Bryan Collier grew up in Pocomoke, Maryland, on the lower Eastern Shore of the state, the youngest of six children. His interest in art started early. “At home and at school, I was encouraged to read. I liked the stories, but I really liked the pictures.” As a teenager he began to paint the world around him—the bay, ducks, water, and marshland. He quickly began to develop a unique style of painting that incorporated both watercolors and collage.
In 1985 Bryan won first place in a Congressional Competition, and his art was displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Later that year he was awarded a scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City through their national talent competition. In 1989 Bryan graduated with honors from Pratt Institute with a bachelor of fine arts degree.
While attending school in New York, Bryan began to volunteer at the Harlem Horizon Studio and Harlem Hospital Center with a program that provides working space and materials for self-taught artists in the community. He went on to become the Program Director, a position he held for 12 years. Bryan still works with the program in Harlem as a volunteer, feeling a deep sense of responsibility to be a positive role model for kids.
Today Bryan spends his time working on his book illustrations, creating his own studio pieces, and going into classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians, and students about books and art. “I get so much from those school visits. With the books I’ve been doing, I have this amazing opportunity to bring my art and the process of making artwork and books into the classroom. I ask the students to talk to me and talk to each other about how they feel and what their own experiences are. Basically I ask them to tell their own story. Then I ask them to tell their own story through art.”