To Top

Conversations with Rhys Meatyard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhys Meatyard.

Hi Rhys, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My name is Rhys Meatyard, and I am an independent illustrator, artist, and graphic designer. I have been working in the field professionally for more than 15 years, the last five of which I’ve been exclusively self-employed. My business, Meatyard, offers a variety of creative services, and I use the experience gained working for larger clients during my career to offer first-class illustration and design work to my clients. In addition, I am a working visual artist, show my work regularly at local galleries, and sell my own original designs.

I was born in Texas, but moved to Florida in 1988, when I was eight years old. My love of art was nurtured by my grandfather, Jerry Meatyard, who taught art at HCC Ybor for a number of years. I initially wanted to follow in his footsteps and teach art myself, and pursued a degree in visual art at Eckerd College in the early 2000s, but I had married (17) and divorced (22) young and I needed to provide for my children as a single parent. So, graphic design seemed a more responsible choice, and I proved to be good at learning on my own. Over the next decade, I expanded my knowledge and gained experience, but had a hard time finding staff positions in my field after relocating back to Florida. For the next couple of years, I worked a variety of other jobs while doing freelance work in my free time, but the lack of focus made it difficult to succeed. After my last staff position with an internet startup went south in early 2016, I decided it was finally time to do it full-time, sink or swim.

It has been a long road. I had a couple of core clients to start with, but it took a long time for me to see that I had potential for real success. I had no savings, no family help, and there were months in the beginning that I cleaned houses for my landlord to pay the rent, but I didn’t give up. It has been five years now, and the idea for what this would be has evolved into something greater than I could ever have imagined. While in the beginning the bulk of my work was rote design work (logos, business cards, brochures, etc.) today, much more of it relies upon my fine art skills as an illustrator (such as shirt and poster designs, album covers, etc.), which is where my passion truly lies.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As I alluded to in the previous question, the road has not been smooth. I had a rough home life as a child and dropped out/left home at 15. I spent most of my adult life as a single parent working full time while trying finishing my degree and still finding time for freelance work. My children could regale you with tales of going to bed with me working and waking up to me in the same spot for years. When I finally made the choice to set out on my own fully, it was a decision made of last resort because I couldn’t find a stable job in my field. I had no savings, no safety net, and really nothing but my skill and my wits. The spring I started this endeavor, I lost my mother, my grandfather, and then my job. It occurred to me that there would never be a perfect time to do this, and that the only opportunity I was going to find would be the one I created for myself. And so I did.

Since that time, there have been a lot of setbacks, but I have persevered. Had I not already faced such hardships, I really may have given up last year when COVID cancelled all of my summer work and I had to suddenly shift gears. In the space of a few weeks, the seasonal work I’d grown to count on had evaporated, and it may never fully return, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. That may sound strange, but had that seasonal work not gone away, I may never have decided to put so much time into expanding my illustration portfolio and growing my audience as an artist instead of just as a commercial graphic designer.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Professionally, nothing makes me happier than working with a client to bring their ideas to life. Whether it’s a new restaurant in need of branding or a band releasing a new album in need of artwork, everyone is trying to communicate an idea – a feeling, an experience – and it’s my job to tell that story in a way that makes sense. It’s my job to listen to their needs and create solutions they may not know they need, and that often goes far beyond the art.

For many years, I thought it was very important to separate the strictly commercial work from my personal work, but these days, that line has become a lot more blurred. My talent is in solving visual problems and communicating ideas, and my years of working in the corporate world have greatly influenced my work as an artist, and vise versa. If I am known for anything, I hope it’s for my typography skills and my sense of humor. I try to bring some fun into nearly everything I do, because life is far too short to be so serious.

What makes you happy?
Aside from art, the great love of my life is music. A lot of my favorite work is in the music industry, such as album art, t-shirt designs, posters, etc. I grew up with vinyl records and my earliest memories are of poring over my father’s record collection. Working in this industry and helping to give music a visual accompaniment is truly my life’s work, and nothing makes me feel more satisfied. Well, that and when one of my art pieces gets a good response.

Contact Info:

Suggest a Story: VoyageTampa is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in