Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Ava Mayer Illustration

Loud Whispers and Other Beasts

Concept Art
Mental Health
Social Advocacy

For my senior year I chose to center my thesis on something very personal. And that is my experience with mental illness. For over 7 years I have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is rated by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten most disabling illnesses in its ability to decrease quality of life. I give this statistic because, like many mental illnesses, OCD is not taken seriously.

Since there was no awareness about the disease growing up, I dealt with suicidal ideation and extreme anxiety nearly everyday. But then I happened upon an article written by OCD advocate Rose Cartwright in which she shared her experience with intrusive thoughts and OCD. I completely connected with her story and the article made me feel like I wasn’t a freak or a bad person for having intrusive thoughts and that was huge for me! However due to inaccessibility to healthcare and the expenses of therapy, I didn’t get the right help I needed until after the pandemic hit and I enrolled in a free ERP program for OCD specific therapy.

Going years without knowing what illness I had, and then living through more years not being able to afford the healthcare I needed really sparked my need to express my story through art. I wanted to give myself and others who struggle with mental illness the dignity to have their story seen. At first, I worried that being so open about OCD might damage my prospects of getting a job due to people’s ignorance. But I decided that sharing this part of my life and promoting awareness, understanding, and love was more important than this worry. It is vital for people to know that mental illness does not make a person bad and we must create a society where humans are treasured more than the profit of pharmaceutical companies and where people can get the free healthcare they deserve. Quality of life is a human right and that is why I decided to create a series of illustrations expressing my anxieties caused by OCD through metaphorical beasts to promote awareness, love, and healing.