When life gets you down, what’s a person to do? Give it a swift kick in the you-know-where, that’s what. Ferndale resident, painter, tattoo artist and musician, Brendan Patrick has known more hardship than any of us care to imagine and yet he is living life far beyond his limitations.
Patrick was born with clubfeet and diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis – a genetic, life-threatening disease – at the age of 9. At the age of 26, Patrick underwent a double lung transplant after being placed on a ventilator for nearly 5 months – unable to breathe on his own. During this time, while Patrick was fighting for his life, he also lost his vision. As a painter, this was by the far the most devastating time for him, even after the success of his lung transplant.
“I cried,” Patrick said. “I just shut down. I thought I could never make art again. I had no idea what to do with my life.”
But he did make art again and he’s determined to be an even better artist than he was before he lost his vision. His artistic influence stems from classic horror movie monsters, tattoos and just plain weird stuff that he conjures up with his mind. His blindness has had a major impact on how he attacks the canvas, which is fully envisioned in his head first, sketched out with puffy paint, dried, and then filled in with vibrant colors and textures. Patrick’s art has become one of the main focuses in his life.
“Painting lets me see again. It’s super therapeutic and definitely is part of my healing process. It’s pretty much everything to me,” he said.
His unconventional story and love for painting lead him to what is now a documentary in progress called “Can’t See Sh*t,” filmed by his long-time friend, Rob Cousineau and Cousineau’s business partner, Chris Rosik of Get Super Rad filming company.
“It [the film] was Brendan’s idea!” Cousineau said. “I will say, it took a few weeks to convince him to allow us to capture moments of weakness, because he never really shows them, [but] now he is on our side, he wants us to capture everything.”
The quirky film title is reflective of the way Patrick handles his disabilities — with humor and gusto, which is immediately apparent when watching the short preview of the film. The filming has taken place over the course of a year with Patrick, Cousineau and Rosik traveling around to different areas to film. They headed to Pittsburg, PA this past weekend for a show — following Brendan around to snag footage. They capture intimate scenes with Patrick while he’s painting, at doctor’s appointments, playing music, and around his home in Ferndale where he strives to live independently. This gives us a glimpse into how Patrick maneuvers throughout day-to-day life and how, in many ways, it looks very similar to our own. Cousineau’s intention for the film (like any determined filmmaker) was to premiere at Sundance, but it goes far beyond making a successful documentary.
“I believe that Brendan’s story can help people. People have terrible things happen to them every day, and seeing Brendan navigate the terrible things that have piled onto him with a smile and a joke is really inspiring.”
The filming for “Can’t See Sh*t” began over a year ago and is picking up momentum as they continue to shape the storyline and share Patrick’s story. Get Super Rad has created a fundraising page through Indiegogo to help raise money and continue to make Brendan’s dream of documenting his life and art a reality. They also hope to shed some light on Cystic Fibrosis, which in turn, may help to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It’s hard to image that these guys are volunteering their time and effort for free, but that’s exactly what they’re doing and they have many other people involved as well.
“We are pushing this campaign to raise the money to travel more and also pay all the folks that have been and will be working with us. I appreciate free labor, but at some point I have to pay these unbelievably kind and talented people who have been helping us out.”
They realize that life often takes unexpected turns and plan to document any surprises along the way, but for now, they’re just focused on spending time with their friend and sharing his incredibly inspiring story. Oh, and having fun, of course.
“We had a lot of fun in the Boston area where Brendan had a booth at a horror convention,” Cousineau explained. “We’re big horror movie nerds so we got to see a lot of great films and meet a lot of interesting people. Really, I just like the little stuff like traveling and spending time together.”
Cousineau’s hope is that they are able to share this film with as many people as possible and give others a glimpse into what may seem like an impossible situation. Patrick’s story is one of resilience, passion, humor and hope. He explained that this film has given him something to do and it has changed his life, giving him hope and pushing him to create more. Patrick also hopes to inspire others to never let tough circumstances stand in the way of achieving their goals.
“You don’t have to give up. No matter what’s thrown at you. As long as you keep trying and pursuing what you’re after, you can get there,” he said. “If I can do it, anyone can.”
For a sneak peek at the film trailer, click here!
You can find more information about “Can’t See Sh*t” and contribute to their campaign on their Indiegogo page.
Catch a showcase of Brendan Patrick’s artwork at the “When Visions Collide” event at the Tangent Gallery in Detroit on Saturday, April 30th. Doors are at 8pm and tickets are $10, 18+ only. Find more information about this event on their Facebook page.