Artist Highlight – DJ Svoboda
This week we are doing an artist highlight on DJ Svoboda. DJ Svoboda was the third artist to join LINC-d back in June of 2020. He and LINC-d’s founder, Marisa, had connected on Facebook which was the start of their collaboration.
At the age of about three years old, DJ was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and psychomotor retardation. “Doctors were not exactly sure what the future would hold for DJ and his family” given his difficulty with speech and motor skills.But over the years, DJ has overcome many challenges and become an accomplished artist, author, and public speaker.
DJ Svoboda is 40 years old and is from Raleigh, North Carolina. The person behind his professional achievements is one who enjoys collecting different kinds of games, DVDs, toys, and children’s books. He also loves bowling, as well as cooking and baking for his friends and family!
Some of his favorite TV shows include Looney Tunes and lots of classic cartoons. He loves many different kinds of movie genres, but one of his all time favorite movies is Ghostbusters. He has been a Ghostbuster fan for a long time and especially loves it for its humor and action. DJ also enjoys playing video games, mainly from Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis which have been favorites of his since he was a kid.
His love of drawing began in middle school when he started sketching and doodling for fun. In his documentary by Hendy Street Produxions, DJ says about art, “I love it so much, and I just can’t stop doing it!”
Collaborating with LINC-d has impacted DJ in great and amazing ways, he says. He loves seeing all of the amazing items they’ve created with his art and how it has helped his artwork become more known. It’s also a joy to see the art from all the other talented artists that are part of LINC-d.
He experienced teasing and bullying for his disabilities from a young age. But from his experiences came inspiration in the midst of pain and sadness. DJ turned inward, into his own self and mind to create a better, more loving world. From his imagination combined with his artistic talent of drawing emerged the world of Imagiville.
His idea was born on October 19, 2001 And within Imagiville live special characters called Imagifriends that are based on various life lessons and experiences. DJ’s Imagifriends has been created into an animated series that is geared toward younger audiences on Rootle, a PBS kids channel in North Carolina.
There are over 3,000 different kinds of Imagifriends with Mupperezmo being the very first and the mascot of Imagifriends.
Mupperezmo is a dragon-like character who sees the world from a different point of view by turning his head upside down. He represents all types of people who see the world differently.
“I have over 120 big, big dreams for them and I aim to make this world into an even better and greater place for everyone, and everyone with autism of all ages,” says DJ about his mission for Imagifriends.
Creating the Imagifriends of Imagiville has brought and continues to bring a lot of great joy to DJ. He created the Imagifriends art to spread and share autism acceptance and inclusion around the world. His goal is to spread the importance of kindness to help end bullying. And he wants to teach the world a powerful lesson that he had to learn himself, and that is to not underestimate the power of dreaming and believing big.
No one knew where DJ’s road would take him, but through perseverance, encouragement from his family, and leaning into what he knew he loved, DJ has been able to create his own growing company with an incredible purpose.
In his documentary by Hendy Street Produxions, DJ’s mother, Cindi, says that she hands out cards that say, “You’ve just met a person with autism” with a note that elaborates a bit more on what that entails. This has been such a great way to raise awareness about autism. It’s a simple, yet effective approach that is one of the many ways the team of Imagifriends implements their company mission.
DJ wants the world to know that autism is to be known, to be understood and seen. He says that it is important to get to know children, teens, and adults with autism and to give them a chance to show the great and amazing things that they can do to make the world a better place. “For they too have a great and amazing and awesome place in this world,” DJ says.
In addition to his creative projects, DJ is also a public speaker that began with the establishment of The Imagifriends mission and company in July of 2011. He is passionate about raising awareness for autism acceptance and inclusion and sharing what the Imagifriends of Imagiville is all about. His favorite part of public speaking is getting to share what he and his company are dedicated to and being able to see how they’ve connected to people from their efforts. DJ says, “Touching lives is the best part of it all!”
He is a great example of how when life gives you lemons, you can either focus on how many lemons you have or you can turn them into something good and make lemonade!
What DJ Wishes People Knew About Him
“I want everyone to know that I am autistic and that I am very proud of it. I have the heart, mind and soul of a young child and I do not agree with the world or with life and I am very determined to make the world into an even better and greater place for everyone. I want everyone to know that children, teens, and adults with autism have a very important and special place in this world. Sometimes living with autism can be a challenge. I want to be loved and accepted for who I am. I love myself. I only expect and believe for the very best. Children, teens, and adults with autism can make the world into an even better and greater place when given the chance.”
DJ said that a better world is filled with kindness, love, acceptance, and respect that we give toward everybody no matter who they are. And that we need everyone’s gifts and talents to build stronger communities that will allow cities and neighborhoods to thrive to the best of their abilities.
During the month of September 2023, we are holding a fundraiser for DJ where all of the proceeds from DJ’s art will go directly to supporting him.
This has been a difficult time for DJ with the recent passing of his wonderful mother, Cindi. She was an incredibly important person in his life and he was kind enough to share a statement about his mother.
“My sweet mom, Miss Cindi’s great and amazing legacy will continue to grow and grow. She has impacted and touched a lot of lives above and beyond. She has inspired and touched the lives of many autism families and autism parents. The Imagifriends mission and company will greatly continue forevermore!”
It has be wonderful to learn about DJ’s inspiring story and to be able to share it with all of you. The impact he has had and will continue to have on the world through his art and moving words is truly profound and I hope to one day live in the kind and loving world DJ strives to create.