Dreamers + Doers

The following is the speech I prepared for my 5 min talk at a new event entitled Dreamers + Doers


I was asked to be here through my current fellowship with RADIUS. I’d like to thank Jenn McRae & Shawn Smith for connecting me with Sarah Shandl, the organizer of this great event.


I looked up. Lil Wayne’s tattooed body. His gold-filled grin. And amongst the screaming crowd and thumping bass, I asked myself, what the fuck am I doing here?!?

We’ll get back to that, but first,
let’s hop over the rockies, to good ol’ Alberta…


I was born in Edmonton.

Although I came from a blue collared working class family, in which “working hard for your money” was drilled into me, it never fit. I was a quiet kid who spent pretty much all day either drawing or reading.
I was an artist, which was considered weird and useless.
I tried working as a helper in a welding fabrication shop during the summer. I worked on construction sites. But I just didn’t fit in.

It wasn’t just that I didn’t fit in with these stereotypically gruff n tough manly Albertan men.
I always thought there must be more than this.

Even though by my early 20s, I hadn’t been anywhere outside Alberta (other than a trip to Disneyland when I was a kid),
I knew there must be more than this.

My imagination, confined to being able to draw cool creatures or writing fantastical stories,  was at best, up to that point, been given a pat on the head.

But what I’ve learned since is that my imagination – my dreaming – has WAY more potential than anyone, myself included, could have imagined.


My name is Ash Tanasiychuk
(tana – SAY – chuck)

I’m a visual artist and the founder of VANDOCUMENT.

You might have seen photos of mine over the years. Since 2010, I’ve shot bands playing throughout the city, which gets us back to Lil Wayne.

How DID I find myself in a photo pit shooting Lil Wayne?

I found myself there because I took a chance.


In July 2010, I answered a local online publication’s call for gig photographers.
At that point, I had NEVER shot ANYTHING for ANYONE other than myself.
I didn’t even have an SLR.
But it was an unpaid gig, I thought what the hell why not.
I shot the show and I instantly fell in love with live music photography. From that day, I was hooked. I loved what I was doing, and in the photos, it showed.

  • Although I shot tons of bands, including Leonard Cohen at one point – I realized my talent wasn’t really contributing to anything, other than some sweets shots on the sites & publications I was shooting for.
  • That fateful gig in Rogers Arena, shooting Lil Wayne, helped me realize there must be more than this.
  • I realized that my talent to capture a few key moments in time could be shifted to my city’s local artists.

This is where the DOING started to come in.


Once Lil Wayne helped me realize that he didn’t need my photo talent, that my local community did, everything exploded.

I started shooting events featuring local artists. I cycled around, brought my camera everywhere, shot pics of gallery openings, artist talks, bands and performers, posted the pics, and shared them with the artists.


So I did it more. This energy fed me.

I shot more and more until I literally couldn’t do anymore. I realized this needed to be a bigger thing.

I brainstormed a name (VANDOCUMENT, obvious, right?) bought the url, found a theme,  populated it with my own work, and launched on May 10 2013.

From there, I spoke to people. In person, online. I invited people to join. And it took no time to gather a small but amazing crew.

This is where my dreams moved from personal to communal.


It’s a buzz word, I admit.
But I choose it for a genuine reason: community building buzzes me. Electrifies me.

This is a new discovery.
As a quiet kid, I didn’t make an effort to build community.
As an artist, I just made things. I didn’t think I needed community.

But now that my dreaming had moved from simply being an artist to documenting and supporting artists, I was opening myself up to others. I began to expose myself and my beliefs to people.


In one of VANDOC’s first posts, entitled “On Why Art Matters”
I introduce the concept and intentions of VANDOCUMENT. Then I ask:

“But WHY? Why does our local talent deserve this attention?”
A couple of the points in particular stick out:

  • Art has the capability to save me from confusion, depression, anger, and other not-so-awesome states because it reminds me that I am not alone. Music, performance, film, etc – shows me a world larger than my own and by so doing, it grounds me, calms me or invigorates me
  • This grounding, calming, invigorating power of art is inherently community-building. It gives us a sense of being HERE. Whether we know the people around us or not, whether we are in a tiny village or a massive metropolis, we are not alone.

