Student Spotlight: Phillip Mayberry, Graphic Desig...

Student Spotlight: Phillip Mayberry, Graphic Design

With splashes of blue and pink, Phillip Mayberry creates photorealistic art that can be seen in local art crawls and national movie trailers.

The Graphic Design major is in his junior year and is practically floating on air right now after hearing about his work being featured in a promotional trailer for Jordan Peele’s movie, “Us.” The Oscar-winning producer partnered with Chocolate City Comics to establish an ongoing fanart project for the movie. Phillip, after a three-day fast over New Year’s weekend, created a photorealistic rendition of the two roles that Lupita Nyong’o, an Oscar-winning actress, plays.

You can check out Phillip’s art on his Instagram account. Also, if you want to support your local MTSU artists and rep his art on your walls, you can buy some of his art — including the “Us” fanart — on his Big Cartel website!

We sat down with Phillip to get to know him and talk about his creative process.

Thank you for sitting down with us today. I wanted to start off by saying that your art is absolutely beautiful and has a great amount of detail put into it. Is it weird to have people confuse your photorealistic art for photography?

I guess I take it in a good way but I would like people to realize that it is artwork. Working with Photoshop … people tend to use it for regular photos and manipulate them. I actually work from the ground up from the sketch into the skin tone and all of that. I appreciate it; it’s a compliment.

What made you pick MTSU? There are art schools like SCAD just four to six hours away in Georgia. What about MTSU stood out to you?

It was close to home, and I also had family that went to MTSU. It’s always been a good university, so I figured I would go here. It’s been a pretty good art program so far.

What made you choose digital over traditional as your primary art medium?

I’m more comfortable with [digital media]. I can do traditional — I enjoy it — but I prefer the digital aspect.

Tools to your trade?

I use Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq tablet.

How did you hear about the opportunity for Jordan Peele’s fanart request? What was the creative process that went into your art submission for “Us?”

I have a friend who works closely with Universal, and he let me know about it. He let me know back in December. Then over the New Year’s weekend, I was fasting with my girlfriend so I was brainstorming the entire time thinking about what I was going to do for it. Once we broke our fast, it just kind of hit. That’s when I just sat there and did the whole picture in four hours.  

How did you come up with the concept for your fanart?

I kind of liked the duality of the movie. At that time I didn’t know how the movie was going to be, because [the trailer] didn’t tell as deeply as the movie went, but I saw those two dualities and I thought I would take one from one side and one from the other. It’s crazy. They had to edit [the trailer] to be like my picture.

How did you feel when you found out your art was selected to be featured?

It was amazing. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would have my art featured in a movie trailer that would be seen by millions of people around the world.

Did your professors know?

I let them know. They stopped class and I showed them the trailer.

What’d you think of Peele’s movie?

It was really good. It was weird, but a good kind of weird. [My girlfriend’s] not one to watch horror movies, but she went out of support for me. She enjoyed it, too.


Author Trianne Newbrey is a senior at MTSU, majoring in integrated studies in the University College with minors in music industry and public relations.