Article Raising Mental Health Awareness with Visual Art NFTs: Tjo’s Story


September 7, 2023


Clarissa Watson

Raising Mental Health Awareness with Visual Art NFTs: Tjo’s Story

From a small French-Canadian village to the global village of web3, Tjo is raising awareness about mental health with visual art NFTs.

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“I'm using web3 to build a community that's conscious about mental health, a safe space for people to talk about what they're going through, what they're living. I'm trying to build a movement that is centered around accepting each other for who they are. I've always said that my art was for the fractured, and for me that means for people that don't necessarily fit in the mold of what you’re expected to be in [the] general societal structure.”

Those are the words of NFT visual artist, Tjo, a French-Canadian from Chicoutimi, Quebec who entered web3 after his friend (Wally Sajimi) recommended he use NFTs to sell the art he was making to cope with his mental health struggles. After suffering in silence from pure OCD, Tjo’s diagnosis and treatment showed him that a better quality of life was possible. Today Tjo is spreading this message of hope through his NFT visual art and the community building network effects web3 makes possible. 

“I make mixed media art about mental health, my pure OCD, and dealing with it regarding inner dialogues and archetypes that I depict in bright red color in blue environments. I've been in [the web3] space for about three years, but I've been making art for much longer.”

Tjo’s story and artistic style in NFTs

For decades stigma has prevented society from understanding the truth about mental health and anxiety disorders. While many people suffer from OCD – approximately 2.5 million Americans –  few people are brave enough to share their stories with the world in order to transcend stigma and create connection through self-acceptance and awareness of OCD. This is what Tjo’s art expresses as it depicts the inner dialogues that are a common symptom of OCD. 

arrow-bottom-right icon Video Tjo’s story

“My goal in my art has been to create these discussions [about mental health] with my audience and I've been doing so by creating this inner dialogue context in blue rooms, because for me, blue is the color of [my] inner dialogue and of its abyss.” says Tjo.  

“And in this blue abyss I have within myself, I've dealt with while trying to overcome my pure OCD, I've been creating all of this art and sharing it with people online, building an audience in web3.”

arrow-bottom-right icon Image “Farther reaches” on SuperRare

Article image Tjo story

In addition to the powerful message of OCD awareness in his staggering artistic style guided by the colour blue, Tjo attributes the success of his work to the fact that in web3, you can reach and form an audience no matter where you are – one of the unique benefits decentralized technology like NFTs offer and something the traditional art market does not. 

“In other industries you need to be in New York or you need to be in Montreal just to have work or just have a chance at meeting the right people. Whereas in web3 you could be from the middle of nowhere and still make the right connections with the right people to share your voice with an audience. And I think that's one of the most magical things about this space.”

The rise of bleu NFT collection & the power of web3 networked communities 

Tjo describes minting his first piece of art on the blockchain as “naive” since he had no idea just how far that first step would take him, his art, and the community that followed. What started as an innocent adventure has grown into a thriving vocation and collector base with Tjo’s art in the centerfold. 

“It was just amazing to see all of these people gather around this idea and this message without [ever] having met any of them just from this very naive action of putting that piece on the blockchain,” Tjo says. 

“It was a lot more powerful than I could have ever imagined, because the network effect of the [web3] space allowed me to share my work with everyone all at once, instead of just showing in a gallery or just in a very closed space with a few people.”

Forming Tjo’s community and spreading his message through visual art NFTs grow exponentially in a natural way, because of the authenticity the web3 space is built upon. 

“What I’ve found that's really interesting with the web3 space is that connections are made super naturally. It's really about just getting out there and getting to know people without alternative motives… Everyone is on web3, because they want to be here, so there's no wrong people to talk to.”

While Tjo has been using NFTs in the web3 industry for three years and already made meaningful impact, there is still a long road ahead for the artist who leaves us with a powerful message about how web3 can be built to ensure public mental health is top of mind:  

“Web3 should be built considering mental health, because a lot of technology is first and foremost built by large companies for profit without ever thinking about the human impact. I think that considering mental health will help web3 orient itself better than web2 has by thinking about the impacts of [the technology] we're building has on people.”