Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dupuytren's Contracture

Today we have an interview with an illustrator of children’s books who has an unusual condition. Please welcome Kevin Collier.

Kevin, what is your condition called and what caused it?

It's called Dupuytren's contracture. It's a herteitary desease, passed on my a long lost relative somewhere in my family. It's a progressive hand deformity in which the connective tissue under the skin of your palm and pulls fingers into a bent position. Once this occurs, the fingers can't be straightened completely, making it difficult to use your hand. I have it in my right hand, the hand I draw and write with. Surgery can correct this to a degree, but the hands will return to the same position in time. So, It's not a cure.

What changes were made in your life because of it?

Many. But, although this is a "disability," I see it more as a challenge, and there's aways a way to remain a victor instead of a victim. Dupuytren's contracture can complicate everyday activities such as placing your hands in your pockets, shaking hands with someone, patting someone on the back. My hand cannot open very far, enough to catch something as small as a tennis ball, but to hold or catch a football, or effectively play with my son a game of basketball, I have to be careful. I can't entend my hand out far eough, and if the ball hits my fingers it could break one.

What things, other than medical treatments, have helped you deal with it?

Janet, there's really no medical treatment other than surgery. And, Dupuytren's contracture rarely causes pain, but if the fingers are end beyond their curled in position, it really hurts! I do rub on heat ointments at times to warm my hand. Dealing with it? I've had this for 15 years, and I've seen it worsten. But, my index finger and thumb still have normal mobility, and that's all I need to draw. Artists draw with the thumb and index finger, so I count this as a blessing.

How has this condition influenced your spiritual life?

I thank God it has not affected my ability to draw at all. In fact, I continue to get better artistically all the time. So, at least in the area I depend on to make my living, God has protected me there. So, again, I'd only consider it a "disability" if it destroyed my ability to make a living. Writing (typing) is hunt-and-peck at the keyboard now, but again, I can still write. So, I'm thankful.

Is there anything anyone, including those outside your family, have done that was helpful to you?

No. Most do not know I have it, and they don't need to know. People like to see others as damaged goods, or a scource of gossip. People have a twisted way to want others to fail. So, I have kept it secret, but it doesn't matter anymore, as I my work speaks for itself, and I may be an example of how to keep moving forward, regardless of circumstances.

Anything you wish people had done or would do?

Not really. It's not their problem. But I would say I only felt comfortable revealing this after illustrating over 100 books. If I was truly "damaged goods," I wouldn't have achieved what I did. So, there was some fear there. My thumb is partially numb, index finger fine, middle finger (lol) partial mobility, ring finger twisted sideways and numb, and pinky bend outward. But, I'm OK with it. I'm not crying about it.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of my blog?

Yes. I have discovered in life the people who usually complain the most have little wrong with them. The folks who rarely complain hide a ton of afflictions. So, always know those quiet souls have daily challanges they would never burden you with.

Thanks, Kevin.

For more information about our guest please go to:

To see some of the amazing artwork he has done in spite of his condition check out:

To watch Kevin work, click here:

Here are some photos of Kevin’s hand:


  1. Kevin is one of my favorite illustrators. He has a wonderful attitude when it comes to his condition, and I am thankful that it hasn't interfered with his livelihood. My goal is to have Kevin illustrate one of my books some day--that would be a wonderful gift.

    May God continue to bless you and your work, Kevin. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    All my best,


  2. Kevin,
    You probably would not have been so driven to succeed without the problem. Our disabilities are blessings if they push us to succeed & rely on God. Without them it is easier to rely on yourSELF. God bless.

  3. I did not know about this condition until long after Kevin had already illustrated at least three of my books. Something tells me that Kevin could pick up a pencil between his teeth and still draw! He has a passion for illustrating and loves the challenge of bringing the characters in children's books to life.

    And he has a heart to match his talent. My prayer is that God blesses everything Kevin sets his hand to - bent or not!

    Janet, wonderful interview.

  4. Kevin is a wonderful person and a terrific illustrator. He has illustrated four of my books and I didn't know about his disability. He is a blessing to all of us.

    Shari Lyle-Soffe