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Episode 352 Aired August 5, 2020
We are back, after an incredible month at camp. Can’t wait to tell y’all about it. This week’s guest is an incredible inspiration and testament as to what we can do when we put our heart into something and we have faith in something bigger than ourselves. When we work with purpose we never “work” a single day. Will Bryan and I met at guess where? Yep Creative South almost four years ago, we kept passing each other in the hall or sitting near each other and I figured I don’t pass the same people that many times and so I was heading to lunch and asked him to join and I met an awesome designer and person. Humble and talented.
I am excited to introduce Will Bryan and he is going to talk about a framework for finding your niche, finding your calling, finding work that isn’t a grind, but work that is joy producing. He is also going to talk to us about finding new ways to look at situations.
Are you in the middle of the Pandemic and aren’t sure what you’re next move is? You might just get some unexpected insights from this LIVE Design Recharge.
To get the live link, sign up at http://bit.ly/dr-list. You’ll get an email then click the link and join us live.
The Questions for Will
- Will we met years ago, can you give everybody a little background about your start in design and when you started your business? How long you’ve been in business and what you do, who is your audience?
- Most people say to do what you love, but you also talked to me about doing what you HATE. This is another perspective shift that you give me and I love it. Can you explain?
- How did you know in the beginning what jobs to accept and what jobs to pass on?
- Why are you so passionate about sharing this to designers that are starting out?
- Will you see design as a problem-solving skill, what do you love about solving problems for other people?
- You also do something unique with your business and with your family. You regularly introduce both to new situations. For example you travel and you try new techniques, you develop new skills, and make new relationships all which provides you with a new outlook. Why is this such a big part of your life? Have you always had this philosophy?
- Why do you think your business has not slowed down since COVID hit? What things have made your business pandemic proof? (relationships built, trust, ability to pivot, ability to help them shift and problem solve?) Ex. The cancer march on DC.
- How do you recharge? What inspires you?
- Is there a quote or something that you keep close to help you get through tough times?
- What is next?
Connect with Will
diane gibbs: [00:00:00] Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of design recharge. Really excited to be back. We were at camp for a month. We were alive. If anybody was worried , we were alive. We are alive and many of us are back. And I appreciate seeing everybody in the chat. I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Will Bryan Will and I met at creative, South I am thankful the have Will we just kept passing each other.
[00:00:25]And I always think that’s just a sign from God saying, Hey, you need to be friends with this person. It was like five times. I was like, Hey, do you want to join me for lunch? I was eating lunch with some others, people, and then Will and I got to be friends and he has an amazing story.
[00:00:37] And I think it’s going to be one that will hopefully bring you some hope.
[00:00:41]He does some amazing work and we’re going to talk about hate. We’re going to talk about bringing on some of the hate and it is funny. It’s a way to flip it. People don’t be like, Oh my God, gosh, what happened?
[00:00:51] She went to camp and came back a hater. Nope. It’s a good way to think about it. And I can’t wait, but we met years ago. I want you to give people a little bit of background. Talk about it. Overachiever that’s will cause he played football at, SEC school. So you people who don’t know about SEC football is super impressive actually to play at an SEC school.
[00:01:10]but he didn’t just play. He had an academic scholarship, which. Again, very difficult to do, and he studied design, but I don’t want to tell all the whole thing. So Will, can you give him a little bit of your background from. Growing up, like where you grew up and then how you went to school there and then studying and stuff like that.
[00:01:27]Will Bryan: [00:01:27] Sure.
[00:01:27]so it’s funny, you said Andre is from Portugal because I actually was born in Portugal. yes. actually I was born in the ASR islands off the coast of Portugal and my dad was in the air force. and I am looking forward to going back, planning a trip, as soon as possible. But, but yeah, I grew up on artist drew a fantastically coming out of the wound.
[00:01:47] So it was something genetic that was passed down to me from my father and grandfather who were both very good artists, but neither of them did anything with it. They both were in the military. And so I drew cane, I was the guy that everybody knew in school that was like the kick out guy that could do all the painting and drawing and stuff.
[00:02:02]so it cool story wasn’t in high school. one of the things that we did in school was, they had a, like a. A calendar that they had all the artwork throughout the school year. And like I got the cover of this calendar several times. And so one of the, local subway stations was opening up and wanted me to paint a mural in their subway station of the same thing that I had on this calendar.
[00:02:22]And, it was a football player and he was doing the Heisman PIVENS. I was sports net. And, he had, we were the SWAT seat. Tigers was our high school mascot. And he had like tiger strikes on them and a advisor that was reflective and a pink lightning bolt coming down, blowing up and reflecting all on adviser and all this stuff.
[00:02:38] And it was really cool. so they asked me about, I was probably 16. Maybe 16 and somehow the owner, this guy tracked me down and he’s Hey, would you paint this on our wall? and what would you charge a painting had no idea whatsoever. So I’m like, okay. $150. And so then I go to Lowe’s and buy $110 worth of paint.
[00:02:57]and, and then, proceed to paint this mural. the awesome thing was is that I was playing baseball at the time, in high school. And so I would actually have to go to baseball practice and then come and paint at this place afterwards. And, everybody who worked there went to high school with me.
[00:03:10]And so they. part of the deal was I got to eat while I was there. So I strung out this mural as long as I possibly could, so that I could have like meatball subs every single day, for the whole time that I was in high school. So anyway, I finished it turned out great. the owner ended up paying me $350 because he knew that I can’t any money off of it.
[00:03:28]But, I actually started painting murals from then on, out after that. So when I, even, when I was in college, I would go to Atlanta for the whole month of may, which is the only month that you get off. If you’re a football player and just paint the entire time that I was there. And that made me enough money to last for the rest of the year and eventually paid for my girlfriend now, wife engagement, ring, painting murals in Atlanta in the summer.
[00:03:48]diane gibbs: [00:03:48] Wow. That is amazing.
[00:03:50]Will Bryan: [00:03:50] Yeah. so I started with that, but when I was in college, so I I moved all over when I was a kid. cause my dad was in there for us, lived in Sacramento, California. I lived in Valdosta, Georgia, so they lived in Portugal. and then my grandfather was a retired cook from Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.
[00:04:08] And so when my dad got out of the air force, we moved to South Carolina, to be near my grandparents. And so that’s where I went to high school and that’s how I ended up going to university of South Carolina. but when I went to school, I got a full academic and art scholarship to the university of South Carolina.
