Archives for category: Inspiration

Inspiration: Comical Depression Pt. 3


There’s something quite poetic about a biology-based comic addressing the human body and it’s varied means of healing. Our body’s acquire marks of history that can be considered evidence of living and experience. When I was a kid, I fell down a hill where the pavement below grated a crater into my left knee. Besides the pain, I remember well how long it took before I could take the bandages off (which is forever for a 9-year old). Three years later I tripped in the gravel field and the would opened up again. Although I felt like my body betrayed me, I knew I would heal.

The rate of healing is easier to gauge with a broken arm so maybe that is why we become more willing to allow our physical bodies to recover. Maybe the reason why mental health is so difficult to discuss is because we are used to seeing an end after the recovery. For many, this end is nonexistent. How can we openly talk or accept our conditions when the truth is so disturbingly unpredictable and uncertain.

Thank you Beatrice the Biologist (aka Katie McKissick) for reminding me that our expectations need to change about what healing truly means.

AN AMAZING TED TALKS WITH BRENÉ BROWN about empowerment through vulnerability and how you need to feel both ends of the spectrum in order to feel the whole.

And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.

…probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.



By tracing the existing lines on her face, Israeli artist, Noa Zilberman, creates a collection of jewelry highlighting the beauty of the aging process instead of hiding it. This is very refreshing perspective on society’s unfortunate obsession with youth and beauty. What are commonly seen as imperfections are embraced and celebrated.

Throughout our life, we constantly redefine ‘normal.’ While we yearn for previous definitions of the word, building a new normal is what we must do. The next definition is more important than the last one. Rest assured, you and your body will find the new normal soon.

This was a note written from a man to his wife as she struggled to find confidence with her new life and body after a battle with breast cancer. The beautiful story can be found here.


You don’t know what to expect. Are you making the right choice? If you destroy the vase to find out what’s in it, there is no turning back. Don’t you dare to take this risk, then you will always stay curious …

While smashing some prototypes earlier today, it made me recall this project. Mianne De Vries’ graduation project for the Art Academy of Utrecht consists of a vase with several layers of vases beneath. The user is given the opportunity to smash the exterior shell to discover something new, and entices further investigation.

The following video is for your destructive pleasure.


I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this comic, it just fell into my lap at a much needed time (click the picture for full comic). What resonated with me was that the path of recovery isn’t linear. Each trip spent digging is different; some expeditions become cavernous and infinite, while others barely break the surface. Despite the dirt-smeared cheeks and soil-caked fingernails, you eventually come out for air. Maybe you’ll start digging again, but it’s those glimpses of “I can” that truly matter.

I’ve been familiar with Jess Fink’s spectrum of work for quite some time and I always admired her inky styles. She’s a girl who knows how to make fun of herself and I can appreciate that. Her ability to share her personal struggle among the cat jokes and fictional robotic sexscapades (NSFW) is admirable. Even though there are 121 million people internationally who suffer from depression, finding and connecting with successful individuals who have treated their condition is inspiring.

CONSTANTLY TALKING ABOUT DEPRESSION, researching depression and being depressed can be quite the downer. When I took on this subject, I knew I wanted to incorporate whimsy and humour. Even when I departed from that mindset, my co-designers reminded me that a satirical perspective invites discourse. I feel that humour makes a subject, as dark as depression, more accessible. In itself, design can often be portrayed as elitist and snooty; there is a common misunderstanding at ECU that design students are all analytical and precise. I want to create transparent communication about what design can be and what depression can involve. Yes, I can make fun of myself.

On my endeavour to find like-minded, funny and sad folk, there was a sudden rise of depression being represented in online comics. Of course my depressed hero will always be Charlie Brown, but it was amazing to not only see these comics but the bounty of positive comments from other depressed individuals. Two comics in particular have instilled a that’s totally how I feel moment.  Not only do they resonate, but they also work as effective tools to communicate depression to those who may not understand it.


I remember when one of my good friends introduced me to Hyperbole and Half. Allie Brosh understood the endearing doofiness of our canine companions and she communicated that sentiment beautifully in her simple mspaint-style drawings. When I saw that she had updated with Adventures in Depression, I was pleased to see her humour was still carried through. Although I don’t agree with the “conclusion” of the comic (that depression can numb you to the point where you are invincible because nothing matters anymore), I am grateful that she could share her experiences that are mirror images of my days. Seriously, I look and feel like that pink sad sac on low days.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh


It’s difficult to accept that other people may or may not understand depression, especially when they say things like, “you’ll get over it”.  This entry of Akimbo Comics went into high circulation when it replaced depression with a physical injury. It seems rather silly to tell someone to suck it up when it comes to a mutilated hand, no?

FROM MY PREVIOUS POST, I described my personal/emotional involvement with the subject of this project. Before I even knew I would be slapped in the face with Depression, I had always been curious about more conceptual themes of design. In third year at Emily Carr University, as I watched my peers wrestle with their graduation projects, I spent time filtering through existing designs which exemplified what I wanted to achieve with my own project.

These are three designs which had the most impact on the direction I would follow:

Non-therapeutic Tools of Grieving • Matt Coombes

When I initially started thinking about themes to consider for my grad project, I looked into grieving rituals. I looked at my family’s traditions as to how we honour those who have passed and began some research when I found this. Single Tear Catcher honours a moment by capturing a tear in a vial; the vial is sealed with a cork and housed in a box with black ribbon with a scroll to write important details of significance. This object was inspired by a solitary tear shed when the designer attended a funeral.

Matt Coombes looks to provoke discourse about grief with a collection based on experiences with grieving. He uses personal narratives as means of informing the objects for the collection. His integration of playfulness for what seen as a hushed subject matter, exudes the power of design.

Carbon Copies • Nadine Jarvis

I stumbled upon this seemingly simple pencil case on NotCot only to discover a cathartic functionality. The graphite in this set of pencils is substituted with cremated remains (the human body can produce 240 of carbon ash) which can be sharpened in the pencil case. As the pencils are sharpened, the remains return to the case, acting as an urn. Only one pencil can be taken at a time, but there are enough to last a lifetime.

Nadine Jarvis‘s work poetically speaks about post mortem rituals and challenges social conventions surrounding death and grieving. Her ability to speak about taboo subjects in a provoking manner has captured my imagination, and enticed the element of engaging discourse within my practice.

Carbon Copies by Nadine Jarvis

Design Fancy • Matt Brown

If you ever graze through Core77’s blog, you may have crossed the hilarity that is Design Fancy, a collection of biographies dedicated to fictional designers and their fictional designs. Perhaps you have read about Thomas Ruby, the controversial designer behind “TuneDrink”, a device which uses particle spectrology to create alcoholic drinks via sound waves. My personal favourite is the entry about Quebecois Cyprien Côté, who expressed his love for all natural things with his designs. His first creation was “Chant de Baleines”, a whalesong radio that can tune in to majestic whales from around the world.

Matt Brown‘s sense of humour and fun compelled me to evaluate the power of narrative. His stories and designs are so convincing and entertaining that it is difficult to believe these are not real. This whimsy and curiosity reminds me why I love design in the first place.

Chant de Baleines by Cyprien Côté (Matt Brown)

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