Graphic design student Damian Gruber creates prints to cope with mental health
Written by Elise Mullen, Photos by Elise Mullen and Jordan Petteys
We interviewed third year graphic design student Damian Gruber about how his mental health influences his artwork.
Regarding mental health as a whole, Gruber said, “I think it’s important for people to remember that sensitivity to others feelings in general is a really strong thing to have, especially in the conversation of mental health in order to help other people get the help they need, for people to be able to share how they’re feeling is really important.”
“Being a graphic designer, I don’t frequently get to put that much of my own interpretation into my art, but in a lot of the classes that i’ve taken outside of my major, for instance printmaking, my mental health situation has really flowed out into the prints i’ve made. I feel like those things have been the most personal things I’ve made,” Gruber said.
Gruber expressed the importance of starting a conversation about mental health, “So many people go through similar or completely different forms of anxiety, stress, some people are bipolar, there’s so many different things people struggle with and I feel like since its not talked about that often, people can lose sight of that and feel very alone, but I think it’s important to be open with people that you’re close to and look for support.”
When asked about what advice he would give to current students, he said, “College is a wonderful experience for everyone but don’t let the pressures of college make you lose sight of how important it is to maintain your health and maintain relationships with people you love.” Gruber said, “try not to shell up, try to be open to people, especially professors. At the end of the day, obviously maintaining [good] grades is very important but if you put too much pressure on yourself to get [good] grades when you’re struggling, it won’t feel good, you’ll be miserable so it’s important to find a healthy medium.”
According to Gruber, Tyler The Creator’s album “Flower Boy” was influential to his final printmaking project. Gruber used, “a bunch of different text from a song that was really inspirational in [his] darkest moments, that says ‘love every flower out the cocoon.’ ”
“One of the best ways I cope is talking to people closest to me. I struggled for a while with keeping things locked in and that was probably when I went through some of my worst times mentally, but when I’m able to share things with my parents and close friends, it really helps me see things from a different perspective and breathe.”
Gruber used his final printmaking project to create a series of two prints based off his struggle with mental health, “I went through a coming out process that was really difficult and stressful and it really weighed me down, so I made the illusion like a kid being told to stand in the corner by their parents.”
“Everyone goes through their own blossoming process in life where they go through a lot physically or mentally that might change them, but it’s important that you see them for who they are,” Gruber said about his second piece in the series.
Gruber said the most important message to give to someone struggling with mental health is to remember that they’re not alone. “There’s always someone who can relate to you and can help you,” Gruber said.