Stop being proud of multi-tasking. The illustrated card by CupOfTherapy is a good-natured slap in the face to all of us who think our worth is measured in how much we get done. Its purpose is not to judge or give orders as such; instead, it wants to fuel its viewer’s own thought processes.
“CupOfTherapy is all about making the mind’s landscapes visible,” explains co-founder, psychotherapist Elina Rehmonen. “The animal characters offer something anyone anywhere in the world can relate to, provoking emotions and discussions.”
CupOfTherapy is a growing series of drawings by award-winning illustrator and graphic designer Matti Pikkujämsä. The pictures spread online, for example through CupOfTherapy’s Instagram account, and they’re also printed on products like t-shirts, calendars and a deck of cards. Their messages are encouraging people to notice and admit feelings without shame and discomfort.
“Our aim is to normalise mental health and wellbeing as well as lower the threshold of talking about sensitive issues,” Rehmonen says. “Each drawing evokes different reactions in different people, and that’s why they can be used in all kinds of settings, be it with a partner in private or a meeting with a psychotherapist.”
She emphasises the importance of listening to one’s inner self.
“A feeling always carries a message we should listen to. If you never stop to wonder where the emotion stems from, you won’t know what’s holding back your happiness.”
Animals offer a soft landing
As a company, CupOfTherapy was founded by Rehmonen, fellow psychotherapist Antti Ervasti and illustrator Pikkujämsä. The animal figures are all by Pikkujämsä, who draws inspiration from various sources, such as vintage picture books and textile and ethnic design.
The concise phrases boil down to what it is to be human, yet still, the portraits are of animals. To Pikkujämsä, this makes all the sense in the world.
“Animals help us tell things that would seem awkward or even angsty if we used human characters,” he points out. “An animal is simultaneously distant yet easy to approach. A lot of people also have a favourite animal.”
Rehmonen is in charge of running the practicalities of the company. She’s the one who pushed Pikkujämsä and Ervasti to follow through with their idea that started out as a few simple Instagram posts – but led to three big publishing houses in Finland wanting to turn CupOfTherapy into a book.
“I knew a lot could come out of it,” Rehmonen says, “but Antti and Matti were being too shy and modest. I insisted we’ve got the let the whole world know!”
Easy to support
A proof of the universality of the concept is that CupOfTherapy has raised interest in various corners of the world. Particularly keen are the Japanese, where CupOfTherapy books have been ordered by MUJI BOOKS – in Finnish. Other intriguing international collaborations are coming up, too.
Rehmonen says that CupOfTherapy hasn’t had trouble finding partners. Anyone they’ve approached has been happy to join the movement.
“Facilitating better mental health is a cause that’s easy to support,” she mentions. “On top of that, the high-quality products are made sustainably and are Finnish design.”
That’s not everything. CupOfTherapy is also involved in charitable projects in schools and with NGOs, and it claims to donate 10 per cent of its profits to mental health work. Rehmonen reveals that the percentage is far from accurate.
“You can forget about the 10 per cent. So far, we’ve donated pretty much everything we’ve received. As a startup, our margins aren’t huge, but we want to contribute as much as we can.”