Walter Champion IV is the artistic director of a Sudbury fashion brand, Juvenile Virtuoso. At four, he created the design for the company's flagship shirt, featuring a drawing of a hippo.
SUDBURY — Sitting in his Sudbury home, Walter Champion IV is hard at work on his next design. This time, he's trying his hand at a horse.
"They're hard to draw, but my favorite thing is animals," said six-year-old Walter, a first-grader at Peter Noyes Elementary School.
Walter is the artistic director of Juvenile Virtuoso, a family-owned fashion brand that features the artwork of talented kids. At just four, he created the flagship T-shirt design, featuring quick line strokes that make up a picture of a hippopotamus. In his role, Walter is responsible for choosing the artists that are featured and will continue to produce his own artwork for the collection.
Dad Walter Champion III said the family realized Walter's talent almost by accident.
"We stumbled into it," said Champion, the president of Juvenile Virtuoso, saying he was surprised when his son first drew the image of the hippo. "Maybe a year later, I was messing around and came up with a mock-up of it on a T-shirt."
Each order is sent in a high-end gift box that features the Juvenile Virtuoso logo and includes other merchandise, such as a branded pencil. Walter takes the time to include a hand-written note of thanks.
Each design is hand-picked and approved by Walter prior to production. The shirts all feature a creation from a child, meant to spotlight gifted and artistic children.
Ten percent of all sales are donated to Arts For Healing, Inc., a Connecticut charity that provides integrated art and music therapy to those with special needs. It's a cause that the family is passionate about. Walter's younger brother, Will, 5, is on the autism spectrum and turned to music therapy when he was younger.
"It hit close to home for us," said Champion.
Less than a year old, the company was first launched in May. Champion said it's been hard work launching the project and attracting traffic to the website. His goal is to have the shirt sold in stores at some point. Until then, Walter is already on the lookout of his next design.
"It's a little different," said Champion.
Zane Razzaq can be reached at 508-626-3919 or firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @zanerazz.