I sign off on this post with
“Support art. Love yourself. Connect with the people around you.”

I bore my soul here. By writing this, I was distilling the core essence of my dreaming into a 500 word article.

By baring my soul, I was sharing my dream. I began DOING my dream.

So what did this teach me?


Genuine purpose.
Purpose that extends into & connects with other people’s lives.

In my case, paying tribute to what people do.
If people are going to put themselves on the line, if they’re going to create anything, we should at least give them a nod.
You needn’t love it. You needn’t like it. You needn’t even “get” it. But you definitely need to give that nod. Because each of these creators, even if only for that one time in their lives, have taken a dream and done it.

What we should be asking is what is their story.
What is your story? What matters to you? No, what REALLY matters? If you could realize your dream, what would that look like?

Cuz see, I’m discovering that by putting MY dream out there, by DOING my dream, I’m enabling other people to DO theirs.
I’m inviting people in to share their stories, and their dreams with me.

So, before I leave, I’d like to share:


  1. Surround yourself with believers, supporters, and participants in your dream.
  2. Thank those who help you, give back to those who give to you, and create opportunities for them. Build and respect your community.
  3. Take chances. Lots of them. As often as possible.

Thank you.


Believe It Or Not, Those Walls Of Personal Statuses Can Be Surprisingly Inclusive, Even Enlightening

Ever awaken with anxiety and dispair?
You probably wouldn’t think that reading a wall of social media statuses would improve your mood,
but within a matter of brief minutes, here are some beautiful ones of note:

the funny thing about enlightenment is that it looks just like being crazy, only way to differentiate between a madman and a buddha, is by the actions.


Just wrapping up the very last tail end of these Christmas hampers (4 days of insanity coming to a close!), and I have one last family in need who needs a hamper delivered. If anyone is around today with a car and feels like delivering a box of fresh wholesome food and gifts to an apartment in east van, please let me know! Sometime between now and noon. ♥


Never think you are right.
To be right is to be wrong. I am even wrong in saying never think you are right. At the moment you feel justified, it is taken and you experience truth. At the edge of this “knowing” we become aware that we do not know. That knowing is only a movement of change and force to know not knowing.
And in not knowing we submerse ourselves in the rich reality of life’s duality. Conversations become connections, arguments become lessons, perspectives become awareness. We realize our lucidity as we except our vulnerability…within and with each other. So I am not right and you are not wrong, we are just dancing in the midst of awareness.

To community, real love, encouragement, and support!
May these and more positive life engagement be our focus the new year and forever.


With Honesty and Effortless Humour: James Victore Explains Why Your Work Is A Gift

Thank you 99U for being a constant source of relevant and inspiring business and design information.
Today, thanks to his incredible 18 minute presentation, I’ve discovered a new creative idol: James Victore.
A successful designer, artist, and business person, but most importantly, a man with a huge heart who knows that living with purpose and helping others matters more than accolades or money.

“Teach your tongue to say ‘I don’t know’ and ye shall progress”

“Be grateful and be thankful that you are here, that we have this time”

Watch it here

James Victore: Your Work Is A Gift from 99U on Vimeo.


Unnecessary, Immoral Destruction Of Homes: Stop The Eviction Of Little Mountain Tenants

Please sign this petition to support the residents of Little Mountain and stop the unnecessary destruction of their homes.

When people, such as Sammy and Joan, have made a home for themselves, that works for their particular situation, considering their disabilities, there is absolutely no reason to take their homes from them. Home is a basic right & it is immorally wrong to take this away from them and others in similar situations.

