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.
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.
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