Studio Anorak has launched a new book that seeks to celebrate the experiences and lives of people with ADHD.
Stories That Never Stand Still, created in collaboration with the ADHD Foundation, is a collection of educational articles, advice pieces and personal accounts that have been curated in a bid to “cut through” the misinformation and confusion that often surrounds the condition.
The project, which sits alongside Studio Anorak’s other child- and teen-focused work for the likes of the Natural History Museum and Airbnb, was commissioned to be “by people with ADHD, for people with ADHD”, by PR agency Edelman UK.
Impact through creativity
Like Studio Anorak’s previous publications, Stories That Never Stand Still is illustration-led. A team of illustrators were recruited through social media for the project, all of whom have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Working in this team, New York Times illustrator Andy J Pizza was commissioned to create two pieces exploring his neurodiverse experiences, while children’s author and illustrator Elise Gravel was asked to create the book’s cover, both in styles that Studio Anorak founder and creative director Cathy Olmedillas calls “big, bold and happy”.
“To tell fun but impactful stories, we relied on the creativity of the illustration,” says Olmedillas. Different illustrators were similarly tasked to design pieces for the educational articles, and to create portraits for the 11 featured ADHD ambassadors.
Each page, she says, operates like a new section in the book, so that each illustrator could produce work that “could easily stand alone”.
“One of our principles has always to create a sense of discovery and surprise on every page, to give the readers a memorable and joyful reading experience,” she says.
Knowing what works
In working to shape the visual elements of the book, these creatives also provided crucial lessons in appealing to Studio Anorak’s target audience, namely young people with ADHD, their families and their teachers.
“Instinctively, our team of illustrators knew what would work for people with neurodiverse brains,” says Olmedillas. “They knew which colours were less distracting, and what fonts were the most legible.”
Similarly, the text of the book has been broken up where possible, to allow for maximum readability and in many cases, the words have been reproduced verbatim from the various authors with ADHD that penned them.
“Instinctual respect for all”
The result, Olmedillas says, is a book that people with ADHD and their families can take ownership of and connect with. Positive stories look to change negative associations, while the main body of the work being done by women looks to rewrite the condition’s predominantly male narrative.
“There’s tonnes and tonnes of stuff online about treatments and the medical side of ADHD, but very little, if anything, in the way of diverse, positive personal experiences,” she says.
This positivity is coupled with what Olmedillas says is Studio Anorak’s “instinctual respect for all”.
“In the 14 years since we launched Anorak, we have always aimed to be a different voice on the children and teen market,” she says. “Nothing is ‘dumbed down’ and this is why I think people will have such an emotional connection to the book.”
Stories That Never Stand Still is available to download for free from the Studio Anorak website now.