Your mental health can take a bashing when you least expect it. There you are, sailing along quite happily through life and then… wham! Something happens (and it can often seem quite minor) and suddenly it's life Jim, but not as you knew it.
It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor; a chief or a minion; quiet and unassuming or loud and boisterous; and not having had any problems in the past doesn't mean you might not be vulnerable in the future. A problem with mental health was not something that had ever occurred to Jamie Stockley, Art Director for the US stop-motion animation show Norman Pickle Stripes. He tells us how art helped him out of a situation he never thought he'd be in in the first place…
'I have worked with several Manchester animation companies for 11 years on various children’s series, pilots and films, most notably the pre-school show The Clangers for which we won a BAFTA . I started out as a runner, then prop maker, puppet maker, set builder and character designer to where I am now. Then Lockdown happened. Initially I considered myself very lucky to have been furloughed, but as the months ticked by and uncertainty set in, my mental health took a hit.
'To have never felt anxiety without a reason (like, say, for a job interview), it knocked me for six. I was unable to get through a day without being gripped by panic and worry. I could not understand why I was feeling like this, having worked for years on high pressure shows and guest speaking each year in college auditoriums filled with students.
'With work so uncertain, I turned to illustration and began to doodle for myself. It helped a little, but the worry of having no nine to five still got the better of me until an opportunity arose to doodle a mural in my friend’s new business venture - a craft beer taphouse. I had never doodled anything of this scale before, so found myself scrolling through Cult Pens’ vast array of POSCA pens in all shapes and sizes. The admiration I received for the mural was insane, and from the back of that came more murals: for a café, chicken shop, American sweet shop and a few children’s bedrooms. I even have a collaboration to create doodle masks where I provide the artwork which is then embroidered.
'The drawings pulled me back from what I was struggling with, right in time to return to work!'
Follow Jamie on Instagram to see his latest work: @jaystockers
17 November 2020