TORONTO — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and two Toronto artists have teamed up with DeMar DeRozan for a special collaboration to honour the occasion. Tattoo artist Mr. Koo and designer Casey Bannerman have produced a limited run of specially designed jerseys with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.
The jerseys feature Koo’s popular geometric approach, Bannerman’s creative take on athletes being superheroes, and a semicolon. The semicolon was popularized by Project Semicolon as a symbol of hope for those who are struggling with mental health, suicide, self-injury, and addiction.
“I have always been a big fan of Bannerman’s work, so I am very excited to finally be able to collaborate with him on something meaningful”, Prairie “Mr. Koo” Koo said in a news release “Creative inspiration is entirely subjective, so it was fun to mesh our worlds together.”
“Mental health is a really important topic and we hope, through this project, everyone understands how the power of creativity and self-expression can help get through even the toughest of times,” Bannerman said in a statement, adding that DeRozan is a force on and off the court, and Koo is a creative genius, so it was exciting to work together on a meaningful project.
“In training and in life, I am always trying to find the balance,” Chicago Bulls’ superstar (and former Toronto Raptor!) DeMar DeRozan said in a statement.
“I love what I do, playing basketball is everything, so finding balance is important to deal with the ups and downs of mental health. I’m excited for this project with Bannerman and Koo to shed some light on such an important subject.”
For this collaboration, the trio chose two charities to support, with ten per cent of the proceeds being donated to Jumpstart by Canadian Tire and Lupus Canada. They chose Jumpstart as they believe in supporting the mental health of youth the same way we do the mental health of adults. While they chose Lupus Canada as the disease has touched DeRozan’s family.
Those who order the limited edition jerseys will be entered into a draw, with five winners across Canada invited to Mr. Koo’s Toronto-based studio, Ink & Water, to get a semi-colon tattoo on behalf of Koo and Bannerman.
The jerseys dropped at the beginning of May, and the team behind them says “once they’re gone, they’re gone!”