Let’s face it, 2020 hasn’t been kind to any of us. There’s been a lot of talk about the impact on the nation’s mental health but those of us who have been mad for a long time will know that talk doesn’t mean anything. With another impending recession and increasing unemployment on the horizon, we hold our breath, knowing what will follow: even more cuts to already decimated mental health services; more welfare reforms that target those of us still reeling from the last government onslaught.
On top of all this we have the impending doom that is ‘CHRISTMAS’. Like many people who struggle with mental health difficulties, I am not a fan of Christmas. In fact, I begin dreading it around the end of August every year. So, Christmas during a global pandemic doesn’t really fill me with festive joy. I feel like 2020 can get in the sea as far as it’s concerned; that is if there is any sea to be found these days amidst the 20 billion disposable plastic masks.
Many of us will be wondering what Christmas will look like this year. Another lockdown? How big can my bubble be? Will I have to pretend everything is fine? Will I catch coronavirus whilst out shopping for that perfect gift for aunt Ethel? (We all know if Ethel doesn’t like it then I’ll have clearly ruined Christmas for everyone, or so the myth goes).
So, rather than put myself through the yearly agony of trying to make everyone else happy, I’ve decided to do Christmas a bit differently this year. I’m going to do a bit of good AND make myself happy. I’m also going to avoid trawling round shops in a sweat-ridden mask, freaking out about the fact the whole world looks as though they’ve turned into characters from Mortal Kombat.
So many people with mental health difficulties have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic; this is especially true for mad arts and crafts folk. Many crafters are self-employed or run small businesses to top up what little income they receive from the government. I’ve decided that I’m going to buy ALL of my Christmas presents for people through these sellers this year.
I thought this was one of my better ideas (many terrible ideas also exist if you’re interested), so I teamed up with MadCovid to share all of the great sellers I’ve found so far. If you only have the energy to do one good thing this year, please, please support these fantastic mad arts and crafters*
Cards, Prints, Self-Care Boxes And Other Craft Goods
Probably one of the best self-care gift package shops I’ve ever seen. Shop owner Amy writes on her blog, ‘..after I graduated from university, I became very ill. I’ve had mental health issues for a long as I can remember, but this was a full-on totally debilitating burn out after years of stress and trying to do too much. Everything changed after this, my ability to work (gone) my physical and mental health (gone) and my plans for the future (you guessed it!) For a long time I tried to get back to how I was, to be able to do all the things I thought I should be able to do, to be a ‘normal adult’ again. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been possible.’
Storybookcafegifts, has a really wide range of gift boxes, including boxes tailor made for people who identify with certain mental health disorders such as PTSD or depression. Some of these boxes come with carefully selected second-hand books. They contain a wide range of products like chocolate, soy candles, flavoured teas, oils and soaps. Do make sure you check out StoryBookCafeGifts range of advent gifts, I especially love the ’25 days of self care’ one. https://etsy.me/2wLbgXF
Bibi is a designer-maker in Manchester living with long-term mental health and physical health difficulties. Bibi sells a range of artistic goods such as digital art prints, cards and handspun newspaper yarn products. https://folksy.com/shops/goodnewsfrombad
Rachel sells a range of artistic goods such as Christmas cards, zines, badges and original poster prints. Rachels gifts are politically witty and insightful and she often draws her magnificent assistance dog Kel for inspiration. Check out her shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/rachelrowanolive
Lucy Britton is a queer, disabled, mental artist. Lucy makes left-wing items and other pretty art pieces such as art prints, Christmas decorations, pins and fridge magnets. Lucy also researches disability history. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheArtOrchardByLucy
Cathryn is a London-based artist and illustrator originally from Yorkshire. Cathryn makes beautiful greeting cards and art prints. Cathryn struggles with mental health issues and M.E/C.F.S. cathrynworrell.com
Ben sells a range of goodies including stickers, badges and greeting cards. His main shop is here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/doodlesbyben
Ben also does incredible water-coloured pet portraits. Check them out here.
Hannah Daisy identifies as a Feminist, queer, Cat and Squirrel Lover as well as an artist and illustrator. Hannah makes a range of really beautiful and validating, mental health related cards, badges and prints. Check out Hannah’s shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/hannahdaisy
Jamie is an Illustrator and comic maker based in Scotland. Jamie sells zines, badges and prints which help to foster awareness around difficult or sensitive subjects. https://www.etsy.com/uk/people/beeesoup
Crafty Clare makes all kinds of crafty goods including facemasks, mugs, Christmas cards and decorations. Check out Clares facebook shop here: https://www.facebook.com/Crafty-Clare-100620414727519/
Libby-Mae Ford is a Welsh based artist. Libby sells original artwork as well as badges, stickers and prints.
