Creating Happiness: How a Young Man Shares His Passion for Art with Others | Lifestyles

Looking at art can bring people joy, soothe their souls, and foster an appreciation for life. Being able to create art is even more amazing; Joe Baker from Bristow knows this well.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” says Joe. “I like to draw and draw buildings for free and all that. It makes me happy and I like to do fun things.

The 21-year-old ink artist has faced many challenges in her life.

“He was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old,” says his mother, Colleen. “He had a really hard time writing, so in kindergarten we pushed for occupational therapy. Within a few years of occupational therapy, he started writing and drawing and never stopped.

When Joe was in fifth grade, he had his first major seizure.

“We think going through puberty is what triggered it; a third of children with autism end up suffering from epilepsy,” she says.

But art has always been there for him. It was a way to relax after a day of school and a way to express feelings. While at Patriot High School, he took an art class and also played on the Unified Sports basketball team. “He loved to play,” says his mother.

Unfortunately, Joe’s epilepsy got worse and Colleen, a teacher for 29 years, the last of which was in Prince William County, decided to stop working to stay home and care for him. She also home-schooled Joe so he could graduate from high school, which he proudly did.

When COVID hit, the idea of ​​turning Joe’s passion into a real business took hold.

“I was doing life skills with him like money management,” she says. “We were stuck at home and we turned one of our bedrooms into an art studio. We bought all the furniture and freshened it up and bought a bunch of art equipment.

As of September 2020, Artfully Joe was up and running. Joe comes to his studio every weekday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. and usually works until 4:00 p.m., except Fridays, which he and his mother call Fun Fridays.

“We think everything is going well,” says Colleen. “We always try to come up with something different, so in addition to designs, we’ve added note cards to our repertoire and created calendars for the holidays. We haven’t really taken part in official art exhibitions yet, but we are looking to do so.

Currently, some of Joe’s works can be found at The Winery at Sunshine Ridge Farm in Gainesville, where he also met in February.

As with many small home-based businesses, the first customers were mostly family members and friends. But now Artfully Joe receives orders from as far away as California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida. It’s not surprising. There are wonderful collections of flowers, animals, silhouettes and more available online.

Joe encourages people to buy his works.

“They can hang it somewhere in their house and put it in a nice frame and love it,” he says.

Colleen thinks Joe got his talent from his dad.

“I’m crafty, not an artist like him, but his grandfather is an artist, but not by trade. His mother’s family was from Copenhagen, Denmark and he had a few artists in the family who still have artwork there.

Joe and Colleen often think together about what he should draw next.

“We have a whiteboard in his studio that someone made for us and we decorate it for the seasons and put ideas on it,” she says. “We’ve also put in place what we have going on that month.”

Colleen enjoys helping Joe with his business. “I help him with ideas for social media and the website, as well as shopping and shipping, and try to include him in what I do or what we sell.

“It can be difficult for those who have these problems to find a job. It’s been great because he can see the benefits of the job, and yet if he has a seizure one day, he can stop and rest. He has that flexibility.

Along with his business, Joe is also excited to become an uncle this summer.

“I have a sister who is pregnant now and her name is Abby,” he says. “I also have three dogs – Billy, Baxter and Petey.” Joe will take orders to draw other people’s dogs, but not his own. He wants to keep them all to himself.

“I’m doing really well,” Joe said. “I really like the way I draw things and color them.” He would like others to follow him and see his amazing pieces on social media. He also posts videos of himself in his studio, to see absolutely!

Cleverly follow Joe here:

Facebook – Joe Baker

Instagram- @artfullyjoe

Twitter-Joe Baker

TikTok – @theartfullyjoe

To order a custom piece or purchase one of Artfully Joe’s works, click here.

This feature appears in the April 2002 issue of Haymarket-Gainesville Lifestyle Magazine.