Evolving Success: Visual Artist William Goodman
It’s early morning, but already, William Goodman has paint on his hands.
The prolific Fondren artist had, the day before, heard the news of Prince’s passing. “I’m working on a painting of him. Obviously,” he declares of a cultural icon he had seen five times in concert.
Pop culture — art, music, fashion and film — these are the wells that spring forth inspiration for the 35 year-old Jackson native who has, since 2003, made a living creating full time.
In the early 2000’s, Goodman left art school in North Carolina to return to Jackson, working as Creative Director at The Mustard Seed for three years.
He was one of the first to inhabit the reemerging Fondren neighborhood in 2003, living and working in the epicenter of it all, Fondren Corner. It’s there he connected with Ginger Williams, Josh Hailey, Jason “Twiggy” Lott, Chane and others. The group collaborated on projects in town but also traveled together to gain exposure for each other’s works.
“I started putting myself out there and not being afraid to do that,” Goodman remembers of his first forays into selling his paintings. “It was a really special time, feeding off of each other’s creative energy. We were part of something, at the very beginning of it.”
Goodman has continued to create, painting commissioned pieces and showing in galleries, while also working on his passion projects. He says a decade or more of learning has taught him so much. “I’m finally at a point in my career where I’m working smarter, not harder.”
Part of that growth involves aligning himself with others who can teach him and expand his world view. One such association came through Goodman’s admiration of Connecticut artist, Robert Mars. In 2010, Mars featured Goodman on his blog and the pair, who work in similar styles, became friends. Fast forward to this past December and Goodman began three works here while Mars worked on three of his own. Goodman traveled to Mars’ studio and both men collaborated to finish the pieces that now hang at DTR Modern in SoHo in New York City.
It was this same trip where Goodman connected with friend Michelle Duncan who works for EstÃ©e Lauder. She told him of a new product line, The EstÃ©e Edit, curated by Kendall Jenner, sold exclusively through Sephora, and told Goodman he’d be perfect for their Canadian launch.
A mobile truck in front of the store, blasting music from raised side panels, invited people inside to get their makeup done using the new products. Outside, Goodman would create a personal piece of graffiti-inspired art for each participant. He also created a large canvas that people could take selfies in front of. Hundreds came through each day despite frigid temps, including an EstÃ©e Lauder Executive, impressed with Goodman’s work, commissioning pieces for them which may lead to future opportunities. He calls the experience “surreal.” “My whole life the past few months,” he adds, “has been surreal.”
The EstÃ©e Lauder gig and other chances to branch out have Goodman thinking of the future. “I’m starting to think more outside the box. What would my art look like on a dress or a handbag? You see designers who collaborate with artists and that’s kind of the direction I want to go. Collaboration is where it’s at. I want to tap in — I want to get on that scene.”
With a very supportive wife, author Nell Knox, Goodman takes opportunities like this but is quick to stay away from false delusions of “instant success.” “People talk about big breaks,” he explains. “Each year I’m able to do what I love for a living, I consider that success. Sure, there are really good times and times that aren’t so great. But I’m blessed with an amazing family and friends who believe in me and support me. Since 2003, I have been able to do what I love for a living. There’s something to be said for that. Whether I’m working on passion projects or commissions, at the end of the day, I’m getting to paint. Am I trying to become famous? No, it’s not the end goal. I’m just trying to survive and do what I love.”