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Meet CJ Robinson: The Artist Advocating For Mental Health With His Illustrations


As Men's Mental Health Month comes to a close, it is important to know that your mental health matters year-round. Organizations such as BEAM (BLACK EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH COLLECTIVE) have been dedicated to the fight for healing, self-care, and everything else that goes into our community's evolution and wellness.


BEAM is a national training, movement-building, and grant-making institution that is dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities. One way the organization has amplified its mission was by joining forces with artists to help our community see itself throughout our neighborhoods.

In honor of Mental Health Month, BEAM's Dear Black Folks campaign affirmation series was designed to disrupt public space by providing messages of radical love for Black folks. Each affirmation speaks to some of the unique challenges that different Black communities face and provides reframing dialogue that serves to combat the narratives of self-hate rooted in patriarchy, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia.


These affirmations can be found on subways in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. The QR codes featured on each affirmation link to a directory of mental health services, events, wellness tools, and resources to support communities on their healing journeys.


The Quintessential Gentleman is highlighting artist CJ Robinson, one of the artists chosen to help create a groundbreaking campaign that has empowered our community.

Yolo Akili Robinson and CJ Robinson
BEAM Founder Yolo Akili Robinson and CJ Robinson

What inspired your illustrations?


These illustrations were inspired by the writings of Yolo Akili, the founder of BEAM, which are affirmations dedicated to the Black Community. My artwork highlights and celebrates people of color, using contour line drawing, warm hues, and texture manipulation, aligning perfectly with BEAM’s mission and audience.


Why was this the perfect project for you to be a part of?


This was the perfect project for me to be a part of because it presented an exciting creative challenge: to depict Black men, non-binary individuals, and gender-fluid individuals in a manner that captivates and resonates with all communities, honoring their identities. The ultimate objective was to ensure that everyone feels acknowledged and valued, fostering a sense of visibility and inclusivity, which I’m grateful to be trusted by BEAM to illustrate.

What is your relationship with mental health?


As a young Black man, I grew up with a lack of discussion around mental health, relying solely on teachings from my family and religion to navigate emotional and mental issues. This scarcity of dialogue has emphasized the significance of mental health in my life, as I sought knowledge and tools to process emotions, heal from past trauma, and live a fulfilling life. I believe many in my community can identify with my mental health journey, and I consider it essential to prioritize mental well-being alongside spiritual and physical health.

What do you do to prioritize your mental health as a creative?


I simply take breaks, where I walk, read, or watch something that inspires me and makes me feel good. I also listen to rain sounds quite often which calms me and helps me think more clearly.

1 commento


Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
22 giu 2023

Hi Snow Rider

Due to the lack of conversation, the need of maintaining good mental health in my life has been more apparent.

Mi piace
QG - Ernie Hudson copy 4.jpg
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