Millen artist brings imagination to life

Sarah LeBlanc

When he was young, Donico Allen separated himself from other children. When his family could afford toys, he played with them alone. Now, the Millen, Ga., resident makes his own.

Allen, 26, brands himself as the Autistic Artist, and from his imagination, has created a business. Through a Facebook page, he sells figures made of pipe cleaners that he makes himself on his adoptive mother’s farm in Millen.

“Even though I’m autistic I never let it keep me down,” Allen said. “I still have a childlike likeness for things.”

The first figures he made were based off characters he’d seen in Marvel comic books. Now, Allen finds his inspiration in life around him, from television shows, video games, movies and toys. He has over 500 figures in his collection, including fictional characters Pennywise the Dancing Clown and Black Panther, and famous performers like Prince and Michael Jackson.

In honor of what would be Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday, Allen created a special collection of 60 pipe cleaner figures of the performer during different eras of his life in the spotlight.

“Ever since he passed away I dedicated my life to doing something to help honor him,” Allen said.

The figures showcase Jackson’s life from when he was five years old in the Jackson 5 up until some of his last performances. Allen said he’s been a fan of not just Jackson’s performances, but his charitable work such as his founding of the Heal the World Foundation.

“I’ve been a fan for almost two decades,” Allen said. “I idolized him, I sang and danced like him when I was little and I still have some of his moves.”

This likely won’t be the last major collection Allen creates. He said he can see himself making similar collections for other celebrities he admires.

“It may have been hard for me, but I really did it,” Allen said. “I’m an autistic artist who knows how to get the job well done.”

Allen started with twist ties, making people that resembled stick figures, then moved on to clay and aluminum foil before focusing on pipe cleaner figures.

“My work was kind of early phase, I didn’t know how to make a full-bodied clay figure when I was a kid,” Allen said. “I knew I wanted to get better.”

By looking up people and characters on Google, Allen tries to replicate their appearance with his figures as accurately as possible. He’s also made figures and artwork for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and other holidays. In October, he hopes to sell some of his work during Millen’s Fair on the Square.

Patricia Allen has raised Donico since he was nine days old. She hopes his artwork teaches people that those with autism have lessons to share.

“Autism is not a relegation to the depths of society, they don’t need to be hidden in back rooms and kept from intermingling with regular society because they can teach us something,” Patricia said. “They can teach us a lot.”

Support Us :

Leave a Reply