U.S. Navy Veteran, Michael Hyacinthe was introduced to artist & designer, Tyler Way in 2010. Once they met for coffee, they soon realized the divide between their respective Veteran and creative communities living and working in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This first conversation over coffee led them to bridge the divide by utilizing the power of art, design, and the creative process to bring their two worlds together.

At a local Veterans event, Michael met a wounded U.S. Marine & his full-time nurse. Paralyzed from the neck down & unable to speak due to injuries suffered in Iraq, the young Marine shared his story through a special alphanumeric communication code that was translated with the aid of his nurse. Michael learned of his love of t-shirts and asked the Marine if he would like to design his own. Seeing the larger-than-life grin come across his face, Michael called Tyler to see if they could design a shirt together.

From that first t-shirt design & its powerful creative process, the HERO[series] was created: a Veteran partnered with an artist for the shared mission to tell their story through the mediums of art, design, & fashion.


Known as the “Design Days,” this two-day design process is focused on the Veteran and artist collaboration and documenting it through video and photo. During this time, the two get to know one another by sharing stories and asking questions while brainstorming design ideas together.

Through years of conducting these collaborations, [HAS HEART] has established an open and safe environment around the Veteran and artist. As the Veteran is sharing their story, the artist begins to pick-up on key words, phrases, images, symbols, mottos, etc. While the artist listens and asks questions to dig deeper into some of these key points, themes and storylines will naturally begin to appear and develop. As the two continue to dive deeper into specific overlying messages, they will begin to narrow down their design options, eventually honing in on a single concept that best shares their meaningful message with the world.

The artist continues work on establishing and finalizing the design within the following weeks. Throughout this time, they will share updates both with the Veteran and [HAS HEART] to ensure all parties are aligned before its production as a t-shirt and/or other American-made consumer product.


Each of these Veteran-and-designer collaborations yield a meaningful design that represents each Veteran’s story and message. Their design is produced into American-made products accompanied with the purpose behind it in order to enable the community to support each Veteran and help further share their story with those around them.

[HAS HEART] works with photographers, writers, and videographers to document their story in their own words by enabling behind-the-scenes access so others can experience their powerful collaborative design process.

Product brands are welcome to CONTACT US to license these Veterans’ designs and stories to help build awareness, support, and engagement throughout the country.