Get-hooked March 21, 2021
Artist-illustrator Jijo Das is showing the world what people with Down syndrome can achieve
22-year-old Jijo Das is getting noticed around the world for his art. This Indian artist and illustrator has designed a sweatshirt for United Kingdom charity Wouldn’t Change a Thing on the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day this year. Last year, Jijo’s design was chosen for the international #LotsOfSocks campaign. This young man is emerging as a wonderful advocate for people living with Down syndrome.
Ask Jijo Das what he likes most about animation characters and this is what he says. “They love to explore. They sing and dance and enjoy the freedom. They try to do all things new”.
Qualities that in many ways describe this young man. At 22, Jijo is gaining global attention for his artwork. From drawing popular animation characters from books as a child, today he comes up with his own ideas.
Last year Jijo became the first Indian whose design was selected for the #LotsofSocks campaign for World Down Syndrome Day on 21 March. This is an international competition where people with Down syndrome are asked to design the graphics for a pair of socks which are then sold all over the world to spread awareness and prove the capabilities of such individuals. The socks were so popular that they got chosen as the official socks for 2021 too.
Watch this video on the #LotsOfSocks campaign
Hooked to animation as a child
That has opened up new avenues for this talented young man. After the results news of the #LocksOfSocks campaign were announced, Jijo was covered by Some Good News correspondent Elijah, a popular Australian YouTuber with Down syndrome. The interview caught the attention of prominent United Kingdom charity Wouldn’t Change A Thing. They offered Jijo his first freelance project – to design a sweatshirt for World Down Syndrome Day 2021.
Interview on Elijah & Crumpet
Jijo’s family is naturally proud of their real-life superhero as they call him. A term Jijo loves because “Marvel superheroes are brave, kind and they protect good people. My favourite superheroes are – Thor, Ironman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman. They have power and help people”
Role of Jijo’s family
Jijo’s dream is to work as an artist and illustrator in the Walt Disney Animation Studio and Pixar. Apt given that it animation films that sparked off his interest in art. His mother Moushumi Das went all out to encourage him by taking him to art exhibitions and introducing him to art teachers, thereby opening up a world of endless possibilities. Older brother Aniket, a motorbike designer, would always be sketching and Jijo would mimic him. Aniket realised that his brother had a special talent and needed direction. He took Jijo under his wing.
“I wanted to study design from a young age and there was always talk in our house about what you want to be when you grow up”, recalls Aniket. “Jijo was always listening to me talk about what I wanted to do, and he also started talking about his dreams, which was to work at Disney”. Aniket later joined the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and when home for the holidays, would teach Jijo. “I devised modules that had a bit of fun and art and would review his work every weekend so there was a certain discipline to the process”.
This constant encouragement has motivated Jijo to push himself and dream big.
“Appreciate every small achievement and see the brightness on your child’s face”, says Moushumi in a moving blogpost on Art of My Optimus, a website started by Jijo’s family to share their journey and showcase his art. “I believe in the silver lining of the clouds. I rejoiced at every sound he made. He seemed to understand everything that I said. Every time I looked at my son, I knew he has something unique – something different from my elder son. And the journey began”.
Jijo’s interests go well beyond art. He is also a passionate drummer and loves photography, interests that are showcased in a YouTube channel called Art of My Optimus started by his family. He works with different brands and media and loves experimenting with new techniques. He is learning to become a professional illustrator at an animation studio called Anicipate.
Watch Jijo drumming here:
I am practicing digital painting in Photoshop. I am learning new techniques, exploring new types of brushes. I wat to do acrylic paint on a big canvas using new techniques. I am working on illustrations for Art of My Optimus merchandise. Photography is my new hobby which I want to do seriously. I use my phone camera and the DSLR to shoot. I am learning new techniques to use DSLR. I research on YouTube for videos to help me learn photography also. My dream is to work as an artist and illustrator in Walt Disney Animation Studio and Pixar. I also want to be a photographer and do freelance photography. – Jijo Das, Artist & illustrator
Jijo has been featured in Enable Magazine, UK’s leading disability and lifestyle magazine for his work and journey in 2020. Global advocacy organisation VOSAP showcased him as one of the three examples of the epitome of abilities in international art competition held internationally and his work Raining Happiness was selected from 300 finalists out of 2,200 participants from 52 Countries and 882 cities, by an international panel of eight judges.
Jijo’s family is figuring out a business model where he can sell his art and make a living. By sharing his story on his website and YouTube channel, they hope to motivate parents raising children with Down syndrome.
Click here to watch Jijo Das’ YouTube channel
Follow Jijo on Instagram.
To know more about his journey, click here.
Watch in Sign Language
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