[00:04:20] So that made it very easy for me to decide where to go.
[00:04:23]diane gibbs: [00:04:23] did you know about graphic design? Did you know that was a thing.
[00:04:27]Will Bryan: [00:04:27] Absolutely not. So I went as a way to go tick for a fine art degree. and part of the kind of requirements was computer arts, one Oh one, which is basically introduction to Photoshop.
[00:04:38]And I went to that class and my mind was blown because it was the first time that I had actually. Done, what was graphic design using a computer as a tool for design work. And it just, it has literally led to blew my mind just how much it opened up of what you could do versus, the traditional background of drawing and painting and, et cetera.
[00:04:56]and from there I figured out, Hey, there’s a profession called graphic design. That’s actually marketable and has a salary and you could build a life on kind of thing, as opposed to the. No traditional starving artist, thought process. my main, my major graphic design, did my undergrad in graphic design.
[00:05:11]And then when I got out, I was playing football at the same time. and it’s not as sexy as you make it out to be Diane in the sense that, I did tear both of my ACL some four years that I was, Playing there. and so I spent probably more time on crutches, than I did on the field. but it was a really cool experience.
[00:05:28]diane gibbs: [00:05:28] it takes a lot, that’s all, it’s a lot, it’s a big commitment. So one, you don’t have commitment issues because you’ve committed to. it’s a team. It’s not like you win the game, even just playing your part. if you’re encouraging others, there’s even if you’re on the sidelines and on watches.
[00:05:44]But you were there and you were putting the effort in and take something. And these, even the SECond string third string, these, they have cuts. We’ve seen the movie, Rudy people haven’t we like, not everybody gets to get dress out.
[00:05:58]You may be on the team, but you don’t always know you get to dress out.
[00:06:01] I just think it’s impressive as a professor, I know how much time they are away from the classroom. And I know how much time has an art professor design professor. I know how much time we required for them to be in the classroom. And this is a lot.
[00:06:16]Much more than getting a business degree.
[00:06:19]Will Bryan: [00:06:19] I spent many late nights in the computer lab, working on projects after practice. But, but yeah, it was cool. It is, amazing experience. Not many people get to run out to 80, 90,000 screaming fans kind of thing, for us for it.
[00:06:32]it was a very cool experience and I got to play for Lou Holtz, which is a hall of fame coach. And so it was really neat being able to, Yeah, that’d be coached up under him,
[00:06:40]diane gibbs: [00:06:40] but that wasn’t just, it. You also, cause you are eligible for five years. You were you in that fifth year, you started your master’s and then you finished it in the year six year, but you weren’t we’re playing football anymore.
[00:06:51]Will Bryan: [00:06:51] Yeah. So whenever I got my undergrad degree, the job market, wasn’t fantastic. I knew I had talent, but I didn’t want to be one of those people who, made a lot of amazing things, but somebody else made all the money off of them because they didn’t know the business.
[00:07:05] and I had another year of eligibility for football. So I went straight into my master’s degree and got my master’s degree in integrated mass communications, which is a media management degree. And you learn media, economics management, developing communication plans, media law stuff. I use all the time now.
[00:07:23]diane gibbs: [00:07:23] are you being sarcastic?
[00:07:24]Will Bryan: [00:07:24] No. No. absolutely.
[00:07:25]diane gibbs: [00:07:25] Okay. Cause I was thinking you probably do have to use it.
[00:07:28] Will Bryan: [00:07:28] Yeah,
[00:07:28]diane gibbs: [00:07:28] you are right. Wide receiver. Hannah was asking, so cause we both went to STC, we went to Auburn. So we were,
[00:07:34]Will Bryan: [00:07:34] yes. I was a wide receiver. and yeah, so whenever I was there, we were terrible.
[00:07:39]My first year. I think we were like, We were the year before I came, we were one in 10. The first year I was there. We were, Oh, and 11, we went through seven quarterbacks and one year, it was Lou Holtz his first year. And then the next two years we turned it around and be Ohio state in the Outback bowl and tore down like pretty much like every other goalpost and the SEC that year.
[00:07:58]and then they actually, that was the last year you could tear down the whole post, like that’s, after that they started making them wear their collapsible, And so yeah, it was a cool time.
[00:08:06] diane gibbs: [00:08:06] my mom’s here, she loves football. I’m drinking out of my Georgia Cousy upside down, not on purpose.
[00:08:11] It was upside down, just the bottom broke out. So mom, I’m not converting or anything, but I’m just real excited. She was, I was like, keep Pete playing football mom Amany was an art major. Okay. but let’s get to the part that, okay, so you go get your master’s, which I think is amazing. I’m really excited that you got your master’s in something else.
[00:08:27] Besides, that you actually are used, but you also started your business. When did you start it and did you start it in Columbia?
[00:08:35]Will Bryan: [00:08:35] So when I was in grad school, I started working for one of the bigger yeah. and went with no interest of actually working there long term. I just wanted to see how the machine worked, and, see what was real and what was fake and be on the other side of it.
[00:08:46]and then after grad school, instead of going to work there full time, I went to work for a, a startup hybrid studio, which was it. A creative agency, media production company, which I really like the idea of being able to, have that media print production side of it, keep doing a lot of different creative things and also be able to build something from the ground up, cause it was small and new.
[00:09:06]So I was there for 11 years and did everything from commercials and animation and graphic design and website development, literally like everything. And you could never get bored. but I got to the point, to where I felt like I’d done everything that I was going to do there. And I was going about start another cycle of doing the same thing over again, and it fell out.
[00:09:25] It wasn’t interested in that it was time to move on. and in 2015 is when I started working for myself, and I stepped out with one foot in two different things. One was in well, Brian design, which is doing design and consulting work. And the other was, had the opportunity to help co-found a tech startup.
[00:09:42] and so for the first two years, I was not committed fully have one foot in both buckets to see if the tech startup was ever going to get attraction. because if it did, I would have to do that full time. And I didn’t want to have a bunch of clients built up that I had to say goodbye to because of, of the move.
[00:10:00]but, the tech company didn’t get retraction in it at the. The deadline by which I said, okay, if it doesn’t, then I’m going to fully commit to a brand design. And so that’s what happened. So since 2015, I’ve been working for myself. and so it, which is crazy because that’s five years ago. And it does not seem like it’s been that long at all.
[00:10:19]and, we’ll talk about this a little bit, but in the sense of, so during the school year, I’m in South Carolina, and then as soon as school is out, we head elsewhere,
[00:10:28]diane gibbs: [00:10:28] you have two daughters and those daughters go to school. It’s not just cause you like to traffic.
[00:10:33]Will Bryan: [00:10:33] I’m not a professor, but yes, I have two little girls. and so yeah, and I’ve been working for myself for five years now. I do, brand design and consulting. I focus mainly on clients who work in the health and education and environmental, areas, who are trying to help. People improve their lives. and that’s what I’ve been doing, for five years now.
[00:10:52] And it’s been really, particularly amazing, really ridiculous, really amazing how not a single day has gone by that. It’s not been like, this has been the, as choice of my life. every metric of measurable, whatever has improved, since working for myself. And I consider myself very blessed in that sense.
[00:11:10]diane gibbs: [00:11:10] Was that a hard decision to go fully on your own? or because you’re not afraid of commitment. You were like, Hey buddy, this didn’t work out. We’re moving on.
[00:11:18]Will Bryan: [00:11:18] Yeah. I knew, I knew just internally, personally, it was time, the kind of the question was, am I going to go work? With someone else, some somewhere else. So you know where I’m going to do my, and I just knew, cause I’ve been mentoring a lot of tech startup companies, for marketing and for design. And, it was just one of those things to where I was like, I’m helping a ton of other business owners, who and I, in many ways, I know way more than what.
[00:11:41]They know from my experience. and yet, it doesn’t really make sense for me not to have any equity in the company that I’m working for. whenever, it just makes so much more sense to be able to have your own shifts. so it made a lot of sense to me that I needed to be working, for myself.
[00:11:56] And but yeah, it was a big step. But, my wife and I had made a lot of smart decisions early on in our marriage, that we based all of our finances on the idea of a single income, even whenever we were both working. and so that the idea was always, one of us was going to stay home if whenever we had kids.
[00:12:14]and so we didn’t want all of our debt and everything to be a burden whenever that happened, but we just kinda kept with that. And Whenever it was time to decide to go work for yourself. we didn’t have a lot of financial burden at the time, other than a mortgage. and so what we needed to be able to pay the bills actually was much lower than the, what somebody might typically be in the same situation.
[00:12:34] diane gibbs: [00:12:34] pretty amazing. but this isn’t, it. This is we got, I got a lot more questions, but Will’s actually gonna teach us something. He has a framework. And I think what I wanted to prove to y’all is that he’s done this he’s been successful. and he has been just as busy during COVID as any other time.
[00:12:52] But I love the kind of background of the you, you saw and you were helping all these entrepreneurs. and you were helping them take these next steps because it was stuff that you had learned, but you were also helping them with their design and their communication. So I love that because it’s this stuff that we have under a lot of us have some of the same stuff under our belt.
[00:13:11] So I’m ready for you to teach us if you’re ready.
[00:13:13]Will Bryan: [00:13:13] Yeah, absolutely. So let’s switch over here.
[00:13:17]Will’s Presentation [00:13:17]this is very informal in the sense of, this is only about what you guys are getting out of it. So please by all means stop and ask questions. All right. One of the things that I have taught myself self through my experiences of designing, is, how to choose design clients and projects, like what to say yes to what to say no to.
[00:13:37]And so I’ve made this, easy to remember thing of know DOE and grow as a framework to help me decide whether or not I should take on a new client. Or a new project and I think it will help a lot of other people potentially. I hope it does. but. let’s start off with a Venn diagram that all of us are very familiar with.
[00:13:54]we’re most of us are, but it’s the whole good, cheap, fast diagram, with the whole idea of being picked to your right. and so it’s a, as a designer, you can get good work. You can get fast work, you can get cheap work, but you can’t get all three of them. and so this is, Like you could Google this and find a hundred thousand versions of this song.
[00:14:12]But, the problem with this is using it as the framework for a lot of designers is that focus of this is what a client wants. It’s okay. How a client decides whether they’re going to work with you, whether it’s good and fast and cheap. And so what the Nodo grow, is a different diagram per se.
[00:14:29] And more this question of this is what do you want from a client? And and so I’ll break this down of. This is at least for me how I think through this. And so the note portion of this is doing work that you want to be known for. So is this a client or is this a project? that you want other people to know that this is the type of work that you do.
[00:14:52]And that can be, this is the type of client that I work with. This can be, this is the style or a craft or approach that I take to the work that I’m doing. this can be a, this type of work or client has this specific mission that I’m passionate about. or it can be specific industry. So the question is whenever you have the opportunity to work with a project or a client, is this work that I want other people to know that I do?
[00:15:19]so that’s the no part of this it’s in the sense of. You want this type of work to be very visible and not very visible in the sense of it has to be, a national client of target or an Apple or somebody, but in the sense of this is what you want to be visible for you. if you were making portfolio pieces, it’s it’s well known that you get the kind of work that you do.
[00:15:40]you. Get the kind of work that you also show, this is the work that you want other people to see, and you want your name to be tied to it. The second part of this it’s DOE, which we, which we all understand this. Absolutely. if you’re working for yourself as a graphic designer, you understand.
[00:15:55] what it means to have a client or work a client or work, that pays well. And so this is where a lot of us focus at. It’s okay, how do I get well paying clients? How do I get big projects? How do I get money every single month? so this one doesn’t need all that much explanation. but process behind this as well, though, is, there is work that you can do that can make.
[00:16:15]Money, that can provide for you that can, take stress off of you that doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your portfolio. That people don’t ever know that you have to ever know that you did it. as long as, the pays the bills, is the question, is it a good return on investment?
[00:16:30]Is the time that I’m putting into this, less than the money that I’m going to get out of it. And if it is then it’s, again, it’s a good way to think about whether you should take on a client or project. So this is very profitable. And then the last one, which is very important, which I think a lot of us completely overlook is, do work that makes you grow.
[00:16:46]And so this is, the idea of, is it something that’s going to. Be a new technique that you’ve never done before. Is it going to cost you to travel to a new place that you’ve never been? are you going to be able to work with talented people, that you haven’t had a chance or opportunity to work with before?
[00:17:01] Or is it a new problem that you’re having to solve? are, these are the ways that you’re going to improve as a person improve as a designer, just grow as an individual, and that doesn’t have to happen on the weekends. It can happen, as a part of your everyday work, if you make it a priority.
[00:17:17]diane gibbs: [00:17:17] this is this part about the growing is. It’s important that because for a lot of us get in a rut. And that’s when we either change jobs or because we don’t feel like we’re growing anymore. So you’re saying that you’re by deciding clients chance to work with that are people that are going to be pushing you.
[00:17:36] You don’t have to necessarily know everything, but you can get through a project. Even if it’s something that is not something that you have all the answers to, but you’re resourceful and that you can get through them is, or it’s like new people are new place that you wanted to visit, or it’s not just always about technique.
[00:17:53] It may be a new industry to break into.
[00:17:56] Will Bryan: [00:17:56] Yeah, absolutely. And then the idea of that. so for any design problem, there’s, there’s a hundred solutions, as long as it’s meeting its objectives. And so the question is even this doesn’t have to be like the big picture of, do I work with this client?
[00:18:10] Maybe you were already working with this client, but there’s 10 different. Possible solutions to this project that I’m working on. then if it’s up to you, then why not choose the one that’s, something that you haven’t done before? That’s you it’s gonna help you make you learn something because a lot of us, we get in this default of what’s the fastest way to get this done.
[00:18:27]I know I can do that this way. I can use this as can use this technique. I can, I’ve done this a thousand times. Let me just do it 1,001 times. and, and you end up. you can get out, on a lot of different, in a lot of different ways. And so taking this approach to it, is always looking for something that’s going to help you grow in your skills and knowledge and experience.
[00:18:47]and so it’s a question to ask when you have a new opportunity. so instead of the good, fast, cheap, which is what a client might look at, of trying to decide whether to work with you. what I do is I say to myself, is this work that I want other people to know that I’m, that I do is this work that is going to be profitable for the time that I put into it.
[00:19:05]And is this work that is going to help me grow in some, some way, And, whether it’s very visible, very profitable and new and experimental, if it’s any of these things, then it’s something that I likely would say yes, if it has overlap between those, if it’s something that pays well and I get to try something new or travel to a new place or work with new people, then it’s a no brainer.
[00:19:29]If it’s something that’s very visible and it’s going to cause me to do something that I’ve never done before, then it’s a no brainer. If it pays well, it’s very visible and is new and experimental. Then it’s a unit, and you want to live there for the rest of your life, if at all possible.
[00:19:42]diane gibbs: [00:19:42] But you’ve had some of those clients, You’ve had some of those projects that do fit into that, but it’s having kind of a framework of do I accept this job? And at the end of it, you can look back and say, okay, was this what I was expecting? Was it as visible was the work, is that going to be something that I’m going to use in my portfolio?
[00:20:01] Or do I want to be known for, was it as profitable? Like the mural you were saying when you were a kid, like probably not super profitable, but at least you worked it out, so you get some meatball subs in there, right?
[00:20:12]Will Bryan: [00:20:12] Yeah. and then in the sense of, and I learned so much from doing that, like I made zero $0.
[00:20:17]I take that back. I made a thousand dollars, a meatball centers. Easy. but I learned so much from painting them Bureau, That company actually brought me, hired me the next summer to thank to me or two more murals. and then, like I said, like when I was in college, I painted murals the whole, every summer while I was there.
[00:20:33]I learned from those
[00:20:34] diane gibbs: [00:20:34] Paul is saying, I love the simple framework. Will it helps explain why money isn’t everything. And absolutely because our creativity, isn’t just driven by funds. Now we have to have funds to live, but for our creativity to keep staying alive and Andre said it as well.
[00:20:49] It’s very important. In particular, if you’re getting tired of what YouTube, what you’re doing, it keeps the fire going.
[00:20:55]Will Bryan: [00:20:55] Yes. And that’s, and this is, where I see so many designers get at some point is they’re doing work that and like it’s over. Like I said, this focuses on what you want. So they’re doing work that they don’t really care.
[00:21:09] If somebody knows it’s not sexy work by whatever measure metric, you measure it by. They’re not really making a lot of money off of it. And it’s something that they’ve done a thousand times. And this is the thing that drives designers to get burned out and say, why am I doing this? I don’t care if anybody sees this.
[00:21:26]I’m not really making any money from this. I’m not really learning or growing from this. I’ve done this over and over again. and, and I hate to see that because I believe that design has every power to be a force for good in the world and solve a lot of problems. and I just think that if we reframe as designers, the way that we think about stuff that we’re empowered to not just take what comes to us, if somebody asks you.
[00:21:49]To do something you don’t have to say. Yes. we kind of default to that because we’re like, Hey, when you have to pay the bills. but there’s more ways to think about it, and growth and, marketability, and money are all things that go into that process. So if you don’t care, if anybody knows about it, If you’re not making much money from it, if you won’t learn anything new from doing it, then for me, that’s a hard pass.
[00:22:12] and so I say that’s a project or that’s a client that you would not work with. and so that is the way the framework that I use to help me think through, Hey, is this a client in a project that I want to work with? and it’s worked well for me, and hopefully it’s might be something that.
[00:22:28] some of the rest of you guys might want to think about when you’re looking through the projects and the clients that you work with now think about, put them in the buckets. Is this something that I want people to know about? Is it something that’s making a lot of money? Is it something that’s causing me to grow in my experiences and my skills and my knowledge and relationships.
[00:22:45]And if it’s not, then you might want to consider kicking it to the curb. So that’s no grow.
[00:22:50]diane gibbs: [00:22:50] Okay. So then do you do some sort of analysis after the fact when you’re in the beginning, when you were in, when did you start implementing this?
[00:22:59]Will Bryan: [00:22:59] it’s been a gradual process the whole time. So when I first started working for myself and then when, like I said, the first two years where I kept to a foot in each bucket, Whenever I’m fully committed.
[00:23:08] One of the things was I really, really ask myself, why am I doing this? So all of us, a lot of us focus on what or how, but a lot of us don’t ask the question of why. and so for me, it was quality of life. I wrote down and actually wrote the outreach. Do you actually write these down with us?
[00:23:26] Like in a journal, like pretty regularly throughout the week? at least once a week, if not more often. but I put down some goals for me for working, and doing the work that I do and it’s create work that I’m proud of and that I enjoy the process of creating. And enjoying the process of creating is actually a really big thing because there’s so much work that we might love how it turned out, but we hate how it got there, whether it was working crazy hours, whether it was working with ridiculous clients, whether it was whatever it is.
