Self taught Aspie Artist Entrepreneur Adult growing with Aspergers Syndrome
by Paul Williams
(Redcar, Cleveland, England)
Like many Aspies it's hard to maintain full time employment & acceptance in a working environment.
I’ve had many struggles to maintaining a stable job in England and being accepted with my disability.
So why not create a job that I’m suited & adapted to or as my mother once said “instead of being a square peg in a round why not make my own hole to fit in.”
Over the years I’ve developed my own techniques to cope with my disability; it's made a different & confident person within me and it's also given me a positive outlook on a new perspective.
So what I used personal life am now using it on my business. The secret is creativity.
When I was a child I had severe Aspergers, unhappy and wanted to fit in. Bullied and wanted a cure for my disability so bad.
As young boy I had problems learning at school and found it hard to adapt to other people around me. Later I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and mild dyslexia. My mother says she noticed I changed once I had the Vaccine injections when I was a baby.
This was a time when it was never heard of and no support was given.
I failed in many areas and subjects at school; the only subject that I was greatly fond of was ART.
I found a different perspective with art as it drew me in to a world of calmness and escape.
Top of the class with art and won many competitions relating art.
My last year at school was the hardest as I spent the last 6 months at home due to troubles at school.
Only attending end exams at school I was left at home thinking of what to do next.
Finding the strength & courage. I found by repeating the words “go for it” seem to advance me to my next step.
I studied Art 'A' Level and continued to Art college for a degree. I thought I would have gone on to architecture but my teachers didn’t understand me & my way of looking at things and I was told I would never make it in the art world no matter what the job.
So after being put off and cast as a failure I tried other things, computers, and various other subjects.
I developed anger and frustration due to the lack of help and support as well as the social problems.
So I gathered that this was a lonely journey and something I would have to do on my own.
So to help me cope with my stress I focused on me as how I see things in my perspective. One such thing is my spirit. As well as I think roughly about 8 things at once; my inner voice and higher self is who I talk to.
As my mother once described me as an extrovert within an introvert this was to become something I needed to focus on. How to get my extrovert out.
After taken the plunge I decided to learn the art of defending myself & discipline with martial arts.
I started with KUNG-FU, WING CHUN and a few others briefly but I soon took more interest in TAI CHI.
Martial arts helped me gain eye contact. Opponents must face & bow to each other without losing eye contact and maintain this eye contact throughout the fight. This also gave me a bit more confidence in myself.
Tai Chi on the other hand is a complete different kettle of fish.
This helped me with my control of my body and mind which helped me with my coordination which was terrible in the past.
Another thing is focus. I'm able to focus on one thought; I still have 8 things all at once in my head whizzing around solving problems, design new ideas, what to shop for what’s the solution to this and so on but Tia Chi helps to ease this down and control my hesitation and stop meltdowns.
Mediation is another thing I developed over the years and goes hand in hand with Tia Chi. But it's mostly brought my inner self being more aware of what is beyond. There is a kind discipline also that helps maintain a perspective on what you want to achieve or bring into your life.
My new confidence with a positive perception got me my first job abroad which I carried on for 7 years in various European countries.
After 7 years abroad I came back to the UK and found it hard again to maintain a stable job. I was too slow and spent too much time on a certain aspect of the job. But this was my best trait as I pay great attention to detail.
I took another challenge and worked in a call centre for over a year.
But I developed a sickness and was on sick leave from work for 6 months due to stress and anxiety.
I was also stressed hearing other peoples' phone calls as my hearing focused on the background more than the foreground and it was confusing me.
I was also in a relationship which turned sour in the end and brought me to an all-time low.
I also gained a young daughter who I dearly love and do anything for her and I care for her 50% of the week. But when I'm on my own the rest of the time it's the time to help myself recover from negativity that the world
throws at me.
I spent almost 2 years focusing on how to turn a negative aspect into a positive, I studied sods law, lady luck and how everything goes right one day and the next all bad.
I learnt to find just one small positive through the day and as the days pass they became more and more positives.
I thought I'd try again with my Art and get some help from my disability advisor at the job centre but it was me that had to do most of the work.
I came up with the idea of using my artwork on products such as cards, note books, postcards, and t-shirts.
I already gained some experience working as a volunteer with 3 other people on the spectrum with the help of the main project who help families and people with autism and aspergers.
After some time I took the decision to leave as the volunteering was supposed to lead to self employment through the experience but I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere and wanted to earn money as I had responsibility.
So I decided to continue with my artwork again but I needed funding and this was hard to obtain. I did search and ask but it just wasn’t available. I did however gain some money for stock from the job centre but I needws more to buy a heat press for my t-shirts.
So I saved and saved and made some cut backs.
Eventually I got my heat press and started producing my designs onto t-shirts. I tend to focus on seasonal trends such as Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas.
I also had a business mentor which was introduced by my job centre and she helped me develop my ideas and show me the financial side of things.
Whilst I was researching what other people do and try to see if any help would be given I stumbled across a few of organizations who help people with learning difficulties and help them develop their skills in the hope of gaining experience or even work. Or just to sell their work and gain satisfaction.
After explaining that I was trying to start my own business as no one would employ me in the NT world so now I'm wanting to create my own job. I was fascinated what they were doing and others and so they were happy for me to place leaflets of their info and help into my products and post. And also advertise and link their pages to my website.
I also do T-shirts about Asperger's Syndrome and hope it makes people more aware, and 10% of my sales are donated to Autism and Aspergers syndrome charities.
I started forming my business mid 2012 and went live early January 2013.
My Christmas t-shirts got me to a good start as they involved the infamous “keep calm”.
Another popular product of mine is my alternative Gothic Christmas cards. These are printed copies of my original Gothic painting of crows on a snow scene in-front of the Whitby abbey which is featured in Bram Stoker Count Dracula.
The painting however has a tint of redness. Ive also sold t-shirt of this image too.
Most of my T-Shirt designs are humours and witty. I also do personal T-Shirts which have been popular this year in local shops.
My watercolour paintings have also been displayed and sold in the new Redcar art gallery in palace hub which opened up this Easter 2013.
I steward for 2 hours each Tuesday and it's helped me talk and get involved with other artists. Also I'm approaching customers more confidently and it's fun as it's a subject I love. So talking to customers about a subject I know and love helps this approach.
Another bonus is my job is mine and I do it at home in my own environment at my own pace and the detail applied to my business is my own achievement and hard work and time consuming.
Amongst concentrating on my business I'm also committed to teaching and raising my daughter who is now 5 years of age. She too is fond of art and shows a creative side which I proudly exhibit on my walls.
My daughter has also helped me approach people in the streets and with small talk as our little walks have created spontaneous conversations with passers-by on how cute and polite my daughter is.
My advice to others who want to set-up their own business is do it. Don’t wait. Take each step by step don’t rush into it but learn from it.
Find out what talents you have and use them a lot. Perfect what you already know.
Visualise how you see yourself in the future with your business, visualise it being successful.
If there are any barriers try to see if you can go around it by finding another solution.
If there are any setbacks or criticism don’t think of it as a negative statement but just try and find something positive from it no matter how small and that negative aspect will go away.
Keeping myself committed to my positive attitude although people have doubted me ever succeeding is quite funny as I now aspire to great heights.
Know that if you visualise your dream or a goal don’t ever let anyone stop you from making it true. We are the creators of our own world and our own goals; you just have to believe!
Message from Diane: Please click here to visit Paul's Facebook page