The Herman’s Hands Second Line

After over 18 months the Herman’s Hands Second Line is live.

For those of you who are here for the first time – I hope you’re thinking WHO IS HERMAN?

Herman was a Tattoo Artist, a Biker, a Bouncer, and a Businessman.

He was a husband, a brother, a father and a friend.

Herman was a strong man, a hard man, a colourful man and an influential man.

He was a leader, a teacher, a mentor and a confidant.

Herman was larger than life.

But, he suffered from mental illness and was inevitably overcome…

Herman’s Hands is an Australian Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Clothing Brand.

By using clothing as a vehicle for spreading awareness we can Create Dialogue and Inspire Change.

My name is Brendan McDonnell and in November of 2007 my dad took his own life.

I was the first person to discover his body after he died.

I was 15 at the time.

He left behind a suicide letter personally addressed to me.

In it he told me that he didn’t want to expose me to all of the “doom and gloom” that had taken over his life.

Herman was my dad and this brand acts as his hands from wherever he is now.

Circa 1985


All of the designs in the Herman’s Hands Second Line are directly inspired by Herman’s life as a Tattoo Artist, Hard-man and Father in 80’s/ 90’s/ 00’s Australia.

The designs reflect who Herman was as a man.

For the Second Line campaign we have drawn inspiration from found footage and photos of Herman.

We wanted to create a campaign that speaks of the familiar environment he was a part of.

Circa 1985


18 months is a pretty long time… So while I’m here I’d like to share some thoughts.

First of all, the line wouldn’t exist now without the 200 or so people who believed in me and helped me successfully raise TWENTY GRAND through my crowdfunding campaign and fundraiser event. So thank you again.

I’m not sure how to word what I have to say here. So I’m going to use someone else’s words.

As part of the documentary that’s currently being made about me and Herman’s Hands, the team and I have started interviewing my relatives. An interview we did with one of my uncles put some things into perspective for me and I think helps articulate what I would like to share with you.

These are one of my uncle’s words, not mine.

“A lot of people lose their fathers to suicide, thousands of people do. But not very many people would go to the extremes that Brendan has gone to to try and somehow make something positive out of it in a real way.

I think he’s trying so hard to make his dad proud even though his dad’s not around. He’s sort of working so hard to honour the effort that his father put into him.

I think Brendan still has his own struggles, and I think he probably does it (Herman’s Hands) to alleviate some of those demons that he’s got.

I see the strain in Brendan’s eyes, and it’s because he’s his father’s son. He’s a highly emotional person as well. He’s an ultra-sensitive person like his dad. He feels people’s pain. He understands when people hurt. He gets inside people’s heads. The difference between him and his dad, Facebook wasn’t around when his dad was around…

…In generations to come, I’m sure Herman’s memory will be… legendary. That’s not to exaggerate things. I think he already is becoming a bit of a legend in the real sense of the word.

Lots of people die, lots of people jump off the bus, but I don’t know too many people that 10 years afterwards are still as fresh in the minds of people as what Herman is.

Generations will now be touched by who he was. And a lot of that’s due to the work that Brendan’s doing.”

The truth is that despite many successes I have really struggled. I hate to use the term, but there have been occasions where Herman’s Hands has become a burden in my life. I’ve been obsessive and over-critical and this has affected my relationship with myself and others.

It may or may not look like it but this new line is the product of literally thousands of hours of work and pondering and analysis. An unhealthy amount. And then some more analysis.

Herman’s Hands is a very strange thing to me. I have a very strange relationship with it. In saying, I have a very strange relationship with myself. It’s hard and sometimes it hurts me. I continue to struggle (just like many of you) yet for some reason I continue to ‘do’ Herman’s Hands. I suppose I haven’t finished the job I started.

I’m hoping it gets easier and Herman’s Hands becomes recognised for the incredibly powerful entity that it truly is.

Herman’s Hands has the ability to change the way people see themselves and how we relate to others.

Like I keep saying: through Herman’s Hands we can help those suffering in silence feel a little less alone.

If a man like Herman can suffer, you can too.

Hell, if a man like me, who lives in Bondi Beach and teaches woman how to kick and punch for a living (on a part-time basis) can suffer, you can too.

I’m no different to any of you.

So before I put my head back down and continue spamming your Instagram feed with photos of mullets and coffee, I felt the need to share this. I suppose I just want to reiterate that Herman’s Hands is a work in progress. And that I am a work in progress. And that this is part of what makes it all the more real. So thanks for reading if you made it this far and sorry if it takes me a long time to reply to your messages sometimes.

Create Dialogue – Inspire Change.

Design by Brendan McDonnell

Photography by Ryan Kenny

7 Comments. Leave a comment


  1. Debbie Mcdonnell
    August 06, 2018

    Beautifully written mate, your one amazing human. Be proud of what you have achieved and remember to “Stop and enjoy life along the way”.Love you heaps son, remember dad would be looking over you with the biggest smile on his face thinking that’s my boy???

  2. Mandy
    August 06, 2018

    Well done Brenton…you should be proud
    Cheers Mandy Laidlaw x

  3. Debbie smith
    August 06, 2018

    Brendan your dad would be looking down on you and he’d be so proud of his son and the young man you have turned into you are a great inspiration to everyone who you come in contact with

  4. Tabina
    August 06, 2018

    Really enjoy reading your posts. You’re writing reads beautifully and is always interesting to read. Can’t say enough how impressive what you’re doing is and I hope you keep growing and growing. People need to hear and read what you have to say and are so willing to share.

  5. Marty Kallane
    August 06, 2018

    An extremely honourable awareness campaign you are promoting mate, your dad, family and friends would be so damn proud of you. What you are doing to promote mental health awareness is nothing short from inspirational. Well done and keep changing people’s lives for the better mate, your a legend!

  6. Mike
    August 09, 2018

    The struggle is real Uncle. That crazy 10 pack abs you have might keep you protected from kicks and punches. It’s your heart that will protect you in the end. Keep faith in the dark times knowing that people who you have met who have then travelled to other sides of the world. Still keep you in there mind knowing you are fighting through grief, while emotionally growing stronger through constant questioning and putting yourself out there and living your life with a love and passion for the health of your fellow human beings. Which is such a beautiful and caring attribute to have. To have helped make one person’s life feel better by introducing them to HERMAN you have achieved a great task. As before that person might have felt alone but now feels more connected to life as they can relate. Which is the step in the right in the right direction at the crossroads of life and death.
    I wish for you and pray for you that you see only the beauty this world has to offer as much as you wish for others.
    As your Uncle said “you see the pain of others “, this is a special gift that not many have. And you are using this special gift which your mother and father passed ontoyou in a way that Mother Teresa would be impressed, and probably buy herself a cheeky wee singlet and a pin badge ? if she was still about.
    The most brutal part of life is that people even animals we are close to die. We the people still living can only, to keep fully enjoying the beauty and wonderful joy of being alive, is to remember the good times we spent with that person or animal. We will be sad, angry, confused, lost, but in the end we will smile with tears in our eyes just to have known them for the time that we did. And remember one day when you die someone ( actually loads of people ) will miss you, so make this life count with a happy heart not a sad one, so they can remember you with great joy and smile about how you made them feel.
    So much love for this cause Uncle
    Always here for you even though I’m thousands of miles away.
    Warmest wishes for you to find peace within yourself
    Big hugs
    Mike x

    • Brendan McDonnell
      August 11, 2018

      Thank you Uncle

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