Zachary Swain has been drawing his favorite characters for many years, from Thomas the Train to Sonic the Hedgehog and Scooby Doo. At Aspire’s Day Options in Maryland, he’s turning that passion into a career.

Zach started out making drawings on paper with colored pencils, and while he still does these, he has been expanding his repertoire. Zach now paints characters on canvas, too. He’s been combining characters into unique collages. Zach used the green screen at the local library to superimpose himself with characters from Wreck-it Ralph to make a self-portrait. This past holiday season he designed a Christmas card.

Using these new techniques, he’s been experimenting with ways to make a living with art.

With support from Day Options, Zach got his Christmas card printed. He sold 170 of them through his network of connections in the community. He offered the cards for sale at local stores, at his church, at the local rec center, and to folks at Day Options. It was an exciting outcome, but not his first success.

Last year, Zach painted a large number of canvases and rented a table at the local flea market he called “The Zachary Show,” selling nearly 20 paintings in one day. He’s planning to go again, but as he pointed out, he’s “got a lot of painting to do.” In the meantime, he set up a gallery wall at Day Options for his framed works. And he submitted a piece to the virtual Sprout Film and Art Festival sponsored by the Arc of Northern Chesapeake on February 10.

Zach reported, “I paint at home, at my Aunt’s house, and here at the center.” DSPs from Day Options also support the business side of his work, brainstorming ideas and giving him opportunities to learn new skills. “[They teach me] how to count the money, so I can sell them.”

While he’s exploring his potential as a professional artist at Day Options, Zach is also having fun. He has made new friends during his three years there, and enjoys the activities they do together–especially movies, mini-golf and game arcades. At 23, he’s also a proud uncle to four nieces and nephews: “It’s great being an uncle. I have fun with them.”

Zach is currently hard at work on his annual autism awareness poster for World Autism Month. Look for it on Aspire’s social media this April!


Art is a Calling for Zach