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July 10, 2014

AlphaFOLKS shirts part of next step for Katz

Outsider artist launches new business

Nate Katz has begun to stake out a place in the art world and now he is launching a business as well. 

The 24-year-old, who is the son of Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz and a 2008 CCS graduate, who has a form of autism, has been making and selling his “outsider art” for several years.

Now, with the help of his dad and other supporters, Katz has started an etsy shop selling shirts featuring his letter drawings. 

Since launching last week, more than 10 shirts have sold, according to Jeff Katz. 

“I think Nate’s story is interesting because he is this autistic kid who has carved out this career,” Jeff said. “What is amazing to me and I think should be amazing to other parents in this situation is that Nate shows a path, not the only path, but a path, to being able to work and support himself. 

“He is an artist who really seems to speak to people,” he added. 

The shirts feature 52 designs for male and female versions of alphabetic characters. The Katz family has ordered 500 shirts to start the business, including designs in five different sizes. The shirts feature black and white drawings of the characters, all of which were drawn at the Katz kitchen table in Cooperstown over the past few years. 

Katz was diagnosed with hyperlexia when he was three. Characteristics of hyperlexia include the inability to communicate verbally but a precocious ability to read. 

“Basically he had a backward learning of language,” Jeff said. “Most of us learn by understanding sounds and then we learn to read. He never understood the spoken language (until he had special training).”

Now that he can understand language verbally, Katz does communicate with his parents, siblings and friends. He is also excited about the launch of the new business, Jeff said. 

What this shows is the amazing support we’ve had,” Jeff said. “Springbrook, Cooperstown Central School, (the State University College at) Coblelskill have all done an amazing job helping Nate develop.” 

A portion of each AlphaFOLKS sale is donated to autism-related charities and organizations.

AlphaFOLKS are available at www.etsy.com/shop/AlphaFolksand via email at alphafolks@gmail.com. 

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