By Malcolm Wang
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Thiago Fernandes, a 15 year old artist from Brazil. Thiago creates 2 dimensional visual art. He has autism and had a big art show last month. His mom, Kássia likes to read the Art of Autism blog posts. I think it’s important to learn about artists of all ages from different countries. Here is our discussion.
1. How did you become interested in art?
Ever since I was a child, I was interested in art. I used to make drawings in my sketchbook with crayon, and then I started to do it with a pen and colored pencil. I watched a lot of cartoons on TV, I believe that influenced me.
2. What media do you work in? (drawing by hand, computer aided drawing, painting, photography, etc.)
I draw by hand. I also have some digital drawings, and I am learning to make animations by myself.
3. Where do you get the ideas for the art?
There are several sources: people I live with, movies, cartoons, games, research I do on the internet (google, wikipedia and youtube).
4. I have enjoyed visiting museums since I was little. Do you like to visit art museums? If so which is your favorite and why?
I haven’t been to museums yet. Only at art fairs. But I would like to go.
5. My favorite artists are Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibowitz, and Pablo Picasso. Who are your favorite artists and why?
Stan Lee- because he created several superheroes: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Hulk, Iron Man, Daredevil, Thor, Dr. Strange, The Avengers, Black Panther, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Mercury, Nick Fury, Ant-Man.
George Lucas – creator of the Star Wars franchises. All Doctor Who actors (William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennan, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker), because this is my favorite series. My drawing of them is attached. We sent it to the BBC, but we still haven’t had a response. I would very much like them to see my drawing.
I made a self-portrait with inspiration from this series, mainly in the 4th doctor (Tom Baker).
6. What is your big dream?
I am a big fan of the Doctor Who series. My dream is to know the filming locations of Doctor Who.
7. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 3, but I did not understand that I was autistic until I was 8. How old were you when you were diagnosed and when you understood that you were autistic?
It was in 2017 when I was 13, and from that date I learned about the diagnosis.
8. Is there anything you find difficult about being autistic?
Bullying, lack of education and respect from people. Not having friends my age.
9. Some people prefer to communicate with sign language or with a communication device. What is your preferred way to communicate?
Speaking. I love talking about art, video games, movies, politics, etc.
10. English is my first language but I also studied German in school. What languages can you understand?
Only Portuguese. But I intend to take an English course when I can.
11. What is your favorite piece of artwork you created and why?
It’s hard to choose I like all of them. I can’t tell which one.
12. Tell me a little bit about how your parents have helped you grow as an autistic person. For example, my parents moved for better services for me. Have your parents done something special to help you?
Yes. Even without a conclusive diagnosis, my parents started therapy when I was 4 years old. But in Pernambuco we didn’t have trained professionals in the public network, so we moved to Santa Catarina because it is a better state in terms of inclusion, as well as supporting my work. They also help me to send my work to various galleries and organize my exhibitions. We are a team.
13. Tell me the best and worst part about having a sister.
Best – playing video games with her, playing on the beach, in the park, etc.
Worst – when she stays with her friends and doesn’t want to be with me.
14. Do you have a strong memory for pictures? Can you give an example of how your memory has helped you?
Yes. I have a good photographic memory. For example: I already drew my grandfather’s house with the memory of a visit I made.
15. Tell me about your most recent art exhibit.
It just ended (February 17-28, 2020). It is called Minha Arte na escola – it summarizes all the drawings I made in homage to my teachers and other school staff.
Congratulations to Thiago on his exhibit! I hope you continue to develop your artistic talent.
Malcolm Wang is an artist in Michigan. His next exhibit is in April 2020 at the Novi Civic Center. The exhibit will have thirty new photos from his nature hikes. Malcolm was diagnosed with autism at age three.