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Art is a useful tool for many transgender and non-binary survivors in healing from sexual violence. Past posts on this blog have discussed redefining art for yourself, how to create more space for creativity in your life, and particular art techniques that can be useful, like collage and poetry. Today let’s talk about ways you can infuse art into your surroundings.

Surrounding yourself with art serves two purposes: it can be uplifting to have creative or artful things around you, and it can also mean that you have art at your fingertips whenever you like. The sky is the limit in terms of what “art” means to you and how you can add more of it to your environment—whether that environment is your room, your larger home or apartment if you have one, a desk or work bench or office, or even just a locker at work, school, or the gym. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might spur inspiration.

1. Feng shui: How is my space arranged? Could I arrange things differently in ways that would help my energy or the energy of the space?

Feng shui is a Chinese system of helping energy and life to be in balance. The purpose of feng shui is to get your environment in alignment with who you are and where you want to go—to harmonize your energy with your home’s energy. There are many, many ways of rearranging your home or other environments to accomplish a balanced energy flow.

Regardless of whether or not the concept of feng shui resonates with you, looking at how you’ve arranged your space(s) and whether you could make improvements is a great idea. Maybe you have a desk that you’ve never bothered to organize intentionally, or a chair that you don’t really like but haven’t bothered to replace. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a shelf over your bed. Now’s the time!

2. Color: How can I add more color to my environment? What colors would make me feel more peaceful, or joyful, or energized?

The color of your surroundings can make a huge difference in your mood, and there are lots of ways to add color to your life—everything from painting your walls or your furniture to switching out your sheets for something brighter to simply adding rainbow magnets to your fridge or locker. Adding colorful fabrics or tapestries to a bed, table, or wall can completely change the feeling of a room—as does adding a colorful rug.

3. Photos, pictures, and other images: What images or artwork would help me feel uplifted or grounded?

Consider whether there are photos of family, friends, or pets that you’d like to have around you, or pictures or posters of mentors or people who inspire you. Perhaps there are particular types of imagery that you like—such as nature imagery, or radical/political illustrations, or inspirational messages or quotes. Whether your space is the size of a locker or a house, there are always ways to add imagery to your surroundings—and there are lots of do-it-yourself art ideas online: check out these Pinterest searches for DIY photo frames and DIY art for inspiration!

4. Light: What options do I have for improving the light in my space?

Lighting has a big effect on your mood and well-being. Most of us don’t have a ton of control over what direction the windows of our spaces face, if any, or whether there is natural light in our workplace or school—but there are still things you can do to maximize or improve the light that you have. For example, you may be able to cover a fluorescent light fixture with tissue paper to change the quality of the light, or add lamps to a dark room. Mirrors and warm wall colors can help a room feel brighter. Inexpensive, sheer curtains let in light much better than heavy drapes or roller shades.

5. Daily DIY: What could I add to my surroundings that would inspire me to be creative?

There are tons of different ways to encourage yourself to be creative via your surroundings. Cork boards, bulletin boards, chalk boards, white boards, and magnet boards are a great example, and there are tons of different ways to set one up—from painting an entire wall with chalkboard paint to creating small bulletin boards out of coasters. Or what if you covered an entire wall with butcher paper and doodled or wrote something on it every day, or put a sketchbook on the back of your toilet for a similar purpose? Another cool option is to set up a sand tray on a desk or bedside table—many people find doing sand tray art to be calming or just plain fun.

6. Sparkle and joy: What items that bring me joy or add to my feelings of creativity can I add to my space?

The sky is the limit with this one, too. Perhaps you’d like to hang a DIY mobile, or put up wall decals. Maybe a houseplant, cactus garden, or terrarium would bring you joy. Putting colorful bottles, beads, or other glass objects in a window could add sparkle to your life. You might want to create an altar to honor your trans ancestors, or your blood ancestors, or a god or saint from your religious tradition. What if you hung up a disco ball, or made a doorway separator out of feather boas?

Surrounding yourself with art doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Check out the links peppered throughout this post, and explore more do-it-yourself options and inspiration on Pinterest or Etsy. Thrift stores and yard sales can be treasure troves for cheap and inspiring items, as can craft stores like Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabric. Remember: art is good for the soul, and you deserve to be surrounded by beauty!