[00:23:53]There’s a lot of us that make work that might be happy with the end product, but we hated the process. I want to make work I’m proud of and enjoy the actual process because it’s 99% of the process like delivering it. It’s the last little piece. I’m proud of enjoying the process of creating it.
[00:24:08] It’s the first, second is having a positive impact on my community. third is having positive, Relationships with my clients and my vendors and my, fellow creatives. third is being financed or fourth is being financially profitable enough to not have to stress about money, and ideally be an extravagant giver.
[00:24:25]if I have more than what I need. but my financial goals obviously have like real financial goals as far as retirement and everything else. But in general, my financial goal is to have, make enough money that I don’t have to stress. About money. If I’m not having to stress about it, then I’m making enough.
[00:24:40]So that’s what that’s, where I’m defining success for me. and then continually growing in experiences, knowledge and skills. And then the last thing is prioritizing time with my family over work and integrating the two of them whenever possible. And so if I’m doing those things, then that’s how I define success for me.
[00:24:59]And so you can say, what do you see yourself doing in five years? It’s it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. If I’m doing those, I’m going to be successful. And so that’s where this has grown out of. Out of that. and, and so it’s been an organic thing, that I’ve just continually asking myself these kinds of big questions of why
[00:25:15]diane gibbs: [00:25:15] continually like every day or continually, like once a month, once a week.
[00:25:20] Will Bryan: [00:25:20] continually in a sense of just being intentional about it, like in the sense of, yeah, like you’re saying is consistently looking at the work that I’m doing. I’m like, Hey, it seems like for the last two months, everything that I’ve been doing has made a lot of money, but. it has, I’ve been doing the exact same thing over and over again.
[00:25:38] I need to proactively look for an opportunity to do something different. And like I said, there’s a lot of choices that we have designers have control over within ourselves. it’s up to us. So instead of making that choice to do it the same way that I’ve done it a hundred times, then, do something else for an example.
[00:25:54]I had the opportunity a while back to be the creative director for what wouldn’t be very visible. for me, it is for the South Carolina state fair. So this was not one that I was locally, it’s super visible. It’s like the largest event in the state of South Carolina, 2 million people get through this thing.
[00:26:12]but, and they had a budget that was good enough to do something really creative with, and they had, I have full control over what I wanted to do with it. And so out of all the solutions of coming up with what we could do for this campaign, like I decided to do. Old school hand cut, stop motion, animation paper, campaign.
[00:26:31]And it was because I had always had an interest in it, had never done it, and it would allow me to work with some really cool, talented people. it would something I’d never done before. And I had to do a lot of research to figure out, cause I like literally went like old school, Walt Disney, like how did they do this back in the day, had to build.
[00:26:48] like an actual, like light cabinet, and do experimentation and stuff. And, and so anyway, again, it was just a local, a local project for a local client doing, a local TV commercial. but I absolutely loved the process of it loved how it turned out, because it was so unique and so different.
[00:27:06] And I learned so much from it. and nobody asked me to do that. that was my choice. and now I can make a stop motion, paper animation, if I want to.
[00:27:14]diane gibbs: [00:27:14] I love that. Okay. So Paul’s asking, can you show the hard pass slide again before you stop your screen share? Cause he wants to memorize this question.
[00:27:22]Will Bryan: [00:27:22] Sure. If you don’t care, if anybody knows, if you are not making much money and if you won’t learn anything new, then for me, it’s a hard pass. And on the other side of that is if you want people to know that you do this work, if you are making good money from it, and if you’re going to learn something new, then by absolutely all means, say yes.
[00:27:43]and that’s the note of growth.
[00:27:44]diane gibbs: [00:27:44] Okay. So one more question. Before you stop your screen, share your, lefthanded, WB your hand, your, Hannah wanted to know yeah. Why a hand print?
[00:27:55] Will Bryan: [00:27:55] just in the sense of, I think it’s just one of the most personal marks that there that exists. and I feel like my design.
[00:28:04]Business and relationship. I just want it to be as personal as it can be. because if you’re working with me, it’s about a relationship, not just the relationship between me and you, but shift between what we’re working on together and what we’re putting out into the world. And I just felt like a hand.
[00:28:20] it’s just so personal, that I thought it was really good fit.
[00:28:22]diane gibbs: [00:28:22] So Kent says, are you lefthanded? And Hannah wants to know, is that your hand print?
[00:28:27] Will Bryan: [00:28:27] I am not lefthanded. and, it is a modified version. Oh, my hand bread.
[00:28:31]diane gibbs: [00:28:31] That’s great. So Amy found your, here comes the fun. So it’s in the chat for you guys to click it.
[00:28:38] You can see the stop motion. Thank you. Amy is now our Vanna. Yes.
[00:28:42]Will Bryan: [00:28:42] Yeah. So I got to work with some really great, talented people. with that, one was lion Hill who is a creative director for the Columbia marionette theater, and knows how to work inanimate characters in expressive ways.
[00:28:55] Another one was Kimi Meda, who is in very talented, paper artist. And, she is actually living in Japan now. and, And yeah, we like locked ourselves up in a theater for a month to make that 32nd stop motion commercial along with some posters and other things that are static. But, but yeah, that’s a cool experience.
[00:29:12] diane gibbs: [00:29:12] right. So do you want to stop your screen share or did you have anything at the very end. Okay, great. Now we got it. We got your face bigger and we can see. Okay. I love that. I love the framework because a lot of times people are like, Oh, I don’t know when to say no to something or when to say yes to something.
[00:29:27] So when you finish your. Paul says he loves that video. So clever
[00:29:32]Will Bryan: [00:29:32] lots of people,
[00:29:32] diane gibbs: [00:29:32] Amy loved it. Matt loved it. So thank you for sharing that. OK. and D says this model is she really liked that model or I think that’s what she’s saying. Thanks for sharing that. I’m reading him, but she’s my friends who are filling.
[00:29:45] I can do that. so you have this unique, we gotta talk about the hate, right? So most people say, do what you love, but you also talked to me about doing what you hate. This is a really big perspective shift cause just, that you gave to me. And I loved it. Can you explain a little bit.
[00:30:04]Will Bryan: [00:30:04] Sure.
