Welcome to Attention Bazaar

Welcome to Attention Bazaar

*Portrait of me (Michael Dewan-Herrick) painted digitally by my good friend Andy Solomon-Osborne.


Thank you for visiting my store and a very warm welcome to you. I do hope you will find something of value and interest here.

 There is a personal story behind why I have created this store and these products. Countless stores sell the kinds of items that I sell here; for instance, t-shirts and mugs. What makes my products unique or different? I think telling my story will begin to answer that question.

 I will start by saying that I have been working in the mental health field for over 40 years. The first 8 years I worked in psychiatric hospitals with people in extreme states of mind. I have also done home-based family therapy for families that were court ordered for therapy under threat that children would otherwise be removed from the home. I worked for a couple years doing emergency services work with people who were suicidal. My most rewarding job was working for an innovative program called Windhorse Integrative Mental Health Services (https://www.windhorseimh.org/), where I served as Executive Director for 5 years. In 2008 I moved from the US to London, UK, where I  started a private psychotherapy practice working with adult individuals and couples. As well, for the past 10 years I have taught and supervised students in London working toward qualification as psychotherapists.

 What in the world, you may rightfully ask, does that have to do with the likes of t-shirts and mugs? I promise to answer that question, but first I want to tell you about the other thing that has led me down the path of creating this store.

 Just over 10 years ago I got my first iPad and started creating digital art. Most people understand that the work of a psychotherapist can be stressful. Yes, it’s true. I have had a variety of ways of coping with this, but making digital art became an important part of my stress management/self-care strategy. Beyond that, I just fell in just love with making pictures. Since starting I have created literally thousands of digital images. Sometimes I have shared them on Facebook and gotten some likes from my friends. So far, that’s about as far as I’ve taken it.

 Okay, so this second thing is more obviously connected to the question of why I would want to create this store- to have a place to share my art while possibly earning a little income.  I will explain how my experience as a therapist, combined with my art, led me to create this store, but first I want to describe the spark or catalyst that set me off in this direction.

 Since moving to London from the US I have noticed that over time my clothes have tended toward more blacks and grays as these seem to be very popular here. I have become bored with this and have missed all of the colors I used to wear back in the States, so I decided to buy some colorful t-shirts. I was having a hard time finding any that I actually liked and then it occurred to me- why not have some made with my own digital art? That was the spark that got me started.

 As I looked into how to do this, I became aware of print-on-demand t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, tote bags, etc.  Hmm, maybe I could make some t-shirts for myself, but also sell them online. This was the spark that lit the fire, but it needed more kindling and logs to make it grow. I asked myself, what do I really have to offer that is special and unique? Well, my digital art is unique, but is that enough? I kept thinking about this. At some point, as I was imagining items with my art on them, the idea of including text occurred to me. I looked at all kinds of examples of what others were doing with text on t-shirts and mugs. Should I focus on particular themes, like being a dad or some special hobby or interest that would provide a niche customer base? Nothing seemed very meaningful to me. I didn’t want to do just anything for the sake of getting a sale. Having chosen a career that has provided decades of truly meaningful work to me, I just don’t have the heart or stomach to do something that I can’t feel deeply connected to, something with a sense of purpose beyond simply making money. So, I dug deeper and realized that the words I put on the items I sell, in addition to my artwork, could be connected to my practice as a psychotherapist. How?

 What if something as simple and ordinary as a t-shirt or a mug could, even in a small way, be a tool to enhance personal growth? Could words put on these everyday things serve purposes beyond amusement or broadcasting some element of one’s identity? In Tibetan Buddhism there is a practice called “Lojong”, which entails the contemplation of 59 different slogans. Christianity also has its slogans and sayings, including Psalms. Other religions also have pithy sayings for remembering what is important and setting one’s intentions toward the good life. In psychology there are “affirmations” which can be used to cultivate a positive sense of self-esteem and efficacy. Inspirational quotes are often used to evoke a sense of hope and optimism and these words appear on things like t-shirts, mugs and posters. Seeing and remembering these words on a daily basis can help them take deeper root in our minds, stimulate further reflections and tip us in the direction of actually doing something aligned with their wisdom. This is my deeper intention for creating and offering the items in my store- to offer "tools" for this purpose.

The 40+ years of experience I have had working with people has taught me a lot. I have heard every sort of story you can imagine. I have contemplated what it means to be human, what causes us to suffer and how we can confront our trials and tribulations with self-compassion and a sense of meaningful purpose and hope. This has not just been academic or abstract to me. It has been hammered out on the ground in partnership with real people with real lives. In London I have had the opportunity to work with a great diversity of people of different races, nationalities and sexual persuasions, etc. I have worked with bankers, lawyers, actors, artists, writers, doctors, entrepreneurs, IT specialists, musicians and even an astrophysicist. I have worked with people at the beginning of launching their adult lives, those in middle age with children (or not) and those in their retirement years. Everyone is dealing with their own challenges and ‘demons” and wanting to create and live a meaningful and satisfying life. In this, we are all the same. It is from the reservoir of my experience of doing this work that I will draw on for creating… t-shirts and mugs.  Sorry, I just made myself laugh. On the surface the idea sounds preposterous even to me.

 As silly as it may sound (t-shirts and mugs as self-development tools), this is how I hope to do it. Along with offering everyday items with original designs and slogans, I will include a blog (like this one) where I elaborate on each slogan, quote, saying, aphorism, or text of any kind. Usually, the words I choose to put on my products are just the tip of the iceberg. They merely point in a direction. My hope and intention is that my blog will help prime the pump of your own reflections and enhance the sense of meaning you can make, sometimes from even a single word. As much as possible I will do a separate blog for each item that includes text.  In this way, you might find it useful to read the blogs even if you don’t choose to buy a product. You are very welcome to do so as I will be satisfied to know I am offering something of value. It may be that you connect with something I have written and that having a mug that evokes it’s fuller meaning on a regular basis will be desirable to you. That would be great too.

I don’t know yet where this will all go. I am still creating designs and coming up with slogans. I hope to expand my product offering to include other items of clothing and accessories. Not everything will be slogan-based, as I do believe that sometimes visual images have their own way of capturing our attention and telling a story.

Finally, I am very interested in your feedback. Not only about whether or not you like my products, but your own thoughts and experiences with any of the ideas that they represent. You could share your own story about how any of these ideas have impacted your life. You could also make suggestions about slogans you would like to see.

Well enough for now. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Next, I’d like to share why I decided to name this store “Attention Bazaar’.

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