Brandon Riddoch wins Inspirations Entrepreneurial Award
Inspirations Entrepreneurial Award recipient Brandon Riddoch sharing samples of his artwork. (Photo, Jodie Lennon)
By Valentina Basilicata
Artist Brandon Riddoch, the first recipient of the Inspirations Entrepreneurial Award, admitted he was shocked and surprised to learn he’d been bestowed such an honour. “I’ve never won anything before in my life!” said the 24-year-old.
Earlier this year, Inspirations launched a contest sponsored by Montrealer Henry Zavriyev (a 27-year-old real-estate entrepreneur) seeking to highlight the exceptional work of an individual with special needs.
“I would say thanks to [Henry] for all this. It’s very touching,” Riddoch said, adding it’s nice to be recognized by someone his own age for all the hard work he’s been doing.
Riddoch runs a small art business called Enchanted Trades. He uses “good old-fashioned paint” to create custom decorative gift bags for the Light a Dream Boutique and the Bramble House store, both located in the Valois Village in Pointe-Claire. Cindy Finn, director general of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), nominated Riddoch for the award. In her submission, Finn explains that as a student of LBPSB’s co-operative education program from 2015 to 2018, Riddoch “served as a mentor to the other students in the program, sharing his visual arts techniques and ideas. Although Brandon has now completed the educational component of his studies, he continues to volunteer his time at Light a Dream.”
Located on Donegani Ave., this quaint gift store employs participants from the board’s program, providing young adults with special needs the opportunity to experience a work environment while developing life and social skills.
Riddoch’s creations have also been on display at several local art and craft fairs, including the Creatability Expo held at Peter Hall School in 2016. He sells canvas paintings, bookmarks and ornaments featuring his vibrant and detailed artwork. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, Brandon has transitioned to working from home rather than at the Light a Dream Boutique. He has his own art studio—a converted bedroom—where he can spend entire days drawing and painting while listening to his favourite music. His mother, Jodie Lennon, also takes orders through her Facebook page. Riddoch has designed bookmarks for his mother’s students, which she included in their Christmas care packages, and he has even given her pupils an online art lesson during the pandemic.
“You give him a pencil and he can start drawing, drawing, drawing,” said his mom.
His interest in art began in elementary school. “When I draw, I discover my own kind of magic that I give to this world,” he said. And it’s quite an elaborate world. Other than recreating Disney and superhero characters in great detail for patrons, Riddoch has developed over 3,000 of his own unique characters, each one with its own backstory. He is working toward developing stories for these personages and hopes to eventually write and illustrate children’s books or even animated films.
“My ultimate dream is to work for Disney Studios as a character artist,” said Riddoch, who was inspired by his time at Spectrum Productions, a company providing media production opportunities for individuals with autism.
“My favourite thing to create is something that makes somebody smile,” Riddoch shared. “I sell my merchandise based on the size of the product. I want to run a good business.” Yet making money isn’t his main goal.
“When he does make something for someone, he’s not looking at his wallet. He’s watching their face to see their reaction to whatever he’s created for them. That’s what really brings him joy,” beamed his mother.
Riddoch added, “Some search for riches and glory while others search for different kinds of riches, which is a warm feeling on the inside.”
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Brandon Riddoch exhibiting his artwork at the Beaconsfield Golf Club at a fundraiser for Light A Dream. (Photo, Jodie Lennon)