West Island autistic man embracing talents, creates holiday cards

Click to play video: 'West Island man within the autism spectrum thrives through art'
West Island man within the autism spectrum thrives through art
WATCH ABOVE: A West Island man is embracing his talents in a unique way by creating a series of holiday cards that are generating lots of buzz in his community. Global's Felicia Parrillo has the story. – Dec 9, 2017

Zach Reisman and his mother Lorri Benedik are busy.

The holidays are just around the corner and they’re trying to keep up with all of the demand for Zach’s hand-drawn holiday cards.

But these aren’t just ordinary cards — each one of them has a story.

The back of one of Zach Reisman’s holiday cards. Felicia Parrillo/Global News

Zach was diagnosed with autism when he was six years old.

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That has presented some challenges for him, like social interaction, but it has also given him the gift of exceptional visual acuity.

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“I like being creative,” he said. “It’s all about imagination and it comes from inside your head. When you put your pencil down on paper, your ideas come to life.”

Zach started to make things come to life at a young age.

He took drawing classes in high school, and then pursued his creative passion in college.

Last year, Zach graduated from an art program at CDI College, focused on illustration and 3D modelling.

“We would go to the movies to see an animated film, and at the end, we would stay to watch the credits, we wouldn’t leave. And he would say `Mom, one day you’re going to see my name, where it says 3D artist,'” said Benedik. “It’s a dream of his.”

Since graduating, the 23-year-old has had a tough time finding a steady job.

While he searched, his mother decided to hire him to create greeting cards.

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After sharing them with friends and family, the feedback was so good, Zach was asked to do holiday cards.

One of those people was Montreal real-estate developer Mathieu Duguay.

He commissioned some of Zach’s work and the cards were sent out to around 12,000 clients.

“We thought his art was very pure, positive and beautiful,” he said. “I felt it would be great to encourage him in his project.”

Zach and his mother has sold over 500 cards in just less than a month.

“I like to make other people feel good, before myself,” said Zach. “It just feels really nice to know that someone has a homemade gift.”

Zach says his dream is to become a video game developer, but with all of his talents, he isn’t ruling anything out.

One thing he knows for sure is that whatever he decides to do, he is determined to leave a mark.

To see Zach’s work, you can visit his website.


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