Every single day people walk past that know me and say hello. They make me feel like I’m part of the community.

I grew up in Sydney but have moved a lot since then. I lived in Canberra and then spent 12 years on the Gold Coast. I’m in Brisbane now and I love it here. It’s fantastic, and I love that the people here are happy.

I have dyslexia and so school was difficult for me. I failed my exams in high school, but amazingly, due to my art ability, I got into university. I studied art and drama, which is why I’m so jovial. I hop foot to foot and sing and dance when I’m selling too. If people want a song, I’ll sing them a song. I like to sing mostly rhythm and blues, opera, and a bit of Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra.

I love all forms of art. I can paint, draw, sketch…everything. I majored in pottery and that’s what I’m best at. I spend a lot of my free time making clay pots. I was considering selling my clay pots for a living, but I ended up selling The Big Issue instead.

Before The Big Issue, I was working at the RSL selling raffle tickets, but because of my dyslexia I couldn’t read the script properly. I started selling magazines after meeting a lovely vendor named Tony. He told me he was selling magazines that support the homeless and disadvantaged and I said, “I could get into that.” I have been doing it for six months now.

I sell five days a week at the Post Office Square. Everyone knows me there, and they deliver me wonderful presents and gifts. I have heaps of regulars.

Every single day people walk past that know me and say hello. They make me feel like I’m part of the community. I feel like I belong somewhere, and that I’m finally a piece of a puzzle.

I started selling the magazine to save up for my wedding this October. I met my fiancée Helen in November 2020 at the Baptist Church. I heard her sing, and she sounded like an angel. I knew she was the one for me and I asked her out a few months later. I’ve saved $15,000 for the wedding so far, and that’s from The Big Issue alone. I can’t wait to get married, and after we do, we’re going on a trip to Tasmania.

I’m 100 per cent reliant on my income from The Big Issue; I use it to pay for everything. It’s crucial that people understand that you can make a living, you can earn a wage, and that this is an actual job. After my wedding, my next dream is to use the money to buy a home in Newstead.

There are two loves in my life: my fiancée and The Big Issue. I feel grateful. Grateful to be alive and grateful that every magazine I sell, I feel like I’m a part of something great.

Tallis sells The Big Issue at Post Office Square, Brisbane. 

Interview by Lilian Bernhardt
Photo by Barry Street