Art from the heart

Will Bryan has long been trying to find a way to make the world a more beautiful place through art and charity, and his most recent project does just that with a little bit of Gamecock spirit. 

But his first project – where the big idea came from – happened seven years ago while he was painting a mural for a friend. Instead of being paid for the project, Bryan, an alum of USC’s studio art and journalism and mass communications programs, had his friend donate the money to a charity. 

“This way they would become aware of the need and maybe would continue to give,” he says. “And every time they saw the mural it would be a reminder to them that they gave to a charity and it helped improve somebody’s life.” 

That’s how the idea of Public Works of HeART came about. The private company, which won last year’s EngenuitySC Ignite! Ideas Contest, partners with nonprofits to raise awareness and money for their causes through public art. 

But painting murals takes time and money. 

Bryan realized while watching the installation of digitized graphics around Williams-Brice Stadium that murals could be created much easier than by hand. 

“I can now make anything on my laptop into a mural,” he says. 

This technology also opened another option for Bryan’s startup. The cost of the artwork is priced by the square foot, allowing Public Works of HeART to fund the project by allowing community members to buy individual squares. 

“Our thought was to see if the community could come together and fund a project,” he says. “People pay plenty to enjoy having artwork in their offices or living rooms, so why not pay $25 to have nice artwork in your community that everyone can enjoy." 

This year, the business, in partnership with the USC Athletics, is raising funds – square by square – to pay for a Gamecock golf mural on the Cayce water tower. The tower, in a highly visible location near Columbia, is next to the practice course for USC’s golf team

“It’s the only Gamecock athletic facility in Lexington County, so we wanted to celebrate that,” says Bryan. “We also wanted it to be as South Carolina-centric as possible so anybody can take pride in it, not just Gamecock fans.” 

For Bryan, though, the whole point of the project is to give back. 

“I’m a designer and artist. What can I do?” he says. “If I can have a business model to create public art and bring joy but also give back, that would be amazing.”  

The Gamecock mural, titled "Carolina Sunset," is divided into 10,000 individual squares, which are sold at $25 each. To fund the project fully before the water tower reopens on Jan. 1, Public Works of HeART has to sell enough squares by Nov. 1. 

Currently the project needs to sell about 5,000 more squares to meet the Nov. 1 deadline of having the project funded. Public Works of HeART is donating $5 from each square to Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Emergency Food Pantry(You can purchase squares online.) 

This project is just the beginning. Bryan is scoping out other locations around South Carolina and partnering with other nonprofits. 


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