MAS Members' remarkable lives – Public health to international artist
By MAS Team | 17 February 2020
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Professionals across the country are proving that you can have creative side hustles as writers, playwrights and artists no matter what line of work you do and how busy you are. Some of them are spending their evenings and long weekends writing novels that draw on personal experiences from their careers, while others have taken the bold step to split their time between their medical career and a more creative one in the art world.
Here is Brad's story.
It was a visit to the Tate Modern in London that changed Brad Novak's life.
As a young man, the Auckland-based public health physician had never taken an interest in the arts at school. Once he expressed an interest in medicine, he was diverted down that science route and never considered more creative subjects.
But while he was on his OE with his wife Katrina, she exposed Brad to art in a form he never thought was possible.
"I thought art had to be realism. I thought if you can't paint a photograph, it's not real. Two hours into the Tate Modern Art Gallery and my life changed. It was like a lightening strike, it unlocked something in me.
"It took me a few hours to take it all in and then something just clicked. I started to realise art can be ideas and not just a pretty picture," says Brad.
That visit changed the trajectory of Brad's career. Now an internationally renowned pop culture artist, through his New Blood Pop series, Brad explores his central theme of The Digital Dilemma – that we think technology is making us happier and connecting us better, when in fact it's doing the opposite.
Brad was the first artist in New Zealand's history to exhibit in the same show as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Mr. Brainwash and Banksy in Toronto, Canada. He regularly exhibits in the USA, the UK and New Zealand.
Art has become a huge part of Brad's life. He spends two days a week on his medical work and three and a half days a week working on his art.
The decision to transition from full-time public health physician to part-time artist was a gradual and considered one, which had to work for him and his family.
"I always wanted to do more with my art. I wasn't happy doing it just as a hobby. There was an internal conflict. I asked myself, 'Can I swap some time doing medicine to do art?'
"I had no negativity from any of my colleagues when I decided to go part-time. Most of them already knew that I was an artist, and they were very supportive."
Brad thinks it's important for doctors to have something outside of medicine just for themselves. Things like cycling, running, painting, playing an instrument or writing are a great place to start if you don't know what your creative interest is yet.
"Doctors are not one-dimensional people. Even in medical school, I had friends who were singers, performers, in bands and expressing themselves creatively.
"I think a lot of it is mental – giving yourself permission to do something else that you really love is important. Just because you're a doctor doesn't mean you can't be an artist too," says Brad.
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