Zenaviv Sells Work by Artists on the Autism Spectrum


After Himal Bikmal was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, his parents began researching everything they could. What they learned about their son and autism turned into Zenaviv, a company which sells artwork created by people on the autism spectrum.

Because Himal is nonverbal, Harrish Bikmal and his wife Sandhya worked with a few researchers to help identify what their son’s strengths were. They attempted coaching him through sports such as basketball and baseball but found Himal could not get the hang of the game.

One day, when Sandhya was painting, something she did as a hobby, Himal grabbed her paintbrush and began dabbing at the canvas. From there, Bikmal and Sandhya decided to help Himal pursue painting. They approached an art teacher for guidance, and within about three months, Himal’s painting skills had improved.

“As parents, you constantly worry about a few things, both day-to-day life and also what your children will do with the future,” Bikmal told The Mighty. “We were pleasantly surprised with his paintings. It takes time and effort but he has continually grown since then.”

A couple of years after discovering Himal’s affinity for painting, the Bikmals found paying for their son’s therapies difficult. Realizing they had over 50 of Himal’s paintings, they decided to hold a fundraiser and sell them. They were thrilled when over 100 people donated their paintings to the fundraiser as well.

The Bikmals converted Himal’s paintings into 1500 greeting cards, which sold out within two hours. Within seven hours, all of the paintings were sold too.

Himal Bikmal with his painting of a forest

After the successful fundraiser, Bikmal spoke with other parents of children on the autism spectrum, and decided, along with his older son Saket, to launch Zenaviv.

“Since childhood, [Saket] has played a vital role in Himal’s life,” Bikmal said. “When me and my wife were in a depressed state of mind, Saket stepped up and has helped shape Himal’s life. He took it upon himself to be his brother’s best teacher and best friend.”

Together, Bikmal and Saket launched the Zenaviv site, featuring Himal’s work and illustrations from other talented autistic artists. The site currently features a half-dozen artists with their designs sold as original paintings, greeting cards, calendars and more. Each artist earns 60 percent of the profits from each sale.

Painting of a forest in winter at sunrise

Bikmal told The Mighty he hopes Zenaviv provides another way for those on the spectrum to live a productive and fulfilling life. Having helped foster his son’s love of art, Bikmal said he encourages other parents to help their children find their talents and creative outlets. “Look for clues from your child,” he said. “Look for clues from your child, and pursue them.”

According to Bikmal, Himal will look at the work of different artists sometimes and smile. Himal is also fond of his own work, his dad said, including a recent piece titled “Peaceful Forest.”

As for his dad, his favorite pieces are “Bright Winter Morning” and “Colorful Macaw.”

Bikmal hopes Zenaviv can help hundreds and thousands of individuals going forward, as well as change people’s perception of autism.

[People on the spectrum] are often perceived as people with deficiencies or problems and we can change that to a perception of people with talent. We need to nurture [that talent] and help to grow it.

In the long outcome hopefully we can have a world where people with autism, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy a better quality of life.

TOPICS
,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

McDonald's french fries on a table next to a McDonald's beverage cup

To the McDonald’s Employee Who Double-Checked My Order: Thank You

I was with a friend shopping late one afternoon, and we decided we were hungry, so we stopped by McDonald’s for a quick bite. As someone on the autism spectrum, I’ve always been sensitive to certain foods. Some might consider me to be a “picky” eater. I have tried new foods over the years, but [...]
Children raising their hands in classroom during teacher's math lesson

How I Encouraged My Autistic Son’s Interest in Numbers and Math

When my son turned 3 years old, I noticed he was interested in numbers. He learned how to count one until 20 at the age of 4 and could count one to 100 at 5 years of age. He learned all these through self-teaching by watching a children’s educational show on TV. I was amazed [...]
The author's son, standing near grass outdoors

6 Things Being the Mom of an Autistic Child Has Taught Me

Once upon a time, I began to realize my amazing first-born stood out more than I thought. I knew he was special, with his infectious affection and incredible jump-up-and-down-arm-flapping excitement. I knew he saw the world with passion; he reacted severely both in joy and displeasure. I knew his heart was full and his mind [...]

How a Service Dog for My Son With Autism Impacted My Career

Some people dream of doing great things in their life, that was never me, but I believe sometimes God has plans for our lives we never see coming. As a veteran firefighter, I thought I was doing enough to serve my community, until one day all that changed. In 2010 my wife found out that [...]