Doll Hospital, the zine made by and for survivors

With zines and similar publications becoming increasingly popular (something I would probably thank the Internet for, as it allows for digital – sometimes free – publications to reach a great range of people through social platforms such as Tumblr), it can be a little overwhelming to find a piece with which you truly connect and that you believe is really leaving a mark worth remembering. Luckily, a lot of writers and general creatives are using zines to discuss and explore topics which go unnoticed or are simply not covered in mainstream conversations, which means there is pretty much something for everybody. Doll Hospital, a bi-annual publication created by Bethany Rose Lamont, is one of such works.

Like many other people, Bethany suffers from mental health issues. According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain. It is a very real, very widespread problem and yet most people still feel very uncomfortable opening up about their own or their loved one’s issues, and in certain tiers of society mental illness is still considered close to a taboo.

'Three is a crowd' by Laura Callaghan (featured on Doll Hospital) @Thorns Have Roses

‘Three is a crowd’ by Laura Callaghan (featured on issue #2 of Doll Hospital)

In May 2014 Bethany asked her Twitter followers whether they would be interested in submitting their own personal mental illness stories to be collected in form of a zine. She wanted to create something that would reach beyond her small community of Tumblr and Twitter, something in which anyone could express their voice, a space for people who always felt out of place.

‘I’ve had mental health struggles for over half my life now. As a result, I want to cultivate a model of mental health discussion for people who might not necessarily get better, who might have to be on meds their whole life. I don’t want to talk about recovery, I want to talk about surviving,’ she told Dazed magazine.

This zine project turned into an art and literature print journal. It is 100+ pages full colour of soothing illustrations, comic art, poetry, fiction, literary essays and real talk. It features poetry, anecdotes, illustrations and comics and it welcomes multinational, multiracial, multieverything voices and their uniquely-cut struggles.

"You Can't Sit With Us" by Herikita (featured in issue #1 of Doll Hospital) @Thorns Have Roses

“You Can’t Sit With Us” by Herikita (featured in issue #1 of Doll Hospital)

 We think it is beautiful, we think it is necessary, and we hope you do too.

This project is important because mental illness is one of those invisible topics that need to be brought up to the surface in order to make some real change happen. But not in that romantic, almost fetishised portrayal of the “sad white girl” which has been popularised in fiction: mental illness isn’t glamourous, it isn’t a fashion accessory and it shouldn’t be used to make a character more interesting because of lack of real depth. It is a struggle, it is exhausting, it is real and it isn’t pretty; which is why creating a safe, supporting and aware environment is so important.

We believe print is the best medium for this project — a refuge from toxic comment sections and constant link skipping. Something tangible to slip in your book bag and read on the bus. Something still, something quiet, something just for you.

Here you can flip through a sneak peek of issue #1, and here you can get both issue #1 and #2 in digital form (prints are currently out of stock, but they’re hoping to make some more soon). A donation of £5 is suggested, but not mandatory, as you can choose how much you want to pay for it.

sources / photo credits:
Milk Teeth (Bethany Rose Lamont’s blog)
Doll Hospital Journal
Dazed Magazine
XO Vain
Laura Callaghan Illustration

Something to look back on: work view

A while ago, during my first week at university (also known as induction week) we got the chance to see some of the final projects of students from previous years. I thought it was a brilliant way to give us a taste of what we will be working on over the next months (and years), and I remember feeling excited as I looked for booklets and portfolios that caught my eye and being in awe as I flipped through the pages. I gotta say, some of those works looked so professional, I wasn’t sure whether to feel thrilled that I’d be doing such amazing work or inadequate that I would never be able to achieve such great results!

I took a few snaps of some of my favourites and meticulously saved them in a folder on my laptop, for future references.

Now that I’m nearing the end of my first semester, I feel like I understand some of those photos better and I can take away more from them than I could before. After sitting through lectures, taking plenty of notes and restlessly looking things up in my spare time, I feel like I now know what to look for a bit better than my 9-weeks-ago self, I am ever-so-slightly more savvy on the subject and I can therefore appreciate these works more and, hopefully, find a way to use what I loved about them in my future work.

Writing things down always help me, so I thought, why not write a blog about it? I am confident that I will come back to these notes in the future (and by then I will probably be even more “savvy” and will be embarrassed by my own naiveness. But that’s kind of the point of internet, isn’t it?).

Click to enlarge the images!

“Not Another” trend overload

Do we really need to see more pineapples, palm leaves and coloured foam? Have social media helped fire up creativity, or have they contributed to an incoming drought of genuinely new ideas? These and more are the questions that Sara Sturges and Daniella Treija address in their graduation project, Not Another magazine.

The repetition of themes in art and design is something I’ve found myself thinking about a lot lately, since I was assigned the task by my uni lecturers to identify, collate and categorise any recurring trends I was able to spot, using Pinterest as my chosen platform. In my case, these trends refer specifically to fashion image: anything related to art direction, locations, props, styling, casting and even post production can be affected by dominant trends, and my Pinterest account has been busier than ever because as it turns out, this activity can quickly become quite addictive.

However, trends have a sneaky tendency to seep through to a range of other sectors, and don’t limit themselves to just what we wear on a daily basis, like some might assume. If we look back to micro and macrotrends over the past century, it’s easy to see how every decade had a dominant character, a certain flow, a raison d’être of sorts, which encompassed not only clothes and accessories, but a much broader creative culture: architecture, interiors, product design, graphics and illustrations, advertisements, foods and, sometimes, the matrix of a whole new generation’s set of ideals.

“A trend can be emotional, intellectual and even spiritual. At its most basic, a trend can be defined as the direction in which something (and that something can be anything) tends to move and which has consequential impact on the culture, society or business sector through which it moves.”
—Martin Raymond, “The Trend forecaster’s handbook” (2010)

Sturges and Treija point out how the advent of image-sharing platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are responsible for shaping a ‘creative hive-mind mentality’ which has led to replication rather than innovation. This phenomenon of convergence of tastes and aesthethics has gotten creatives and designers stuck in a loop of regurgitation of trends, where the same motif or inspiration is reimagined, repackaged, recreated in a myriad of ways but so fast that it becomes difficult to stand out and not to drown in an ocean of design look-alike’s. “It’s absurd how repetitive design trends have become. […] Where did all the pineapples come from all of a sudden? Every photographer seems to use one for an exotic hint in pictures, but product design has also been infested with this tropical fruit. And what about all the products made from coloured foam or marble?”

These young designers’ project shines the spotlight to this phenomenon by dedicating each monthly edition to one ubiquitous design cliché, as voted by internet users on their social media. I find it a brilliant way to poke fun at these trends while at the same time remind us of the importance of finding truly original solutions and thinking outside the box (or, in this case, the black and white grid?) instead of keeping safely within the designer’s comfort zone of tried-and-tested trends.

photo credits:
WGSN blogs
Do Shop