Express yourself with print: wear your heart on your sleeve

Join the conversation about mental health and free your creativity with these stylish and inspiring designs.
A Canon printer prints a sheet of paper with three heart designs on it. Around it are coloured pencils, a pack of transfer paper and a white t-shirt with a heart transfer on it.

When you're feeling down, talking with friends and family can be really helpful, but we know it's sometimes difficult to reach out and ask for help. That's where our creative project with two leading illustrators, Ricardo Cavolo and Agathe Sorlet, can help. Show that you are in need of some loving care – or willing to help others who are – by wearing their beautiful heart designs that not only look stylish, but serve a purpose in sending a subtle message to the world that you're open to talking about wellbeing.

Barcelona-based Ricardo's complex and kaleidoscope-like coloured designs are inspired by folk art and tattoo culture. His artworks grace walls around the globe from France to Hong Kong in the form of giant murals, and have also appeared in the pages of books and even on tarot cards.

Agathe, who lives in Bordeaux, France, has a more stylistically simple approach. Clients for her warm and witty line drawings include The New Yorker, The New York Times, Yoplait and WWF.

Here, Ricardo and Agathe talk us through their designs and how you can use them to boost your creativity and connect with others about mental health and wellbeing.

Choose your design

A colourful illustration showing a woman overlaid with three heart designs. Birds with eyes in their wings fly around her head.

"The heart symbol fits perfectly as it is present throughout my work," says Spanish artist and illustrator Ricardo Cavolo, who produced a series of interlinked designs that tell a chronological story for the campaign. "I had the idea to create a chronology as I went through depression a few years ago and I know this is a very important process." © Ricardo Cavolo

An illustration of a large pink heart hugging a small woman.

"These days, many things happen on a screen, in the virtual world," says French artist Agathe Sorlet. "Being able to print these designs in the 'real' world can truly do good by letting us reconnect with reality and the present moment and have a new perception of the drawings." © Agathe Sorlet

Ricardo and Agathe both took the heart as their starting point.

"The heart is a symbol to talk about mental health and the need to share the situation you're experiencing with someone, whether that's your friends or family," Ricardo explains. "Each of my illustrations represents a step on that path. The first, which features one person, is about deciding that you need to talk – this is the toughest and most important step of all. The second is about when you talk with someone, and the third shows the circle of help you can get from everyone who loves you."

Agathe wanted her designs to feel "comforting and full of love to deal with the topics of mental health and loneliness in a positive way". Each image represents "a moment of joy in sharing and love", she explains. "I wanted to represent a feminine character with a big heart because the heart can symbolise all different types of love – from your family, your friends, lovers and animals, but also self love."

Bring the design to life

A Canon printer sits on a table, a sheet of paper with heart designs coming out of it. Next to it an arm is seen ironing a transfer onto a white t-shirt.

"By displaying these hearts on their person, I hope people can find them useful in terms of communication and use them to feel stronger and make them willing to take care of their mental health," says Ricardo.

Firstly, select and download your heart design or designs. Now you'll just need:

With the free Canon PRINT app, you can connect to your Wi-Fi-enabled Canon PIXMA TS7440 printer directly from your phone. The transfer paper is A4 in size, so you can print a larger motif or several smaller ones, depending on your preference. Use the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Editor app to easily arrange several motifs on one page.

Once you've printed your design onto the correct transfer paper, cut it out neatly (any excess paper will show up in the transfer). Place the textile on the ironing board and decide where on your t-shirt or other item you'd like to position the design, then peel off the backing paper and place it down on the fabric. Lay the sheet of parchment that comes in the transfer pack over the design and iron on the transfer. Finally, remove the parchment and you're ready to go!

Read our guide on using transfer paper to print onto textiles, or take it to the next level by embellishing your print with embroidery.

You can share these designs with friends and family, explaining that they signal a willingness to discuss anything that might be upsetting you or making you feel scared or worried.

