Artist of the week: the one with ambition, Josh Bryant

Michaela James-Thrower 
Executive Staff

Josh Bryant (C’22) is a budding artist from Washington, DC. Specializing in portrait drawings while creating comic strips on the side, Bryant walks through his inspiration for becoming an artist. 

“I had to teach myself. When I was a kid, I would just go online and start drawing stuff. Whether it be anime or superheroes. I’d be bored in class sometimes in class and I’d just draw. I’d take pages out of comic strips and look at that and draw things similar to it.” 

Bryant would describe his artistry as “rich, unique, and authentic.” 

Bryant comments on his favorite piece, a portrait of John F. Kennedy. He began this work in 2017, but reexamined his piece in 2020 and improved it making it one of his favorite works. 

Bryant’s portrait of John F. Kennedy.

“The process for me is really slow,” he explains.

Bryant takes his time with his pieces, which he believes can at times make him seem inconsistent, but patience is the key to a good piece, he says. 

Bryant continues to discuss how he has found inspiration through the work of others. He says, “I’m usually inspired by looking at other folks’ artwork,” which sometimes means drawing inspiration from family.

Bryant’s father is an artist himself who also enjoys drawing. Bryant fondly remembers watching his father draw and being amazed. Bryant continues to discuss his family and the remarkable impact they have had on him, especially his father and 13 year old sister.

“My little sister, she’s a go-getter. She’s very creative. She’s into anime and I just admire her artwork. She’s very consistent with it and she never gives up. She’s always drawing, always creating. I like her style. I look up to her a lot even though I’m older than her.” 

Bryant is amazed by his younger sister’s growth so far as an artist and anticipates her growth as she grows older. 

His favorite artists include graphic designers he sees on social media. He mentions two artists on Instagram who draw their inspiration from pop culture, taking ordinary things and enhancing them by adding trendy and fashionable clothing or effects. 

Another one of Josh Bryant’s portraits.

Though these artists are some of his favorites, Bryant doesn’t believe that his own art style imitates theirs. However, he does feel inspired to create more pieces derived from their art in the future. 

“Seeing my father’s artwork, seeing other people draw, I was like I really wish I could do that. So, I made a promise to myself when I was a kid that I was going to draw.” 

Bryant has kept that promise to his younger self by always trying to challenge himself to do better. Bryant is constantly finding new opportunities that lead to improvements in his work.

His fondest memory of art dates back to elementary school. Bryant says, “I was in the second grade and I saw a kid drawing a dragon and it was so detailed and specific. I thought it was so cool. I think that was one of the first things I saw that made me want to actually draw. Seeing my father draw the monuments. […] It just looked so realistic. He just made it look so effortless” 

This realism that inspired Bryant as a child is something that he seeks in his own work. He aims to shock and inspire the way that other artists have shocked and inspired him. 

To further his art, Bryant hopes to get into calligraphy and incorporate his handwriting in his pieces. Beyond Sewanee, Bryant hopes to use his art skills to open his own graphic design business. 

Bryant aims to convey to other artists that, “it’s ok to be different. It doesn’t have to look exactly how it’s supposed to as long as you put time and effort into it. […] You don’t have to worry about how people feel about your artwork as long as you’re confident in the work itself.” 

Bryant urges others to remember that “with every work, there’s always a  story behind it. Even if it’s something simple. There’s always a reason that person chose to draw it.” 
You can contact Bryant through email bryantji0@sewanee.edu. He can also be reached on Instagram @theonewithambition

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