Artful agony spoon

Spoonie Guest Artist: Nicole a.k.a. @artful_agony

Welcome to my second Spoonie Guest Artist post. I started following Nicole on Instagram because I fell in love with her gloriously sarcastic and painfully funny collage art. Her work is one of the reasons I started this series.

My name is Nicole (@artful_agony on Instagram), and I am a Canadian transplant living in Sydney, Australia.

Artful agony Saturday night

Ever since I was a little kid I loved making art. Give me a box of crayons and I was as happy as a pig in shit. Then, in grade five, my art teacher gave me a C on my report card.

Map of worries

My deep insecurity and need for praise won out over my love of creating art. I stuck instead to writing and other things I was ‘good’ at. It wasn’t until I was working in the mental health field and often attending art groups with my clients that I rediscovered my love of art.

Rinse off toxic beliefs like conditioner

I’m completely self-taught in visual art. I studied digital media when I was younger and I am an occupational therapist. I also have a masters degree in creative writing so I will be working on ‘my novel’ until the day I die.


I suspect I have had traces of fibromyalgia since I got mononucleosis in my late teens. But the symptoms seemed to worsen after I had cancer in my early 30s and really amped up when I became burnt out at work last year.

Jogging for fibromyalgia

I’ve only ever been diagnosed by my GP, so I’m not sure it’s even a true diagnosis. I think it’s still written off as ‘lady malaise’ in Australia and I have many hoops left to jump through to get to the bottom of it.

Must be a case of hypochondria

My therapist said I should keep a worry journal about my health. My inner perfectionist always wreaks havoc with my attempts at written journaling because I expect it to be perfect. So I decided to try keeping a visual journal. I posted what I made to Instagram and the project took on a life of its own.

Machine that allows doctors to feel my pain

Creating art for social media helps me to connect with people who are experiencing similar things, so it has been really helpful for recovering my mental health in the wake of physical pain.

Ultrasound close up

I hope to grow my skills and keep creating daily. I’ve had several opportunities to collaborate with people through social media, and I’m just hoping to keep going with that momentum. Obviously, I’d like to earn some money from it eventually, especially since I’m not able to work a full-time job at the moment. I’ve recently opened an online store selling prints and I hope to grow that as well.

I have a hard time sitting at my desk for too long due to my pain. I have to make sure I work in small doses, which can be discouraging, as I love nothing more than getting into the flow of creativity.

Physiotherapist map of musculature

I find creative flow can be a great pain reliever, to get lost in something other than my own symptoms for a while. I try to have things I can do from bed so that my creative outlets aren’t entirely dependent on feeling “well.” I have an iPad and the Procreate app, which I’m learning to use. I love it because I can make things while lying down! My pain is the reason I spend my days creating, rather than commuting and working, so while it can be a barrier it is also the greatest facilitator of my art.

You can find Nicole on Instagram @artful_agony

Check out her amazing shop and blog for more cool images and prints!

Stay tuned for more Spoonie Artist Guest Posts! I will be doing them once a month or once every two months, except for Lyme Awareness Month in May when I hope to have two or even three! Please check out my first guest post by Alexandra Baker (yourachingart_m.e.).

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Hi! I'm Vicki. My blog is called "Miss Diagnoses" because I have too many diagnoses and because my Lyme disease was misdiagnosed for many years. In addition to being a professional patient, I'm a compulsive reader and doodler. Sadly, my writing and drawing are limited by repetitive strain injury and neuropathy. I use assistive technology, but I can't post as often as I'd like. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and I have two short cartoon videos on YouTube. Twitter and Instagram: @miss_diagnoses Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube: @MissDiagnoses

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