You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.
Scott Biersack's unbridled enthusiasm for the world is contagious. He says his work is a reflection of himself, and with the gushing positivity inherent in the painted and chalked phrases that adorn the walls of his small apartment in South Phoenix, we are inclined to believe him.
Video by Evie Carpenter.
"I would never paint anything negative because positivity literally makes the world go round. Nothing is out of reach when you are positive," Biersack says. "Seriously, if you're not positive, what is there?"
The 20-year-old is just finishing up his third year in the graphic design program at ASU, but he has already begun making his mark in a slightly different field: Biersack is a hand-letterer. Though you may be hard-pressed to find others practicing this traditional art form in the Phoenix area, the Internet is fit to burst with the rise of hand-drawn or hand-painted inspirational quotes (hello, Pinterest).
But Biersack is no amateur. Though he is self-taught in terms of hand-lettering, he explains, not just anyone can take it up as a hobby. "You start with design because you have to understand the basics of how each letter is structured, but then you can take that design sense and use illustration to make the letter forms come alive," he says. "Design is very structured, but lettering allows for creativity within that structure."
He says his own lettering really took off after "Project 365," a self-assigned exercise that had him creating a new piece of lettering every day for a full year. He posted the project on Instagram, and ended up getting lettering work from State Bicycle Co., T.G.I. Fridays, and others as a result. With over 9,500 followers on Instagram and accounts on Dribble, Behance, Tumblr, and Facebook, Biersack says social media has been the key to getting paid for doing what he loves best.
Still, the young designer and illustrator keeps a foot planted firmly in the tangible world, inhabiting the unlikely intersection of old-school methods and new-school technology. "I have to start on paper," he says. "The computer is just a tool to provide the client with what they want, but the idea and the concept and everything is all in my head and I can produce it with my hands."
Biersack has a reverence for the past; he collects antique packaging labels because he admires the time and effort that used to go into designing and producing such seemingly inconsequential objects.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Biersack thinks of hard work as one of the most important values. And work hard he does: Currently, he's juggling school, freelance work, a job at design firm Zion & Zion, and his own personal projects.
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Still, he gets up early every Saturday morning to create a new piece on the public chalkboard outside of the Coor Building at ASU. When asked about the impermanence of his chalk work, Biersack smiles. "I know I'm gonna keep creating for the rest of my life," he says. "So it's not such a big deal to me."
Artopia will take place from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday, April 25, at Bentley Projects in downtown Phoenix. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 the day of the event. See more at www.phoenixnewtimes.com/bigbrainawards.