Simple Good Artist Spotlight: Julian Gilliam

At our Showcases, we feature Guest Speakers who’s work ties in with The Simple good, who empower youth and uplift their community. Last week at our Ryan Banks Academy Showcase, Chicago Visual Artist, Julian Gilliam spoke about his Simple Good of ambition and impressed upon the 7th grade class spirits of determination and success which left them all empowered to use their artistry beyond becoming Simple Good ambassadors. I had the pleasure of speaking with Julian at length and he shared with me his story, and why he thinks programs like The Simple Good benefit the world we live in today.

When did you know you were an artist?

“I always did art when I was a kid. My grandmother gave me her sketchbooks.”

Julian grew up in St.Louis Missouri, but his journey to Chicago begins after he got kicked off his D1 basketball team. Something he surprisingly considers “a blessing a testament” After a run in with junior college and some push/pull from his parents he wound up in Chicago. Julian described it as “Being a kid in a candy store”. He was smitten by the diversity and Chicago’s always evolving art scene. Eventually Julian transferred to Columbia College where he finished with his degree in animation, film and video. After leaving Columbia, Julian worked for Havas and Blast Radius, both very affluent marketing firms. His tendency to keep climbing, and manifest greater opportunities for himself, slated him as Leo Burnett’s current Senior Art Director where Julian assists clients like the Estate of Tupac Shakur, Baccardi, Nike and Coca-Cola.

What about art is most important to you?

“It’s power of influence and how that influence is used.”

When at work, Julian sets out to do two things “paint the world. And redefine what success” He believes the most important part of art is influence, and how that influence is used. Julian loves to use his art to empower people to grasp their full potential. “I hate it when people say I can’t do something.” is a phrase he repeated to me, and the kids at Ryan Banks. Julians innovation, and individuality are the tools he considers most valuable to him in his repertoire, so he tries to stay motivated and encourages people to overcome their own short comings. “People should nurture things that people consider a deficit.” Julian considers his ability to always want to try new things is what makes him successful. From coding at 15, to painting, drawing, even designing clothes and eventually launching his own brand Logik- Julian wants others to draw strength from what society considers a deficit. Both he and The Simple Good have that in common!

Why are art programs like The Simple Good Important?

“They see someone that looks like them doing things they never thought of it opens positives that they never seen before…. You never forget those kind of impressions. The positivity they experience is unparalleled.”

Programs like the Simple Good are very important to Julian; art programs that empower youth to create from an area that people may consider a deficit. Julian and I agree that the kids are like sponges, and are more impressionable than adults. He goes on to say that the tools The Simple Good teaches the students, the power of positive thinking, mindfulness and the ability to unashamedly express oneself. This can go a long way beyond becoming ambassadors. Like The Simple Good, Julian also loves to help people recognize their full potential. It’s always wonderful to see people doing what they love and loving what they do, and it was a pleasure to speak with Juilan at length. I’d love to talk with him again, and those of you who are curious and want to get involved in his work(and he does a lot) here’s his Facebook, Instagram and his own Website.