“Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to draw,” he said in late March, just before his death. “Architecture was the foundation that I ended up using in design work. I had to fill in the gaps.” — medium.com
At the time he was diagnosed with ALS, Francis Tsai had reached a highpoint in his career. Trained as an architect at the University of Texas at Austin, Tsai had established a successful freelancing career creating the fantasy and sci-fi worlds he loved, pivoting his architectural skills into contributing artwork to the likes of Marvel Comics, Dungeons & Dragons, the film Sucker Punch, and games like Myst and Tomb Raider. The ALS diagnosis, when Tsai was only 42, was devastating – patients on average live for only two to five more years, and the disease's encroaching whole-body paralysis threatened to take away what Tsai loved most: drawing.
By 2012, a couple years after his diagnosis, ALS had left Tsai completely paralyzed, save for the ability to smile. Determined not to stop making his art, Tsai began drawing using the "Eye Gaze" system, that uses infrared cameras to track eye movements and translate them into commands on his computer. He pioneered the technology's application for those with similar disabilities, and continued making and sharing his artwork up until his death this past April.
Find more on Francis Tsai, including a selection of his drawings made both before and during ALS, in our Working Out of the Box interview from August of 2014.