51/52: Don't Give Up

It’s been a rough year.


Each week for a year, I’m designing a shirt and releasing it on my Threadless store. This is the design for week 51.


It’s been a rough year. I don’t talk about it much, but 2017 was challenging. A few months ago, I had a rough day. I was frustrated. Aimless. Struggling. And then, out of the blue, I got an invitation from a friend to grab coffee. It was precisely what I needed at that moment.

While I was leaving, I heard Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up at the coffee shop. I hadn’t heard the song in years, and thanks to the magic of Apple Music, when I got back into the car, I was listening to the original Gabriel/Kate Bush duet.

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

The whole song is beautiful. If you haven’t heard it, listen to it. Basically, it’s a duet between someone who’s lost their way and someone who cares about them.

I wrote a version of this blog post that day and designed the shirt to accompany it. But as I edited the post, I worried what people would think. I wanted to be honest about how I was feeling, but was I being too honest? I shelved the post — and the shirt design — and released something else.

After this week’s suicides by Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I’ve been thinking about mental health and how scared we are to talk about how it impacts all our lives. Especially within the creative community. I thought back to this shirt and blog post.

Rest your head
You worry too much
It's going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don't give up
Please don't give up

I’m really lucky to have a bunch of wonderful people around me. Encouraging me. Supporting me. Loving me. Reminding me that there’s a place where I belong. I can’t imagine life without my support system. And if it weren’t for my wife, kids, family and friends, I don’t know how I’d be able to handle everything. Especially my wife, Liz, who manages to always be there for me when I need to talk or vent.

I don’t post much here that’s deeply personal. I don’t talk about my challenges. I don’t discuss my failings and flaws. Part of this shirt project is trying to open up. To write things I wouldn’t normally write. This post is not something I would normally write. But I look around me and I see friends struggling. People dealing with much more than I am. Even in the face of my own struggles, I hope that I can be someone that encourages others, as so many have been there for me.

This week’s shirt is “Don’t Give Up.” I’m biased, but I love it. I’m thinking about ordering a bunch and wearing them underneath my typical business casual attire. Just as a reminder that I’m never alone.

Don't give up
'Cause you have friends
Don't give up
You're not the only one
Don't give up
No reason to be ashamed
Don't give up
You still have us
Don't give up now
We're proud of who you are
Don't give up
You know it's never been easy
Don't give up
'Cause I believe there's the a place
There's a place where we belong

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently nearing the end of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.