John C. Kerr Chancellor Emeritus Awards for Excellence in Design – Honourable Mention
Visualizing ADHD using multi-medium works to evoke empathy through experience
Through Visualize, I allow one to experience what it’s like to live with ADHD by creating relatable situations that show how my perspective warps. I’m working towards changing the global conception of mental health. Popular media, such as movies, show these things as quirky or archetypal when in reality they are very nuanced which is what my work explores. The main aspect of this is presented through a book that breaks the traditional convention of a book. This reflects the content in how my mind diverges from what is considered “typical” thinking. We start this journey with a workshop.
At the end of 2022, I held a workshop where we drew about ADHD. This was to find commonalities with visual representation which the workshop delivered with outstanding results. The medium I provided were highlighters as I felt they spoke to the subject. Each person’s work had a unique approach as to how their ADHD manifests but always seemed to come back to a common language. Specific examples are the highlighters overlapping which mirror chaotic aspects which come with the condition.
To wrap up this workshop, I put the participants’ drawings into a zine which helps to show a collective image of ADHD. This was risographed, which is another component that elevates the ADHD content, allowing its voice to shine. The experiences complement each other in a way that paints this image of what it’s like to have ADHD.
To draw upon the momentum I gained from my workshop, I knew that using highlighters and risograph was a winning combination.
The risograph print’s vibrant, noisy qualities elevate the design to enhance the ADHD aesthetic.
The contents of my book are presented through three main kinds of spreads: experiential, photographic and written.
It breaks convention of a typical book, just as ADHD tends to break from the norm. This spread on the surface appears to be a cohesive idea or thought but further unfolds to reveal that these components that make up a thought are individual living things that can stand on their own or come together as a collective to form this picture.
My photographic spreads allow me to situate how I’m feeling and where I am feeling it. I add more noise to these photos as ADHD can feel like a constant buzzing. I adjust how blurry sections are—sometimes I’m trying to understand the situation but I’m having a hard time seeing the whole picture.
My writings allow me to address a plethora of things, such as my approach to situations and preconceived notions, while also permitting me moments of pause to take a breather from the ADHD chaos.
When considering my layout I was careful to balance the three kinds of spreads so that the diversity of content was equitable. The content itself jumps around—just as my thoughts tend to do. Most of the spreads can be read independently of each other and you can start anywhere to still get the narrative. To reinforce the divergence from the typical book I put my table of contents in the middle with the pages put in a random order with page numbers that don’t appear in the book. This visual element represents my thoughts in that the way I am interpreting situations feels like I should have some sort of guide but when I look to navigate, I’m getting lost in the flow of ideas.
I came up with some ways to experience ADHD that supplement the book. I created AR cards which are stored in the back of the book. When scanned you can interact with the book in a whole new way, allowing you to feel ADHD through animations that the viewer interacts with.
ADHD as clothing
I also set out to make a garment which matches with the subject. I stained a pair of overalls with risograph masters. This process is one that I asked around to get some pointers, though most people I went to hadn’t heard of anyone using this dyeing process before which meant I had to do some experimenting before to get to my final product. This made the process exciting and fulfilling to get the vibrant results that I did.
The compartmentalized colors represent different thoughts that get isolated while other colors bleed because some of my ideas feel like they are intertwined even as their own thought. The seemingly random arrangement of thoughts are important because they sculpt an environment which informs how I approach the world.
As a way to walk people through my book, I made a video encapsulation of the project’s full scope. For the grad show, it was difficult to show off the book in massive detail so this video hits on all the points: book, AR and my overalls in action.
Thanks for checking this out!
Thank you for taking the time to look through my book. Being informed is immensely powerful to the subject as it allows us to further understand the going ons with ADHD. I want to take this opportunity to thank some people who helped me shape my content into the experience it is now:
Helped proof my written pieces. They wouldn’t be as strong without this assistance.
I had a vague understanding on how to bind a book but I reached out to her as the book binding teacher here at ECU. She showed me how to bring these things to life with the vision I had in mind.
I came to him when I was at the beginning of my AR journey. He showed me ways to bring them to life and optimize my files so that I could bring a streamlined experience to the audience.
Gave me a foundational understanding of how I could approach dyeing my garment. Without these tools I wouldn’t have known where to begin dyeing my overalls.