Kim Hughes: Legally Blind Artist and Entrepreneur

 Kim Hughes

Kim Hughes

When artist Kim Hughes is creating her designs, she's doing it with the goal of making you smile in mind. Kim has designed over 1,000 projects requested for publication and is the face behind Paper Smooches, where she transforms her drawings into clear stamps and metal dies that are used to create cards and scrapbook pages. Kim is also legally blind and has been clinically diagnosed with Ocular Albinism (OA). She wishes to inspire others living with vision disorders to pursue their wildest dreams. For this reason, Kim has agreed to tell us her story:

HOW HAS BEING LEGALLY BLIND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE?

Not being able to drive is probably the hardest for me. When I was in school, I had to sit in the front of the class to be able to see the chalk board and usually that wasn’t close enough to see. I was bullied a bit because my glasses were super thick but that changed when I was old enough for contacts.

Sports are super hard to play and watch since it’s hard for me to see a ball or gauge depth. I also struggle with seeing the menu at fast food restaurants and I wish that they all offered a hand held menu because I have to depend on my loved ones to tell me what they have. Flying alone can also be intimidating since I can’t read the screens and signs. 

I believe I am night blind as well…night time is pretty hard on me since lights have a huge glow around them.

My field of vision is actually less than 15 degrees, so I have to be careful around trees and turning corners in the store.  Clothes racks sometimes sneak up on me as well.  :) 

 

WHAT ROLE DOES ART PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?

Art is a huge part of my life, always has been. I found a way to use my art to make a comfortable living. I can’t see far away but I can see close up fairly well. I have no problem being inches from my canvas or paper to see the best I can. I draw art that becomes a product that is sold all around the world. My images become clear stamps and metal dies that are used to create cards and scrapbook pages. www.papersmooches.net is my website.

 One of Kim's designs for sale on Paper Smooches: Courteous Cuties

One of Kim's designs for sale on Paper Smooches: Courteous Cuties

 

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

My personal notebooks. I have so many ideas! I jot them down and turn to them when I need to be inspired. I feel like I have a natural knack for design.  I am looking forward to going back to college to learn about graphic design.

 

EXPLAIN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE.

Not being able to go where I want to when I want to and having to depend on my loved ones to get me around.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WHO ARE BLIND AND/OR LIVING WITH VISION DISORDERS?

Stay positive.  It’s a challenge sometimes, but it is what makes you unique!  Embrace life and take nothing for granted.

 

HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE VISION OF CHILDREN FOUNDATION (VOC)?

I did a web search for Ocular Albinism and found VOC.  I contacted them immediately to see if there was anything I could do to help out. I was so excited that they shared information that was completely new to me. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 28 and that was 18 years ago, so I am still interested in learning more about my condition.

 Kim (left) with her twin brother, Doug. "I had glasses when I was just six months old" she told us.

Kim (left) with her twin brother, Doug. "I had glasses when I was just six months old" she told us.

 

WHAT DOES THE VISION OF CHILDREN FOUNDATION’S MISSION MEAN TO YOU?

I think VOC is a great place to find information for those who have OA and for parents with babies who have it. It’s rare but there are plenty of us who were born this way. The research that VOC is funding is amazing and it’s something that I never imagined would happen! I have an incredible life and have never felt sorry for myself, but if we can work together to find a way to cure OA, that would be wonderful.