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Jo Adamson, the singing Big Issue vendor turned blind artist

"I want my drawings to make people smile." How former Big Issue vendor Jo Adamson rediscovered her love of drawing after losing her eyesight in a car crash

Jo Adamson, a former Big Issue vendor, is registered blind. Earlier this year her life took an extraordinary twist.

After losing her eyesight in a car crash a decade ago, Jo rediscovered her love of drawing.

“After I lost my sight, I didn’t think I could draw any more,” she says. “I hadn’t drawn for years but I was encouraged to give it a go recently at a women’s support group I go to, and I’ve not stopped since. I still struggle to see but I use bright coloured wax, which reflects in the light, and get very close to the paper. It makes me so happy. It’s my life now.”

I’m a happy-go-lucky person and I want my drawings to make other people smile

Jo’s incredible success is all the more remarkable given the limitations her disability brings. She has no sight out of her left eye, and describes her right eye as a “constant misty blur. You wouldn’t believe how many times in a day I almost get hit by a bus!”

This year alone she has created more than 2,000 colourful, vibrant pieces – with customers in New York, Paris and Seoul snapping up her unique work. Affectionately known as “the singing vendor” when she sold the magazine in Glasgow until 2011, Jo creates work under the name Jo Sunshine Art.

“I’m a happy-go-lucky person and I want my drawings to make other people smile,” says Jo.

She has created a series of exclusive A2 works for The Big Issue.

Jo Adamson vendor

Jo normally sells a series of the individual pieces through her Etsy store, and uploads all new drawings to her Facebook and Twitter pages.

“The Big Issue changed my life. I had nothing before that. I was begging and in a real bad way. Now some of my best friends in the world are people I met selling The Big Issue. The clothes I’m wearing right now are the same clothes that a kind soul gave me at my pitch.

“I’m so happy to be able to give something back and I hope that this, in some way, could help vendors sell more magazines this Christmas.”

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

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