If you met Miles Wayne at the Cottonwood Senior Center craft fair last week, you probably would have found him talking excitedly about his anime-inspired artwork, the backstories of the characters he’s created and the stories he’s planning to tell about those characters.
What you might not have realized is that conversations like that are not always easy for him.
The 23-year-old has autism and has often had difficulty engaging in social situations, but according to his mother, Amber Wayne, his artwork is a subject that he can open up about.
“That's part of the reason we do art,” she said. “Because Miles likes to talk about his art and things, and quite often it's hard for Miles to talk to people.”
Though he has enjoyed drawing since he was young, it’s often been a challenge to create with a pen and paper because he struggles with his fine motor skills. In recent years, though, he’s started to create his work on the computer to get around that problem.
“Sometimes it’s easier that way,” he said.
“When I start coming up with certain ideas, I sometimes do it on paper as a rough draft for the characters, and then eventually I go into my laptop to do the pictures.”
Their visit to the Cottonwood Senior Center craft fair was so successful for Miles that they’ll be taking his work to the Christmas Market at Marion Schilling elementary on Saturday. Some of the items that will be for sale include Christmas cards, t-shirts and tote bags.
And they want to be a part of more craft fairs in the future.
“He met a lot of people that were interested in his art,” Amber said. “So he was just very talkative. So then we signed up for this one just recently.”
They hope that on top of helping Miles engage with the community more, his presence at these craft fairs might also inspire others.
“I said, but wouldn't it be great that you go and show your artwork,” Amber said, “and talk and maybe inspire other people with autism or other challenges by talking about your art, maybe encourage them to do something that they love?”
Miles, who is a fan of anime, is hoping to visit Japan in the future. Though some of the funds that come from his art sales might eventually go toward that trip, for the moment most of the money is going toward the cost of his art.
“That's what his goal is,” Amber said. “For sure, his goal is one day to go to Japan because a lot of anime artists come from there.”
The Marion Schilling elementary Christmas Market is on Saturday at 2200 Park Dr. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.