[00:30:04] Absolutely. So young designer, it’s definitely where your mentors are all going to say, do what you love. and it’s like the classic go-to of how do I approach life going forward? What do I do with what I have? And I’ve flipped that on your head, on the, on its head. And I say, I do what I hate.
[00:30:21]and it goes back to the idea that I think design. Can solve a lot of problems in the world. And so there are a lot of things in those worlds that I hate. one of them being cancer. another one is people being hungry and not having access to clean drinking water. it’s doing things in ways that pollute our environment and causes to, lose time with our families.
[00:30:42] There are so many things in this world that are totally worthy of our hate. And that’s the approach that I take with my work. It’s in the sense of, instead of doing what you love, do, what you hate. And what I do is try to use design to make those things better. as a designer, I think there’s so many problems in the world, our communication problems, If we communicated much better, we could get along and get a lot of things, figured out a lot of ways.
[00:31:03]And I think design is one of the tools that we can use to do that. And I think we have a lot of power as graphic designers and as communicators, and to address the things that you hate in the world and make them better. so when it comes to helping people that better lives, when it comes to, helping people thrive when it comes to, just making our world a better place to live in whatever incremental way.
[00:31:26] there’s a lot of things that I hate that are keeping it from doing that. And so I try to use my time in a way that addresses those things and basically redeemed them, and turns them into something that doesn’t exist. in the way that they do, except I’m really looking forward to finding a cure for cancer and letting my graphic design be one of the things that contributed to that.
[00:31:44] diane gibbs: [00:31:44] I love that. That’s also having a big vision of how you can impact the world with design, with communication. And I think that sometimes we maybe don’t believe that we will really have an impact, but I believe. We do, and I love that you’re giving a really bold and I love that. Yeah, that’s great. but there, okay, so I’m skipping ahead because this goes with what we’re talking about right now.
[00:32:05]yeah. You told me that your business hasn’t slowed down and one of the things, started our conversation. Was you doing these big things like events and it has, there it’s environmental graphics or it’s what it used to be called Jacob. Would get all over me cause it’s called experiential graphics now.
[00:32:21]But it’s been called a bunch of things since you and I have been in the business. And, but you do a lot of, and I was worried because I was like, wow, I knew you were traveling, you were going places and meeting with clients and the state fair. That’s a big thing with people and, the do something with a March on, for, on DC for cancer and.
[00:32:39]Those are things where COVID really could really affect. But again, I love this going back to your handprint, that personal touch, having that relationship and really building those relationships long term, that you are not just a pixel pusher, you are actually a problem solver and you’re going in and helping them with that.
[00:32:56] I love this. Okay. So you told me that it hasn’t slowed down since COVID hit and that. And I want to know what things you have done to make your business pandemic proof.
[00:33:07] Will Bryan: [00:33:07] I had a very proactive, planning on making my business pandemic proof five years ago, whenever I started, no, nobody saw this coming.
[00:33:14]Nobody saw the pandemic coming. but just what you said, of having relationships that are meaningful and full of trust and having a track record of being able to help solve problems and not just take orders, has been key. yes. I know so many people have been hit hard by COVID-19 and it’s killed work for so many industries.
[00:33:33]and just because, just events being shut down has hurt so many designers, like all the stuff that goes into that. thankfully for me, I had a lot of longterm projects that were already in the works. but at the same time, one of the key things was that. Nobody had ever done this before. Like everybody had to figure we got new stuff.
[00:33:51]what do we do now? so for instance, the, what was call on Congress was an event that work cancer survivors were supposed to come from all over the country to D C to be able to talk to local, to their representatives and senators, to talk about the importance of continuing to fund research for cancer research, and then COVID-19 hit and that got scrapped.
[00:34:10]And so then the question wasn’t okay. do we, what do we. in the sense of we’re not going to do any, not going to sit here and do nothing. Like how do we make this a virtual event now? So then you’re in this process of, okay, everything that we designed for on the ground is thrown out the window.
[00:34:25]Now, how do we accomplish the same objective? We’re still trying to get our local representatives and our senators to be able to continue to provide funding for cancer research. How do we do that virtually now? And how do we do it fast? and so then we had to design a way to come up with a plan.
[00:34:39] Like, how do we communicate this? How do we get people involved online? what are all the assets that need to be created? and it took away a lot of things that people had planned, but it also created a bunch of new opportunities, as well, to be able to problem solve in a new way, and use design to be able to help to do those things.
[00:34:54] And I did also, I think I was able to be able to contribute to some things on that. From, during this time, hopefully it’ll be the last time that we have to do that.
[00:35:02]diane gibbs: [00:35:02] I hope so, too. So when did you, so I have two questions that weren’t on the sheet. So when did you start doing, working with these cancer people?
[00:35:10]I don’t know what to call them cancer. I don’t know.
[00:35:12] Will Bryan: [00:35:12] Sure. That’s just
[00:35:13] diane gibbs: [00:35:13] the cancer charge people. and because again, it has to do with building that relationship. Was it just something that was a couple months long or was this somebody you’d been working with for years?
[00:35:22]Will Bryan: [00:35:22] No. So when I was back working with the, my agency that I was with for 11 years, that’s actually one of our, had the opportunity to start doing some of the projects and work with some of the people that I, even though I work with now to this day.
[00:35:33]and it was just that at that time, it just resonated with me so much more how much I enjoyed, working on those type projects, because the reality is, I don’t know that I work with anybody that I wouldn’t work with for free. Now if I was just independently wealthy. that’s another framework idea for ya, is in the sense of, I literally don’t know that I work with anybody or work on any project that I wouldn’t do for free, if I didn’t have any before for money.
[00:35:57]And so yeah, just like everybody else I’ve had. Plus people who have passed away from cancer, and and just absolutely want to punch the disease in the face. But, but some of the people like, so for instance, one of my clients, the president of. Of, so the precedent of fight colorectal cancer, which is one of the eight clients I work with right now, I’ve been working with her for 10 years and she’s with multiple different organizations.
[00:36:18]And so like she went from organization to organization or whatever else. And and it’s been a longterm relationship with a lot of people, and a lot of these organizations, that I work with, and it’s just one of those things to where. I build up a body of knowledge around these different things as well, working on them over the years, which also adds a lot of value to what I can bring on the design firm.
[00:36:36]diane gibbs: [00:36:36] So this another question that wasn’t on my sheet, but now pops up. So if you have done this, then how do you keep up with these people? Cause I also think that this is a problem or a, it’s a challenge for us and we’re working, we’re doing stuff. how do you make sure that you’re keeping up with.
