Stories That Never Stand Still celebrates the ADHD brain, with exclusively ADHD illustrators
Made by the team at Studio Anorak for kids aged 12+, this vibrant and joyful book features educational articles, comics and positive personal accounts of life with ADHD.
- Jenny Brewer
- 5 February 2020
Studio Anorak is known for its magazines for kids, Dot and Anorak, and its latest publication brings their distinctive effervescence to a new cause – celebrating the positives of an ADHD brain.
Created in collaboration with the ADHD Foundation and Edelman PR, Stories That Never Stand Still features articles exploring the disorder from a positive perspective, aiming to inform and entertain kids aged 12+, their parents and teachers, with the book being distributed to secondary schools around the UK. True to its mission, the book is illustrated exclusively by artists with ADHD.
“It was our plan from the start to commission neurodiverse artists so they had a direct affinity with the project,” explains Anorak founder Cathy Olmedillas on finding the right contributors. “We knew of some artists who were ADHD ambassadors, such as Andy J Pizza and Elise Gravel, so they were our first port of call. Then, we did a callout on our social media channels for ADHD artists and word got out quickly.” In the end, Cathy and her team had 100 or so to choose from, and selected a dozen who represented a mixture of aesthetics, and slightly more mature style than she commissions for Anorak and Dot.
“We wanted this book to be a real page-turner, with a surprising element on every spread, very much like our magazines. As the audience was slightly older than some of our projects, I was able to pick from a pool of illustrators whose work was a bit more grown-up.”
For each article, be it a personal account from someone living with ADHD, or an educational piece, Cathy chose an illustrator she felt could capture the essence of the story. “Some of the accounts were deeply personal and poignant, and I wanted to give them the care they deserved, by treating them almost like standalone spreads or paintings. The educational pieces required a more playful, graphic-led approach, and so fun spot illustrations were commissioned for those. I also wanted to have a variety of styles so it would appeal to a wide age range, from 12 years old children to teachers.”
For Hooray for ADHD, Yvonne Keesman created a “colourful and happy world where different aspects and benefits of ADHD all come together,” Cathy describes. “Ryan Bubnis’ work is influenced by the more vulnerable moments in life,” she continues, “so he wanted to ensure that the images were accessible but also relatable for his Art of Calm piece.
Andy J. Pizza made an autobiographical comic strip depicting himself as a penguin amongst pigeons, learning to find his way with ADHD, and another showing the adventurous life of an ADHD person, called Living with ADHD is Epic. Elise Gravel illustrated the cover, and her brief was to graphically convey what it’s really like to have an ADHD brain. While the title needed to stand centre stage, Elise’s illustrations fill the rest of the space with “weird, fun little characters that feel like the inside of her own brain,” Cathy says. Put together, the book is a vibrant and utterly joyful exploration of life as a young ADHD person, “addressing them in their own language,” Cathy concludes, “giving them hope while being visually stimulating and beautiful”.
The book will be distributed for free around schools and among the ADHD Foundation’s network, and is available to download here.
GalleryStudio Anorak: Stories That Never Stand Still
Studio Anorak: Stories That Never Stand Still. Illustration by Barry James.
About the Author
After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.
Jenny is currently on maternity leave.