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Meet Joel Anderson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joel Anderson.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I started drawing at the age five. I loved creating little animals like cats, dogs, mice; people like knights, pirates, and cartoon characters, and iconic places from around the world like New York City, London England, Pyramids in Egypt, Great Wall of China, and St. Basils Cathedral. I drew on everything, even the walls, and the family room cabinet! I went through a lot of paper, so my parents got me started drawing on the computer. This opening my eyes also to the world of animation.

When I turned ten, I started painting at a local art school in Fallbrook. I began to study pictures of famous paintings from books about Leonardo DaVinci, Van Gogh, and Picasso. My first waiting was of the Mona Lisa on a huge piece of paper. The teacher realized I had a special style and love for art.

Due to my grandmother requesting my art to be made into cards for her to send to all her friends, When I was 12 years old, my family and I started my art business “Joel’s Vision Arts.” We made art, cards, prints and more.

In that same year of 2003, my mom and I started to volunteer with the Autism Tree Project Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Point Loma at San Diego. I make art for them for events and for raising money for Autism Awareness and research, and most importantly to make people smile. Currently, I am now their resident artist, and they commission me to do several big projects a year.

They have given me a foundation to create art, share my story through public speaking to kids and adults of all ages and grow my business.

Please tell us about your art.
I create my art to help make people smile, even my animals I try to have a hint of a smile. I paint with acrylic, graphic art and animation I enjoy trying all types of mediums. Sometimes I combine them all together. Painting gives me peace.

I want people to know God created everyone with a purpose. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. My parents, in the beginning, were concerned for my future. But they know God had a plan.

Due to my super sensitives senses, I see colors very brightly. There is a lot of emotion in color. I see joy in green, courage in blue, strength in red and love in yellow. I wrote a poem that we made into a song, The Colors of My Mind.

Sometimes I even see colors when I hear musical notes. In May April of 2018, I created “MozArt” for the Mainly Mozart Genius Weekend with Mainly Mozart of San Diego in collaboration with The Autism Society and The Art of Autism. I painted Mozart with the musical notes in the colors I see when I hear his music. Classical music is very important to the brain and the world of color and art. It was a very special event, and I look forward to working with them again this Spring.

These life experiences make my art more alive.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art? I am honored that my art has opened doors to encourage people around the world.
When I was little my parents didn’t know that my mom and I would travel the world sharing my art and giving hope to people with special needs. Many countries children and adults with special needs are outcasts and thought they are useless. When I spoke in China and Peru, I was often the first adults with special needs that they had ever seen go to school, college, have my own business and travel. It opened their eyes to the possibilities that the people in their country could also have this hope! I hope I can inspire others to help their family, friends, and communities to find their purpose and help them grow it. I want to also inspire people to try something new and to have courage. Traveling around the world takes courage. My parents helped me learn to try new things and have courage. We did things like white water raffling( we started going on very easy rides and got to bigger levels as I got better), climbing a mountain, or even riding a subway was very scary for me at first, then I got to ride the subway in Tokyo! Traveling the world opens my eyes and my heart to people and their cultures. Their colors eventually show up in art my art.

When I was 18, I told my mom I needed to go to the world to help people with special needs. In 2010 I received the International Naturally Autistic People Awards for Community Achievement, and I went to Vancouver, Canada for the ceremonies. Later in 2012, I was the International Ambassador for Autism representing the United States alongside of Temple Grandin for The ANCA Awards. The Autism Tree Project Foundation then appointed me as their international ambassador. Since then I ’ve been to Canada three times, twice in China, Jiaozuo, Beijing and Nanjing, Japan and Peru. In 2016, I completed a commissioned animation short for the African Water Projects, entitled “How Germs Spread’. It is being used across Africa and beyond to share about Germs and the importance of washing your hands and clean water. Although it is a very simple animation, it took me and my Director, HowIe Hoffman, many months to produce. However, the impact of helping keep children and adults well makes it so worth it!

A year ago, I created “Smile Bags.” It is a red drawstring backpack with the logo of a child I created with the artwork of the word Smile in 27 different languages. With the percentage of my art sales and gift from others, we fill the Smile Bags with art supplies and toys appropriate for the locations they go. We gave away 100 bags last year to Malawi, China, Peru and more. I am excited to soon send bags to India and beyond!
Hopefully, there would be more places for me to go and see, and share my art and autism journeys along the way.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
I have donated art to support causes I believe in. It made me feel good to have my art help raise money for the foundations, and it also gave art exposure to lots of people. This led to being commissioned by foundations and individuals, and now I have several big collectors. There are many opportunities out there, but it takes a lot of work. Weekend art shows and pop up events take lots of preparation. It is at these events I will meet someone who will commission me to due piece or become a mentor to help me continue along my art journey. I posted a 9-second animation on social media, and it was seen and chosen to be in a movie! Be flexible enough to create what people need for their business, but also create the art you love.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My artwork can been seen on my website and social media.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Adam Lanser

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