A talented artistic teenager has created hundreds of pieces of unique artwork – using thousands of discarded and recycled SCRATCHCARDS.
Budding artist James Thomas, 17, has spent hundreds of hours meticulously collecting specific coloured scratchcards to create the incredible pieces.
James, who was diagnosed with autism aged three, has amassed a huge collection of the cards in an array of colours – which he stores in his kitchen where he creates the work.
He originally collected the discarded cards when he spotted them on the streets of his hometown and started to categorise them aged 13.
However, within a year James decided to put his artistic skills to use and find a unique way of creating dynamic artwork from cutting up the otherwise disused cards.
James, who studies art at college, said: “I started to collect scratchcards aged 13 when I kept spotting them on the ground.
“I hate rubbish and I enjoyed collecting them and placing them into separate categories.
“The collection was only very small at first but as it grew I thought ‘I can do more than this’ rather than just recycling them.
“Since then I have used thousands of the cards to create the art.”
He is given the scratchcards by local shopkeepers in large batches after they found out about his quirky artwork.
James, from Pateley Bridge, North Yorks., displays his original pieces across Yorkshire at a variety of art shows – where the public reaction is often “amazing”.
He said: “Many people mistake the art for paintings so when they get in close they can’t believe they are scratchcards.
“It has really boosted my confidence and the reaction is always amazing.
“I have had a lot of compliments about the pieces and I can’t wait to do more shows.”
James’ favourite piece is a picture of Ripon Cathedral which took him over 30 hours to complete.
He discovered a new technique of using a hole punch to create a ‘pointillism’ style of artwork for the piece – but quickly discovered he had taken on a much more difficult task.
He added: “The piece took over 30 hours to complete because of how thin each piece of scratchcard was.
“To create this particular style I had to hole-punch every single scratchcard which meant I had hundreds to use.
“I was very proud of the finished piece I created.”
James attends Ripon College where he is currently completing a level 2 art course.
He said his tutors are very proud of his achievements and recalled a particularly thoughtful gift for his 16th birthday.
He added: “One of my tutors knew how many cards I have collected but because they had already been used and I was underage, I never actually scratched any.
“For my 16th birthday, my tutor got me a £1 scratchcard which I could actually scratch, which was very thoughtful.
“I couldn’t believe it when I scratched it and it was actually a £100 winner, it is the only time I have ever had a big win like that.
“I was so happy.”
James has collected many different style of scratchcards in a vast array of colours in the past four years but said ‘flesh’ coloured cards are the hardest to find.
He said: “The most difficult ones to find are the ones I need to match up the closest to human skin.
“Whenever I create a picture which involves humans I have to go back through my collection and find the nearest likeness.
“To find pink ones is rare so I am always very happy when I can collect that particular colour.”
James’ mother Jane, 51, couldn’t be prouder of her son’s achievements and said his confidence has dramatically increased since he began his artistic venture.
She said: “I am very proud of him.
“He has made so much progress since he started to collect the cards.
“James was diagnosed with autism when he was very young and has struggled in the past at school.
“We tried all sorts of therapy but the artwork is so therapeutic for him.
“He spends so many hours completing the work and it gives him something to focus on and aim towards.
“The shop owners in our area have been brilliant and give us carrier bag loads of the cards, everyone has been so helpful.
“He has done so well.”