By Lisa Gachara
Today we’re pleased to welcome Tyler Gordon to the WNDB blog to discuss his debut picture book We Can: Portraits of Power, out now!
Fifteen-year-old Tyler Gordon’s journey from a regular kid growing up in San Jose, California, to a nationally recognized artist wasn’t without its challenges. For the first six years of his life he was fully deaf, which led to a stutter and bullying. Art gave him a creative outlet for his pain. Then, after painting a portrait of Kamala Harris and posting it on social media, he received a call from the vice president herself! Soon his art was everywhere. He had an interview with the The Today Show. He was the youngest artist featured in the Beverly Center. His portrait of LeBron James graced the cover of TIME Magazine. And that was only the beginning!
Here is a debut picture book by partially deaf prodigy Tyler Gordon, featuring his bold paintings of over 30 icons—musicians, artists, writers, civil rights leaders, sports legends, change-makers, record-setters, and more—alongside short explanations of how these people inspire him.
If Tyler can make art and follow his dreams, you can, too. We all can.
What does We Can: Portraits of Power mean to you?
We Can: Portraits of Power means so much to me. Because it’s my first book and it showcases so many iconic people throughout the world.
How does your age place you at a vantage point in the advocacy and creative work that you do?
My age places me at a vantage point because people are actually getting the chance to see that children have dreams of a better world and we’re willing to work to achieve our goals!
What has been the most memorable connection you’ve made through your art?
My most memorable connection I’ve made through my art was when I painted the Kamala piece and I was able to see how people from all walks of life and religious beliefs come together to say thank you to a little boy like me.
In which ways do you believe and wish for We Can: Portraits of Power to impact readers?
I wish We Can: Portraits of Power will impact readers by allowing them to learn about the subjects in the book and apply some of the things they learn to their life.
Some of the people you highlight in your book share a similar background or social identities as you. Why do you think it is necessary to have representation in media, sports, the arts, etc.?
I absolutely believe we should have more representation. I think people need to see more people like themselves in the media. As a kid I can say IT MATTERS!
How has the cultivation of this book impacted you as a creator?
The cultivation of this book impacted me because it takes a lot of hard work and determination to do something like this and to see it come about is just amazing!
You wrote that you commend and admire Oprah for her philanthropy. Which social issues are you passionate about?
I am passionate about anti-bullying, equal rights for everyone, women’s rights, equal rights for the LGBTQ, BLACK LIVES MATTER etc…
You also mentioned wanting to pursue many different things. Where do your interests lie outside of art?
Outside of art I would like to design video games, act, and model.
Where do you see yourself after the debut of your book?
I see myself going on to write another book and going on tour with my artwork. Maybe doing some halftime shows for some pro football/basketball games.
Tyler Gordon is a fifteen-year-old Black prodigy and painter who was awarded the Global Child Prodigy Award in 2020. After painting a portrait of Kamala Harris, he received a call from the woman herself. Soon his art was everywhere, and his portrait of LeBron James became the cover of TIME Magazine. That was just the beginning! WE CAN, his debut picture book coming on September 28, contains portraits of Tyler’s role models, including Colin Kapernick, Stacey Abrams, and Chadwick Boseman.
Lisa Gachara is a graduate student at the Duke Global Health Institute. Kenyan-born, she is passionate about the health and well-being of children worldwide. As a student, advocate, and storyteller she strives to promote global health through media which currently takes place through her blog and podcast.