Olvin Ferrera’s path to becoming a painter, and eventually a graphic designer, was one of trials, pain and, finally, redemption. At 18, he left his native Honduras to try to enter the United States through Mexico. He was deported to Guatemala before he eventually returned to Mexico to work in construction, sending money back to his family in Honduras.
Two years later, while working on an electrical project in Mexico, Ferrera touched a cable that he did not know had live current running through it and received a massive electrical shock. He was hospitalized in Mexico with severe burns all over his body. Both of his hands had to be amputated, forcing Ferrera to face a life that would look vastly different from this point forward.
“I felt limited in every way,” Ferrera said. He eventually returned to Honduras after recovering in Mexico and began to experiment with using prosthetic implements at the ends of his arms. Ferrera had completed schooling only up to sixth grade, so he undertook the process to finish high school and started to think about what he would do to support himself and his family, as he was now married and considering having a child.
“I remembered that I had liked painting and drawing when I was young,” Ferrera said. “I started drawing just to feel useful.” This rediscovery of a childhood hobby proved to be a lifeline for him, as he figured out how to hold pencils and paintbrushes with his new prostheses and began to channel some of his creative energy into making beautiful paintings and drawings for friends.
“I tell things [through painting] that I cannot tell with words,” Ferrera said. “It is a way to be liberated from all of your negativity and limitations.” After this discovery, he enrolled in the graphic design program at Centro Universitario Tecnológico (CEUTEC), which awarded him a scholarship to pursue his degree. He graduated in 2013 and now works part-time for a magazine in Honduras and also as a freelance graphic designer and painter, courting Honduran and international clients. His message to others who face the kinds of challenges he has faced is simple: “No matter what bad happens in your life, there is always hope for more, for a better life.”