#CompulsiveCharcoal: Free Art for Commuters


I'm widely known for my free 1 minute #CompulsiveCharcoal drawings on discarded newspapers, which have taken me from London to New York, and most recently Singapore!


This series began when I ran out of a sketchbook on a journey from South to North London in Oct 2015 and to stop my skin picking and a panic attack from happening, I graffitied a discarded newspaper left on the seat beside me. Slowly this has evolved to become a daily action wherever I am. I now create and give away about 60 drawings on average each day. I've given away more than 17,000 free drawings so far!


Drawing is one of my greatest tools for recovery, and I often carry a small piece of charcoal in my pocket, so I can draw wherever I am. Drawing helps me to channel the energy of my Compulsive Skin Picking disorder, to refocus my fingers and relax my mind. The process is fast, each one takes about a minute. I give the drawings away to fellow passengers near me in the carriage or a bus as a simple act of kindness, but also as advocacy for Compulsive Skin Picking and mental health. It’s a common, but rarely talked about disorder. As many as 1 in 25 might suffer, so it’s likely you may know someone battling with this illness in private. It dominated my life for more than 2 decades. I’m committed to raising the profile and destigmitising it wherever I am.


Everytime I create Compulsive Charcoal drawings I hand out free postcards to others in the carriage as well as the recipient of a drawing. This explains the condition, and encourages people to join in by sharing the postcard or drawing on Instagram or Twitter with the #CompulsiveCharcoal. The ripple effect of people finding out about Compulsive Skin Picking through this process has been incredible, and the series has gained lots of momentum. I've given away my drawings on the New York Subway, and in January 2017, I gave away my #CompulsiveCharcoal drawings in Singapore on the Metro as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival: Art & Skin.