Cara is a mental health nurse who has also experienced mental illness for most of their life. Cara wanted to start up a little shop to spread some awareness and positivity. Cara also found creative activities an incredibly useful outlet for their mental health.Cara makes a wide ranges of gifts such as earrings, bags, sweatshirts, emboidery hoops and journals. Cara also makes bespoke pocket boxes on request. Check out Cara’s shop here:
Sally Ann’s crafts are simply gorgeous. Sally-Ann makes a range of unique gifts such as hand decorated flower bottle lamps, recycled pallet wood coasters and laminated art prints. Perfect presents for loved ones this year. Check out Sally’s shop here:
Roxxy makes a really lovely range of wax and soy candles as well as cute plushies and gifts using dried flowers. My favourite is their rose quartz skull candle in candyfloss. The dried flower pendants are also spectacular. Check out Roxxy’s shop here: https://www.galacticxtears.co.uk/products
Becci sells nature themed hand-painted woodslice pieces as well as original artworks. Check out Becci’s shop here:
As well as doing commissioned pet portraits, Abigail also sells hand-painted, woodslice decorations as well as original art prints. Check out her shop here:
Molly is an extremely gifted artist specialising in illustrations and drawings. Molly documents life with personality disorder with the aims to reducing the stigma, misunderstanding & loneliness of mental illness. Molly sells original drawings as well as credit card size motivational gifts. Check out her shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DoodleChronicles
Erin at BohoBeans started writing as an outlet for their mental health. Erin found that over time, arts and crafts really helped with their mental illnesses as well physical ones. Erin creates unique handmade necklaces, check out bohobeans shop here:
Harriet is a Brighton based artist selling a large selection of gifts including stickers (dogs and mental health related!) as well as keyrings, badges, greeting cards and art prints. Check out Harriet’s shop here:
Amaranthia Sepia defines as a black comic artist with a focus on mental health activism. Amaranthia Sepia sells designs from their series “Emo Bunny” and fun designs in general! Part of the proceeds of certain t-shirts and designs go to charity. Check out Ama Sepia’s shop here:
Emma specialises in taking animal portraits. Emma also uses photography which fuses photographs with digital processes to create fine art images. Check out Emma’s shop here:
Emma is a fine art and therapeutic photographer using a range of different photographic mediums and genres including: landscape, portraiture, still life, nature, film, digital, colour, black and white, pinhole, 35mm and 120 medium format film (analogue.) Emma’s photographic reflects her special interests including mental health, childhood/parenthood, the natural world, faith and Christianity, surrealism, comedy and satire. Check out Emma’s shop here:
Owl and bee co is run by artist Amanda Fraser. Amanda sells candles, bath salts and letterbox gifts related to self care. Owl and bee also sell fabulous well-being, self-care gift boxes which are absolutely perfect as Christmas presents. Check out the shop here:
Jewellery And Keychains
Morgan is an artist and blogger who suffers with multiple mental health and chronic illnesses. A portion of the proceeds from each sale that Morgan makes is donated to Ehlers Danlos Support U.K. Morgan makes Handmade awareness gifts, bracelets and key chains. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ChronicCreationsGB
Jodie Lee – Charmed I’m Sure
Jodie Lee makes fun and interesting jewellery, including all kinds of themes from holidays to animal crossing. There’s something here for everyone. I really love Jodie’s coffin shaped sparkly earrings, because I’m dark and twisty like that, especially at Christmas. Check out Jodie’s shop here:
Black Heart Creatives
Charlotte at Black Heart Creatives sells incredible custom made, statement, laser-cut acrylic jewellery. Check out her page for perfect Christmas gifts here:
Raechyl (RaRa) make colourful and joyful ceramic products that aim to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. RaRa also makes cards and wooden hanging signs. I am big fan of the cute colourful ceramic trinket dish which says ‘Embrace your own pace’ – such a great little message to remind myself of everyday, especially over the holidays! Check out RaRaMadeIt’s shop here:
Polly Put The Kettle On is a family-run business based in Nottinghamshire, England. They sell personalised and hand-painted ceramic goods. https://www.etsy.com/shop/PutTheKettleOnPolly
Art, Books and Artists who take commissions
Dolly is an award-winning writer, artist, performer and filmmaker. She has had 10 books published. Her subversive blogs around art, disability and humour have a huge international following. Check out Dolly’s work here and definitely add one of her very funny books to your Christmas list this year!
Visual artist based in London. Liz has skin picking disorder and is famous for her creative charcoal portraits of people which she gives away for free to people on London underground. Check out her work here: http://www.lizatkin.com/
Rudolph is a Hackney based Author and illustrator. Check out his latest artbook here: https://www.blurb.co.uk/b/1737109-pantomime
*Please note that this list is collated from recommendations either directly from artists or from people who recommended artists listed. If you see a mistake with one of our listings (including misgendering) please do get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll rectify this ASAP. Also let us know if you are a Mad Artist or Crafter and would like to be included in this list!
Some other ideas how you can make a difference this Christmas
If buying gifts and trinkets isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of other ways you can make a direct impact on the lives of some of those who are disproportionately impacted by this dire pandemic situation this Christmas.
Firstly you could donate to the MadCovid fund. This fund is for mentally ill/neurodiverse people in the UK who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. We are offering grants up to £200 to individuals in the community, and staff on psychiatric wards for OT activities.
Donate to Christmas for CAMHS. Christmas for CAMHS aims to provide Christmas gifts every year for children and young people who are inpatients in child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) wards across the UK over the Christmas holiday period. Find out more here: https://www.christmasforcamhs.org.uk/
Donate to BEAM. Help a homeless Londoner during the pandemic. Coronavirus has made homeless people even more vulnerable. Fund emergency care packages for homeless people today. Donate here: https://beam.org/coronavirus
Donate to WISH. Wish is the only national, user-led charity working with women with mental health needs in prison, hospital and the community. Wish provides independent advocacy, emotional support and practical guidance at all stages of a woman’s journey through the mental health and criminal justice system. Find out more here: https://www.womenatwish.org.uk/get-involved/