Okay, so it’s been about a decade since I became a teenager – but I remember how hard it could be to talk to my parents about the tough stuff. Especially talking about anything that had to do with mental health or me being different. And I had very supportive parents, to say the least. The stigmas our society still lives with can really inhibit youth from speaking up. Luckily, the internet has created an entire culture where youth are unafraid to use their voices. These artists, though they range in age, are mostly young adults who have struggled with 1. Being different. 2. Mental Illness or 3. Speaking up! Check out these artists and their representations of mental health, learning disabilities, and positivity. It might be a good talking point when you’re sitting on the couch with that silent teenager next to you, unsure of how to broach some of the difficult topics. The honesty, imagination, and authenticity of these artists can make the tough stuff just a little more approachable.
Each of the images below includes links to the original artist's website. Click through to view the images in their original size and to see what other works the artist has made!
Robot Hugs is an artist who lives in Toronto. They create comics related to just about every current social justice topic you can imagine, as well as cats. One of their most popular comics is one which depicts a reality where people treat physical illness the same way people currently treat mental illness. (Some of the images and discussions may not be suitable for young children.)
Eric Chow is an illustrator in the UK, from Hong Kong. On his website, his style is described as a “powerful surrealist, often humorous style.” His images are short, looped animations– meaning they may not be safe for individuals triggered by flashing lights. The images depict some of the chaos involved in daily activities when you’re living with a learning disability. Click through to view them in an article onDesign Work Life or on Eric Chow’s own website.
The Latest Kate is a 25 year old, American artist who draws images related to anxiety, depression, and keeping well. She has sweet drawings of characters dealing with anxiety, as well as more realistic interpretations of trees accompanied by helpful sayings.
TheLatestKate's message with this post read:
“my therapist taught me to start thinking of my anxiety as my panicky friend
Toby Allen is a Cornish artist who reimagined eight mental illnesses as mythical creatures. In the same way that The Latest Kate personifies anxiety, Allen imagines similar “panicky” features to incorporate into the monster drawings. The monsters can seem a bit intimidating, but they’re meant to be a reminder that these illnesses are real. I like to think of them as monsters to be conquered, in the old fairytale defeat the dragon kind of way.
The images belowed accompanied a Daily Mail article in October 2013 on Toby Allen, click through to view the images on his website.
Vince Low is an artist from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He uses hundreds of individual curving lines to create portraits of celebrities. While experimenting for a project for the Dyslexia Association of Malaysia, Low created portraits of celebrities with dyslexia. In a Daily Mail article, Vince discussed how he struggled with dyslexia growing up in Malaysia, and the inspiration he wants to bring to others with dyslexia that “dyslexia is not a curse, but a gift.”
What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite artist whose work deals with Learning Differences? Did seeing images related to mental health and learning disabilities change the way you thought about those subjects?
Drop us a comment in the box below or send us an email to let us know your thoughts!