Having been diagnosed with schizophrenia aged 22, graphic designer Michelle Hammer wanted to do something to reduce the stigma around mental health issues.
Thus, last year her company Schizophrenic.NYC was born.
Featuring slogan tees and vest tops with lines such as the company’s tag line, “Don't be paranoid, you look great” and “It’s not a delusion, you are incredible”, Hammer hopes the range will raise awareness of and start conversations about mental illness.
Now 28, New York-based Hammer – who manages her schizophrenia with medication and counselling – says the idea was sparked after she saw a homeless man on the subway clearly struggling and wondered how much of a stretch it was to imagine herself in his position.
Speaking to themighty.com, she says: “I wondered to myself, ‘If I didn’t have the help from my family, friends and doctor, then I could easily be homeless too.’
“I wanted to create something of my own that I could be proud of, and announce to everyone that I live with a mental illness.”
The products, which also include prints, badges, bracelets and mugs, are available online and at pop-up stalls in New York (shipping to the UK is $15.50, around £13) and according to the website, Schizophrenic.NYC donates part of the profits to organisations helping the mentally ill homeless in New York, such as Fountain House, NYS Health Foundation, MHA-NYC, and NAMI.
One of the designs depicts the well-known Rorschach inkblot test, only in colour rather than the usual black – a move, Hammer says, that asks the viewer to see the splash from a different perspective.
Writing on the website, she says: “The concept behind the designs is that when the unmedicated person with schizophrenia looks at a basic regular Rorschach test they see it with a whole different perspective.
“By redesigning the test with new colours and patterns, now everyone looks at the test with a whole new perspective.”
The full range can be found at schizophrenic.nyc.