#CompulsiveCharcoal: Free Art for Commuters


I'm widely known for my #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 I graffitied a newspaper left on the seat beside me. Slowly it evolved to become a daily action wherever I am. I now create and give away about 60 drawings on average each day. A year on, that’s in excess of 10,000 free drawings so far!


Drawing is one of my greatest tools for recovery as it helps me to channel the energy of my Compulsive Skin Picking disorder. I carry a small piece of charcoal in my pocket wherever I am and draw to refocus my fingers and 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 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 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.


Each recipient of a drawing receives a postcard explaining the condition and why I’m drawing, which encourages them to share the drawing on Instagram or Twitter with the #CompulsiveCharcoal. 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 more than 400 #CompulsiveCharcoal drawings in Singapore, part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival: Art & Skin. In Singapore alone I am estimated to have had 6,500 encounters with people who witnessed me drawing during my 11 day stay...