Penny Redshaw Creates Motivating Giraffe to Illustrate Mental Illness and Connect With Others


Penny Redshaw, an artist from Australia, wants to help those living with mental illnesses feel less alone. Her Instagram account, Motivating Giraffe, features posts about a giraffe who struggles with mental illness and his pig friend who supports him.

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At the time Redshaw started her account, she said she was “quite mentally unwell,” spending most of her time in her bedroom with the lights off and curtains drawn. Redshaw began doodling to pass the time and eventually conceptualized the giraffe account to reconnect with the real world in a way she said she “desperately needed.”

Most of the illustrations are inspired by people in Redshaw’s life — either through things they say to her or things she wishes she could say to them. While some drawings are bright and cheerful, others are somber and sad. “I try not to be disingenuous,” Redshaw said, “in that it’s impossible to make every illustration a hopeful and positive one because nobody feels that way all the time, even cartoon giraffes.”

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While Redshaw says her favorite piece changes about once a week, her current pick is a hopeful piece featuring a quote from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” “I really like the way the artwork came together but the words are the special thing to me,” Redshaw told The Mighty. “I know so many people who are lights and I don’t think they realize it. It’s nice to be told that you are significant and it’s important to be able to say it to others.”

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Redshaw hopes that those following Motivating Giraffe can see the account’s simple messages for what they are. “You can do this,” she said. “It’s okay to try again tomorrow. I am here for you. We will get through these things together.”

Redshaw also encourages others to use art and other passions as a creative outlet for expression. “If you find something that helps you…try not to listen to those who will say these things are not worth your time or energy,” she added. “The world desperately needs creators and artists and people who can put colors on canvas and say ‘This is me.’”

Not only does Motivating Giraffe inspire others, but as its creator, Redshaw says the account has given her more confidence. “I found my voice in this project, and mostly I try to be the kind of person I hope to meet in others,” Redshaw said. ”This includes hard conversations about mental health but it also includes encouraging strangers who might need it, joking with retail staff who are having a long day and singing along to the happy birthday song to people in restaurants.”

To see more of Redshaw’s work, follow Motivating Giraffe on Instagram.


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