Thank you so much Remrov for taking the time to talk with us today. When reading through your website, I am so moved by the obstacles you have overcome to understand language and the world around you. Thank you for your extraordinary dedication in sharing your story and knowledge with autistics and non-autistics alike. In your words, you are creating a “bridge between the autistic and neurotypical world.” Welcome!
1. At what age did you start to draw? When did you realize that art is a way to express yourself and communicate?
As soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil, I was always drawing. I loved drawing and I realized that when I was busy doing something, people didn’t expect me to communicate or socialize, which was extremely difficult for me. When I was little I drew road maps and patterns of shapes and colors, which helped me to deal with the chaotic outside world, and I drew cute creatures and aliens and imagined them being my friends, to deal with my loneliness. I started making very realistic drawings about 8 years ago and I started to realize that drawing really helps me to feel safe and grounded.
2.Your art is photorealistic; each piece is incredibly detailed and life like. Can you describe for us the process that goes into your artwork?
I see the whole world in a very detailed way and this helps me to make such detailed drawings. I find it difficult to explain to people how I make my drawings, and the process of it, because for me it comes very natural, like breathing. When I’m working on a drawing, I don’t try to draw fur or whiskers; for example, I draw the details I see, one by one.
3. What inspires you to focus on certain animals? Do you have a favorite art piece you have created?
I am a huge animal lover and I especially love wild animals like lions and tigers. They are so impressive and majestic. But my favorite drawing I have ever made is a coloured pencil drawing of my little feathered friend Pilaf. Pilaf was my best friend for 18 years and he was also registered as my therapy/support animal. He always helped me a lot with the challenges I face as an autistic person. He passed away in March this year.
4. How long did it take you to complete your favorite piece?
All my drawings, depending on the size, take in between 70 and 120 hours.
5. Have you had to overcome any challenges to create your art?
Yes. Especially when I was working on the drawing of my little feathered friend Pilaf. I was drawing the details of each feather and realized that my pencil was too big to create the details exactly how they are. My pencil had to be twice as small or I had to make the drawing twice as big. I then realized that I had to make an impression of the details, instead of literally drawing all the details, which was very difficult for me. I also wanted to do my little friend justice with my drawing, so I felt quite a lot of pressure.
6. When you were younger, you were non-verbal and found language difficult to understand. Can you explain a little bit more about how you learned to speak?
I did speak a bit when I was younger, but all the words I spoke were ‘copied’ from other people. I didn’t understand language and words and I didn’t understand other people. I got myself through every day by literally mimicking other people. Although everything I said and did was copied, I slowly made it my own, and very gradually started to find my own words and language inside of myself. I still find communicating very difficult though and it takes a lot effort to put my thoughts into words.
7. Is there an emotional process involved in the creation; if so, what is it like for you?
Yes. There is an emotional process. I always want to challenge myself, but I’m also very easily disappointed in myself. I’m not satisfied easily with what I make. I’m very perfectionistic. So every time I start a new drawing, and during the process of it, I’m always a bit afraid to fail. Besides that I want to do the animals I draw justice.
8. The videos you share on your website are so insightful about experiences of being on the Autism Spectrum, which many of us can relate to. You speak directly from your heart. What inspired you to share your story and knowledge with others?
When I look at my past, I see a lot of situations autistic people shouldn’t have to go through. If only there were more understanding and awareness. I want to prevent these things from happening to other autistic people.
There are a lot of therapists, social workers and psychiatrists who know a lot about autism, which is good. But they don’t have autism themselves. They don’t know how it feels, for example, to have a meltdown or a shutdown. I want people to know what it feels like to be autistic and why we respond in a certain way. This way people can understand it a lot better from the inside out.
9. Is there any person or artist who has inspired you?
I really love the work of the artist Richard Symonds. He makes very realistic pencil drawings as well.
10. Is there any specific advice you have for artists, particularly for anyone struggling with confidence or motivation?
Just keep on going; keep on doing what you love to do. Don’t try too hard, because when you try too hard you might get the exact opposite of what you want. Keep having fun with it, that’s very important.
Thank you so much for your heartfelt responses, Remrov. Before we close, can you please share with us where we can learn more about your art and where we can find you on social media? All the best to you.
Interview by Spectrum Suite’s Editor Deborah Kukreja