My name is Wyatt West and I am a BFA graphic design senior going through thesis this semester.
Where are you from?
I’m from Madison, Mississippi.
What attracted you to the University of Mississippi Department of Art & Art History?
Honestly, all of my friends came here and I needed someone to live with, haha! I didn’t even know I was getting into art, but growing up, my father was a graphic designer and I saw what he did. He just listened to music, watched movies and worked on his computer all day and I told myself, “Yeah, I’m going to do this.” Then I didn’t realize when I came to college I’d be taking art classes. It just happened.
What made you get into the BFA program?
I talked to Ginny and she said BFA is the way to go if you’re interested in taking it to the next step. I did a little research and decided to do it.
I’ve seen your paintings, was a BFA in painting an option?
I have hobbies and I enjoy painting and the fine arts, but graphic design was more for me.
What type of artist do you consider yourself?
I’m more of a branding, web, and UI/UX designer.
Who or what type of work influences you?
Specific firms I follow would be the Forefathers Group and the Brethren Design Company. They have an anti-branding design style that I like. They are so different from everybody else. Everybody tries to keep it PG to the corporate scene. They focus on designing work from their surroundings and where they are from.
What type of artwork do you create?
Being a branding and web design artist, I’m trying to focus around Mississippi and being proud of where I’m from and what brought me up.
Tell us about your process.
I sort of get a mood board of what I want to create. Then I start sketching out concepts. From there, I move everything into Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, no iPad. Haha!
Could you talk about BFA Thesis?
I wanted to keep it local, so I’m branding a brewery that started in Mississippi. I realized with a brewery, you have so much freedom in designing material compared to other companies. I’m designing a bar, tap handles, growlers, bottles, and koozies.
How has the art department developed your skills as an artist?
I’d say I’ve made great relationships with the faculty here. Tyler and Ginny especially. Tyler is a busy man but I appreciate all that he does for me even though I never tell him that. I do appreciate it. Haha!
Which professors mentored you the most?
I’d say the top two are Durant and Tyler. Durant has been my advisor since I got here and I never switched. They both helped me out a lot in deciding what to do and where to go next. Durant seemed to be super excited when I started building and wielding my bar for thesis. I could’ve just mocked up something but creating it yourself feels different.
Do you have any favorite classes here in the art department?
Packaging, production, and web design are all good ones. Packing is probably number one though. It is more of an advanced class and you get more dedicated graphic design students and they are the colleagues that you want feedback from. The feedback I received helped me improve my work as an artist. I’ve grown more in that class than any other for sure.
Have you attended any conferences?
Yes, we went to Crop Con last year in Baton Rouge. We were the only students there and among all professionals. That’s how I met the Brethren Design Company. I ended up talking with them at an afterparty and they were super nice. They gave me some stickers and patches which were freaking awesome. I went home and looked them up. Their work is absolutely incredible. Its two brothers and they both have corporate jobs but they made this freelance agency called Brethren and it is fantastic.
Did take advantage of any internships?
I did not but after I graduate I will be working with Jeremy Vaughn from Vaughn Design. I’ll be working with him until I leave Oxford, My lease ends in July but I’m hoping to find a job wherever.
What does the art department mean to you?
I wouldn’t call it home but it does have a homey feeling to it. It is a smaller department so you know everybody. But, meeting people within the department in all the areas and getting advice and feedback has been great.
Any advice for incoming art students?
Things might seem a little redundant in the beginning classes but focus on your area. Even focus on your work outside of the art department, that is really important.
Can we find you on social media?
No, I don’t do social media. I hate social media. I know that sounds terrible and I should be putting myself out there and branding myself but I just can’t stand social media.
What are you listening to right now?
Chicano Batman just released a new album. I listen to everything though. From death metal to country, to rap, just about everything.
Favorite hangout spot in Oxford?
The Blind Pig or the skate park.
Favorite time of the year here in Oxford?
Summer for sure. All the kids are gone. Traffic isn’t that bad either.