You’ve probably seen her work before on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a multitude of other social media sites; her artwork is as distinctive as it is honest and revealing.

Ruby, 21, has been making art since she dropped out of school at 17. She started a blog talking about “…Therapists, failing my driving test and my sister’s bloody hamster… I was just writing about my mental health problems on a blog and thought accompanying them with illustrations might be fun”.

In that time she’s gained a significant following. Her blog, Oh be shh now, documents her experiences with bipolar disorder and how is has affected her life. With, of course, a generous helping of amusing comics and illustrations. She isn’t afraid to talk openly about mental health issues.

“I hope that by talking about my illness in my own context, and mixed in with the frustrations and fears we all experience as people I might possibly help close the gap between ‘illness’ and ‘wellness’ in my own mind and maybe the mind of others”.explode

Whilst making illustrations and comics to go along with her writing she discovered that by using art to give her feelings context it went someway to helping her cope.

When asked if she finds it hard opening up about her health and feelings on the internet, she admits that there are always trolls and those with stigmatised views, but doesn’t really find it difficult. Fearlessness and perhaps a small dose of luck.

“I think because I talk about everything so candidly and without fear of rebuke people don’t have the guts to question it a lot of the time? I’m not sure if that’s the case or whether I’ve just been lucky”.

On the flip side, the vast majority of people are positive and supportive.

“I’ve found there are far more people that go ‘Yeah! Me too!’ … I also get an overwhelming amount of lovely and thoughtful messages both of support and people saying my art has cheered them up or inspired them to write and draw about their own mental health issues”.

It’s clear that bipolar disorder heavily influences her artwork but she’s keen to point out that, although she draws on her experience, it’s important not to be defined by it.

“I want to view myself as an artist, or writer, or person who makes stuff and also happens to suffer from mental illness”.

It doesn’t take a long look at Ruby’s work to see the potential for a book. A Roald Dahl-Quentin Blake style book, perhaps?

“I think I’m way too much of an amateur to be commissioned as a professional illustrator! It’s a lovely thought though, I secretly really hope that one day I’ll be able to publish a book of my own writing and cartoons.

“I’ve always been drawn to illustrators like Quentin Blake and more recently those I’ve discovered online like Anne Emond and Stephen Collins. It feels more accessible to me in the same way I enjoy impressionist/post-impressionist painters like Matisse and Van Gogh”.

Throughout the hard, raw, and sometimes alarming art, there’s also a sense of silliness and humour that truly encapsulates Ruby’s breadth of work and talent.

Maybe that in itself is an honesty rarely shown.

 

You can find Ruby online at:

rubyetc.tumblr.com
society6.com/rubyetc
beshhnow.blogspot.com