Vendor Profile: Vancouver’s Rodney McNeely on his artistic endeavours and what he loves to do.
'A lot more love in the world today'
“I’ve been selling Megaphone for the past three years; I started in the winter of 2014. I was busking and a vendor flagged me down and he started talking to me and gave me the tip of selling Megaphone.
“I enjoy interacting with people, I enjoy the smiles and looks I get from people when I’m selling and talking to customers while I’m selling—just talking about anything, really. It sparks a common interest.
“It’s just nice to get out there and meet friendly people.
“Also, it helps occupy part of my day. Sometimes when I wasn’t selling Megaphone there was just not much to do. I couldn’t occupy my time as easily.
“But I like painting, with acrylics. I particularly like painting landscapes because I love nature. It makes me feel more connected with nature. When I first became interested in painting, I started off with oil painting but I found it too messy.
“I became interested by watching an art show, like Bob Ross but not him, when I was a teenager. I got interested and it wasn’t long after that I went out to the art store and got my first art supplies. I didn’t pick up that interest in school. I just liked the way they blended the colours, the techniques they used, and the ability of the artist to keep the viewers interested.
“I’ve done a few abstracts too; I actually sold two paintings in 2008.
“I guess I can call myself an artist. I’ve often wondered if I should go out there and get a really good paying job or stick with the arts because I’ll have more time to commit to it.
“I was born in Calgary. My parents and sister and I lived in Calgary for the first year of my life, then in 1970 we moved to Vancouver and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve seen Vancouver go through many changes. Since Expo, really, things started taking off. Things started to boom right after Expo. The Downtown buildings, as far as I can remember, there were only the Scotia Tower, Harbour Centre, Hotel Vancouver with the green copper roof, and the Royal Bank tower. Other than that there wasn’t all these buildings.
“It feels different. It’s funny, in my adult life, I tend to not get into as many problems as I used to when I was a teenager. I feel more safe out on the streets. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the time, if there’s a lot more love in the world today.
“I can still remember the old trolley buses they had out.
“I started busking when I bought my first harmonica, since 2014. This is my third or fourth year, mostly up at Oakridge mall. I come up with my own stuff basically, but I am thinking of taking a harmonica class this year. I think I can use a little more work.
“It’s been a big part of my life, [expressing myself artistically]. I think getting out into the community and meeting people is something I like to do too.
“I’m nervous each day, I’m nervous when I go to sell Megaphones. Once I’m doing it I’m fine, I’m nervous before that and before busking but once I’m doing it I’m fine and that’s each day I do it. I’ve got intial nervousness but once I get past that I’m fine.
“When I first started busking I was very scared. I didn’t know how people were going to react or how I was going to handle the criciticsm.
“I guess the last tune I played that both myself and others have enjoyed, I look forward to playing it again. That motivates me.”
Rodney McNeely can be found selling Megaphone in Vancouver, either at the corner of Dunsmuir and Cambie, or in front of the Whole Foods at Eighth and Cambie. Interview by Stefania Seccia.