreams who lives in America, which became it’s own struggle as we live 10000 miles away from each other. After netting him for 3months last year we have decided that I’ll be moving over there at the end of the year.

Artist: Shruti Alva
Medium: Charcoal
Instagram: @made_of_candy


Ariana – 21 – Costa Rica

“I didn’t have the easiest childhood, because of my mom having Borderline Personality Disorder and my Dad being diagnosed as co-dependent. But today I am pleased to say that, after all the physical, emotional and psychological abuse I went through, I’m HAPPY now.

Even when I felt it was impossible to keep going another day I still kept a little bit of faith through it all and it paid off.

I definitely do not have the perfect family, but I do have one, and that’s what matters. I have my boyfriend who has been by my side for 7 years now, and I have my art which is as important as air to me. I am in college slowly accomplishing my life goals and this for me proves that even if someone is in a dark place and can’t see the light, it always gets better.

Artist: Gunhild Iversen
Medium: Graphite pencil
Instagram: @tegnegun


Alyssa – 17 – Georgia, USA

“When I was in the 6th grade my body began to develop I got hips and I got boobs which looked so incredibly strange to me. I had never seen my body look so different and I hated it. I never knew what an eating disorder was, I just assumed if you didn’t eat then you lost weight, I had no clue about the health issues and emotional stress that came with it. I stopped eating slowly, weaning myself from it. The smell of food began to make me sick after time. I began obsessively working out until my body was so weak I could barely walk home. I would throw up stomach acid in the morning time, and by the afternoon I would be throwing up foam from how empty my stomach was.

When I reached about 8th grade I realized what was wrong with me and in an attempt to stop what I had already started I fell into a deep hole of self hatred, no matter how hard I worked I still couldn’t look into my mirror and see who I wanted to be. I started cutting myself and on March 27th, 2014 a day before my birthday I tried to take my life. I was in the ICU until the 29th and was sent to a facility later on called LightHouse where I met amazing people who I wish I could thank for saving my life.

Due to the pain I inflicted on my body, I still to this day have terrible stomach problems and scars that may never heal. My mind is finally healthy and I am finally happy. My past was difficult but it made me the confident person I am today.

Artist: Alicia Chiang
Medium: Ink and pencil
Instagram: @_aliciachiang


Vinujah – 23 – Toronto, Canada

“I like winter because it’s an excuse to cover my body and face like armor. I feel presentable and safe with make up on as another mask. Even though the picture shows me in the daytime, I have to prefer the night as it envelopes me in a cloak of darkness so no one can see what I’ve become. The problem is that I don’t want to limit myself with winters, makeup, and darkness. I want to feel all the other seasons again, in my own skin, under the sun.

The crowds and the rooms full of people are quite terrifying for me. Meeting new people is hard and they well up all these emotions I can’t control. I try to push myself into this crowd but it is very difficult. I avoid them, and yet I want to belong. It’s hard for me to communicate my thoughts, but even when I have the words right, I’m still weary of them leaving my lips. So I keep quiet and eavesdrop on conversations, focusing on things I might have in common with strangers. An outsider looking in.

I was hoping to be much more than this. I feel like a screw up and that these problems have hindered and continue to hinder me from accomplishing things I should have accomplished ages ago. The people I love had great expectations for me but the bar has been lowered to relieve that pressure. They know something is wrong. Some don’t know what it is exactly, so some have built a cage to keep me safe. I know the love they give me is unconditional, but I want to feel like I deserve it. That I deserve to be a part of their lives. Then there is this part of me that wants to break free of this cage, from this life. In hopes that I can make them happy while I’m gone.

There were quite a few serious things that may have stemmed these sides of me, things that I cannot share here but I have shared them with someone near and dear to me, who spent the time to listen. I have never expressed the fact that I have anxiety (and may be even a whole other host of problems I can’t define) publicly like this, so this is all quite new to me. Even the small circle who love and support me, who don’t know exactly what’s going on, try to encourage me to share the sides they think make me special. So I try to do this through photos and my artwork. Sharing things that may be small or obselete to others but are important to me that make me smile. I do this in hopes it would make others smile and that it would have them believe that there is nothing else going on with me.

I am a girl of happiness and nostalgia, a sketcher of things that make me smile. I am a girl of awkward small talks and self loathing, a part I don’t like sharing. I am a girl of two faces, and many masks, and I don’t know who the real me is. An internal battle, a tug of war rages inside and I don’t know who will win.

Artist: Jonathan “Jayten” Perucho
Medium: Mixed medium
Instagram: @jaytenart


Sophie – 21 – Newcastle, UK

“Throughout my life I’ve been bullied, harassed and generally just made fun of for the way I look, the things I like, the things I do and the people I love. This got me to a point of really low self esteem. I hated being in my own skin. I hated everyone around me and everything I ever did. I suffered an addiction to self harm, and was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and dissociative identity disorder.

