Posted by Elena del Valle on January 17, 2019
You Can Do All Things
Photos: Kate Allan
Has the New Year got you down? We all know someone who could use a pick me up. California artist Kate Allan does too. Many times drawing and being kind to herself helps her feel better. Her first book, You Can Do All Things (Mango, $22.99), is filled with 187 colorful drawings of animals and plants as well as words of encouragement for anyone suffering from anxiety and depression.
“I’m an artist and writer who has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life,” she said by email when asked about the book. “Both illnesses have set me back in a variety of ways; I learned to drive, had my first relationship, and got my degree later than my peers. So, I wanted to create a book of all the things I’ve learned along the way, everything that kept me going— whether it was calming myself through a small worry about not being good enough, to diffusing an intense preoccupation with suicide. The biggest lesson for me has been that self compassion and understanding will carry you through the worst of life, so most of the book’s messages are about validation, encouragement, and kindness.”
The 201-page hardcover book published in 2018 is made up mostly of color full page drawings in pages without page numbers, accompanied by short text. Examples of the inspirational messages include: “No one else knows what they're doing either. It's all going to turn out fine; No negativity today. You're gettin' work done! everything will work out, you'll see.” In the conclusion she shares self help ideas such as creating something or de-cluttering.
Kate Allan drawings
“All of my book is written by someone who has been through the same struggles,” she said. “I argue my negative thoughts and turn those arguments into captions. Somehow it can feel more legitimate to hear something like, “you’re not failing, anxiety lies” coming from a sparkly purple cat rather than a person. Not sure why, but I’m rolling with it!
It’s all about challenging those insidious thoughts that bring us down, and I think that is the unfortunate commonality we share, no matter what gender or age.”
“I was a bit lucky that most of the book’s content had been created before my publisher Mango came along— I have always wanted to create a book of my writings and illustrations, and it was really just about waiting for the right opportunity,” she said regarding the publication timeline. “Mango contacted me in February 2018, and it was all put together by July.”
Regarding the artwork she said, “My process is that I sketch in pencil, looking at various reference photos online. Then I do the digital line work, coloring, and lettering in Paint Tool SAI and Photoshop.”
Her way of measuring success? “I just want the book to be helpful. I’ve created something that represents all the work I’ve done over the course of my life to succeed despite mental illness, and I hope that work will benefit others as well.”
Kate Allan, author, You Can Do All Things
Allan has been making a living as an artist for several years, partially through a shop where her artwork is sold, and partially through support by Patreon members. She is also the creator of the mental health art blog, The Latest Kate.
Click to buy You Can Do All Things