Creative Living: Interview with Brady Black of Serious Creatures

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

One of my favourite ways to stay inspired is to read about how other people put their creativity into practice and learn to live creative lives. Every so often, I’ll be interviewing someone who is letting their creative light shine. Hopefully, these folks will inspire you as much as they inspire me. 

I first discovered Brady's work when someone mentioned the @seriouscreatures account in a webinar about Instagram. I followed it because it seemed like he was having so much fun and engaging so much with his community. His drawing prompts have been a huge inspiration in my own drawing journey and I love his playful style.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

What sort of creative work do you do?

My wife, Amber, and I have an illustration shop called “Serious Creatures”. I do the illustration work and Amber does all the business stuff. Beyond selling products derived from my artwork, we also try to inspire and encourage imagination in people and have a few projects on Instagram towards this end.

#SCDrawWithMe is a drawing challenge every other week to help you think outside of the box and stretch your imagination.

#BlobDraw is a every other week picture of a watercolor blob that I encourage others to tell me what they “see” in it and then I pick one and try to draw it. Very Rorschach test-like.

We also have a growing series of video art tutorials on our website aimed at teaching kids how to draw in a fun way.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

Have you always thought of yourself as a creative person? Why or why not?

No not at all. I only started drawing and putting myself “out there” about 5-6 years ago. I desperately wanted to be a “normal” adult but my ideas kept getting in the way. I have always done things a little different or a little askew from normal my whole life, and consequently I got made fun of for it a lot. When bosses asked me to do things I would just do it the way it made sense to me, but turns out that was usually wrong or strange and didn’t make sense to my colleagues. I felt dumb a lot because when given a simple thing everyone else would just “get it”, but I always ended up understanding differently or doing them differently. I realize in hindsight this was the highly creative part of me but I was only desperate to squash it and be normal.

For the longest time I tried my best not to be this person, but finally my wife began to encourage me that this “different” kind of person was okay and in fact valuable. She helped me to be free to be this creative person that I have tried my whole life not to be. After this I started drawing more and more and found out that I loved it and I had a bit of a knack for it.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

How did you get started?

I began drawing later in life in my 30’s during a very difficult time when I had a family member get really sick. I had to take care of them 24hrs a day for 8 months and it was really hard on me. I began to draw to try and stay sane and I found I really enjoyed it.

Then my wife and I moved to the Middle East. I was working in Oman (near Saudi Arabia) teaching English to university students, and between the culture strain and the monotony of the desert landscape, our days were on the joyless side. There was nothing to do so I kept drawing. After a while I began to find the weaknesses in my skills and took some art classes on-line to help fill in my gaps. This is where I’m at today, finding my weaknesses and finding people on-line to help me improve.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

What’s your process like?

For me everything starts with an idea. They come to me out of the blue so I always have something near by to write them down and then I put them in my idea files. I have pages upon pages of ideas for drawings and story ideas.

When I’m ready to draw something I pick my favorite idea and sketch it out. I begin with a really rough sketch and then keep refining it till I like the composition and feel like the idea is coming across well. I usually draw animals so I look at lots of reference pictures to make sure I am getting the animal right. Then I make a final sketch in pencil, ink in the lines with a pen, and then scan it into a computer and color it with Photoshop magic. Recently I have been able to speed up this process considerably with a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet. Now I do all of this process digitally and it cut my production time almost in half.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

What or who inspires you?

I get inspired by children’s story book artists like Shaun Tan and an artist named Dulk. I cruise Pinterest all the time to get inspired by other artists who are doing beautiful work.

My surroundings also inspire me. I live in the very frenetic Beirut, Lebanon so the city and the characters of the city inspire me all the time.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

What’s your biggest creative struggle and how are you coping with it?

For me getting into that creative mindset is the most difficult thing. My day job is working at a home for abused and abandoned children and it is usually very stressful. So coming home from that and having the energy to do creative work is really difficult. So I use music and exercise to help me get into that mental space where I can be creative.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

What’s your # 1 tip about everyday creativity?

For me it is doing personal work that isn’t related to a paid project. I do this a lot with Instagram projects like #SCDrawWithMe, #SCDrawOver, #BlogDraw. The things I do for myself without regard for what a client wants really energize me and help give me creative fuel for the paid work. I will always know when I’ve just been doing only paid work because I start to resent it and I become a pouty pants about doing art. When doing art isn’t fun I have to take some time and do personal work so I can find the fun again.

Brady Black - Serious Creatures

What are you working on next?

I am currently working on our 2017 card lines, video tutorials for kids, as well as some commission work.

Where can we find you online?

Our online shop and blog are at IG: @seriouscreatures FB: