The Student News Site of Averett University

The Chanticleer

The Student News Site of Averett University

The Chanticleer

The Student News Site of Averett University

The Chanticleer

Spreading Positivity Through Art with Will Justus

Art student Will Justus

Will Justus may or may not be a familiar face here on campus. However, his chalk mural, located on the stairs next to Averett’s Student Center, is certainly recognizable.

“The chalk in particular, just started by me doing cute little sidewalk drawings for my girlfriend,” Justus said. “Then I went a little bit bigger and did a welcome home piece for her parents because they went on a trip to Egypt. It was a 15-day trip and I had drawn the Pyramids of Giza with a little desert landscape for them.”

Upon the positive reactions from his loved ones, Justus decided to expand his sidewalk chalk artwork for more eyes to see.

“I got a part-time job at the public library downtown and I asked if I could do a drawing for them,” Justus said. “It was an open book with a lotus flower growing out of it. They ended up posting it on their social media pages and it got a huge reception.”

Justus’s passion for spreading positivity with his artwork throughout the Danville area sprouted during these moments.

“It (the post) got a hundred likes and a bunch of comments saying that they wanted to see more. So, I just kept doing it,” Justus said. “I made one in the shape of a dragon for our (the Danville Public  Library’s)

fairytale bash. There were over one hundred little kids dressed up in prince and princess costumes. They seemed to really enjoy it, and

a bunch of them got pictures of it. So that was cool. Then it (the decision to share art all over town) just kind of snowballed.”

With Justus’s dedication to his craft, it is easy to assume that art has been a passion of his since early childhood. However, this is not the case.

“I had some experience in middle school and early high school. But it really took off my senior year when I was in a graphic design class,” Justus said. “I think it was more on the teacher, she was very inspirational and pushed us to do better. It wasn’t necessarily any skill I had or a particular love for art, it was more her influence on me that made me fall in love with art.”

Originally from Blacksburg, VA, Justus initially planned to major in engineering in college. However, with the inspiration from the graphic design class he took during his senior year of high school, he decided to pursue an art degree at Virginia Tech. Despite this passion, his pursuit did not come without some challenges.

“The first year didn’t go so well for me. I wasn’t an art student like the rest of the kids who have been doing art their entire lives. I didn’t make it through the portfolio review to get into the actual major,” Justus said. “Then I was just kind of struggling to figure out, what do I do now? Do I wait a whole year and try to get back into the program or start over?  So, I started just taking general education classes to get those out of the way.”

During this time, Justus left school for a while and decided that he no longer wanted to pursue an art career.

“I started working for a couple of years. While I was working, I was still doodling on the side. I never lost my love for art, but I mean there was no way in heck that I thought that it would ever become a career or something like that,” Justus said. “So, I was just working and figured out that I wanted to be a teacher. That’s what landed me here at Averett, was for the education program.”

Despite his interest in the field of education, Justus soon found himself back in the art sphere.

“After my first couple of semesters, I quickly found out that the rigorous curriculum for education also wasn’t for me,” Justus said. “I would have been in school for three more years. I had already taken a bunch of classes at Virginia Tech. I could graduate (with an art degree) in three semesters rather than three years.”

Justus, who is set to graduate in December of 2024, feels that Averett has helped him improve his craft.

“Our new Art Professor, Nate Hester, has really helped push me to go bigger and better,” Justus said. “So, it’s just kind of snowballed into what it is.”

Justus is unsure of what the future holds for him, but he is certain that he wants to leave a positive impact.

“I like how I’ve started off doing promotions for movements or spreading awareness,” Justus said. “I think that that is a huge part of me, I want to help give back to the world.”

When it comes to tapping into creativity and pursuing a dream, Justus suggests considering every day as a chance to aspire to a goal.

“I would say try anything. Never turn down an opportunity to try something and learn from it,” Justus said. “This giant social media age where a lot of your success is dependent upon how other people portray your art. What I can say is to just try new things, find something you are passionate about, and just keep grinding at it. Eventually, people will recognize the passion you have for it. If you haven’t found something you’re passionate about, it’s because you haven’t finished your search.”

To stay updated with Justus’s artwork follow him on Instagram: @justuschalkingitup







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About the Contributor
Cliresa Hall
Cliresa is a rising senior who is majoring in communication studies. She hopes to work in the journalism field one day. Some of her hobbies include watching movies and spending time with friends.