Tor Brandt’s found a place where he’ll always feel calm. “It’s a hill surrounded by open fields as far as the eye can see. The field has some frees, and the weather is warm without it being hot. There’s no one there but me, and some animals who may come and go as they please. While I’m on that hill, time stands still in the outside world, so I can stay there as long as I want without missing anything,” he says. “That last point is very important to me, because I always kind of feel like there isn’t time enough in reality.”
The illustrator, who’s tranquil work adorns our World Mental Health Day 2018 coverage, understands the importance of locating an inner-place of safety, somewhere to mentally retreat to when the aches and stresses of day-to-day life threaten to overwhelm creative impulses, urges, and actions.
That sense of retreat can be an externalised thing, and Tor tells It’s Nice That that the place he feels calmest on Earth itself would either be in the woods in “early autumn” or “in some kind of very open landscape where you can see everything,” but just as equally, art has a way of transporting us in times of anxiety.
Looking at Tor’s gloriously muted, sparsely-constructed work often makes this writer feel at ease. For a few minutes, I’m in Tor’s imaginative world. 2017’s Colorama published Objects for a Better Future which presents a depopulated series of landscapes, consists of “drawings intended to be objects of meditation on the higher aspects of the mind,” as Tor puts it. “I mean for these works to be calming and supportive of constructive energies.”
For Tor, the fact that minimally-minded creative work like his own requires the viewer to fill the blanks for themselves, “has the effect of keeping the mind busy, sort of in the same way as when you focus on a mantra or something during meditation.”
Like most of us here in modernity, Tor thinks that the widespread and serious issue of mental health is something worth talking about, and talking about honestly, openly, and frankly. The Danish illustrator, comic artist, and graphic designer tells us that, “I suffer from generalized anxiety and chronic depression myself,” adding that “I know a lot of people who struggle with different mental health issues, so I know how it is to have these things as a very real presence in your life.”
He goes on to say, “Something that can be almost as devastating as the illness itself are the stigma and taboo surrounding mental health problems. It is imperative that we speak about these things as openly as possible, and that’s why initiatives such as WMHD are such a great thing.”
We couldn’t be happier to have Tor on board with our WMHD coverage, taking us somewhere just beyond our worries.