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My Blue Octopus Teacher/Friend

Andrea Nechita is a wonderful presence. Not only is she unfailingly patient and good to hang out with, she breathes new life into my stories – helping me to see my own work in unexpected ways and using them as springboards to filling the world with more beautiful images.

I should clarify that while Andrea is my friend, she is not the blue octopus pictured above. Rather, she created this fantastic painting for “Five Stories About Alan” from my latest collection The Progressive Apparatus and More Fantasticals (on sale now at Andrea also painted Mr. Whale to illustrate the adventures of young Alan. Mr. Whale is also blue and that is because blue is a very important colour in that story. I think Andrea might be very fond of that sad little boy.

Andrea has an important and unique approach to her work – and it is best to let her describe it in her own words – in this case she is talking about a body of work that she calls The Alien Series:

“My alien series arose during my postgraduate studies, from my personal struggles with anxiety and stress during that time. The alien portraits represent a sense of disassociation that is inherent in our society. This disassociation, for me personally, was something which I felt very strongly during my first masters degree. I have attempted to capture this feeling through alien portraits with their closed eyes, and neutral expression. I have tried to reveal a silent inner dialogue, a moment in time when we drop our masks and simply exist in a state that lies between society and the individual. A moment when one is in such a disassociated state that they cannot look outwards anymore, but instead begins to turn around to look inwards. It is this act of seeing inwards, a kind of meditative state, which helped me to push through my times of anxiety and depression.

This alien series was triggered from the emotional phases I personally experienced while in graduate school. Currently, there is very little discussion revolving around the turmoil felt by postgraduate students as they complete their Masters and/or Phds. My personal experience in grad school was a difficult one, and not unlike many other students’ experiences. I hope to help open up the discussion on postgraduate student mental health through sharing my personal experiences, the lessons I’ve learned, and the art that arose from it.”

More of Andrea’s interpretation of my work will be forthcoming as the plan is for her to illustrate the rest of the stories in The Progressive Apparatus just as she so brilliantly did for Why I Hunt Flying Saucers (also on sale at In the meantime, I strongly recommend that you explore more of her art at the links below:

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