Bill Brown has pursued his love of drawing right to New York City.
Brown, a graduate of Park High School in Livingston and Montana State University, illustrated Target Stores' new summertime ad campaign to promote the chain's first store in Manhattan.
His Harlem-themed ads are featured in Times Square and on New York buses and subway trains. In fact, the No. 6 train in Manhattan has been wrapped entirely in the ad.
"I've heard that it is the first ad to completely cover a subway car, but I don't know how you would verify that," Brown said.
Brown was hired for the project by Mother, a New York-based ad agency. He designed the ads from his home in Seattle.
"We liked Bill's light and optimistic drawing style," said Mother designer Derrick Lee.
Target chose the Harlem theme.
"I had only visited Harlem once or twice, but I looked at a lot of photos for reference," Brown said last week in a phone interview. "(Harlem) is definitely a different atmosphere than Montana. I mean, I never drew a lot of Montana-esque things when I was at (Montana State University). But there aren't many tall buildings with metal fire escapes in Bozeman."
Brown graduated from Park High in 1989. Allen Jones, a Bozeman author and editor who went to high school with Brown, said his classmate "was very serious about his artwork."
"It seems like every high school class has someone who can draw," Jones said. "But even back then, as I remember it, Bill took it to the next level."
After graduation, Brown moved to Bozeman and majored in graphic design at MSU.
"I went to MSU and I didn't declare a major right away," he said. "Someone told me one day, ‘You like the draw, why not major in graphic design?' So I guess I got my start in art while I was in Montana."
His first graphic design job was for a small company in the Student Union Building on campus. "It seems like so long ago, I don't even remember what it was called," Brown said of the company, laughing. Brown starts by drawing his designs on paper. Then he scans them onto a computer and adds color with Photoshop. He said he has been working on the Target campaign since August 2009, but has yet to see the finished product in person.
He plans to visit New York City for the grand opening of the Manhattan Target store on July 20.
"My friends in New York have been sending me pictures, so I'm really excited to go see the finished product for myself," Brown said.
Samantha Booth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.