Florida artist Jenipher Lyn turns her struggles with depression into something beautiful

She hopes her illustrated memoir helps others.

click to enlarge Jenipher Lyn poses with her new book, Find Your Rainbow. - Author photo
Author photo
Jenipher Lyn poses with her new book, Find Your Rainbow.

Graphic novels are all the rage in publishing today (think Fun Home as opposed to Spider-Man), so it should be no surprise that illustrated memoirs have emerged. These books grapple with life, death, health, and the medical industry, using illustrations to express the uncomfortable truths. Into this mix comes Dunedin-based artist Jenipher Lyn, whose new book, Find Your Rainbow (Crown Books for Young Readers; December 2018; Ages 8–12), is a graphic girls' empowerment title.   

In fact, it's Lyn's second book. Her first, How Being Stubborn, Depressed, and Unpopular SAVED my Life, was meant for slightly older girls. But both share a common theme — they offer real-world solutions to the very real problems girls face. Like other books in the graphic memoir category, the illustrations help take the reader beyond what's written on the page, and onto a journey of self-discovery.

As someone who faced depression in her life, it wasn't a given that Lyn would become a successful artist (her work has been featured in major retail outlets like Target and Trader Joe's). Now, she not only has two books under her belt, but she's created a podcast, Rainy Day Diaries, that helps creatives thrive no matter what. We asked Lyn how she got where she is today. Her answers may surprise you. 

What inspired you to start illustrating for young girls?

I struggled a LOT as a young girl. As an adult, I would walk into bookstores asking for a book to help a young girl dealing with depression and/or anxiety, and booksellers would offer me poetry and Dr. Suess. Neither of these would have helped me! So I set out to create the book I WISH I had when I was younger. I was, and still am determined to write and draw to encourage the girl I used to be. My goal in life is that I help people NOT have to go through what I went through. If someone feels less alone while reading my writing or seeing my illustrations, than I'm doing my job. 

Did you work with any psychologists to create the book's messaging?

No, it's all me. And some editing from my editors. 

Where are you from?  

I was born in South Florida, took a quick jaunt in NYC for a few years, and now I live in Dunedin, Florida.

I read that you wanted to self-publish your first book to stay true to your vision. What made you turn to traditional publishing? Are you glad you did?

There's definitely pros and cons to both. I LOVE my first book, How Being Stubborn, Depressed, and Unpopular SAVED my Life and honestly, if I didn't self publish, it would never have existed in the exact way it does, so I'm very happy I self-published. But I wanted to get an empowering book in stores to be more available for all girls to enjoy, so traditional publishing made that possible!

How did you pick the title?

I wrote down a handful of titles using my favorite phrases. (Rainbows being one of my favorite things.) My agent wrote down a few as well, and we spent some time on the phone rearranging all of the titles into everything we could think of, until we spontaneously came to "Find Your Rainbow." I can't remember which one of us came up with it to be honest, but when I saw it, I knew it was the perfect title. 

How did the podcast come about?

I got pregnant last year and then all of a sudden I lost all of my drive. I didn't want to draw, I didn't want to play ukulele (I play kids songs at libraries around the area), etc. I didn't really feel any ambition at all, but I knew I still needed to encourage others in some way. One day while on the phone with my best friend, she suggested interviewing our girlfriends about their youth to help encourage young girls. It sounded perfect! And although my podcast isn't exactly that, Rainy Day Diaries turned into an incredible way to bring on talented, vulnerable people to talk about life's imperfections.  

What's your next project?

I'd like my infant, Oliver, to play competitive badminton by the end of the year. But really, I'd really like to take my podcast to the next level this year. And I'd love to start public speaking more often as well.



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Lisa L. Kirchner

%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5a28746b3cab468d538eb081" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%Lisa L. Kirchner is the author of the critically-acclaimed Hello American Lady Creature: What I Learned as a Woman in Qatar. Her writing has appeared in book anthologies,...
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