CELEBRATION, Fla. — National audiences have started to notice the artistic gift of a 10-year-old Central Florida boy.
Tiger Villec, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old, doesn’t talk much. But when he sits in front of a blank canvas, many who view his finished work say his ability defies expectations.
Tiger can design and draw detailed characters, ones that he creates on paper upside down.
David, Tiger’s dad, noticed his son had a knack for drawing when he was 5 years old.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing — I gave him a drawing pad and he started drawing it with his finger,” David said. “Over time, he got better and better. I mean, he got really good.”
However, Tiger still hadn’t mastered drawing faces. His family met with an artist who has been drawing Disney characters for decades who told them about a book on drawing with the right side of the brain.
Because Tiger can’t read, David found a YouTube video for his son that explained the concept, which involves an artist drawing characters upside down.
“I put Mickey Mouse up on the whiteboard upside down and about a minute later I look back — Tiger is halfway done with Mickey Mouse,” David said.
Tiger's family says he has created some of his best work using this technique.
“I mean, so if I showed this to you and say, 'You know, is this pretty good for a 9-year-old kid to draw?' And everybody says, 'Oh yeah, that’s great,' and I say, 'Well, he drew it upside down,'” David said. “This is what an autistic savant is, and now you’re seeing it here.”
Tiger’s fan base has grown substantially in the last year.
He was the youngest artist to showcase his work at last year’s New York Comic Con and has entered several pieces of art in competitions at the Florida State Fair.
Tiger was also chosen by Walmart to draw the mascot for the Autism Speaks awareness program.
“He’s got all these things going for him that will make everybody realize what people with autism are capable of doing,” David said. “Not everyone is going to be as great an artist like Tiger, but these kids are capable of something.”
Tiger just recently showcased his art at the House of Mouse Expo in Orlando. His parents hope to raise enough money to travel to other conventions across the country so people can see Tiger’s artistry first hand.