Cup of Conversation - Meet the artist, Josie

Cup of Conversation - Meet the artist, Josie

Our latest decent Collaboration series, Cup of Conversation, has been created as a way to support local Mental Health Charity I AM HOPE. With all proceeds from the series going towards I AM HOPE’s continued work in our community assisting young people, aged from 5 to 24 years old, in gaining access to fully funded, professional mental health support and counselling. 

Because right now, three families lose a loved one to suicide every two days in New Zealand. These figures can no longer be ignored or swept under the carpet by those who champion the ‘stay silent on suicide’ mantra currently in effect across Aotearoa.

Most of us know from personal experience that one of the worst parts about suffering from depression is the absolute loneliness and helplessness of it all. Cup of Conversation is about generating awareness and encouraging regular conversation about mental health with friends, colleagues and strangers. With the hope of empowering our communities through conversation and education, encouraging others to become an integral part of the solution, driving the intergenerational attitudinal social change needed to reverse the incidence of suicide and depression we’re currently experiencing. 

Because conversations about mental health should be as common as your daily coffee routine.


Meet the artists: Josie

Josie, one of three artists behind the Innocent Collaboration series, Cup of Conversation, talks to us about her inspiration behind her cup design, her 9-5 role as a Microbiology Laboratory Technician and on her recent discovery of how prevalent mental health issues have been in her own family members.

Hi Josie, tell us a bit about yourself. 

Hello, I’m Josie! I’m 23, deaf in one ear, have a pet lizard called Nigel and I love being outside in nature. I’ve been doodling on anything and everything for as long as I can remember- my school books, my legs, my walls, my parent’s important work documents… oops. 

I think my drawing style is that of classic cartoons, except I like filling up space to the brim and putting my own spin on things. To me, art has always been a form of escapism - It’s relaxing, absorbing and satisfying. Although I pursued art all through high school, it was only ever a hobby. It was just a form of study procrastination during my BSc.

However, this all changed during my fourth year at University when my friend Millie commissioned me to create a personalized beer-bottle label for her boyfriend’s birthday. Suddenly I had this super cool brief in my hands, sense of purpose, and a real end-product for my art. It was the push I needed. 

Fast forward two years, and I’ve steadily dedicated more time and effort to my art ‘side hustle’, and I’ve traded the shitty felt tips for Adobe programs (Shout out to Roisin and Matt for teaching me how to use Photoshop and Illustrator, you guys are the real MVPs!). 

How would you describe your artist style in three words: 

Colourful, crowded, goofy 

What was the inspiration behind your Cup of Conversation design? 

People often refer to their experience with mental health issues as a struggle, a fight. It’s likened to a battle. An ocean can become rough and dangerous in a storm, and a mental illness can also be life-threatening. I tried to visualise the feeling like you are drowning. Many shipwreck survivors describe the sensation of sheer hopelessness when lost at sea; the overwhelming size and power of the ocean. And I could imagine that this is how many people with mental illness might feel too.

However, I also wanted my design to convey hope by making the metaphor of ‘reaching out’ literal. If people are made aware that you’re drowning, they can pull you out, get you to land, pat you dry. Rescue is always possible. But for those that are right there in the storm surge, it can be hard to keep your head above the surface. Sometimes all your energy is dedicated to treading water. This is why I added ‘check-in’- it needs to go both ways. We can’t just rely on those struggling to make noise, we need to make sure our mates are still safe on the sand, not stuck in a rip. 

The Cup of Conversation is a campaign dedicated to generating awareness and sparking conversation about our mental health and how we are feeling. Why is this important to you? 

I consider myself to be extremely lucky in the sense that I’ve never experienced mental illness. Regardless, removing the taboo of openly talking about our mental health should be important for anyone who cares about anyone, so.. essentially everyone.

I watched depression plague my boyfriend at the time and a few of my friends. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I learned about how prevalent mental health issues have been in my family members, both immediate and extended. This was never, ever discussed when I was growing up. It was a massive shock when one of my sisters revealed she had been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. I had no idea. I often wonder how different things may have been if we all checked in on each other more.

If someone close to you is down, how would you try to cheer them?

Hugs, snacks, chats

How would you describe your workspace?

In my eyes, as long as there is a flat surface, good lighting and a reasonably comfy chair, it can pass as a workspace. My usual spot is at the kitchen bench though.

Who or what has influenced your style and designs most?

I feel like I’ve just been developing the style I adopted when doodling as a kid, which was heavily inspired by comic books, cartoon shows and fiction novels - especially the Jacqueline Wilson series illustrated by Nick Sharrat. Being a visual learner, I’ve also always appreciated the drawing style seen in ASAP Science and the original SciShow with Hank Green. I also admire the fruity work by Jeremy Pettis. 

When you’re not designing, what are you doing? 

For the last 15 months, I’ve been working as a Microbiology laboratory technician but I’m just about to start a new employment adventure in Ecology and Environmental Monitoring! Beyond art and the 9-5 grind, you’ll find me working on my van or hanging out with my reptilian son Nigel.

Somewhere that you’ve never been to in Aotearoa that you’d like to visit? 

The Catlins

What’s something that relaxes you when you’re feeling stressed? 

My only PG-13 answer to this is a cup of tea. Or a shower. 

What’s the last thought that kept you awake at night?

~Insert the vivid memory of anything embarrassing I’ve done in my 23 years here~ There’s plenty to choose from, at least one for every night of the week hahaha 

Do you have any strange and completely irrational fears? 


What’s your idea of heaven?

An endless summer holiday with my friends, with a healthy bank account, a steady supply of potato chips, stacks of music festivals and right-breaking waves to surf every day.

What is something you’re excited about at the moment? 

Renovating my van into the ultimate self-contained, surf-seeking camper and taking her down south to Rhythm and Alps.

By purchasing from the Cup of Conversation series you'll be directly supporting your vulnerable young community. 


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