“The experience of making art is all about making decisions. Once the kids really get that, you see them making the connection. They go from saying, ‘That’s not about me’ to ‘Hey. Look at me. This is who I am.'”
Bryan Collier grew up in Pocomoke, Maryland, on the lower Eastern Shore of the state, the youngest of six children. His interest in art started early. “At home and at school, I was encouraged to read. I remember the first books with pictures that I read by myself were The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I liked the stories, but I really liked the pictures.” As a teenager he began to paint the world around him – the bay, ducks, water, and marshland. His interest in art was always encouraged both at home and at school. He began to develop a unique style of painting that incorporated both watercolors and collage. He made the decision to focus his time and attention on illustrating children’s books full time. It wasn’t easy getting his art published in books; Bryan tried for seven years before he got his break with the publication of his book, Uptown.
Today Bryan spends his time working on his book illustrations, creating his own studio pieces, and going into classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians, and students about books and art. “I get so much from those school visits. With the books I’ve been doing, I have this amazing opportunity to bring my art and the process of making artwork and books into the classroom. I ask the students to talk to me and talk to each other about how they feel and what their own experiences are. Basically I ask them to tell their own story. Then I ask them to tell their own story through art.