This is a co-authored piece by Robert Friedman, Executive Director, and Bryson Williams, the new Lead Creative at Permanent. The Lead Creative will drive Permanent’s creative strategy for user experience, editorial illustration, and social content.
Robert Friedman: We’re so very excited and proud to announce the hire of Bryson Williams for the role of Lead Creative at Permanent. Bryson is such an important addition to the Permanent team and the Lead Creative role is such a foundational responsibility that I felt compelled to tell you more about why.
As in all things, it begins with our mission, vision, and values. To preserve and provide perpetual access to the digital legacy of all people is a very aspirational statement. To reach all people we must aspire to reach a very broad diversity of people. Reaching even the most aspirational goals begins with taking concrete action.
Throughout my career, from working with students at the Adler Planetarium to organizing educator conferences in Chicago, I have always believed that creative leadership was more than decoration. Experience design is the foundation of an inclusive and welcoming destination. In my role as a space wrangler for the 2016 Mozilla Festival, I helped support a creative team that designed an inclusive space for festival participants. During that experience, I adopted a professional mantra to “make the invitation more inviting.”
This is the core purpose of the Lead Creative role: to create an inviting experience for a diverse group of people through emotionally compelling, visual storytelling and immersive design. Why? Because we believe that all people leave a legacy that deserves to be preserved and we believe that individual stories can change the way we see the world. We need to create a place where our users can preserve and share their individual stories as part of a collective history.
That’s what makes the Lead Creative role especially important to us and the person filling that role couldn’t be a better fit. Bryson is an ambitious and talented designer and the story of how he got connected to Permanent is a particularly important one that speaks to how all employers can strive to make the invitation more inviting for diverse talent. However, this is Bryson’s story, so he should tell it in his own words. Bryson, would you do us the honor?
Bryson Williams: Thanks, Robert. I met the Permanent team during my first summer participating in the Shadow the Pros internship program with E4 Youth, a local Austin-based nonprofit organization that provides professional level training and employment opportunities for creative youth of color ages 16 – 22. Shadow the Pros is a summer internship program that pairs youth with companies in the community that volunteer to act as career coaches. The students are split into groups and work on real projects for real clients, gaining invaluable experience and professional development. Permanent had a compelling mission that spoke to my personal values, but it wasn’t until my 2nd year in Shadow the Pros that I was matched with the Permanent team.
Right after graduating from Texas State University with a Bachelors in Studio Art in 2019, my interests had started to shift towards user experience design. Permanent’s project that summer was to design a 3rd party application that would plug into the Permanent public API in order to permanently preserve E4 Youth student work. The opportunity came like a gift from the sky since it aligned perfectly with my desire to get into product design, and the fear of finding a job post graduation was in full effect.
Shortly after the program, I asked to continue working with the team as I felt that I had so much more I could offer creatively. In that time, I created a new visual language for Permanent through illustration, went on my first business trip to Salt Lake City to exhibit for our user base, designed a brand new user interface, and aided the team in implementing the design. Just 9 months later, here I am.
Without programs like Shadow the Pros and Permanent’s commitment to supporting and sourcing talent through community partners like E4 Youth, young people like myself have limited exposure to opportunities, limited access to professional development, and are unjustly limited by inherent bias, not judged by our talent or degrees, when applying for jobs. These programs bridge gaps, create relationships, and build work portfolios that speak for themselves.
If you are an employer and you’re not actively sourcing your talent through organizations like E4 Youth – or also Latinitas and Code2College in Austin – you’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity. Building a talent pipeline through community partnerships is how you make the invitation more inviting for young people who don’t know that the invitation exists. Not to mention, you’ll find some extraordinary talent as well!