On the surface, Brad Robinson is calm and collected.
Underneath his composed demeanor, Robinson is balancing more plates than a waiter in a busy restaurant.
On any given day, Robinson could be drumming on stage at an event, coaching baseball and hockey, tutoring high school students, working on commissioned artwork or designing a poster for his business, Bradesign.
“My business takes up most of my time, and the time that I have when I’m not necessarily designing something, I do all the other things I like doing throughout the community,” Robinson said.
His multimedia business — which involves photo, video and graphic work — is on a roll, he said.
He attributes his success to positive word-of-mouth reviews from clients and his attention to “doing a good job every time ... When I create something for someone, it’s personal.”
For that reason, Robinson says he would much rather make unique artwork for people, as opposed to selling prints of his work.
“I always try to put my own little twist (on things) in terms of creativity,” Robinson said.
Aside from running his business full-time, Robinson juggles studying as a part-time student, raising a family and volunteering in the community.
Robinson says he likes to help people “get them to a place where they should be. How much you help others to get there is a big deal ... The more you help out people — the native and non-native people of the community — the better the community will be. It’s very fulfilling.”
And through it all, Robinson has been working with a learning disability that involves his memory.
“When I was in college, in study groups, I remember other people getting things a lot faster than me,” he said.
At first, Robinson had actually dismissed his poor memory as “too many hits to the head” from football. (He won a city football championship with Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School and enjoyed a brief stint with the semi-pro Ottawa Sooners football team.)
It turned out that was not the case.
His disability was not diagnosed until his second year of university, when he decided to seek studying tips from university staff.
The staff members were amazed at how far he had progressed through the school system (he had already completed a college diploma and a full year of courses at university) without knowing he had a memory problem.
To help with the disability, Robinson uses technology, such as taking notes on his iPhone.
He says wasn’t always sure about his future in the arts. He wanted to be a police officer and completed the law and justice program at Cambrian College before moving on to Laurentian University to pursue his law studies.
After taking some native studies courses, Robinson said it felt right to take that focus as his major.
He is a few credits shy of a bachelor’s degree, and is currently working towards completing it.
When it comes to tutoring, Robinson said aboriginal tutoring is important because there is a noteworthy difference between conventional Western educating and Native American teaching.
Aboriginal learning is based more on a one-on-one system, according to Robinson, a system focused on “making sense” of lessons.
Robinson said he’s confident he’s made a difference by tutoring when his pupils “excel in something they’re passionate about.”
Bradesign’s latest project is a series of posters being designed for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board.