As a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome, Yaniv Janson (22) felt isolated. He felt that way until he discovered art.

Now, his colourful outlook on life has earned him recognition for his bright paintings both at home and abroad.

The Hamilton-based artist has been nominated as a finalist in the Artistic Achievement category in the 2014 Attitude Awards. The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of disabled Kiwis.

Diagnosed with Asperger's as a toddler, Yaniv usually sees the world in black and white terms - but his vibrant paintings tell a different story.


His most recent exhibition, 'Beehives Hidden in Trees', was held at the Waikato Museum during July and August. This collection of artwork centred on the gradual disappearance of bees, with environmental and social issues often providing themes for Yaniv's paintings.

Yaniv first became interested in art at high school, where he developed his signature technique of mixing acrylic paints and water straight on the canvas. At 17 he became the youngest artist to be a finalist in the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Arts Award and the Wallace Trust Arts Award.

His work has also received significant international attention. He was the first New Zealander to be invited to join the Paris-based Eg'Art organisation, which works to raise the recognition of artists with disabilities. His paintings have now been exhibited in Israel, Canada and California.

Yaniv attributes his success to being positive about what he can achieve.

"I always believe I'm going to get what I want. I'm one of those people in the world who always believes they're going to get what they want. And that's good," he says.

Yaniv's being a finalist is testament to his positivity. He will find out if he has won the award on World Disability Day, December 3 at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre.

There are eight categories in the 2014 Attitude Awards: Sport Performer of the Year, Courage in Sport, Artistic Achievement, Youth, Spirit of Attitude, the Attitude ACC Employer Award, Making a Difference award and the inaugural Attitude Junior Award. The overall winner of the Attitude ACC Supreme Award is selected from the category winners and a People's Choice winner and a Hall of Fame inductee are also announced on the night.