Nineteen-year-old sells art online and at Rusty Glamour in Battle Ground
Tommy Tikka creates magic with a paintbrush.
Starting off by filling a blank canvas with blues, his concentration grows with each stroke and sparks begin to fly.
Suddenly, ocean waves come to life from his fingertips and we imagine ourselves at the beach. He then points to the sky and adds clouds and a giant sun with a smiley face.
Another masterpiece complete. Tikka signs “Tommy” at the bottom of the page with a twinkle in his eye. He has Down’s Syndrome, but there is no limit to what this 19-year-old can do. He created his own website, tommytikka.com, where he sells his own art and products. His work is on display at Rusty Glamour, Tukes Valley Middle School and at the Starbucks in Battle Ground.
Sarah Tikka watches in awe as her son paints three or more pictures a week. The rooms of their home are filled with artwork, paints, brushes and supplies.
“It’s like the whole dining room is his canvas,” she said. “I think, maybe, we all kind of hold ourselves back a little bit, but he has no doubt he’s going to do this. He’s going to be a famous painter, and we get to go along for the ride with him and help him and support him. He says, ‘he’s just gotta keep working hard and then his goals will all come true.’”
Tommy graduated from Battle Ground High School in 2019. He attended future learning classes until the coronavirus pandemic forced him to stay at home. Sarah recalls one day in October when Tommy got some chunks of wood and started painting on them. His aunt came over for a visit, took pictures of Tommy’s paintings and showed them to her friends and family.
“He started getting orders, turned into a famous painter and he’s not looking back,” Sarah said. “And it’s the funniest thing because he has no self doubt. He knows he can do it. There’s no question.”
Tommy sells small canvases of his artwork for $25 each. His calendar orders are already sold out. He also sells Happy Sun keychains for $14, and magnets and stickers for $6. People can order Happy Sun hats, shirts and other apparel and appliances with Tommy’s logo.
A couple months into this hobby turned profession, Tommy draws inspiration from his fans to keep painting. He thanked his followers for their support and said they’re awesome. Their messages are so heartwarming during a time of unrest and uncertainty.
“I remember one particular day, he said ‘I have heart bubbles in my head from all the people,’” Sarah described. “Painting has changed his whole outlook on life. He just wakes up healthier and goes to bed happier.”
Which gives Sarah more reasons to let Tommy make magic with a paintbrush.
“Don’t limit his brian or his heart,” she said. “That’s what I’ve learned through this. Let him have all the same hopes and dreams that everybody else does.”