Schizophrenic NYC is a clothing line that was created by Michelle, a native New York resident who wanted to help give back to the homeless in her community that suffers from Schizophrenia. Click the title to read her full story.
Tell me a little bit about your company and why you started it.
Schizophrenic.NYC is a clothing line started by myself, Michelle a native New Yorker with Schizophrenia who can’t stand to see homeless people with mental illness on the streets. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness. This percentage is way too high and needs to change now. Schizophrenic.NYC benefits the city of New York’s mentally ill by donating a portion of our profits we make to organizations throughout New York and it’s boroughs such as Fountain House, NYS Health Foundation, MHA-NYC, and NAMI New York State.
What made you decide on the type of artwork you put on the shirts/prints?
I decided to go with the Rorschach Test because it is something that people associate with Psychology and mental illness. The Rorschach inkblot test is a psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. Schizophrenic.NYC takes the typical inkblot test and changes it into a vision of what not the average person may see.
I love that you took something so personal in your own life and decided to try and help others with the same struggle. What inspired you to focus this project around the homeless?
In NYC there are 59,285 homeless people. Studies show that the large majority of homeless New Yorkers are people living with mental illness. I realize every day how lucky I am to have a safety net of family and friends. I believe that without them that I could easily be homeless. It’s hard for me to keep a job, I’ve had about 9 jobs in the past 4 years. Having Schizophrenia, I vividly daydream and talk to myself constantly. This is something I see homeless people doing all the time. I feel if they had the right treatment that they could be living a better life. I want to help them get that better life.
I’ve looked at your designs multiple times (I love them) and they don’t look like regular ink blots, they look like a design within a design. How do you create them?
My designs are quite a process. First, I start with drawing very detailed illustrations. They can take anywhere from an hour to a few days. Next, I scan them into my computer and bring them into Photoshop. After I get the desired look I want, I find the Rorschach test shape that I like and make my designs fit that shape. Once satisfied with the look, the design is complete.
Thank you for opening up about your own experience with Schizophrenia. I feel like there is a huge lack of knowledge when it comes to the homeless that do struggle with a mental illness, especially schizophrenia. What do you wish people would understand about them and the disorder itself as well?
There’s a lot that the general public doesn’t understand about Schizophrenia. When most people think “Schizophrenia” they think that a person who has it is absolutely insane and can in no way live a normal life. Not all people with Schizophrenia are lost causes. Many live normal lives, and their friends have no idea that they live with the burden of a mental illness. When is comes to being homeless and Schizophrenic, it’s really unfortunate. Many are paranoid that people who try to help them are actually trying to hurt them. With the proper medication these homeless people with Schizophrenia could be normal functioning members of society. I don’t like it when people call homeless people “crazy”, when actually they are just sick individuals who need help to live a normal life.
I love how they turn out! What tends to inspire those initial images that you create?
What inspires me is a really good question. I start these drawings to get my mind off of the reality that I am facing. I try to keep my mind busy with extremely detailed drawings. The more I focus on the designs the less I think about my struggles.
Throwing around the word “crazy” is such a detrimental thing to do when it comes to mental illness. There’s little understanding that people are separate from their disorder, especially when it comes to the homeless. Do you plan on adding an educational aspect to your clothing line and/or website?
I started schizophrenic.nyc to bring awareness to mental illness and to support nycs homeless. I feel this is just the beginning of bringing an educational aspect to the brand. If people can understand mental illness and the despair it brings then we can work together to help individuals. The more my business grows the more education I can spread.
I love that it’s both a trendy looking design, but it also has a huge meaning and story behind it. Where can people find these to purchase and follow you on social media?
Glad you like! You can purchase tanks and prints at Schizophrenic.NYC. You can also follow me on Instagram at SchizophrenicNYC.
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