He's sharing his gift with the world!
Tyler Gordon is a 15-year-old self-taught artist who went viral last year for his portrait depicting then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. At the time, Harris called Gordon to thank him for the painting, saying she was "overwhelmed with just the magnificence of [his] artistry."
"You really have a gift, my goodness. I was so touched to see it," Harris told Gordon.
The teen became a runner-up for TIME Magazine/Nickelodeon's "Kid of the Year Award" and had the opportunity to paint the cover art for TIME's "Athlete of the Year" issue. Gordon was also featured in two Disney Channel commercials.
@KamalaHarris My name is Tyler Gordon and I'm 14 years old and I live in the Bay Area! I painted this picture of you and I hope you like it!!! Please Rt and tag her so that she can see this. Please!!!@JoeBiden @DouglasEmhoff @SenKamalaHarris @WeGotGame2 pic.twitter.com/X0qtChKBf2— Tyler Gordon (@tygordonsworld) November 23, 2020
What makes his work so fascinating is not just the sheer skill of it all or the fact that he's completely self-taught. Gordon is disabled. At 5, he was diagnosed as deaf, dealing with a Vitamin D deficiency and issues of disfluency that present as a stutter. As a child, Gordon underwent surgery that allowed him to have partial hearing but was wheelchair-bound for two years due to his vitamin deficiency. And he was bullied consistently for his stutter. Art was a saving grace for the teen, and he clung to it to help navigate and cope.
The teen also painted a portrait of President Joe Biden, saying he was inspired because Biden also has a stutter.
"I painted [Joe Biden] because he stutters just like me. He showed me that speaking slowly kinda masks a stutter," Gordon wrote.
Gordon spoke to Because Of Them We Can about the significance of his art and how much it means to him.
"Art has been a huge help in expressing myself and showing people my differences are only positive. Now instead of being bullied because I'm different, I can inspire others to embrace their own differences," Gordon said.
Now, the art prodigy has released his very first book, entitled "We Can, Portraits of Power." The book features Gordon's painted portraits of individuals he has been inspired by, including Barack Obama and Janet Jackson. They once acknowledged the teen for his work.
"I hope people feel inspired after reading the book. I hope that they are encouraged to follow their own dreams by the ones who are already doing it," Gordon told BOTWC.
He plans to continue using his art as a way to spread happiness to the world. Gordon is currently gearing up for a tour in partnership with violinist Damien Escobar to live painting and promote the new book. He also partnered with Common Spirit to release his first solo non-fungible token (NFT) to raise money for health inequities.
Guys my first solo NFT with @SupportCSHP drops today @ 3:30pm PT! Proceeds from this go to help with health inequities, and the artwork expresses exactly what that means to me. I can’t wait for you guys to see all of the pieces. Go to https://t.co/0aNvu7l96G to check it out. pic.twitter.com/JF49xlOUt1— Tyler Gordon (@tygordonsworld) September 29, 2021
The teen feels proud to be doing what he loves while helping others and hopes he can keep it going for a long time.
"My art makes people smile, and that means everything to me...I think it's cool that at my age, I can make such a big difference," Gordon said.
To purchase Gordon's book, "We Can, Portraits of Power," click here.
Congratulations Tyler! Because of you, we can.
Photo Courtesy of Tyler Gordon