[00:36:52]The cancer lady again, not a good name for her. sorry.
[00:36:55] Will Bryan: [00:36:55] in the sense of, you mean in that sense
[00:36:57]diane gibbs: [00:36:57] with clients that you really liked that you’re not currently working on a project, but you keep in mind because as she changes jobs, she might not always need a designer right then, That project.
[00:37:07]But then how do you stay top of mind with her?
[00:37:10]Will Bryan: [00:37:10] Oh, one, I actually very limit the number of clients that I work with. so I. I want to work with few clients. So in the sense of my thought process is when I say growing my company, like growing my business, growing my design firm, like most people think bigger, more clients, bigger clients, more designers.
[00:37:30]And I think the exact opposite of that, again, for the idea of just wanting to keep stress low in my life. Like all that stuff brings stress. What I want to do is solve bigger problems and have bigger impact. and so when I look at is those types of things. And so when it comes to my clients that I work with it’s and this is located for a lot of business, but it’s super relational.
[00:37:50] if I’m no longer working with him, the client, like I still have that client as a friend. so like you’re no, you’re never not on my radar. if we’ve worked together before, because I only worked with together with people that. that, whether we’re kindred spirits or have a, same passion or whatever else, And so it’s just one of those things to where I guess going back to having meaningful, positive relationships is, I want every interaction I have with people to be something that’s more than a transaction, I want it to be about a connection and a relationship.
[00:38:21]and the fact that, I might have some things that can help you and you might have some things that can help me, but at the end of the day, I want us to be people who. appreciate the fact that we’re human beings that are, that enjoy each other.
[00:38:34]diane gibbs: [00:38:34] It was maybe it’s also being of the same mindset of working with people that also want to make the world a better place and being those impact people or having those people that also, because if they know you want to do good.
[00:38:46] Work and they want to do big, good work. Then they, then you work together. You will for sure be that person that they think of. And again, it’s Oh, he’s known for hotdogs. Oh, great. But now you’re known for big impact, big, Big problems and solve, solving big problems and making a big impact. And that’s no matter what your clients are and that personal touch that you are doing everything you can.
[00:39:11] And I just, I love that. I love that new kind of shift on, what growing a business can be. I think Dee and John are probably digging into this as well. Cause they have some very similar things.
[00:39:23]Will Bryan: [00:39:23] Good.
[00:39:23]diane gibbs: [00:39:23] How would you tell somebody who is really trying to, and I’m not sure if this can happen with a client that already exists.
[00:39:31] Okay. I’m really working on trying to finish sentences. Did you notice that and finish the first one? Here we go. What I’m trying to do is, so if somebody is trying to shift from being that pixel pusher, They have these ideas, but nobody’s listening to them like that. So they have, they are just pushing pixels for people, but really they want to be that problem solver.
[00:39:51] How do you transform in a client’s mind or how have you done that? in the past.
[00:39:57]Will Bryan: [00:39:57] All right. So this kind of gets into the area of, We’re one of the things I see a huge difference it’s between it’s young rookie designers, which kind of more mature designers who’ve went through the gauntlet, is a big part of that is like what we were just talking about is, knowing what client to ever engage with to begin with.
[00:40:16]So a huge part of overcoming a lot of hurdles is seeing what the red flags are or the green flags are for a potential client organization, business, and being able to identify those things and then say, this is an excellent shit. They. Understand what value I’m bringing. They respect what I do. I respect what they do, and they will respect the process.
[00:40:38]and so it’s this mutual respect, And, shared mission come along with it. And so there’s so many of us that work for people who just see the design as white, as an order taker. And you can very much be an order taker as a design. somebody comes to you and says, we need your service, do this, and you can do it and, but have a transaction and pay your bills.
[00:40:58]And a lot of people are happy doing that. But you also have the opportunity to be a problem solver, and say, Hey, this is an issue that I think you can help us with. What should we do in this case? Or what can we do? What are our options? and so finding clients that, or organizations or projects that, that have that same mindset, and only with them, like I said, this is that note doke growth thing.
[00:41:20]Like you are empowered as a designer to say yes or no. Cause when you say yes to something you’re saying no to something else, You only have a limited amount of bandwidth. Like I’m very much aware of that. and as a father and as a husband, like I protect that exponentially more than I ever did whenever I was younger.
[00:41:36]but you, I have a limited amount of bandwidth. So when you say yes to a bad client, a bad project, something that’s not a good fit, then you’re saying no to the opportunity to. Someone else that is a good fit. And so for those who want to move from one or the other, one of the things is, some people are working for somebody else and whenever I was working for somebody else, I had a limited ability to control what I did.
[00:41:59]When I started working for myself, I had all of the ability, so there’s pros and cons to it. But in the sense of, if you really want the control to be able to say, this is what I do, this is who I do it for. This is the type of people I work with. This is what I charge. Then you need to be the one who’s at the top of that, that decision making process.
[00:42:17] And that typically comes with you. You running your own business.
[00:42:20]diane gibbs: [00:42:20] Yeah, for sure. Okay. So I w I realized what time it is, and we have three minutes, but I gotta ask you this question, and maybe this is just the start of another, top another call we have, but why, cause you hinted at this, but you are really passionate about helping young designers get, take, maybe.
[00:42:37]Or maybe it’s not necessarily that you’re young, but it’s taking that place of going from that just say pixel pusher, because you have more in you. I do think it takes some guts to step out with your boss and say, Hey, could we try it this way? But if you’re not ever trying, and if you’re not showing your boss that you’re doing anything different than they’ll never see you as this boss client, same thing, If they never see that you can do this, they will never see you as that. So why is young design. Why or people that are new to that part of the business. Why are they, is that what does it tug on your heart?
[00:43:08]Will Bryan: [00:43:08] So this is. A whole nother, this is a whole nother podcast. Talk about this for a lot because it gets into a bigger picture.
[00:43:15] But, but in the sense of most designers, learn all these things by going through it and learning the hard way. They worked too much. They made too little, they realized that they just spent five years working on something that they look back on saying, Hey, that really. Wasn’t that important.
[00:43:29]and one of the things, and I think you might’ve had on your list of questions, about a quote, but one of the quotes that really I’ve always loved. my Francis Chan, who author crazy love and, a good teacher, he says our greatest fear should not be a failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.
