For as long as he can remember, 32-year-old Desmond Blair thought he wanted to be an artist. For as long as he can remember, people told him to think again.
“People are going to talk about you, but you can spend your time worrying about what they’re saying or you can spend your time getting better at what you want to do,” Desmond said.
The problem—for everyone else—wasn’t the dream, it was the dreamer.
Born without hands, Desmond spent much of his childhood in the hospital. Still, he insisted that was no reason to give up on his dream.
“The quickest way to get me to do something and prove you wrong and not only prove you wrong, but shove your face in it was to tell me I wouldn’t be able to do something,” he said.
That meant doing everything to prove them wrong.
A big fan of superheroes, Desmond would spend hours drawing his favorite characters. He even found a way to turn his bullies into art. “I turn people into supervillains in my own little stories and stuff like that,” he said.
He got to be pretty good, but eventually put his dream on hold for a job as a project manager at Scottish Rite Hospital, the same hospital that took care of him as a child. He's been managing the IT systems there for about five years now.
No matter how busy he got, he never let go of his art. Desmond picked up his brushes and continued painting. Whenever he wasn’t at work he was painting.
People on the other side of the canvas still questioned his ability. “You can see it in their face,” Desmond said. “‘How? How does he paint? Maybe he does abstract art.’”
For those who have come around, they can see his gift.
Desmond can do without hands what a typical artist spends a lifetime perfecting. His portraits are so real and so authentic that his work has been sought after all over the country.
He still works at the hospital but has enough success with art to make a living. How often, with people like Desmond, do we focus on what's not there and fail to recognize the beauty of what's possible?
Desmond's hope is that his paintings will inspire us to look beyond the surface to see what's truly underneath.
“Do you notice the fact that I didn’t have hands or are you more concerned with the quality and the content of my character?”
What do you see?