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Xuan’s comic aims to
shed light on Tourette’s

What is it like living with Tourette’s Syndrome? MA Illustration student Xuan Liu, who has the condition, has created a comic strip book to give people an insight.

31 Aug 2022

Xuan, who goes by the artist’s name Bernini, is from China, and wanted to study Illustration in the UK because of its traditional look and feel.

Image shows illustration student Xuan Liu lying on a picnic blanket and partially obscuring her face with a book

“I liked to draw since I was a child until I got interested in illustration at university and found it to be a creative profession, I heard that illustration in the UK is very traditional, so I decided to study traditional illustration,” she said.

Her book is called The Elephant, and details how the main character – a girl with Tourette’s, goes on a journey from finding she has the condition, to accepting herself. When she has an attack, parts of her body turn into an elephant – making the phrase “the elephant in the room”, a metaphor for the disorder.

The main character of the story, who looks like an elephant, is in full colour and standing among a group of grey humans

The main character suffers a Tourette's attack while talking with friends, parts of her

Tourette’s is an inherited condition, the key features of which are ticks, involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements like whistles, coughs, or words.

Xuan, who hopes to become a freelance illustrator, took three months creating her book and is important to her as she herself has the condition.

“It affects me a lot, I sometimes have insomnia, and I sometimes have trouble concentrating and twitching,” she said. “ I am on medication to control it though, so I don't need additional support.

“I liken Tourette's to an elephant in the comics because that's how I feel, I'm like the elephant in the room, everyone knows I'm different, even think I'm weird, but because they are adults, they don't say it directly.

Illustration of a girl talking with her mother about her day at school

"I hope that people without Tourette Syndrome read this cartoon more than people with it, because I want everyone to know more about this disease.”

Want to see more amazing work like this? Our postgraduate graduation shows continue across our campuses this week until September 4, and online.