Troy U. art alumnus discusses becoming a professional artist

Olivia Nobles


The Marketing Club and Design Club attended a workshop Tuesday centered on the practical skills and techniques necessary to be successful as an independent graphic artist.

Perry Brown, a graphic designer and webmaster at Troy University, presented his suggestions and tips for the artists in attendance of his own work, stories recalled from encounters with clients and technical tips for using various editing programs.

Brown said he was excited to pass along a few tricks of the trade, and he outlined his process for completing a commission. He emphasized the importance of understanding the subject matter at hand and suggested doing comprehensive research on the group, object or service at the center of the project.

“Sketching is the most important step of this process,” Brown said. “You can leave after this point if you want, but even if you don’t listen to anything else, listen to this.

“Sketch. Draw it out; conceptualize it.”

Brown admitted that he avoided sketching out ideas for his projects until a few years ago, and he spent the better part of his decade-long career working exclusively digitally. He said sketching has improved the quality of his work as well as his efficiency.

After the workshop ended, many students stayed behind to ask specific questions about the details of Brown’s work, and he demonstrated how he created different elements of various posters and advertisements.

Brown said this sharing of knowledge is essential for artists.

“You spend a lot of time trying to figure it out on your own,” he said. “If you have a chance to learn from someone who knows what they’re doing, it helps.”

Erin Vaughn, a junior graphic design major from Enterprise, said the workshop inspired her. She noted that Brown’s honesty about his own struggles as an artist spoke to her.

“It’s nice to relate to someone and see that they’re so successful,” Vaughn said. “This gave me a lot of motivation to start working on my own projects outside of class.”

Kayle Weeks, a senior graphic design major from Troy and the vice president of the design club, noted the importance of fostering a bond between artists within a community as well.

“We contacted (Brown) knowing that he’s a very good, very acclaimed graphic designer in the area,” Weeks said. “We always battle with this image of a starving artist, so it’s hopeful to see someone like Perry who took the exact same path that we’re taking who is successful.”

At the end of his time with the members of the Marketing and Design Clubs, Brown encouraged them to reach out to him if they ever wanted a more technical workshop where they could “nerd out” about the process behind these creations in greater detail.

Examples of Brown’s work can be found at the International Arts Center in the Alumni Art Exhibit.

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