Congratulations to multi-media artist David Coté, the Shame Kills Poster Contest Winner

David Coté, from Manchester, New Hampshire, was the winning artist for the 2016 Shame Kills Poster Contest. His work, titled “Out of the Darkness,” adeptly portrays the correlation between shame and substance abuse.

The purpose of our poster contest was to draw attention to the pain and stigma associated with substance use disorders. The goal was for contestants to share a design that could quickly and easily impart the message that Shame Kills. We are so grateful for everyone who participated in the contest, and we thank you for your submissions. The more people who stand together to break down the shame associated with addiction, the better chance survivors have of moving on with their lives.

David shared with us a little about his background, his inspiration, and how he sees the role of art in society. We appreciate his creativity and candor, and we thought you might too.

What can you tell us about yourself and your background?
I have been living in long-term recovery from substance misuse since June 16, 1990. Although substance use disorder has touched many parts of my life, my disease does not define me. I am a husband, married for 23 years, a dad to a teenage girl. I am also a son and a brother, a business owner, employee, an artist and a tax-paying voter.

What inspired your design for the Shame Kills poster contest?
This design was inspired by a few things from my personal experience. As someone who struggled with addiction, I can certainly relate to being in a dark place, looking for a way out. Also, as someone who works helping those suffering, I can attest to the power of an outreached hand and the words “no shame.” The simplicity of the design is to unclutter the message.

How do you see your design inspiring others?
I see this design sparking a conversation of hope, and that shame from stigma can only harm someone already hurting. Mostly, I want this design to light the way for someone sick and suffering.

This is a graphic design. Do you primarily work in graphic design or have other mediums where you apply your talents?
I have been painting and drawing since childhood, and a professional photographer since 1989. In the mid-1990s, I sold paintings at art shows around New England and maintained a part time position as a photographer, eventually returning to full time photography. In 2010, I enrolled in the graphic design program at a local college, graduated with an associate’s degree, and shortly after completed a bachelor of science in digital media at 50 years old.

What role does the artist have in society?
Art is healing. Art can touch the viewer beyond what words can describe. Early in my own recovery, I stood frozen in front a painting that spoke volumes to me when I still felt so broken.

Do you have anything else you would like to share with us?
Currently, I work at HOPE for NH Recovery, a recovery community organization, as the media and information person. I am also a peer recovery coach for their 24/7 on-call Emergency Department Program. My coaching brings me to the hospital to connect with patients who have recently overdosed, or show other signs of substance misuse.