The Artidote; an account that is famously reviewed on social media was created by Curator Jovanny V. Ferreyra. Being one of the most inspirational art-enthusiast pages I have come across; serves as a multifunctional platform. The ever-changing art is always a reflection of the owner and is followed by a ‘word of the wise’ quote or body of text.
Apart from the very telling hashtags (#notetoself #latenighthoughts #thingsthatakeawhiletounderstand and most famously, #mentalhealthovereverydamnthing ) his fusion of storytelling and art might have quite literally saved lives. One of the many being a girl who referred to herself as “the Indian girl who tried to kill herself.” The short version of this story as disclosed by the social media is that a girl in her early twenties found out she was pregnant and took to snapchat to snap the @theartidote account saying that she was going to commit suicide because she didn’t know how to tell her mother.
By storm, snapchatters sent in their support and shared tales of their personal struggles in hopes to prevent her from making rash choices.
The outcome of this not only saved a life but brought a community of people closer. A community that till today, still share their experiences of grief, trauma and struggles and share advice from scattered parts of the globe. This episode of kindness and humanity is proof that the power of Social media stands tall in the face adversities.
Upon Skype-ing with the owner of the account himself, Jovan answered a few questions about himself and his account.
Is there a significance behind your account name?
The Artidote is a play on words between antidote and art;
1. a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison
2. something that counteracts an unpleasant feeling or situation
The Artidote just comes with art added into the mix
What’s the most impact-worthy piece of art you’ve ever posted (or at least the top 3)?
The Artidote’s first truly viral post. As a heterosexual male, the post & conversations that followed expanded my perspective on relationships, rejection & my role in not becoming a toxic presence for the women in my life.
How does it feel to have such a powerful platform?
Humbling—but with a strong sense of responsibility. For a long time I had been trying to downplay the importance of what I was doing because I thought, well, how impacting can art & quotes on social media really be? But when I read the personal messages sent to me of suicide attempts that have been stopped by something that was seen/read/felt on The Artidote, I have no choice but to feel responsible for what I decide to share with my community. We are a product of our diets, both physical and mental. If we eat junk food everyday, our bodies will reflect it. Same when we consume bullshit, our minds reflect it. So I’m trying to always be mindful of what I’m giving others to consume.
What inspired you to start the Snapchat campaign and how has it affected you?
SnapThoughts started on a whim one summer day from my balcony. I was enjoying my coffee while wondering about all the living stories playing out all around me: the neighbors Martin & Mandy, how must their life be now with their twin baby boys? My friends back in Mexico, what are they up to? The strangers around me, what are their innermost fears? And so I shot a snap, recording into the horizon, which said: “what time is it there and what are you thinking?” I posted it to my community and the rest is history.
How has art impacted your life personally, and words of the wise to artists out there?
Personally it has made me more empathetic and self-aware. When I go through so many stories, from so many places in the world, through different world-views, my own perspective on the world and its citizens is expanded. Simultaneously, it has also inspired me to be more vulnerably honest with myself and with those around me. Now when I’m sitting on the train, I don’t regard the person next to me as a stranger but as a human being with dreams, fears, hopes, failures and talents. Be vulnerably honest, it’s liberating.
How did the ‘most vulnerable snaps of the day’ come about being a regular thing in your account?
I’m always asking people to be vulnerably honest, knowing that there is catharsis and healing in the act of self-expression. So that segment was my way of rewarding those who’ve been brave enough to be vulnerable with the rest of us watching.
You have a lot of people following your account and sharing their personal struggles, does that take a toll on you or leave you with a sense of responsibility towards them?
Right before my mother’s passing, I remember telling a few close friends that I may need to go through a spiritual journey of sorts in order to fully be capable of emotionally handling the heavy content that The Artidote is receiving (especially now on Snapchat). A journey—perhaps a trek through the Himalayas or a time with Shamans in Peru—where I would be able to get to my own emotional core and find the source of all my inner strength, which I always knew I needed if I were to continue with this line of work. The earth-shattering moment and the aftershocks of my mother’s passing have so far been that journey. It’s the most painful earthquake of an experience in my life so far—but it has also opened massive cracks that have taken me to the molten depths of all my strength & inspiration. It’s as if I’ve been able to alchemize the energy of pain into power.
I don’t feel the need to go through the Himalayas to carry on with The Artidote, is what I’m saying, and I’m looking towards the future more inspired than ever before and with a heightened sense of responsibility.
Your account possibly saved lives in terms of channeling support towards people going through times of personal struggles; how does it feel to know you brought about this?
I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t feel it yet. And that’s possibly because I have a vision for The Artidote and what it will become in years to come when I began to truly deploy it to its potential. Right now it’s still a small seed that I’m cultivating but it is far from blossoming, so I don’t feel I brought about something of undeniable impact. At least not yet. (Or maybe I tell this to myself in order to remain humble and not let this praise get to my head).
You always post your photos with telling captions, how does literature and art infuse in your perspective?
I don’t share anything that I’m not feeling or have felt. All my selections are visceral—they have to move me first before I decide to share them with my audience. I always say that I’m not in the business of growing likes but of growing (with) people. Indirectly, it is my perspective on life that I am always sharing vicariously through the artists I feature. I don’t wish to build a persona of having all the answers (or quotes) to life’s struggles, because I don’t. I don’t take for granted that this for me is also a growing experience and I’m growing along with my audience, in tandem with this project.
P.S. : Something to keep an eye out for – Jovan mentioned that he is planning to do meetups in different parts of the world in order to bring the artidote’s community together not only via social media, but also in the flesh. An admirable initiative to say the least and something to look forward to in future for this growing community of extraordinary individuals.