The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World, registered society, (VDMFK) supports and promotes artists who, due to disability or disease, cannot create their works of art with their hands, but have to use their mouths or their feet. From a small group of 18 mouth and foot painting artists, the VDMFK developed over the course of the years into an association which is active worldwide and already represented in 78 countries of the world with currently about 815 artists.
The roots of the MFPA go back to 1956, when Erich Stegmann, a polio-stricken mouth painter, gathered a small band of disabled artists from eight European countries. Their ultimate goal was to make their living through their artistic efforts, and to obtain a sense of work security that until then had eluded them.
Coupling his creative abilities with business acumen, Stegmann established the MFPA as a co-operative organization that reproduces its artists work mainly in the form of cards, calendars and books.
From the small group he gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, the group has now grown to represent approximately 815 members, from 78 countries around the world.
One of the main themes of Stegmann’s credo was that the MFPA must never be regarded as a charity simply because its members are disabled.
To Stegmann, the word “charity” was as abhorrent as the word “pity.” The Association maintains that it is not a charity and does not qualify for charitable assistance.
The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World (AMFPA) was founded in 1956 as the Vereinigung der Mund- und Fussmalenden Künstler in aller Welt, e. V. (VDMFK), in Liechtenstein in 1956. This self-help organization was created by mouth and foot painting artists with the scope to further the painting skills of any mouth or foot painter, to promote their artwork and to support them financially. This support considers also the artistic level of a mouth or footpainter and the price level of his country. Although profits out of the commercial activity are used to sustain the more than 800 mouth or footpainters worldwide, the association is not a charitable organization. Because of illness, accident or congenital disability, mouth or footpainters have no use of their hands. They use their mouth or foot to create a painting.
The parent company in Liechtenstein acquires the reproduction rights of a given painting and distributes it internationally. The original works are also sold at exhibitions held throughout the world.
The main product of the company is Christmas cards with motifs painted by the member artists. These cards are sold every year in the months leading up to Christmas via direct mailing in 46 countries around the world (2004). Other products available through AMFPA include postcards, art prints and calendars.
The AMFPA represents 815 mouth and foot painting artists in around 78 countries around the world. They receive grants or are taken on as members and receive a regular income for their artistic proficiency. Works produced by the members could be seen in the UN Headquarters in Geneva or the European Council in Strasbourg.