On the Couch with Brent Williams
We’re still cracking up from the chat we had with caseable’s Brent Williams. Our favourite Maryland-based artist is one wise, witty guy: learn from his top tips on how to stay creative, his imagination of Berlin and other crazy stories from his life. Oh, and did we mention he was once the graphic design teacher of our Creative Director David? Small world.
As a US based artist, what comes to your mind when someone mentions Berlin?
I’m picturing a large painting of the Love Parade happening on the Berlin Wall. Two groups of break dancers battle, one dressed as Communists, and the other as Westerners. There’s beer and Octoberfest girls. Well, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. Generally, I think of a progressive, cosmopolitan city, filled with Bauhaus simplicity. Full of quirks and artistic characters.
What is your secret of staying creative?
The secret is to just go, do it. Fail, fail harder. Cover that collage you spent 16 hours working on in beeswax, only to find that it seeps into the vintage newsprint and blurs everything into a fuzzy blob. Try it another way. Because the more times you try, the more you begin to see progression, and your style starts to emerge. You should look at your work from 6 months ago and say to yourself “damn, that sucks, I’m so much better already.” It’s also important to surround yourself with other people doing cool things, and to be constantly observing and looking out for source material and inspiration around you. Be your own curator. Surround yourself with things that inspire you. Keep a Pinterest and follow people who share your style.
Do you have any special ritual when creating a new piece?
Oh yes, I like to think of the creative process as a bit of planned spontaneity. When the moments strikes, I better have that wood board primed, my brushes clean and my other materials ready to go. So being organized is always a good foundation. Then I need music, just enough to keep me locked-in and focused on the work. I also find it important to have multiple projects in various stages, all going on at once. Sometimes I just want to experiment, and other times I want to meditate, or be technical. Having the right project to fit my mood, or my window of time, makes it fun to inch them along. I never feel burdened by any one that’s at a difficult or tedious stage.
Here at caseable our favourite design of yours is Triangles Artifact. What do you think makes it so beloved among our community?
I like this piece because it feels very tribal, and ancient, like it has a history. Repetition is one of those universal design principles that we naturally gravitate towards. Mixing that kind of order with a rich palette of textures and colours made for a piece perfectly suited for a smartphone or laptop case.
Are you a cat or a dog person?
I was neither until about a two years ago when a stray kitten walked up to me while sitting outside on my lunch break at work. I told myself that if she was still out there when I left for the day, I’d keep her. Sure enough, she was still out there, waiting on her human to provide a cushy life of wet food and belly rubs.
Do you have a funny or really crazy story from your life to share?
Years ago, I was driving in the car with a friend of mine from childhood. We had just stayed out at a party and were driving home in the morning. I’m in the middle lane of the highway, nothing out of the ordinary. Suddenly, after being silent the entire trip, my friend has a Deja Vu moment. He tells me that he had a dream the previous night where we were driving home and got in a horrible accident. He said “this may sound odd, but I recognize that brown mini van, would you slow down and get in the right lane?” Not one minute after I moved over, that brown van cuts off another vehicle, and causes a major accident where my vehicle would have been. We missed getting hit by inches. Thank you Jim McGowan.
What’s your favourite place in the world and why?
I like the Pacific Northwest here in the States. June or July, hiking amongst the huge trees and lush green ferns. It feels like walking back in time.
How would you define caseable in five words?
Cases for people with style.