Parliamo (Italian) – verb
- To talk, to speak with
- A series in FIAT Backstage in which we sit down, interview, and get to know someone from the world of FIAT, art, music, fashion or design.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 edition of FIAT Source for iPad.
Will Bryant is a talented designer and illustrator. He’s a freelance creative and self-described “maker”. He’s a member of Public School, an Austin based collective comprised of designers, illustrators, and photographers. He’s also been shaking a childhood obsessionwith a huge NBA star, though he still picks up the ball and plays a few times a week.
Bryant is the boy next door that is relocating from Austin to Portland, OR with his wife this month to teach university intro-level design classes and go back to school for an MSA in Studio Practice. He prefers an ink pen and paper for sketching but doesn’t consider himself a classic illustrator because he doesn’t do faces. He’s doing promotional work for a well-known Austin-based cancer research foundation and designs temporary tattoos, as well as DVD covers, t-shirts and merchandise for bands and various clients.
He’s also ready to get back to getting his hands dirty. His motto is, “Work hard and be nice to people.” With an honest approach to his work, he gravitates toward positive, uplifting messaging. He enjoys drawing letters, bike rides, browsing record stores, and making art. He did some of his stuff on a FIAT 500. We actually think it’s pretty classic, in a FIAT kind of way.
What’s the Austin art and design scene like?
Everyone’s really supportive and friendly. When I first moved here, I really got connected with this one gallery/bookstore in Portland, Dony Books, which started in Houston then came here. It’s a very collaborative scene with a huge work/life workforce.
Does Austin have a certain style?
In the illustrator and design realm, I would say it’s more of a vibe. Not west coast-laid back, but it has a particular energy that is very supportive of each other’s work. It’s a very positive, collaborative vibe.
Do you consider your style to be retro?
Yeah, absolutely. When I had started developing a style I was looking at contemporary artists whose work I liked and then looking back at who influenced them, and picking up on the line quality that you find in a lot of retro works and illustrations in children’s books. Then injecting my personality into that style, meshing them together and putting my own take on it.
What are some themes in your work?
It’s just so refreshing when I can get the business stuff and computer graphics out of the way and I can pull out sheet after sheet of paper and just start drawing. To get back to a tactile hands-on approach is so rewarding, not relying on the computer but really committing my personality organically like the older illustrators.
What is Public School and how long have you been working with them?
It’s a creative collective. We have around eight creatives and artists of varying skills and mediums that all run their freelance businesses out of the same space. From photographers, web designers, graphic designers, branding specialists, illustrators…we all collaborate our different disciplines on projects together.
How important is collaborating with other artists to you?
For the most part, having this talented group of people to rely on, bounce ideas off and learn from that are all a shoulder tap away is really awesome. I came from working alone in a spare bedroom and would find myself sitting in my underwear at 1pm and be like, I guess I better get out and do something. Now, I have this separate space to come to every day to be part of this really creative energy.
What are your thoughts on the movement that is happening of Americans being ready for compact vehicles like the FIAT 500?
I think it’s awesome. I was a minority in east Texas when I was ready to get a car and was looking at small hatchback cars. I think they make the most sense now because we’re running out of resources. They’re more economical.
What are your thoughts on the interest and relevance of the resurgence of a mid-century modern design movement?
I’m 100% on board. I’ve always wanted an older model car with updated, modern interior amenities. Even back in high school I wanted that. At the Public School space, mid-century modern is our design aesthetic. I hope it really takes off and that some of the mid-century Danish furniture I like becomes more affordable.
What was your approach to the illustration you applied to the FIAT 500?
I wanted to capture the energy of the brand so I decided to use one color of a paint pen. I art directed six other artists and we all did a section of the car, as shown.
Do you have a favorite medium for your work?
Oh, absolutely. I’m very particular about my drawing pens. I have this certain kind of pen that I’m using now and I’m kind of a freak about them. I don’t want anybody to touch or use them. I also really like the free-flow feeling of working on a watercolor collage, which I did when I was in school and really enjoyed.
Learn more about Will and the stuff he makes here: