As a child in Greece, Fotis Flevotomos could not read letters on a class blackboard. Flevotomos, 35, was born with ocular albinism, a genetic condition in which the eyes lack melanin pigments, causing blurry vision, sensitivity to bright light and a difficulty in perceiving depth.

Despite his condition, Flevotomos grew up to become a piano player and an artist. He made watercolor and ink drawings of still lives and landscape,  but not many portraits. Although he was interested in human figures, he found it difficult to draw people. “I am quiet slow when I draw… and then I have to be really close so it’s a relationship that has certain requirements and for me it’s been difficult to find models with whom I feel comfortable,” he said.

Last year, Flevotomos was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to be a visiting artist at the New York Public Library. Since September, he has been engaged in discussions and workshops on the accessibility of art for people with low or no vision. He writes blog posts about the importance of subjective vision in making art, and the relationship between music and paintings. He recently wrote about the affinities between Monet’s weeping willows series and Mozart’s Requiem.

In New York, Flevotomos started using an iPad application as a drawing tool, which helped him overcome some of his vision problems. Inspired by the diversity of people in the city, he decided to draw his first portrait in many years.