From time to time, we are going to start featuring makers by asking them for their stories and portraying how they excel in their craft. Our first feature is Brian Ott of Bott Illustration. Brian was generous enough to give us a few precious moments of his time, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share some of his story, struggles, successes, and insights:
“The fine arts were made part of my life before I really had a choice. In many ways they have best defined my family's skill set for three generations. So for me as a kid, it didn't feel all that special. It honestly felt like another necessary subject in life, the only difference being that I absolutely loved it.
In high school, I majored in the arts in my local magnet high school, and went on to pursue the same in college. Around the age of 20, painting and drawing took a distant back seat in my affections as music began to take over my time and passion. I had felt a certain lack of purpose in my art, which made it start to feel purely aesthetic. And at the time, that didn't seem like enough. With music, I found a catalyst with which I could communicate a message. I had always felt that I had something important to say, and music gave me that outlet in a significant way
But after a few years of neglect, my heart started to ache. Truly ache. I felt torn. I had convinced myself that I was 100% a musician, so why did I feel such a hole from not making art? And did I even have the time for it? The answer to the second question was no, I didn't have the time. The problem was that the answer to the first question was yes, I'm just as much an artist as I am a musician, and I decided that it was worth carving out the time to do it.
One thing that hadn't changed, though, was a sense—and even guilt—that I lacked a certain of purpose in my art. I was still stuck on having this need for a message, but all I really wanted to do was make pretty things. At some point (it must have been a gradual evolution), I came to appreciate beauty as a purpose in and of itself. As the world gets darker and more bleak, the worth of making something beautiful for other people becomes increasingly valuable.
Almost 3 years ago, I started a series that hasn't quite seen its end even today. I call it my Wild Life Series, and its a harkening back to my earliest love: drawing animals. Sticking with this one subject for years now has helped me brand myself. In turn, my art has reached hundreds more people than ever before.
I feel so blessed to be able to make art and be supported in my endeavor, by my amazing wife, and the wonderful community here in Louisville. This city is local loyal to a fault, and I love it for that.
Whether you have been making art for a long time or maybe just thinking about trying your hand at it for the first time, I would want to encourage you to finish what you start. Even when you fear something won’t turn out the way you were hoping, don’t give up. Because you don't fully fail until you finish something, and you don't fully learn until you allow yourself to fail.”