I was virtually introduced to Bryce Wood’s work last year via my Twitter feed when I saw his immaculate graphic of the Crying Jordan on a professional athlete. His Photoshop skills were and still are top-notch. The Crying Jordan face was blended in perfectly and matched whatever background it was put on top of. I had to know more about the kid from Kansas and how he was able to do what he does with such finesse. It’s been 448 days since I interviewed Bryce and on August 29th it was brought to my attention he designed all four of the latest Sports Illustrated covers featuring Patriots QB Tom Brady, Texans DE J.J. Watt, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Cardinals RB David Johnson.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 29, 2017
I catch up with Bryce to see what he’s been up to.
We first spoke in June 2016, how has your year been?
It has been a pretty crazy year, I continued doing a lot of Crying Jordans and was getting a lot of love for them. I then started making personal graphics of my favorite teams (KC Chiefs, KC Royals, Kansas Jayhawks) to post to my Twitter and Instagram. Those also got a lot of attention. I still was doing some Crying Jordans but not nearly as much. I started to try and expand my portfolio of work and move beyond my normal graphics. I wanted people and potential employers to see my talent in other areas of graphic design.
When did you have a light bulb moment that your Crying Jordan memes would turn into something major?
Basically once the articles came out about my photoshopping and Crying Jordans I knew something could come for this. I was getting a lot of exposure not just for my Crying Jordans but for all of my work. I did a couple local interviews too, which was cool to see my family, friends and community react to my work. I then made a website showcasing some of my graphics so people could see. Seeing all the positive comments on Twitter and Instagram it made me realize that I needed to be doing this for a living.
How did your job with Sports Illustrated come about?
Like I said, those articles about me, gave me a ton of exposure to social media outlets. A lot of people reached out to me for freelance work. I changed my Twitter and Instagram bio to read ‘Graphic Artist looking for work’ just to show my interest in future work when someone visits my social media. Then SI reached out to me and said they had noticed my bio and were curious if I was still looking for work. From there we started working together.
Have any professional team(s) used your work? An athlete(s)? If not, what team(s) or athlete(s) would you like acknowledgement from?
I have had a few professional athletes use some of my work on their social media accounts. ESPN’s SportsNation reached out to me to create a farewell graphic for Max Kellerman. I was very excited when Antonio Brown reached out to me directly and complimented me on my graphics. We messaged a couple of times and he told me if I ever created anything using him he would love to see it. I do not think any teams have used any of my graphics, that I know of. It would be a dream of mine if my favorite teams like the Royals, Chiefs or Jayhawks would want me to design for them.
The newest SI cover…is this your first published high profile work? Take me through the process.
The SI cover is definitely my first high profile published piece of work. The process is basically what you would think for any design project. First the team came up with an idea. I then started playing around with my design and sending it back to them for further feedback. This process goes back and forth until we reach the final layout.
What are your thoughts about using social media to build an audience and hone your craft/talent?
For me social media is everything. I can honestly say that my presence on social media has taken me much further than my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree. Using social media for so long has only helped me get better with my graphics. There is always something new to learn when designing graphics and over time I keep improving and will continue to do so. I must say that working for SI is an amazing experience. It truly is the perfect job for me. I enjoy working with all the people on the SI team and I am very grateful for them giving me this opportunity.
What advice would you give anyone wanting to get into the digital side of sports media?
I would say the best advice is to constantly put your work out for the public to view and not be afraid of constructive criticism. It has helped me tremendously seeing comments from people who follow my social media. Like I said, I am still learning today and it is a lot of trial and error. Sometimes people love certain things I create and other people are underwhelmed. Keep grinding.
Social media is never just social media, people are watching and paying attention. You have more eyeballs on you especially when you go viral. Bryce’s story is a bit unconventional but it shows that no matter what, hard work and dedication will take you far. Hopefully this post will reach someone at the Royals, Chiefs or Jayhawks. We at Fans Favorite Fan can’t wait to see what Bryce does next!