*** Update: Great news: Little Mountain hold-outs avoid eviction – read the full story at the Tyee


The House, As It Should Be (Creating The Spaces for Creative Communities to Express, Develop, Nuture, and Grow)

Fucking awesome.
I’m feeling super fucking inspired after hanging with LD tonight. Art is everything, art is on the way.
Create the space for creativity. Nothing else matters. Work, loss, love, jealousy, it’s all just a waste of time, it’s all just distraction from what really matters: EXPRESSION. Creating the space that encourages people to express themselves. We do not foster creativity in our society unless it directly relates to generating sales. Creativity is rewarded or appreciated or encouraged to improve the bottom line or some such business/marketing diatribe bullshit.
What has been lost is the positivity that is created from feeling vindicated by expression. By feeling that even if no one “gets it,” they still listen, they still watch, they still participate, they still give feedback. We are all lost and confused and frustrated and depressed because our world is WRONG. It values things and concepts and ideas that do not nurture our souls, that do not develop communities. What are we encouraged to do in life? We are encouraged to choose a field, train in it, and then fight everyone around us. To beat our peers. Not to work together, but to see each other as enemies. To do our damndest to see them fail so that we can advance. This is what is encouraged, this is what our parents and teachers and bosses want us to do.
And what is happening is that we are growing into a world of cold, lonely individuals. Social media and reality tv and streaming internet vids have all come at the perfect time – just as we might have been catching on that we are so desperately lonely and should probably rethink how we live life and what our priorities should actually be, we have been fed amazingly addictive distractions.

No more.
From today until I die, I live the life of A Casa Como Convem: The House, As It Should Be.
Thank you Luciana, this came at an incredibly perfectly pivotal time.

Stay tuned.


Events In Vancouver: What’s Happening in Music, Art, and Your Community

I believe it’s crazy important to be aware of what is happening in your city & your community.
For some time now, I have wanted to launch an events site for Vancouver.
Until that happens, I am going to maintain this list of my recommended events to check out in Vancouver BC.

Have a look, I bet there’s a bunch of stuff here you’d enjoy!
And if you know of anything interesting that I’m missing here, give me a shout!


Thurs Oct 27: Goran Bregovic and his Wedding & Funeral Orchestra (Gypsy brass band) @ Vogue

Fri Oct 28: Witches and Warlocks (3rd annual Veloween) @ Commercial Dr Legion

Fri Oct 28: Pre-halloween costume swap (w/ music by Shockone/Longwalkshortdock/Dark Arps)

Fri Oct 28: HALLOW2EEN: Emika (up & coming electronica vocalist), Amanda Rude, Michael Red, Max Ulis @ W2

Sat Oct 29: Nurses & Dominant Legs (indie rock) @ Biltmore

Mon Oct 31: Still Corners (dreamy mellow indie rock) @ Media Club

Wed Nov 2: Trentemoller (electronica/techno w full band – awesome live!) @ Commodore

Wed Nov 9: Dan Mangan (indie rock/folk) @ Orpheum

Thurs Nov 10: The Tiger Lillies (mix of “opera, gypsy song and left bank Paris”) @ Waldorf

Wed Nov 16: Austra (w/ Tasseomancy) (indie pop – not to be missed!) @ Electric Owl

Thurs Nov 17: Peak Performance Project FINALE (last night of local indie band competition) @ Commodore

Thurs Nov 17: Grimes (electro vocal girl – very danceable) @ Electric Owl

Sat Nov 19: AraabMUZIK (hiphop/dance party DJ) @ Electric Owl

Sat Dec 10: Baths (quirky experimental electronica) @ Electric Owl


Oct 18-29: Parade Of Lost Souls Festival

Nov 18-20: Eastside Culture Crawl (Eastside artists open their studios to the public. An awesome fun way to experience local artisans & their art)


(nothing to list at the moment)


Oct 21-Nov 11: Hatha Flow Yoga Course @ Eastside Yoga

Oct 21-Dec 9: Chakra Dance Series @ Tantra Fitness

Nov 2-23: Theremin workshop @ VIVO


Oct 19-30: Taste Of Yaletown (affordable 3 course meals)


(nothing to list at the moment)


Sat Oct 29: Parade Of Lost Souls (walk through East Van/Commercial Dr in music, performance, installation art)