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Ellen Forney

County: King County




Fellowship Awards 2019
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Ellen Forney grew up in Philadelphia and has lived in Seattle since 1989. As a child, she wanted to be, in turns, an author, illustrator, or actor, and is delighted that her work as a graphic novelist, visual artist, teacher, and speaker now in essence combines all three.

She is the author of bestselling graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me, which was selected as the 2018–2019 Common Book for the University of Washington’s Health Sciences Schools, and has seven foreign editions, including six foreign language translations.

Its companion book, Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, was selected as a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Public Library, and a Best Graphic Medicine Publication by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). In Rock Steady, she coined the holistic self-care strategy, SMEDMERTS, which stands for Sleep, Meds (if you take meds), Eat (well), Doctor (or whatever your therapy is), Mindfulness, Exercise, Routine, and Support system. As a mental health advocate, she shares that strategy as often as she has the opportunity, even in a bio, because she can.

As a visual artist, she was selected to create two permanent large-scale murals for Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill light rail station in Seattle. She has been awarded residencies from Civitella Ranieri, MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Hedgebrook, and teaches comics at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

A lifelong swimmer, she began practicing yoga in 1999, one year after being diagnosed bipolar. It taught her that life is a river, that embracing challenges is good, and that maintaining balance is difficult and interesting and much better for creativity than the mood swings ever were.

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