Big picture: Alien invasion

Picture by William Tipple, with comment from Professor Uta Frith. Download PDF for poster.

William Tipple is a 15-year-old with autism. This illustration, an entry to the Create Art for Autism People’s Choice Award 2014, is just one of thousands of variations on a theme.

William explains: ‘Alien Invasion 245 is a picture in Microsoft Paint. I really like using Paint. I have made lots and lots of Alien Invasion pictures, they are all different. I got the idea from Chicken Little which is one of my favourite films.’

Professor Uta Frith, the world-renowned expert in autism from University College London, says: ‘Alien invasion perfectly conveys the enthusiasm and fascination of a talented artist with autism, inspired by his special interest. The art form he has chosen is digital realisation with vibrant colour that allows him to use both repetition and systematic variation to wonderful effect. It also reminds us that repetition is not the enemy of creativity but, on the contrary, is a technique explored by many great artists. Digital technology opens artistic possibilities to a wider range of individuals, including those whose fine motor skills might not suit pencil and brush. In such art, as in music, it is easy for neurotypical and autistic minds to find a common space of appreciation and pleasure.’

Christian Lewis, Community Manager at The Abbey School, which William attends, comments: ‘Even in the recent past William would have been described as having typically autistic traits, but surely this cannot be his defining characteristic? He has those no more than we all have typically human traits.

‘William is William, a unique and creative individual in his own right. We are proud of William and his work, just as we are of all of our students, but far more importantly William is proud of his work too.’

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