Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Zander Varney Illustration

Mental Monsters

Fine Art
Mental Health
Social Advocacy

Throughout my life I have found solace in the arts due to its ability to visually explain complex concepts and emotions in a way that is digestible and relatable. My goal is to make work that addresses taboos about the human experience, and provides clarity about tough topics. I am always looking into myself and the thoughts of others to bring to life our feelings that are not easily talked on, or lived out. Whether through cartoon characters living out our most inhumane thoughts, or a monster that embodies a deep disgusting feeling we may have about ourselves; my illustrations use intense imagery to target the morbid aspects of our life and put them out into the world so that people can know that they are not alone in experiencing these things. With the intent to destigmatize mental health, this project explores complex ideas about the human condition and looks to make them into something more digestible. The works are embodiments of three “sins” and four phobias. These concepts are shown through monsters that embody them; drawing from social interpretations, historical text, personal experience, and testimonies to create a creature that embodies the chosen topic. By putting these topics into the form of a monster, we can put a face to a complex struggle within ourselves and begin to overcome it.