Courtesy Luigi Quintos In January 2014, when Luigi Quintos, 54, held his newborn grandson, Ayden, for the first time, the baby weighed just over a pound. Ayden had been born two months premature, and doctors thought he might not make it. Devastated, Luigi turned to art to calm himself. He had been drawing portraits of people off and on since grade school.
This time, Luigi drew a graphite portrait of Ayden with his parents—Luigi’s son and daughter-in-law—gazing down at him. “It was my way of making sure they’d always be together,” he says.
After five months in intensive care, Ayden pulled through. Buoyed by the good news, Luigi set up a Facebook page, Priceless Images, where he offered to draw portraits of other kids who were sick or had died. “I thought my work might offer comfort,” he says.
Within days, requests filled his inbox. Often, parents e-mail Luigi a photo of their child along with a description of his or her illness or how the child died. Sometimes they request that the artist exclude oxygen tubes and wires that appear in the photo, and one family asked for their child’s eyes to be drawn open, an image they never got to see in real life.
Each drawing takes Luigi, who works as a courier driver in Salem, Oregon, a few hours. When he’s done, he mails an 11-by-14-inch portrait to the parents and posts a version of the drawing on his Facebook page.
To date, Luigi has completed 450 portraits, with another 350 on the waiting list. But Luigi doesn’t mind the backlog. “[The drawings] give families something they can hold on to,” he says.
To contribute to Luigi’s Priceless Images GoFundMe page, click here. The proceeds of this page help cover the supplies and shipping costs of Luigi’s portraits.