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Q&A with Will Bryant

Artist based in Austin

I grew up in east Texas playing sports, trying to standout while trying to fit in, and occasionally making stuff. For the past 8 years I’ve worked full time as an illustrator/graphic designer. I’ve tried to position myself more as a artist for hire that is fun, approachable, and easy to work with. I often collaborate with brands on promotional projects, apparel, editorial illustration, packaging, visual identities, and also have strong desire to make more gallery work. The work is exuberant, slightly irreverent at times, struggles to be critical, and 95% of time is wacky/goofy/playful.

How did you start your way in the creative industry?

I suppose I can recall some important moments in my childhood that contributed, but undergrad at Mississippi State is where things really clicked. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with graphic design while in my first class with Kate Bingaman-Burt. Prior to that class, I had a very limited understanding/exposure examples of graphic design. She introduced me to everything—from zines to Milton Glaser to branding systems to hand lettering to contemporary illustration. I started making a lot of work outside of classes. A lot of weird drawings, watercolor paintings, and screen prints. I also started deejaying ridiculously themed parties where I would do installations and make merch for each show (i.e. “Sweatageddon, the sweat that ends all sweat”). That was a really important time for me creatively. It helped shaped my voice, experiment with style, and diverse my interests.

If you could get back to the beginning of your career and suggest how to become a graphic designer, what would be your advice?

I would suggest anyone to develop a broad range of influences, especially outside of the industry you’re interested in, and constantly be experimenting. Challenge yourself to grow. Your style & voice are going to mature over time, but ONLY if you’re making a TON of work. Ask yourself questions like “why do I like this?” and “what about this illustrator doesn’t do it for me?”. Remember it’s okay to not like things, but always try to be a positive influence.

Do you prefer staying at a studio during your working hours or visit cafes to dilute the routine?

I prefer to spend as much as time possible in the studio during the day. Nearly everyday I try to head home by 5:30pm to get in some hangout time with my 2 year old daughter. So those hours during the day are really important. With that said, I do stop by cafes in the morning to start my day or will take lunch somewhere outside of the studio for some fresh air and a change in scenery.

Who are the inspirational artists for you personally and what is the wellspring of your work inspiration?

Currently, I am a big fan of these folks: Evan Trine, Morgan Blair, Matthew Palladino, Ben Sanders, Ellen Van Dusen, Keetra Dean Dixon, Adi Goodrich, and Bijan Berahimi.

More broadly, my work stems from Push Pin Studios, Saul Steinberg, Geoff McFetridge, Cody Hudson, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, patterns in bowling alleys, and cheesy movie theater graphics. There’s a mash-up of interests that are rooted in my childhood: playing sports, being a jokester, manners/southern hospitality, and growing up in front a screen (over stimulation).