Brian Batista: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Brian Batista is somewhat of a renaissance man, known around Calgary as a painter, sculptor, animator, teacher and mentor. Since graduating from the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), Brian has been a force on the local art scene, co-founding the Calgary Underground Film Festival, teaching at the ACAD college and Quickdraw Animation Society, and still finding time to be involved with not-for-profit arts organizations in the city. Brian has also been involved in many group shows and several solo exhibitions, including Divine Inspiration, which re-imagined Tibetan Hindu deities that were viewed using 3D chromatic glasses. Before taking off on vacation, Brian filled us in on what it takes to be a notable artist… 

Where did you go to school? What did you take?
I went to ACAD and I want to be a painter, but I took sculpture because I could have a bigger studio. Turns out, this is one of the best decisions I could have made because of the fantastic life-long friends I made. By the time I graduated I was chosen by my peers to be the valedictorian.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I make beautiful things to look at, but I feel my driving force is that I make this world a better place for others to live through my inspiration and enthusiasm.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
That’s a bit murky. I won an animation scholarship at the Quickdraw Animation Society and fell in love with it as an art form, then I shaped my skills and carved out a unique niche for myself through a series of opportunities. I began teaching, and after running my organic rooibos tea company for seven years, I felt I needed a tangible product to have a successful business at the time.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I think the most challenging thing is the mentoring and education component of my work. I help others see how to do things for themselves. If you are good at something, it is often so much easier to just do it, it is much harder to teach someone else and empower them to take the reigns. The best part is seeing peoples’ eyes open after they achieve their success and achievements.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Well the grey hairs are an indicator… and no time to spend on the important people in my life.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself having a lot more financial freedom and ability to travel and enjoy life. I am hoping to be out of the city and get back to nature.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One major challenge that I’ve had to overcome and one I still struggle with from time to time is in trying to do everything perfectly myself. There is that old truism, “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I have been learning to let go of perfectionism and over-taxing myself to do everything.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money has never been the ultimate goal for me. I get far more achievement by seeing the success of others. My measure of success and happiness comes in part from completing my projects and moving on to new exciting ideas.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
A memorable milestone for me is having a solo exhibition of paintings at the Stride Gallery because it was a big challenge to creat work and exhibit to my peers. It was also a huge learning opportunity.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Persistence is key.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Tubby Dog on Tuesday is Taco night and the tacos served there rival tacos found anywhere else in the world.

When you’re not working, how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I like to spend my free time as quiet time alone, and one of my favourite things to do, besides reading, is assembling Lego.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I’ve done the Burning Man festival since I graduated art school. Over the decade I have developed great friendships and I love seeing all the art projects people bring every year to the festival.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
That’s a really tough one. I’d change it every week. Music is the soundtrack of our lives.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I think I would have gone into architecture.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support many not-for-profit art organizations, as well as I give to a lot of crowdsourcing campaigns. If you can’t give money, you can give your time.

What to you is notable?
People who make things or changes that affect others’ lives in a positive manner. 

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All photos © Kenneth Locke