Liz Mayer Unleashes Her Huggable Horribles

One day in her junior year at the School for Visual Arts in Manhattan, Palisadian Liz Mayer found in a Dumbo warehouse stairwell a cast-off costume box containing jewelry and fluffy fabrics. The artist scavenger in her saw the makings of a pillow so she took the stuff home and began stitching.

Almost on its own, the pillow turned into a monster, albeit an endearing one. Her friends were so enamored of it that she made monster pillows for them. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception, she sewed a collection for her senior thesis. It was so successful that she was given the unusual honor of having her work shown at the school and was featured in a two-page spread in the college magazine. They are not really monsters, she says. They are Huggable Horribles, made to provide comfort and solace to those going through tough times. The idea is that you can hug your horribles away. Each monster has a story behind it, and a heart sewn into it so it can empathize with you and tell you you’re okay. You can talk to it or cry into it. And you can write to it in a diary attached by an embedded magnet. The pillows remind their owners that they are not alone.

Now on her own and working as an illustrator and cartoonist, Liz is planning to launch her creation into the world. The pillows are part of her campaign to de-stigmatize mental illness and the suffering that can accompany it. Having bipolar disorder herself, she hopes that by example, she can show that a diagnosis need not define you and that one can still live a productive and successful life. Those who have strong support systems have an easier time of it; but for those who don’t, the pillow monsters are there to help.

Her collection can be viewed on Instagram @huggable_horribles.