AN artist with Asperger syndrome is wearing his heart on his sleeve by producing a range of Valentine’s T-shirts and tops that celebrate his condition.
After struggling to cope with a fast-paced office job, Paul Williams set up his own a thriving business which is attracting orders from as far afield as Australia and America.
As well as designing and making seasonal quirky clothing from his home in Redcar, he is also showing his watercolours depicting local landmarks in the town’s Palace Hub gallery.
In the run up to Valentine’s Day next Friday he is busy embossing logos onto white T shirts such as ‘hugging permitted’ and ‘Stupid cupid stop picking on me’, but it’s his designs raising awareness of Asperger’s, a form of autism, that he is especially proud of.
His designs include ‘Keep calm and ask an Aspie’, ‘Extrovert inside’ and ‘I just think differently to you’ with 10 per cent of eBay sales going to charity.
“As a child I was unhappy and unable to fit in and I was always bullied at school and regarded as different as a grown-up,” said the 45-year-old. “I so much wanted a cure for my disability or some way to adapt to life easily.”
He took up martial arts which has helped him focus, improve co-ordiantion and boost confidence and after being made redundant from a call centre he launched Paul Williams AIG (artist, illustrator and graphics) a year ago.
“I was never happy but then I found that other people with Asperger’s think of it as a gift, that there is something special about being different, so now I embrace it,” said the father of Daisy, five.
“However, I do think employers could give more support to people with Asperger’s and learning difficulties. We are loyal, we pay attention to detail and we get the job done.”
After making cutbacks and saving up to buy a heat-press he is now aiming to buy a labour-saving cutting machine and wants to gow his business further.
“I want to prove to people that they can make it on their own and be successful," he added.
For more details about Paul Williams AIG visit www.paulwilliams-artist.weebly.com