Today we’d like to introduce you to Bryan Butler.
Bryan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I received my BFA with a focus in Illustration in 2009 from the American Academy of Art located in Downtown Chicago. once I graduated I did a few small gigs for family members and close friends, some of which turned into referrals and repeat clients. I also worked a part-time security job at my church, and then got a paid internship at the Bradford Group the Summer of 2010, which allowed me to gain much-needed work experience in fields akin to my focus in school. I did not receive a full-time job offer at the end of the internship, which was tough, but God provided an unexpected opportunity later that year.
I started as an unpaid intern at GModelo USA, a branch of Grupo Modelo of Mexico located in Chicago. after 2 wks I was brought on part-time, and then at 6months, I was brought on full-time, exactly when my wife retired from her career as a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Chicago. I worked here for about 3.5 years and had the opportunity to create myriad projects for the Corona Extra, Pacifico, Modelo Especial, Victoria, and Negro Modelo brands. Group Modelo was then bought out by A.B. Inbev and our branch was slowly downsized.
Around that time the part-time designer at my church (The Moody Church in Chicago, Old Town) resigned to go back to school. I’d done some volunteer illustrative and design work for special annual church events, and this partnership led to them offering me a now full-time design position at the church. I’d been praying about what my next job would be, and this transition was certainly an answer to that prayer.
I’ve now been at The Moody Church for 4+ years. I share this because the experience I gain in my full-time workflows directly into the freelance work I do through Bryan Butler Art. The aforementioned work from family and friends was very valuable and began to lead to other clients like Lurie Children’s Hospital, Living the Language school, Paul Harvey Jr., and Moody Bible Institute. I’ve also done a number of private commissions over the years. I still work with some of my clients from the early days, and I continue to get work due to referrals.
I’m currently branching out into juried art exhibitions and exploring the possibility of private shows and clothing. As I get older and my wife and I expect our second daughter (our first is with the Lord as we lost her due to miscarriage), I’m focusing more on what changes for good I can help create through the art I create. What stories can I tell? God has blessed me with both full-time and freelance work inline with my BFA. How can I continue to grow in using this blessing to bless others?
Has it been a smooth road?
The recession of 2007–9 was a significant difficulty since I graduated in the middle of it, and many of the full and part-time creative jobs were being cut. I hadn’t planned on being unemployed and, although I’d received significant technical training, at the time my school didn’t have much small-business training courses. I didn’t know enough turn by occasional design and illustrative jobs into a business I could live on.
Another challenge in those early years was my growing student debt. I had to take out a number of loans during school, and couldn’t work the typical standing retail job due to a high-school injury. I needed full-time work to afford even the low monthly payments, and that didn’t come until 2 years after graduation. Even though the loans continue to be a nuisance, I’m thankfully now paying them down. Much of my freelance work goes to paying down the loans.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Although I’ve done many odd projects over the years, I’ve focused in on portraiture, illustration and graphic design. I’m known best known for my portrait work and some of the subject matter I sometimes tackle. I’m also known for the historical and atypical approaches I take to biblical subject matter. Over the last few decades, a lot of biblically themed art has been presented in a manner which makes it difficult to take seriously.
I aim to do work that counteracts this. I think the direction God is taking me in will lead to work that I’m most proud of. I have a few family members with disabilities and special needs. My wife and I have suffered a miscarriage. I’ve sat with friends that are homeless and get a taste of what they daily endure. I get to tell stories of hope through my work with the church, but increasingly I am drawn to the question “how can Bryan Butler Art tell these stories and bring about change?” What’s your story? I’d love to hear it.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I do think Chicago is a great location for me. There aren’t many cities where you have such a diverse mix of people, nations, cultures, stories.
The downside is taxed, specifically property, income, and sales. These can make starting and maintain a business challenge. But the people usually make it worth it.
- Website: bryanbutlerart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @bryanbutlerart
- Facebook: @thebryanbutlerart
Living the Language