Remrov Vormer is an autistic artist living in Montreal. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her a few years ago at an autism conference we were both attending. We became fast friends and I have been in admiration of her work ever since. Remrov is a photorealistic pencil artist and her drawings are done with such precision you would think they were photographs. She has agreed to give us an interview and I am very excited and honored to introduce you to Remrov Vormer:
1. Linda: Remrov, you are an extremely talented photorealistic artist. How old were you when you first started drawing?
Remrov: I started drawing when I was very little. I always wanted to draw wherever I went. I drew road-maps and also patterns of shapes and colours when I was little. I started to do more photorealistic work when I was about 16 years old, but I wasn’t very serious about it. I started to become very serious about it and make it my work just a few years ago.
2. Linda: Was this a career path you knew you wanted to pursue or did you imagine doing something different?
Remrov: I never really knew what I wanted to do when I was younger. I knew that I wanted to draw. But in the Netherlands where I grew up drawing was not seen as work or a job, it was seen as a hobby. People did point me towards ‘graphic design’, but making drawings and designs on a computer was not what I liked to do. It was after I immigrated to Canada that I realized I had a gift and that I could probably make a career out of it.
3. Linda: You have mentioned that being autistic has helped you in your work. Can you go into a little more detail how your autism has affected your work?
Remrov: Due to my autism, I have an extremely detailed look at the whole world. I never see the ‘global’ picture. I see everything in tiny little details. I always use photos as a reference for my drawings, and when I look at a photo I only see details. So that is what I draw. I just draw every tiny detail at once. When I draw a lion, for example, I don’t see the manes, or the eyes, I only see the details that make up the manes and the eyes. Drawing a lion is not more difficult to draw for me than a small rock. It will take longer because it has more details though. Sometimes people say that in my drawing there are more details than in the photo which I have been using, but not for me. These are exactly the details I see in the photo. I just bring them out.
4. Linda: You currently live in Montreal. Where did you grow up?
Remrov: I grew up in the Netherlands. I lived there until I was 36.
5. Linda: Where there many opportunities and resources available to you growing up in your hometown?
Remrov: There were resources for autistic people, but I didn’t find them very helpful. And the opportunities you had as an autistic person without any diplomas were volunteering work and other work way below your abilities. Diplomas are important everywhere, but nowhere as important as in the Netherlands, I think. Despite all my efforts, I was always on a disability benefit, and I know that I would still be if I hadn’t immigrated to Canada.
6. Linda: There are many misconceptions that people have about autism. What would you say is a big misconception people have about autistic individuals?
Remrov: I have experienced that people think that when you have autism and you are high functioning, that you have Asperger. I also see this written on many websites about autism. They say that people with classic autism have a low intelligence. This is not true, at least not always. I have classic autism and I have a 150 IQ, and Temple Grandin has classic autism too, and she’s very intelligent.
Besides that, people often think that when you are high functioning that you hardly have any problems. But in my opinion ‘high functioning’ means that we are able to present ourselves almost as ‘neurotypicals’ but that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle a lot to do so. People see me communicating in quite a ‘normal’ way and think, “Wow, she’s very high functioning, she probably hardly has any problems.” But what they don’t see is that those 15 minutes of interacting and communicating can wipe me out for the rest of the day, and that it goes anything but ‘automatic’ or ‘natural’ to me.
7. Linda: Autism can present many challenges for some people. What has been one challenge that you have overcome and how did you do it?
Remrov: Communicating. When I was younger I didn’t understand language at all. I just copied everything other people said, without understanding it. But even though everything I said was just copied, I did slowly make language my own, and after a while I had enough courage inside myself to try to find my own words and language. I still struggle sometimes with finding the right words for what I want to say, but compared with years ago, it’s a huge improvement.
Remrov: Follow your dreams and believe in your gifts and strengths. Let nobody else tell you that you can’t do something. Keep on trying and working hard. And listen to yourself. If you really listen to yourself, you will find out what’s good for you and what isn’t, and then you will be able to build a life for yourself which is good for you.
9 Linda: How would you finish this sentence, “Remrov Vormer is………..”?
Remrov: Remrov Vormer is a person who will always be childlike. It doesn’t mean she’s immature. It just means that retaining the soul of a child will always be part of who she is. It’s part of what makes her different. It’s the same with being in between genders. She feels no need to choose.
Thank you so much for your time Remrov. It is always a pleasure to share your beautiful work with others!