Southern Sensibility—An Interview with Will Bryant

There’s just something about the qualities of Southern people…

On a recent morning in SE Portland we sat down and talked about his journey and every now and then I heard a slight Texan drawl. I envisioned him growing up in that small town, playing football and basketball for the home team, and making flyers for his church youth group.  Here sitting across from me, was the kid who thought he would major in business and get a minor in design, even though he really couldn’t tell you what design was at the time. What he did know was that he liked the art of album covers and how it matched with the music inside. 

Of course, following in the family tradition he applied to Mississippi State University, why should he be any different?  Luckily for us, it didn’t take him very long to realize that maybe he was…just a bit.

"I remember walking into the business school, how nice it was. They handed me a slick branded folder and matching pencil. When they started talking about all the math classes, I just thought no way! Then I walked into the art dept. they gave me a few print outs and that was about it. The place wasn’t very fancy but there was something about the energy that made me feel like this was where I was supposed to be."

Eventually Will took classes with Kate Bingaman-Burt (who was teaching there at the time), and her influence would become but one inspiration for his work. Later he had the opportunity to intern for Kate and her husband Clifton, but it wasn’t until Kate invited Mike Perry into the classroom that Will’s perspective changed.

"He looked at all of my stuff and pointed to a design I was working on for a Threadless submission.” Perry told him, “You should be doing more of this.”  “After that, every project I approached had a hand drawn quality.”

Like many young designers, Will began freelancing in school and after graduating moved to Austin, Texas where he landed work with two of his dream clients, Nike and Stussy.  

A little over a year ago Will and his wife Sally moved to Portland, Oregon.  He is currently pursuing his MFA in the Contemporary Art Practice degree program at Portland State.

"Overall the program is really challenging me to think critically, examine my own art practice, and develop a greater understanding of how to contextualize my work. My vocabulary is expanding now, and I can call bullshit a lot quicker. It’s also given me an edge personally, I was a bit naive now I feel like I can read people and things better." 

Will has grown into a quite talented designer and illustrator. His work has graced the cover of both New York Times and Good magazines, doodled across Converse tennis shoes, and contributed to a global line of Women’s T-shirts for Nike. He has painted over the entire body of a Fiat, designed for K2 Snowboards, and created art for several stop motion animations, and so much more. His work has exhibited from New York to Portland, he is a current member of Public School, and has contributed as a blog writer to Poppytalk and Design for Mankind.

Please join us for sketchXchange and a night of inspiration and drawing with Will Bryant. His light-hearted, sketching goodness is sure to delight.

DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday Night, July 6,  2012

TIME: 6:00-9:00 PM

PLACE: The Left Bank Project 240 N Broadway

Check-in begins at 6:00pm in The Sting Ray Cafe. Doors close at 6:45

COST: FREE, however a donation is always welcomed!

REGISTRATION BEGINS: Friday, June 29, at 9am

As always space is limited, so be sure to register early!

A NOTE ABOUT PARKING. There is free parking on Flint Street (north of the building) and paid parking in the lot in front of the building. The street parking is paid until 10pm.

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