Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Memory of Wilson Williams Jr.

I found out this morning of the loss of a wonderful illustrator and kind soul. I am rerunning Wilson's interview in memory and celebration of him and of his beautiful work. Rest in Peace Wilson.

How is it that you came to be an illustrator/artist?
Drawing is always the one thing I was good at and enjoyed doing. It’s always served as a personal companion, therapist and means of emotional release. It only made sense for me to take that on as my career of choice.
Did you go to art school?
Yes, I attended the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fl. I wish I could go back and do it all over again! There was so much more I could have taken advantage of. That’s ok, I’m making up for it now.
Were there 1 or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator? Was there any other artist or person that influenced or continues to influence you now?
My Mother and Father have always been a great influence since they were supportive of me from the beginning. Early on I would say that it was bullies and prejudice strangely enough. Children not wanting to be friends with me for whatever reason forced me to go into myself a bit and entertain myself. I did that by drawing. In those moments I found my passion. Later on I would say it was a group of peers that I shared in high school as well as my high school teacher that helped show me that a career was a possibility.
What inspires you now?
My family, my childhood experiences, peers, nature, other exceptional artists and the world around me. I find that I get visual ideas from everywhere and I have to keep notepads or loose paper all over the place so that I can write down those ideas when I have them.
Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style of work for instance what types of medium do you like to work in?
My personal work, when I have the time to do it, is largely watercolors and pastels. Sadly, the mediums I like to work in are not as conducive when working for clients. (For me) Before I started working full time freelance I made sure I had a portfolio that was all digitally created.  I do this largely to maximize the ability to correct the work. I work in Photoshop and Illustrator to create my professional work.
What types of markets do you do art for?At one time I worked full time for a sports apparel company and did a large amount of licensed work. Now I primarily work in the children’s market and have had the opportunity to do work for the licensed, religious, educational, trade children’s books, magazines and toy design markets.
Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Of course, I am always working on expanding my visibility online which means multiple places to view my work. But here are the most up to date.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching or classroom visits?
I’m still working up the guff to do school visits and whatnot but that is definitely in my future plans. For now my biggest secondary interest is the website Once Upon A Sketch.  On the blog my business partner, Norman Grock  and I are dedicated to provide information about other aspects of the children’s market. We think too many children’s illustrators think that the only place their work fits or can be profitable is children’s books and magazines. We want to dispute that and show them other aspects of the varied markets that bleed into the children’s market that they may have not considered.
Are there other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I am reading and learning and teaching myself to write. I know how to tell visual stories with my art and now I’d really like to be able to give voice to the stories that pop into my head. In the process of learning I have a new found respect for talented writers and scribes. This is not an easy road by any means!
Do you currently have product with your images on the market? Books, gift or home products?
Yes I do, the best place to see those items is to visit my blog and look in the left hand column. I try to post all my books there.
What is the thing you love best about what you do?I grew up watching my Mom go to work every day to a job she didn’t enjoy but endured so that we could survive as a family. I didn’t want to endure the same sentence of misery. So I am glad that every day I get to wake up and work on something I can be proud of and have joy while creating it. I think that joy pushes me forward and helps me want to help others find it as well! Thank you so much Patti for taking the time to interview me! If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me through any of the websites mentioned above. 


  1. Excellent. Sounds like a great guy, and I'm sorry we've lost him. Many thanks for sharing this interview.

  2. Wilson Williams, Jr.,
    Gone far, far too soon,
    May he rest in peace and may his lovely legacy of forward thinking art work live on in perpetuity.
    John Burns, Author
    Creator of Pengey penguin
    President of
    San Francisco Story Works

  3. I am shocked to hear such sad news. I feel I have lost a friend I have just met, but have known forever. I shall miss him. The world is a poorer place with his absence. We have not just lost a warmhearted artist, but a wonderful man. My sympathies go out to everyone who has known him, personally or digitally. Rest in peace, Wilson.

  4. My sincere condolences to family and friends on the loss of such a young talent.

  5. Patti, thank you for re-running this interview. I remember reading it the first time you ran it, and being touched by his story. From then on I followed Once Upon a Sketch, and learnt a lot from the articles and videos he and Norman posted there. We are all the poorer for his passing on.

    It occurs to me that perhaps his family seldom got to see the community of peers that he was part of, and who are now feeling his loss so deeply, including the online groups such as the SCBWI LinkIn forum on which there are many messages of condolence. Is there some way of contacting them and passing these on?

  6. Patti, I've just seen that Norman Grock has posted on Once Upon a Sketch and is directing anyone wanting to message the family to Wilson's Facebook page at:
    There is nothing on the public page about his death but you can message him. Hopefully his family will have access to those messages.

  7. There is a guest book that has been set up where you can leave comments. Here is that address.