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A Reason to Smile

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Christopher Kuster, who paints with his teeth, has illustrated a variety of race boats, including the Team STIHL Skater.

On any given weekend you’ll find Christopher Kuster at the historic Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks completing his next work of art and showing off his latest paintings, many of which capture the essence of the Florida coast in vibrant watercolor and oil. You’ll also find a good mix of cartoonish art featuring hot rods and powerboats—two of Kuster’s favorite things.

As you can see from the included examples of his artwork, the self-proclaimed horsepower junkie offers a fresh, fun perspective on gas-guzzling machines. What you can’t see in the art—the fact that Kuster is a quadriplegic who paints with his mouth—is even more impressive. Yes, he uses his mouth to draw and paint. Just don’t make the mistake of saying to him, “Wow, I couldn’t even do that with my hands,” because—as he told me—if he had a dollar for every time he’d heard that, he’d be a rich man.

Instead he’ll settle for being the “Paint by Teeth” man. A member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA), an organization owned and run by disabled artists with European roots dating back to the 1950s, Kuster is a C5 quadriplegic who was injured in a shallow water diving accident in 1992—just two weeks before his 22nd birthday. He started painting more than 10 years ago and more recently, as in the past few years, he began the motorsports endeavor, Motor Mouth Studios.

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