How To Turn Your Art Degree Into a Post-Grad Career

Like most artists, Megan Williams ’19 saves her harshest criticisms for her own work. Even so, some of the negative feedback she received in the early stages of her career caused her to briefly put down the pencil and paper for a time.

When Williams decided to pick it back up again in the midst of the global pandemic, she opted for a digital sketchbook. The transition led her in 2021 to co-find a T-shirt and apparel design business with her husband, Travis Williams, called Visions by Flavis, LLC.

“I just randomly told him one day that I want to start putting my art on T-shirts,” Williams said. “He’s always telling me I’m a dope artist, and that’s how it all started.”

The studio art graduate tiptoed into the digital drawing space when she took some graphic design classes at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., but initially felt it wasn’t for her. Translating her hand-drawn style to the digital canvas brought Williams renewed confidence in her artistry amid a stream of good reviews and positive responses.

“It feels good to see people reacting positively to my artwork and really admiring it. Being in art is one of the hardest things you can do because it’s such a critical field – people don’t always realize that.”

When Williams told her husband she wanted to start a small business around T-shirt design, he plunged into researching all aspects of the apparel industry. They purchased the pressing equipment and began the trial and error process of learning to press her design onto hoodies, t-shirts, mugs and tumblers.

The couple also consulted with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley and took some of the courses offered to help jump-start their small business. The center’s advice on navigating the e-commerce space, using services like Google Merchant to list and promote products for free across Google and YouTube were of particular help.

Visions by Flavis only sells Williams’s designs and never any third-party templates. Most of the apparel in stock features her renditions of catchphrases and her own animation style, though she does take on customized requests from customers.

Merchandise sales spike in the month between Black Friday and Christmas and then bounce back up again during the summer market season, where the couple are a constant presence at the Visions by Flavis, LLC booth.

“I’ve been drawing or doodling since I was 5 or 6 years old. I was always the girl that draws,” Williams said. “But people don’t realize how much you can doubt yourself as an artist. After seeing people respond so well to my work, it feels really good.”

 — Thomas Bruch