q&a with brandon vosika: shake well before use

Creative awareness: I am all about it.

Elisheva sent me a link to a Kickstarter project the other day. I have never backed a project so quickly in my life (I couldn’t remember my password, which caused issues but ALL BECAME WELL). To say that this project intrigued was an understatement. Essentially, I immediately was trying to figure out how to get in touch with the creator of this project so we could talk more about it.

Brandon Vosika is in the process of creating an art book called Shake Well Before Use: A Book of Paintings About Asthma. Each book will be professionally printed and then hand-bound by Brandon, resulting in a really special and unique compilation of original art focused on asthma.  Brandon and I are only a couple years apart in age, and I was stoked to find someone my age also pursuing asthma advocacy in a creative way. Within 12 hours of finding out about the Kickstarter, Brandon and I threw multiple e-mails back and forth, and put this Q&A post together so that more people can learn about his project.

Thanks, Brandon, for jumping on board with this!


Shake Well Before Use – Art by Brandon Vosika.

Kerri: Hi Brandon, thanks for collaborating on this with me! So, because Shake Well is an art project, I guess we’d better start with the basics: when did you get involved in art? What started that part of the journey for you?
Brandon: I started painting very silly things about 8 or 9 years ago, in high school. From then to now I’ve taken several long and short hiatuses to record music or do other creative sorts of things like that but it’s always come back to painting. The start of this journey of my art came in a rather cliche way actually… I was quite sad and didn’t know what to do with myself. So I decided to start painting. This is the case with many people, I know. The only difference for me what they I never stopped and was able to grow and mature and my silly sad art grew and matured with me (thank god) because now I don’t find what I do sad anymore. Maybe a little silly still… I don’t know. I like my work.

KM: I love when things that start out of places of desperation truly come to be big markers of personal growth (growth is a big theme around here, too). The other component of Shake Well is obviously the asthma. How does asthma play into your life? What’s your asthma story?
BV: Well, I’ve had asthma for 22 years, I’m 24 years old now. My mom and dad separately tell me little horror stories about my wheezing and doing constant nebulizer treatments and having to go to the hospital and whatnot when I was a baby. I’m so glad they’re good parents! But yeah, it’s an every day thing for me.. I’ve always got an inhaler with me wherever I go. Thankfully I don’t have to use it all of the time but it is something that I need at least once a day. It’s Advair before I go to bed and depending on how I feel when I wake up, maybe in the morning. You learn to make allowances for yourself and learn what you need to do for your particular case. I have allergies as well so I take claritin, allegra or zyrtec most days. Vacuuming often, air purifier, keeping things clean, trying to be active but not to over do it (I have “sports induced” asthma) – that’s a big part of my life.

KM: I think there is a lot to be said about the balancing act that can be asthma and everyday life–and, I think

Our Lungs – Art by Brandon Vosika.

being a young adult only complicates things as per usual!  To connect the asthma to the art . . . What made you decide to create Shake Well Before Use?
BV: I decided to do the paintings about asthma after I had a bad attack and was forced to visit the ER. My week or so of recovery was a good time for the art to form. I realized that almost no one was making art about a disease I’ve had all my life and that over 300 million other people have around the world.. I decided to try and change that.

KM: That’s fantastic. It also alludes to something I often mention (do we share a brain and not know it? :)) in that “10% of the population has this disease . . . but where are they?”. Sometimes I feel like nobody is really doing anything about asthma–that’s why projects like Shake Well that literally paint asthma in a different light are so fantastic.
Aside from watercolour, what other mediums do you like using? Are you into any other types of art other than visual arts?
BV: Watercolor with pen or pencil is the medium I use the most but second to that would be mixed media collage. Using anything from sawed/sanded/painted wood to antique magazine or paper clippings to paint and ink. I also enjoy a little sculpting, recording music, writing and general crafting.
Film and music are two definite passions of mine. I work in a record/movie store for a day job. I love new stuff, older movies, strange film bits.. I wont go into it but cinema is gorgeous. Music is as well obviously. Nearly every young person these days seems to live for music though so that seems boring even if it is the case. I love music!
KM: Completely true on the music thing–I’ve definitely encountered that too! Of course, there’s a big difference between simply being “into” music, and being a musician and creating music! What other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
BV: As life goes by you find new things to spend your time doing. you leave the old behind and start with the new. It’s the things that are always with you that really matter, I think. I spend my time painting, appreciating film and music, hanging out with good friends and trying to travel a little. Oh and time is spent helping customers at work (where I also get to hang out with friends all day). KM: Sounds like a great way to live :]. I have a similar work situation in which work is almost as fun as not work! Wrapping up with a little philosophizing here, what’s your favourite quote?
BV: “Life is great. Without it, you’d be dead.” -From the movie Gummo.


Images used with permission from Brandon.

Want to learn more about Brandon’s project and give him a hand? You can back his Kickstarter project for as little as $1, and receive cool incentives from $5–at as low as $20 you’ll receive a copy of the art book upon completion–I am very excited to receive mine!

Learn more about the project by visiting the Kickstarter page.