"You could use the hearts like a flag to show which point of the process you're in," suggests Ricardo. "Sharing it is the best part of the project. Art is about connecting with people. And this is an awesome way to do that."

Embrace your creative side

An illustration of a large heart eating a small, smiling woman.

"The Canon PIXMA TS7440 is very useful for projects like this because it can really make them come alive," says Agathe. "I hope that people can feel joy and love when seeing my illustrations and that they can feel less alone."

A woman sits in a chair, relaxed and reading a book about mindfulness. She is wearing a white t-shirt with three heart illustrations on it.

"I am really happy that my illustrations can be used in 'real life'," says Agathe. "I think that gives the project more warmth." © Agathe Sorlet

There are many positives to being creative, whether that's taking photographs or journaling. For a start, it forces you to slow down and exist in the moment, to step back from the stresses of work and life.

"If I'm working on my art, I'm happy. It's just how much and in which way I invest my energy into that," says Ricardo, who had depression for a year after experiencing burnout from overworking, but since having therapy has found a better balance.

"Drawing has played – and continues to play – a major role in my day-to-day wellbeing and mental health," says Agathe. "Essentially, it helps me to express emotions that I might not otherwise be able to express. I share most of my drawings on social media, but I also keep illustrated personal journals as an outlet for certain emotions, anxieties and fears."

Don't stop now

An illustration of a woman being hugged by many small hearts, completely covering her body with her head emerging from the top, a smile on her face.

The hearts in Agathe's illustrations represent all different kinds of love, from family and friends to pets and self-love. © Agathe Sorlet

An illustration of a heart shape containing several faces, each with two sets of eyes, as well as several smiling suns.

Ricardo tends to design mostly in the digital realm "so working on this and being able to print it at home and see the final result and format is very satisfying", he says. © Ricardo Cavolo

Your craft journey doesn't have to begin and end with this project. Why not let Ricardo and Agathe's designs inspire you to develop and print your own motifs? You can even use the same technique to print patterns that you can use for embroidery. As Agathe says: "You don't have to be a professional illustrator to draw. Everyone can create and it's really beneficial for your wellbeing and mental health."

With a Canon PIXMA printer, you can let your imagination roam free. "Having that technology at home means you can have an idea, work on it and then print it and see the final result," says Ricardo.

And finishing your project doesn't have to mean the end of the conversation, either. "Mental health is not negative – it's about all of us getting better," Ricardo concludes. "We need to stop this topic from being a taboo and make sure it becomes something that we can talk about freely."

Check out our Pinterest page for more craft tips and tricks.

Written by Rachel Segal Hamilton

*Light Fabric Iron-on Transfers LF-101 compatibility: PRO-100/PRO-100S, TS series (except TS31xx series/TS20x series), TR series (except TR45xx series), MG77xx series/MG75xx series/MG68xx series/MG67xx series/MG57xx series/MG56xx series/MG36xx series, iX68xx series

Dark Fabric Iron-on Transfers DF-101 compatibility: PRO-100/PRO-100S, TS series (except TS31xx series/TS20x series), TR series (except TR45xx series), G series (except GM40xx series/GM20xx series), MG77xx series/MG75xx series/MG67xx series, iP87xx series/iX68xx series

Related Products

Related Articles

  • Black Canon PIXMA printer with a colouring printout and print paper on a desk.


    De-stress from your desk

    We share a few simple ways to ease the pressure every day.

  • A white T-shirt with a printed embroidery pattern of houseplants, beside a pack of Canon iron-on transfers.


    Print embroidery patterns

    Producing exciting clothing or wall art is simple with printed embroidery patterns.

  • A person writing in a scrapbook, the pages filled with photos and stickers.


    Express yourself through creative journaling

    Journaling can be a way to express your creativity as well as boost your mental health.

  • A wall hanging made of tropical leaf shapes, cut out of colourful paper in pinks and greens and tropical prints.


    Simple biophilic decorations

    Combine nature and design to create calming spaces in your home.