When we go to the doctor for pain, they often show us a picture of a pain scale ranging from 1-10 with different emojis for each number to be able to describe the pain. But what if your emoji isn’t present? How do you explain a feeling that most other people have never felt? Especially when everything “seems fine” from the outside looking in? Kiri Bolles is helping those with chronic pain to express themselves. Through her art and genuine understanding; small business owner Kiri Bolles helps people who suffer from chronic pain and illness tell their stories through illustration. When we see a visual representation of the pain someone is feeling, it sticks.  Kiri is giving a voice to those suffering with chronic conditions by telling their story and showing those of us who do not suffer, to be more empathetic and understanding of those with chronic conditions. 


Watch Kiri Bolles in action below, as she works on a portrait and discusses the work she is doing around the community. 


What products and/or services do you offer? How long have you been in business?

 I’m a watercolor artist specializing in surrealist portraits of people with chronic pain and illness. I offer commissions paired with a collaborative, therapeutic art making process and video interview and have been doing so for about 2 years!

 How do we find you online? 

 On instagram at kiri.bolles.art  

Or through email at kiribolles@gmail.com for inquiries.

What is lesser known about your business that you wish more people knew? 

When working with other people I try very hard to make sure their portraits feel authentic to them. All of my subjects have come up with their own ideas of how they want their symptoms to be depicted. For myself I have always chosen natural elements of the environment around me. Having grown up on a farm I was surrounded by nature, and began drawing parallels at a young age between my symptoms and the world around me – the way mushrooms would grow on rotting wood or flowers sprouted from tumorous bulbs hidden beneath the surface.

Why did you start your business? What makes you different?

I started doing portraits and have off and on support groups for people with chronic pain and illness largely because I have struggled with chronic pain since I was 12. Self portraits helped me through the grief and confusion of developing a chronic condition and I hoped to be able to do the same for others while also educating the public about the prevalence and nuance of such conditions.