We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Willis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I am fortunate to have had parents that taught me that taking risk was a valuable part of life. At a young age they showed me that taking risk garnered bigger payoffs and that failure was nothing more than a missed opportunity. Whether it was my work or or creative life I understood that associating risk with preparation and effort also increased the satisfaction of having done a good job.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My artistic life began as a young boy watching my dad create in his shop on the edge of our property in a land covered with sage brush and apple trees. Whether he was making a garden pagoda or a cutting board he taught me an early appreciation of hard work, fine craft and aesthetic detail. My love of glass began at the same time when I would collect pop bottles to redeem for a few cents. I was (and still am) mesmerized by the way light played with the surface and by the sounds the bottles would make as they bounced around in my bicycle basket. The best bottles were never redeemed. They stayed on my bedroom window sill where I could enjoy them as the piercing sunlight exploded around the room. My fascination never waned and to this day my love of the outdoors combined with a passion for history inform my work, revealing a trace of hand in a vintage context. Mixing natural, found and re-purposed elements with unexpected materials keeps my creativity engaged. I am currently obsessed with the notion of glass fringe. The delicacy and refractive beauty of glass combined with the loose and playful nature of fringe is a match made in my creative heaven. And the resulting sound is the sweetest lullaby you could ever hear.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the outdoors and all things associated with it. The Phoenix area has a multitude of hiking trails that are all wonderful. When hiking is not an option I would send guests to the spectacular Desert Botanical Gardens. A trip to see the feral Salt River Horses along the Verde River is always a hit.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shout out to Dr. Wendy Dickerson. She is a true patron and inspires me to be a good artist and a good human.
Photos by the artist.