Artist and Teacher Bryan Springer designs many of the posters around campus. He’s won awards for his designs. Bryan Springer | Courtesy
Artist and Teacher Bryan Springer designs many of the posters around campus. He’s won awards for his designs. Bryan Springer | Courtesy

The average Hillsdale student walks past more than 35 posters on the way to the Grewcock Student Union from Lane Hall.

But the posters that stu­dents actually stop at, read, and point at for a nearby friend to read are the work of Hillsdale’s own Artist and Teacher Bryan Springer ’94.

“That’s the chal­lenge,” Springer said. “To create some­thing very bold and eye catching, yet also simple and orga­nized to com­mu­nicate effec­tively.”

Since arriving at Hillsdale’s campus to teach full-time in fall 2008, Springer has designed an over­whelming majority of the col­orful, unique, and infor­mative student orga­ni­zation posters that adorn Hillsdale’s bul­letin boards and doors.

“I had this desire to com­mu­nicate with art, not just have it be art for art’s sake,” he said. “I wanted to express either a story or a visual lan­guage.”

Stu­dents unknow­ingly encounter Springer’s work as they scan the bul­letin boards looking for campus events. He fre­quently creates posters for the Tower Players’ pro­duc­tions, such as his Pablo Picasso-esque poster adver­tising the shows for “Death of a Salesman” on campus. He’s also the man behind the Fine Arts cal­endar of dancers and pastels, which is sold to benefit the department.

“I love his posters,” Pro­fessor of Art Sam Knecht said. “He carries a great deal of taste into every project he takes on. But he’s not locked into a single look. He’s not afraid to be cre­ative or dif­ferent. He’s got a lot of pizazz.”

Springer’s posters have received more than just praise from stu­dents and staff. In 2014, Graphic Design USA mag­azine honored Springer’s posters for the Hillcats Faculty Jazz Ensemble by using them as the masthead in their July issue and awarding Springer an Inhouse Design Award also awarded to other major orga­ni­za­tions such as the United Nations adver­tising department.

According to Knecht, Springer is known as the digital and visual guru among his fellow instructors in the art department. Each semester, Springer teaches a variety of digital design courses including Graphic Design, Color Theory and Design, and Web Design.

“I’ve never seen anyone be able to combine so many diverse and dif­ferent designs into his posters,” senior Mikel Eatough, one of Springers stu­dents, said. “Yet they are all so dif­ferent and so unique.”

A 1994 Hillsdale graduate, Springer came back to teach at Hillsdale part-time in the spring of 2008 after former art teacher Patrick Forshey had a heart attack. Forshey passed away that summer, and Springer came on full-time for the art department in the fall of 2008.

“Bryan is an incredibly valued col­league, and I’d put him in my top 10 stu­dents of all time at Hillsdale,” Knecht said. “What made Bryan such a great student is what makes him such a great col­league. He has laser focus, he never com­plains. He’s always been his own man, but he never ignores advice.”

Springer fol­lowed an uncon­ven­tional path to teaching, but one he said he was grateful for. After grad­u­ating from Hillsdale, he received his Masters of Fine Arts at Savannah College of Arts and Design where he fell in love with illus­trating.  

He then imme­di­ately jumped into his field by taking a job at Kinkos, where he helped gen­erate made-to-order designs for business clients.

“We humor­ously titled it the McDonald’s of desktop pub­lishing,” Springer said. “Most of what we did was resumes, simple business cards, nothing really cre­ative. It was a task in rig­or­ously pro­ducing text and type in an infor­mative and orga­nized way.”

Springer said the process of cre­ating a poster is pretty straight­forward, but relies heavily on input from the client. For example, when cre­ating the poster for Hillsdale’s per­for­mance of “Death of a Salesman” this week, he said he talked exten­sively with the directors to get key ele­ments of the set and the play’s char­acters.

To present the broken quality of a character’s per­son­ality, Springer decided to use Picasso’s famous method of cubism to show a frac­tured image of one of the main char­acters, which also mirrors some of the set design.

Springer typ­i­cally spends two to four hours cre­ating posters for what he calls an easy project, but with more cre­ative license, he might spend closer to four to five hours.

“Some­times those restric­tions can be very lim­iting to a designer,” Springer said. “I really like to have fun with it and run with con­cepts.”

Springer said he developed a passion for illus­tration at a young age, tearing through pages of Marvel comic books and immersing himself in Marvel’s stories of alter­native worlds and super­heroes.

From comic books to Kinkos to Hillsdale’s campus, illus­tration has been a love of Springer’s throughout his life. While many stu­dents simply view his posters as a way to quickly absorb campus news, Springer has always seen them as a common but extra­or­dinary medium for his artistic expression. Stu­dents might find them­selves staring at a poster longer than normal on their way to lunch, and that was Springer’s goal all along, he said.

“It should cause the viewer to ask some ques­tions about it, engage the viewer, and make them want to know more,” Springer said. “While really infor­mative, it should have a slight bit of ambi­guity to it to move the viewer to par­tic­ipate with it. The poster has become a really important medium to me, because I can express sin­gular ideas at a glance.”

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.