Artwork / Everything’s Fine

volcano heart erupting with a switch turned to “on,” a representation of emotional dysregulation, illustration by mental health artist Gwenn Seemel two grey seahorses (part horse and part fish creatures) with an alarming cupcake and two almond tree branches water striders skimming space, illustration by mental health artist Gwenn Seemel soap bubbles filled with COVID floating over a porcupine, a representation of pandemic anxiety pink plastic flamingos surrounding a tired real flamingo, surrealist art by Gwenn Seemel grey octopus, holding a rainbow eyeball balloon, surrealist art about mental health chickadee singing a garbled version of themselves, surrealist art about mental health slot machine robot with a heart for an activation button, reels that show angry face emojis, and coins that are sad face emojis spilling out cats marching band that obviously doesn’t work, surrealist art about mental health pink woolly mammoth balancing on a ball and holding helium-filled balloons a field of daffodils, but two of the flowers are monstrous figures hiding amongst the blossoms, surreal art skeleton with a chick on top of its skull holding a paintbrush and contemplating things, mental health illustration by surrealist artist Gwenn Seemel a black-and-white panda that’s half white-and-black holding a clapperboard upside, art about all-or-nothing thinking one thorny rose and one smooth-stemmed rose with a thorny thought bubble, surrealist art figure with a multi-colored column of traffic lights for a head two coyotes singing rainbows, one with a black hole where her heart should be figure made up of measuring tape with a scale for a face, holding a bank statement and phone with all their zeroes on social media airplane Earth is crashing and the oxygen mask comes down, but the dragonfly can’t use it, illustration about solastalgia and help that doesn’t help flying fish with an anchor attached to its tail

When a deadly airborne virus whose longterm impact is still to be determined has taken over the world, hugging becomes a risk. When systemic racism and misogyny remain as all-pervasive as ever, connecting feels impossible. And when the political divide is no longer between left and right, but between democracy and xenophobic authoritarianism, people have a hard time remembering that we’re far more similar than we are different.

Amidst all the divisions, art is a necessity, just like air, water, food, shelter, and health care. It’s the love of other humans made tangible across space and time. When a person can’t get a hug from a friend, art is there to make them feel seen and understood. It opens them up to new worlds, helping them to get outside of their own narrow experience, allowing them to become better and more loving.

And that’s only more true when it’s art about mental health. With Everything’s Fine, I want to make it clear that I know that everything’s not. I don’t want anyone to think they’re the only one struggling with anxiety, depression, or trauma.

These images are a starting place. “I feel like this,” you might say, pointing to one in particular. You could use a postcard of the painting as a bookmark or a digital image as a smartphone background—private reminders that at least one other person, AKA me, has felt like you.

You might even use your favorite image as a profile pic or hang a poster where everyone can see it on your next video call. You can speak through these paintings. Instead of struggling to find the right words, these artworks can help you show others how you feel.

Or maybe they can help you figure out how to describe what’s going on in your head. They might be the beginning of a conversation and a path to a better balance in your life. Maybe these paintings will inspire you to make your own art about what you’re going through.

However you use it, Everything’s Fine is meant to belong to you as much as it belongs to me. That’s true of all my work—I place all my images directly in the public domain, free for use by anybody for any reason, without asking permission first—but it’s especially true of this project. These images were designed with you in mind, both because I need to feel like I’m not alone and because I want you to feel that connection as well.

Everything’s Fine coloring book page
coloring book page by Gwenn Seemel
Thank you to everyone who’s supporting this project!

After running a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the work, I’m in the process of turning these paintings into a coloring book.

My blog is the best place to find updates about the project—you can sign up to receive emails whenever I put up a new post.

Everything’s Fine at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey
photo by Gwenn Seemel

Everything’s Fine has been exhibited twice in New Jersey: at the Passaic County Arts Center in Hawthorne in May 2023 and at the Princeton Public Library in September 2023.

development for Gwenn Seemel’s series Everything’s Fine was made possible by the Puffin Foundation Ltd