Interviews
Art Is The Cure – Interview with Rich Simmons

It’s a known fact that, for some, art is a fantastic form of release. Art Is The Cure, a movement set up by Rich Simmons, focuses on the benefits of art as a self-therapy. Cat On The Wall talked to Rich to find out how it all started…

Cat On The Wall: How did the idea for Art Is The Cure come about? What is the concept?

Rich Simmons:

I learnt about art therapy from using it first hand when I was going through problems when I was 18. Art helped to relax me, I could get lost in it and I felt better afterwards. It was the release I needed to stop me turning to negatives like self harming or drink and drugs. At the time I didn’t realise it was art therapy that I was using but it saved my life.

I told a girl in America my story on msn after she enquired about my paintings. I told her how they helped me to deal with things which is why there was so much emotion in them. I found out a few days later that this girl was suicidal but learning about using art as a way to deal with things saved her life. I realised if I could save one girl’s life without even trying, then what could I achieve if I turned this
into a project which helped thousands of people.

COTW: AITC now has many street teams across the world. What is the role of the street teams?

RS:

The street teams are all set up and run by people who are passionate about AITC. I give them the opportunity to tell their own story and promote this message in their own communities. It allows them to get their friends involved on a more personal level and gives them creative freedom to promote AITC in a fun way that they enjoy doing. It empowers them, they have the motivation to do AITC justice and they find confidence in their own ability to help people.

COTW: Art therapy is not very high on the government’s mental health agenda in the UK, in fact a lot of art therapy centres are being closed down due to lack of funding. What is your view on this?

RS:

Art therapy saves lives; it can be done by anyone because creativity is such a vast term. AITC inspires people to use art therapy in their own way, in their own time and in their own style. It gives people control over their problems and acts as a key to unlock them when they feel trapped. I think this message of hope, inspiration and strength should be a nationwide campaign. If the government realised just how powerful this movement and idea is and how easy it is to help people through art then they would change their minds about funding art therapy projects.


COTW: What advice would you give to someone who feels they have no artistic skills? How could AITC help them?

RS:

Art comes in so many forms that anyone can find a creative outlet. It is not about creating masterpieces, it is about having a creative release of emotion and getting it out of their system before it becomes too much to handle and is dealt with in a negative way. I’ve heard stories from people who just fill up a jar with paint and throw it at a canvas helps them because that release of energy and seeing the drips and colours is an adrenaline rush. Just scribbling words on a page of paper can be an art form; you’re just substituting colours for words. Picking up a guitar and writing a song is an art form, going for a skate is an art form, cooking something is an art form. If it engages your imagination then whatever you do can be an artistic release.

COTW: Do you feel AITC could be applied to any age group? It seems that it attracts a lot of teenagers and young adults.

RS:

Art can be produced by people of any age. Creativity is the only thing which is timeless. It goes beyond age, language, religion, race or sex. It is a universal idea and AITC can be applied to anyone.

It has really hit a chord with teenagers and young adults because I think those are the most testing years we go through. There are a lot of changes, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of things to deal with that can lead to problems. Being creative and using art is a great way to deal with that and a lot of people have begun to support that.


COTW: What can we expect from AITC in the near future?

RS:

I’ve recently signed a deal with goodie two sleeves clothing in LA to produce a line of AITC merchandise which we are looking to launch into shops this year. I’m also in the process of booking tours and events which I will go to and give talks at. I will also be working with the world famous artist David Garibaldi soon on developing a style of performance painting which I can do at shows and events in the future. Lots of exciting things to get people excited about art and using it as their cure.

Art Is The Cure on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/artisthecure

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