It hasn’t been until very recently I’ve learned to accept who I am and not let other people stop me doing what I love. I’ve found peace within drawing, and became a whole new person from it. I don’t want this to sound like a sob story but it’s who I am. Past events have changed me as a person forever, but now I embrace who I am and love it rather than despise it. I create art to remind myself that whenever there is darkness, there is always light at the end.

No matter how hard it is to find.

Artist: Simon Millar
Medium: Pen
Instagram: @simonmillarart


Joe – 47 – Seville, Ohio, USA

“I’m the youngest of 8 children. I was the first one in my family to earn a college diploma. My parents mortgaged their house every year to put me through school. I borrowed the rest. I never missed a payment and paid every penny back. I should be the poster child for the student loan program.

I’ve been married to the love of my life for 20 years. I love her more today than the day I married her. She has made me the man I am today.

I am the father of three sons and my goal is to raise gentlemen. I almost burst with pride every time someone compliments me on their behavior.

I’m a small town lawyer.  I do my best to offer legal services to my community at a fair price. I also help local organizations become non-profits with charity status with the IRS. I have helped over 20 groups in the last five years. When they finally achieve their goal, I always celebrate by writing the first check.

I consider myself the luckiest man alive!

Artist: Chris Fennell
Medium: Brush pen on paper and digitally coloured
Instagram: @fennellartdesign


Alexandra – 17 – Romania

“Hey, my name’s Alexandra, I’m 17 and I study math and programming in Romania. I was born in Moldova, a small poor country near Romania and well…I’m just satisfied with my life.

Ever since I was little I was involved in all kinds of arts. I’ve been in a musical school for 8 years studying piano and musical theory. I’ve been dancing for the biggest part of my life and I was constantly drawing. Well… my parents are not so happy with the way I am, as I’m always with my head in the clouds, messy, childish, and that brings down my self esteem a lot. I’m an honest person and as an honest person I must say I was judged a lot, as I still am judged a lot.

Being made fun of for being “blonde” and just generally not looking good made me feel really bad as a kid. Then puberty “hit me” and I realized people are so fake, it’s disgusting for me. To escape reality I often played video-games (I still do), drawn characters and made my own world with them, giving them names, backstories and all, or just slept and hope for dreams that help me overcome day to day life.

So art helps me live, and it helps everyone live. Art is constant and art is everywhere, and just the thought of that gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling and it makes me feel like I’m not alone.

Creation is my friend and I love it.

Artist: Eric Rodriguez
Medium: Digital
Instagram: @gunthak


Ashlynn – 22 – Houston, Texas, USA

“I’m a mother of none yet still a mother of two. My “children” are my sisters who live with my workaholic mother and my alcoholic father. At ages 18 & 10, they are both still so impressionable. Hell, I’m only 22. I’m not the best adult but I’ve been forced to be.

I’ve had to be the ear muffs that protect them from the racist and homophobic drunken slurs from my father. I’ve had to be the comfort that they wish they were getting from mom. I’ve had to be the homework helper and the punisher. The good cop and the bad. The mom and the dad…. And the sister still.

I’m the mother of none, yet still the mother of two.”

Artist: Halil Öztunç
Medium: Digital sketch
Instagram: @art_sketch_h.ozt


Sara – 15 – Seoul, South Korea

“I moved to Seoul over a year and a half ago. I started to love the culture, people, and their food. I adapted so well to their culture my friends began to call me Korean. I’d love to fluently speak their language. My favorite food here is called Kimchi, which they eat for almost every meal. I loved It so much that when we got a cat here we named her after that food.”

Artist: Davina Shaio
Medium: Mixed medium
Instagram: @cdeedave


Zoe – 19 – Newcastle, England

“Throughout my childhood life I’ve always had so many ups and downs. Losing my father at the age of 8. And watching my own mother struggle to care for me. My stepdad then had to fight leukaemia which luckily he defeated. I  ended up in care at the age of 13, and had to face the struggle of watching my mother battle Breast Cancer. Art is my way of coping with life and finding who I really am. So seeing everyone’s responses to my portraits will inspire me.

Artist: Carla Rene Sanders
Medium: Copic markers


Jesus – 18 – Houston, Texas, USA

“I’m so excited to attend college! And being the first is a huge accomplishment for me. Before even knowing my parent’s educational background I had my mind made up about continuing my education. There was no questions and no doubts. Both my dad and my mom have been working odd jobs and harsh hours ever since we came to America and work tirelessly to make sure that me and my sister have everything we need to be successful.

