Although schizophrenia affects roughly 1.1 percent of the world's population, it's rarely talked about openly. Fortunately, graphic designer Michelle Hammer is hoping to change that.
Hammer, who's the founder of Schizophrenic NYC, wants to draw attention to the 3.5 million Americans living with this disorder. She plans on doing that through visually unique and beautiful merchandise inspired by several facets of schizophrenia.
For instance, one of her designs is based on a Rorschach test. This common inkblot test is often given to people during psychological testing. People who are schizophrenic tend to view this test from a very different perspective than the average person. (It's important to note that though the test has long been used to diagnose schizophrenia, some experts today question the accuracy of the test.) Using vibrant colors and unique patterns, Michelle's designs mimic these patterns, encouraging people who don't have Schizophrenia to view these inkblots from the perspective of someone who does have schizophrenia.
Some of Michelle's T-shirts, totes, and bracelets also feature clever slogans that speak to those suffering from paranoia and delusions. One of those is the tagline for the company: "Don't be paranoid, you look great."
Michelle was only 22 when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The idea of launching her designs came to mind when she encountered a schizophrenic man on the subway in New York City. Observing this stranger's behavior helped Michelle realize how difficult it would be for her to find stability if she didn't have her family and friends to support her.
She hopes that her relatable designs will help people like the man on the subway feel a sense of support while breaking down the stigma surrounding schizophrenia as a whole. Additionally, a portion of each purchase goes to mental health organizations, including Fountain House and the New York chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.