Daniel Heaney, a sophomore student studying graphic design at BYU-Idaho, has spent the last two years dedicated to turning the struggles of mental health into art that he can share with others.
Heaney started the brand “If I Were a Hobo” — “Hobo” for short — in 2021. His love for design and sketching, combined with the desire to fight the stigma against mental health, started his journey. He has dealt with mental illnesses like Major Depressive Disorder and OCD throughout his life.
“Art, to me, is the perfect outlet to convey my feelings and connect with others,” Heaney said.
Hobo sells many different designs of shirts, hats and hoodies, and even has options for canvas designs of Heaney’s own making.
When asked where the name “Hobo” came from, Heaney described a hobo as someone who is a loner — someone who has been discarded by the world but yearns for acceptance.
“The hobo inspires me to overcome the impossible of the daily struggle and hope for something better — because even at our lowest, we can still be kind to one another,” Heaney said.
He shared his understanding of the sadness and guilt one can feel. “Depression is real,” Heaney said. “Just as it is with any other disease, there is evidence in the body. Those who struggle should not be told to just get over it. People need love, compassion and support from their friends and family, and I believe my designs embody that.”
Heaney has a desire to relate to and empower people with mental illness. The company’s website showcases pieces that promote acceptance and belonging.