They say parents provide for their children everything they didn’t receive from their parents but wanted. I can say that is true. Even though neither of my parents pressured me to go to college they support my decision 100%! Watching them do everything within their power to make our life better pushed me to desire to be great! Earning my degree will not only be one accomplishment that I can be proud of but it serves as a badge of honor for my parents too. My degree will show them that their hard work has paid off. Both have always told me, “I’m raising you to be better than me.” So earning a degree will say to them “This, this is for both of you!” and I can be proud of not only myself but of them as well.

Artist: Darya
Medium: Watercolour
Instagram: @dee_r_holden


Rebe – 22 – Troy, Alabama, USA

“My dream is to one day run a non-profit center that focuses its attention to helping kids with disabilities and disorders keep up in school (like an after-school-care). I myself struggle with a learning disability, depression/anxiety, and Trichotillomania.  I wish I had something like this because it would have helped me greatly. This place would not only serve as a tutoring center, but also have activities and support groups in order to create a safety-net atmosphere.

All I want to do is help people, stand up for people, and be there, because in today’s society… you never know how much kindness there is left. If you are struggling with any kind of disorder or anxiety, and just need someone to talk to, please fill free to talk to me anytime on
instagram: @rebelovesyou
tumblr: daisiesinmayescape

Artist: Stephanie Joy
Medium: Oil pastel
Instagram: @stephaniejoyart


Ayune – 19 – Fortaleza, Brazil

“My dad got sick when I was 10, Alzheimer’s, he pretty much would forget everything, everyone, including himself.
Someone had to help my mom with things so I did, and I don’t regret it. I changed his diapers, gave him showers, changed his bandages, when he go bedsores, helped my mom deciding how to pay the bills with the money we were getting and on top of it, trying to study and be a kid.
I got ill, still am, got depressed, still am, but everything for worst when he died. The most amazing person of this planet. I still have his glasses and watch. Thinking about him, makes me smile most of the time, but then, sometimes, a part of me just dies a little, because is so unfair that he is not here, that I got the tiniest little time with him, that all I got mostly was an adorable baby that I loved unconditionally.
I’ll make my dad proud, my mom as well, winning this fight against this illness and depression, which is also a illness.
I like to think I’m a fighter of the dark shadows of my mind.

Artist: Alana Y
Medium: Coloured pencil
Instagram: @day_day_art


Taz – 29 – Darwin, Australia

“I am a dreamer who hopes to never wake. I balance precariously on a tight rope between the realms of optimism and delusion, ultimately believing that the world is a beautiful place. Have I fallen? Countless times. Do I continue to smile? ~ every day, sometimes through tears, other times with all of my heart, body and soul.

Once upon a time I met a rock who taught me more than I could have imagined. . . unfortunately, I was too foolish to learn from him until he was no longer in my life. The impact he has had on sculpting me into the person I am now is HUGE. I miss him every day but I have forgiven myself and passed beyond regret and longing.

I am proud to be the product of all of my mistakes, some of which have produced my greatest accomplishments. Now is my time to shine. With 2 beautiful children, my life starts now, with them. The world is ours to explore with arms wide open.

Artist: Rachel Way
Medium: Graphite
Instagram: @joyful_lamb_creations


Hope – 19 – Ontario, Canada

“I’ve never really known where I fit in, when I was in elementary school I was bullied for my weight, when I was in high school I was barely noticed. I was the girl with piercings and dyed hair. I was the girl with tattoos who was funny but a little weird. The girl that people would do a double take when I was out in public because I was “different” for the way I looked.

When it came down to it I figured out how to be myself. I’ve learnt that having one or two good friends is a lot better then having 3 or 4 fake friends. I’ve found out that family is something I can never replace and should cherish with every piece of my heart. I have learnt that no matter the judgmental stare or the rude remark of an individual I am the only one who can define me. I’ve worked retail jobs for about 5 years now and I’ve met some pretty mean people along the way, but some really amazing people as well. I’ve made bonds with random people/customers who have cared about me and I about them.

One time I had a man come in to the store and ask me if I was a libra, and I in fact am. He asked me if my birthday was around oct 10th, and then when I said yes asked if it happened to be the fifth. That in fact is my birthday, and he told me he knew because of my eyes. That’s when his granddaughter yelled out “he does that he’s a psychic!” Which totally made my day because I thought nothing so special can happen to someone so regular like me. But that’s when I realized I’m not so regular we are so special in our own way, and that is one of the greatest things about life. I can be a weird/regular tattooed not so punk, girly kind of a woman because I am an individual and I am me.

Artist: Sam Supkow
Medium: Coloured pencils
Instagram: @samsupkowart