Moving Picture: Photographer with Down syndrome sells artwork
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Artistic talent has no limits, despite what preconceptions might exist in the world. That is the case with photographer Geoffrey Mikol, who has Down syndrome. Mikol's natural talent as a photographer is evident to those viewing and purchasing his artwork at art fairs around the Chicago area.
The 21-year-old Palatine photographer has been serious about photography for the past seven years. He took photography classes at Walt Whitman High School, outside Washington, D.C.
Mikol comes from a family of creative people. Mikol's father Paul dabbled in photography but says "Geoffrey is much better than I am." His mother is an accomplished pianist, and his grandmother was a pastel artist. His stepmother and brother have creative talents of their own with baking and performance comedy.
Geoffrey loves photographing landscapes with a special affection for, in his words, "rocks, dark rocks. It's my favorites." Geoffrey's art fair booth is filled with images he has captured on his photo excursions locally and around the country.
One striking image that graces the face of his business cards is titled "Bridge Into Sunset" -- a silhouetted bridge over Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, at sunset.
Paul Mikol accompanies Geoffrey on many of his photography shoots.
"He takes his photography very seriously," he said. "When we go out and do a photography shoot, he will stay out for hours."
After graduating from Harper College's Life Skills Institute, Geoffrey and Paul sat down to talk about what livelihood Geoffrey should pursue. The father-and-son team decided to try their hand at selling Geoffrey's artwork at local art fairs.
In 2014 Geoffrey and Paul did a few shows to get their feet wet and work out the kinks. This year they decided to hit the Chicago area art fair market full time, booking eight shows.
The art fairs that Geoffrey attends are juried shows, so participation in the show is based on the quality of the artists' work. Geoffrey has been accepted into most to which he applied, even winning "Outstanding Achievement" ribbons at the Oak Brook Spring Festival of Fine Craft and the Buffalo Art Festival this past summer.
On average, Geoffrey sells about 15-20 prints per show, with the big sellers being images titled "First Light" and "Road Less Traveled."
Proud father Paul remarked that it would be one thing if only family thought Geoffrey was talented.
"Total strangers come up to him in that booth at the art fairs and just love the work.
"Even if they don't buy anything, they are really moved by what he produces."
To view and/or purchase any of Geoffrey's photography you can visit his website at www.gmikol.com.