[00:43:45]And, I think that is. Very profound. and, and it’s very true of a lot of us. And especially a lot of young designers are pursuing, Pursuing success, but I don’t know. I know that they’re pursuing success and something that really matters. And so there’s a lot of people who have a lot of fantastic Instagrams with a lot of ton of likes, but their quality of life, at home, isn’t that great.
[00:44:07]Or they’re not really finding fulfillment in what they’re doing. and I want, I don’t want anybody to like waste 10 to 15 years of their life. Before they realize, Hey, I should have been doing something differently. I wish somebody would have told me a long time ago, there was a different way to do it.
[00:44:20]and so that’s what we’re gonna say. Avocado passion for younger designers that are just really friendly designer. That’s find their way, is that it’s I want you to define success for yourself and pursued that. Not define somebody else’s definition of success because no, at best we have a hundred years or so.
[00:44:38]And it doesn’t take that long to get through them. and, unfortunately, we can burn through a big chunk of that before we ever realized, Hey, we might’ve just wasted a lot of time doing something that we wish we wouldn’t have.
[00:44:49]diane gibbs: [00:44:49] Yeah, for sure. Okay. I’m highlighting ones. We gotta get done the next time for sure.
[00:44:53] Okay. So I’m going to ask you this one. How do you recharge and what inspires
[00:44:58] Will Bryan: [00:44:58] you? I recharge by traveling, hit on that, which we can again, talk.
[00:45:03]diane gibbs: [00:45:03] I know I have it as part two.
[00:45:05]Will Bryan: [00:45:05] That’s a huge part of, my setup, every year. like I said, we’re in South Carolina, but we’re not in South Carolina.
[00:45:10] We’re world citizens. so traveling to new places and meeting new people absolutely return.
[00:45:15]diane gibbs: [00:45:15] You actually go and live for, as soon as the girls get out of school, y’all go and you have a place that you stay and you become part of that
[00:45:23] Will Bryan: [00:45:23] community. Yeah. Yeah. We don’t tourists. We literally go live in other places.
[00:45:27]and San Francisco is our heart, our second home where our heart is. so we are there every chance that we get, but we go all over. Like last summer we spent the whole summer in New York city. And Traveling meeting new people who are inspiring, always refresh me. And then on the inspiration side, like this is going to give me so many points, but my wife, Katie.
[00:45:44]Is ridiculously inspiring to me, she’s the most disciplined person. I know she constantly wants to grow. she, on every level she wants life to be better tomorrow than it was today. And she’s looking at it in the sense of yeah. Of how great our lives are going to be whenever we’re 80 and 90 years old.
[00:46:02] And she’s doing the things today that need what we need to do to enjoy life when we’re 80 and 90 years old. And I’ve. Like being in a place where a lot of people are really complacent and just really happy to say I got a few more years until retirement. And then I could just sit on the couch.
[00:46:17]I’m like, that does not appeal to me at all. and my wife does, and it does not appeal to her. And, anyway, she inspires me all the time, because of her longterm view of taking them, getting the most out of life. That’s awesome.
[00:46:29] diane gibbs: [00:46:29] Okay. so what’s next for you? So you, we have some things I’m going to share your links and you can tell them why the last link says, we’re looking for you for a few good designers filled with hate.
[00:46:40]Will Bryan: [00:46:40] so next thing, so one of the things that I hate is old ugly parts of town that are all run down and forgotten about. And one of the big projects I have right now is, here in Columbia area. I proactively pitched, an art district, to the city of Casey, where we live, which I’m like, Hey, if you want me to help you do this, turn key.
[00:46:58] here’s what it would cost. Go find the money and I’ll do it for you. And. They came back six months later and said, we got a grant, so go do it. so I’m like got four different buildings, two sculptures and street art, branding and art district. Like all that’s got to happen between now and end of October.
[00:47:12]Wow. yeah, it’s pretty cool. and but in the link that you said, I’m always looking for other designers. Illustrators animators copywriters, to work with, on different projects or different clients, and just to create new relationships with. So we’ve got a link on my website. it is literally just the link to email me directly and introduce yourself, maybe send your, your portfolio over and say, Hey, if you do freelance work or you work for yourself and you’re interested in maybe seeing a forensic, federal on a project to work together, by all means, reach out to me.
[00:47:41]diane gibbs: [00:47:41] All right. So I just want for everybody who’s listening, the links will be below, or if you’re on YouTube watching this later, but it is will, if you go to Instagram it’s will Bryan, B R Y a N design, no S on the end, just will. Brian design. That’s also Will Bryan design.com. And then if you want to, Do that thing he just said about going with the email it’s Will Bryan design.com/design partners with an S on partners.
[00:48:12]And then you guys can see, but you can follow will you can, I think we’ll have to do a part two because the whole thing with your kids and how, why you chose Columbia and just all the other parts I just love. And I can’t wait. Yeah, we hear that stuff.
[00:48:26]Will Bryan: [00:48:26] I would love to, I’d love to be able to tell that too.
[00:48:28] I think it would help a lot of people as well.
[00:48:30]diane gibbs: [00:48:30] I think what you did today was gave such a good, to me actionable step that I can start doing instead of just, trying to get these better clients, it’s actually saying no, because, when you say yes to everything, You say no to something else?
[00:48:44] So I love it. We’ll thank you so much. And you guys just so you know, next week we have Dylan Mingus. Dylan is awesome. You’re gonna teach us something. Can’t wait. he also has done murals, but he’s does, he’s an illustrator out of Columbus, Ohio, and. Anyway, we’re bringing it. I hope you guys are ready.
[00:49:02] Dylan’s going to teach us something as well. So I hope you guys will come for that live. And then I hope that you check out we’ll, he’s super humble, but he’s done some really amazing things. And I just never thought about like maybe honing down my client list and working with people also, who would be able to make a bigger impact.
[00:49:21] I think that’s a definitely I’m getting. Pushed in my brain about these things. thank you so much for just bringing new knowledge to me. I love your passion for helping other people, and I’m just glad I’m your friend. So super thankful.
[00:49:34]Will Bryan: [00:49:34] Thank you. Thank you. It’s been an honor. Very much a and, it’s great to see your face and I can’t wait to see everybody else when we do get to get back together for creative South or literally anything in person.
[00:49:45]diane gibbs: [00:49:45] No, for sure. I’m so with you, all right, we’ll see you guys next time.