Canada’s Hardest Working Visual Artist? Taking Care of Business
Taking care of business or TCB was coined by The King himself in 1969, Elvis Presley, who most certainly was the hardest working rock star of his generation. “Taking Care of Business” was a mantra and a point of pride for Presley and his entourage, known as the Memphis Mafia. In 1973, Canadian rock group Bachman–Turner Overdrive, made it a hit song, ‘Taking Care of Business‘, coming out just a year after I appeared on Vancouver Island, Canada.
For me, my life as an artist began when I was very young, as I feel that true artists are born, they feel the pull to make Art from a very young age, to the point where there is nothing else that matters. I became a professional at it when I began exhibiting my work and selling it which was over twenty years ago now. I made it my full-time career about 18 years ago now. I am at that point in my career where personal life and art life are now one, there used to be a separation, like I was two people, but I am now one, The Artist. If you asked me what my priorities are in life they go as follows; Art(work), Spouse, Family and friends that are family. There is no ‘work/life balance for an Artist’ at least no one who is successful at it. I LOVE my work, so much so I would rather be working than doing anything else, and when I am not working, all I am thinking about is the next artwork or blog post or person I need to reach out to, or email I have to answer. I wish it was only email, I get requests and inquiries all over the place these days. Whether it be through Instagram , Facebook messenger, Twitter , What’s App (still not sure) or LinkedIn, by text or phone, I wish everyone communicated in the same way these days. It just used to be telephone, and now its everything, everywhere, all the time.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast called Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade, they were talking to ‘The Great One’ – Wayne Gretzky for the non-hockey fans reading this diatribe. Nicknamed “the Great One“, he has been called the greatest ice hockey player ever by many sportswriters, players, The Hockey News, and by the NHL itself. It was so interesting to hear him talk about wanting to do nothing but skate as much as he could every day on the outdoor lakes and ponds in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. He was obsessed and dedicated from an early age, it was his number one priority and life to him was on that ice. This type of obsession and focus is something I have spoken of many times, including in the documentary, ‘The Iconic Canuck’.
This kind of focus does not come without challenging times, as you are absolutely going it alone and while friends are kicking back and partying on the weekend to escape their 9-5, you just want to work, you don’t need a break from doing something you love so much it commands your attention day and night. It becomes your life and there is no separation between work/life. Where art differs is, it is not something your retire from, it just keeps on going as long as you are able to make it, the making does not stop, like the Rolling Stones who just released a new album, Hackney Diamonds, in their 8th decade of life.
This brings me back to, Canada’s Hardest Working Artist, which is something that has been said to me on numerous occasions by peers, collectors and friends. I know there are a few of us out there and we are the ones who you likely hear of the most. You don’t build a lifelong career without discipline and hard work, but it is something that many young artists never ‘get’ or ‘get’ far too late in life. That discipline that takes you places in the work itself, is also important outside of the creating, and the wonder and the dreaming of it all. The pop culture persona of the artist is oftentimes a high-maintenance, always shows up late, never answers emails or the phone, alcoholic mess that makes brilliant things when pushed. I myself will agree that we have a distinctive view of life and perhaps are at times a bit narcissistic (a little is good ask your shrink) But at the core of this creative persona known as ‘The Iconic Canuck’, I am fiercely dedicated to my work, on all sides and I have a hard time understanding why others aren’t as fiercely dedicated to this privileged career of Artist.
I am about to take off on a new trip for Art, a residency in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, where I will be painting in a place dedicated to artists along with 8 other artists from around the globe. For outsiders looking in this life looks very exciting and filled with amazing opportunities around every corner, and it is, but a vacation it is not. I am not going to the other side of Canada to meet-up with friends, take tours 12 hours out of my location, or drop in on family in another province. I am going to have an experience, make work, and make connections with other artists and art lovers, based on the experience, and it’s the most fantastic thing in life. Then I will fly home, having worked without interruption, for a month, and through all hours of the day and night. I will return to my home studio on Vancouver Island filled with ideas for new work from the work I did while away. I will be fueled by memory, experience, and have a new collection of drawings, writings, photographs and video. I will return home wanting to immediately get to work, but I will have things to do on the business side before I can get back into the studio. There will be bills to pay and people to see, and it is a challenging thing to do when your head is so full.
So, while I will never call myself the hardest working artist in Canada, I do know that I work harder at it than most I meet, and it all comes from an inner drive and pull and need to make the work and move to the next level, within, that will exist on the outside.
Now, as Jerry Saltz would say, get to work you big babies (artists)
Iconic Canuck (a.k.a Brandy Saturley)