ARTS & CULTURE
12/16/2013 08:50 am ET

Striking Minimalist Posters Reveal What It's Like To Struggle With A Mental Disorder

To combat the ever growing silence surrounding mental health struggles like depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, artist Patrick Smith chose a simple path. Draw them. His series of minimalist posters capture the essence of various personal afflictions, translating everyday conflict and pain into simple shapes and colors.

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The resulting images attempt to capture a clear depiction of the experience of mental conditions without using a single word, translating the perceived darkness of disorder into something concrete and potentially manageable, particularly for the untrained viewer.

"Mental health issues are often, even in this day, still a taboo. I wanted to create a series of posters that would appeal to the design community -- those with strong voices in the digital world," Smith explained via email. "Those that would tweet, like or pin. If I could start a dialogue with some then that would seed further discussions with others. It worked."

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Smith's images try to harness the essence of extremely complex conditions. In the OCD poster, for example, Smith depicts rows upon rows of rigid white boxes, with a single box left askew. The viewer may feel physically on edge in the face of this lone angled box, left with but a taste of what it feels like to face OCD on a regular basis.

Smith explained that some critics have accused his images of oversimplifying their subject matter. Yet even negative critiques are a step in the right direction, according to Smith. The main goal of the project was always to break the silence surrounding these afflictions. "Right or wrong, it created a lot of conversations. Exactly what I wanted."

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