Viktor Bevanda’s high-functioning form of autism has hindered his ability to communicate, but not his talent for painting.
And the proof is in the TikToks.
During the pandemic, Viktor’s mom, Andrea Bevanda Kun, helped her 12-year-old son channel his drawing talent. At the same time, social media platform TikTok became the top app of 2020. People began posting their hobbies and small businesses in 60-second clips, and their businesses in-turn started blooming.
While drawing was simply therapeutic art-making for Viktor, Bevanda Kun said she saw a business idea and way to secure her son’s future.
“Ever since my son was diagnosed with autism seven years ago, there has not been a day that I don’t think about his future,” she said.
Viktor was diagnosed with a severe form of autism spectrum disorder at a young age in Serbia, where he was born. In 2018, his family moved to Aventura, where his mother began working on channeling Viktor’s artistic talents.
“I decided to support his creativity and created a FaceBook and Instagram profile,” said Bevanda Kun. “We opened accounts on Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.”
The profiles and accounts were named Vichy’s Art, which became the business name.
Bevanda Kun said her son has always been ahead of his peers.
“He started drawing at a very young age,” she said. “Already at the age of two or three, he was drawing while his peers were just beginning.”
Bevanda Kun said by age 5, her son drew all the planets of the solar system.
Viktor has amassed a huge following, with over a hundred thousand followers on TikTok and over forty thousand followers on Instagram.
Viktor’s most viewed Tiktok has 7.5 million views and 2 million likes, said Bevanda Kun, where he draws a portrait of Michael Jackson.
Due to high interest from supporters, Viktor’s mom opened the website and began selling his drawings.
Vichy’s Art sells both originals and fine prints of originals, said Bevanda Kun. The originals range from $80 to $1,500 in price. The prints range from $10 to $60 in price.
Viktor’s father, Boris Bevanda, said Vichy’s Art has made contributions to organizations.
“We donated the proceeds from the sale of one original to the World Birthday Autism Club,” said Mr. Bevanda. “We also donated two originals to Our City Beautiful, a charity organization from Sanford Florida.”
Viktor’s mother said the business is a form of securing Viktor’s future because he will never be independent.
He is non-verbal and he can’t express feelings, which means that Viktor is completely self-taught, said Bevanda Kun.
“I found various pictures on the internet and he transferred those pictures to paper in his own way,” she said. “Sometimes it seems to us that he has a photographic memory since he is able to copy something identical.”
Bevanda Kun said she tried a couple different painting techniques, but Viktor took best to oil pastels, which she said is one of the most difficult techniques to work with.
Viktor’s paintings are colorful and usually follow an abstract pop art style.
While Bevanda Kun is unsure of what Viktor likes to draw the most, she thinks it’s animals because of how quickly he draws them.
“We have a folder on the computer with photos and he chooses which one to paint,” she said. “From some ordinary photo, he makes a miracle, a masterpiece.”
Elizabeth Webster is the lead counselor and art therapist at the Blossom Behavior Wellness Center, an organization that specializes in early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has no connection to the Bevanda family.
Art Therapy “gives these children different ways to express feelings and emotions without words, in a way that is comfortable for them” said Webster.
Webster said that some children take months to start drawing.
“If he can maintain engagement and visibly shows a relaxed and positive demeanor, that would be an indicator he’s probably enjoying it,” she said.
Viktor’s capability to replicate and draw art the way he does is his way of explaining and exploring his emotions, said Webster.
Andrea Bevanda Kun plans to continue using TikTok and other social media platforms to support and promote Vichy’s Art.
“This business is in its early phase, but we hope it will support Viktor’s future,” she said.
Viktor’s art can be viewed and purchased on the Vichy’s Art website: www.vichysart.com.