Billy Jack Brawner is a home-builder and a photographer. His work, whether it comes from his hands or his camera lens, has a clean and simple aesthetic with a modern touch. We’re honored to share this interview and a selection of his beautiful images.
How did you and SK meet? How long have you been together? How did you know she was the one?
SK and I studied at a small school in Colorado and met there. It’s a long story and we have a tough time agreeing on all the details, but I’ll say that it involves an ex-boyfriend, an awkward drive together home to Texas, and an Andrew Peterson album. The short version is that we were friends for a couple years, dated for five months, got engaged and were married six months later. We’ve been married for almost three years now.
I don’t know that I ever really had that moment. She’s really awesome and I’ve had a crush on her for as long as I’ve known her and just sorta had to wait it out (#theexboyfriend) until she finally noticed me. I guess Sara’s moment was when she had a dream that she was forced to choose between me and Justin Timberlake… and she chose me. Surely that’s saying something.
Really good question. There are quite a few things that I’d like to do and I’ve struggled quite a bit in choosing which direction to go. It’s a downfall of mine, I think, and I’m really wanting to take some concrete steps one way or another in the near future. (I realize that I might sound like an ungrateful entitled American here, so I’d also like to say that I’m thankful for a job (or jobs) that provides for my family even if it doesn’t quite feel like the “dream” job.)
My weekdays are spent building houses with my dad, which I’m very thankful for. Dad has built custom homes for folks for 30+ years and my grandpa did it before him, so I guess it’s in my blood. I never really expected myself to jump into the family business, but dad got busy about a year ago and needed help and I needed a job, so the timing was really good. I have a whole lot of respect for my dad, so it’s really quite an honor to work alongside him. My role is pretty fluid but my current focus is project management and design.
I also do some photo work, which has been good to me. It’s allowed us to travel to some great places and meet some really great people. As a young boy, I planned on either playing in the NBA or owning a restaurant. I’m 0/2 so far but my fingers are crossed that the latter might come into play at some point — even if it’s just in the interior and experience design side of restauranteur-ship. That’s one of the many dream jobs.
We are both Texans, which we like to laugh about. I think we both sorta thought that when we went off to school in Colorado we’d maybe end up with someone from someplace a little bit cooler. It’s our least favorite quality in one another. But we do love Texas because our family is here and that’s important to us.
Thanks! We live near a town that is known for its once-a-month flea market. It’s pretty huge and is filled mostly with junk, but we’ve learned the ropes and visit the same vendors each month. We’re pretty selective with the things that make their way into our home, but it’s still made up almost solely of things we found at the flea market — which I think says a lot. It’s a blast and a highlight of each month. I don’t know that I have a favorite find, but we did talk a lady down from $350 to $75 on our living room rug over the course of four months. That felt good.
There were quite a few factors that played into the decision to move out to the country. We were living in Austin and working odd jobs (SK was a nanny and I was a caretaker for a man with cerebral palsy, as well as a barista, and a photographer) when she got pregnant with Willa. We knew that, if possible, we’d like for her to be able to stay home once the baby was born. We were living in a loft downtown which was way out of budget, but the property manager had hired us as community organizers/event planners for the building so we had a discounted rent… but knew that it wouldn’t be ideal for a newborn, so we started looking elsewhere. It was at that point that a house on the property that backed up to my parents’ land burned down. The owner was selling the lot (and the rubble) for very cheap. It’s tucked back in some woods that sit behind my parents’ house and lake. My dad also needed some help with his company, so it all just sorta fell into place. I’m definitely a city person and would’ve never thought I’d end up in the country, but it works for now and we’re making the most of it. It’s been a blast to design and build our house, and it’s also been so good being near my parents. They’re awesome.
Ha! We love Lloyd, too. We had a conversation before getting married and decided that we would not be dog people… and then Lloyd came along. And as much as we hate it, we are now full-fledged dog people. We adopted him from an organization that rescues English Pointers. He was about a year old when we got him (about a year and a half ago). He’s a really great dog. Loves to be outside and is constantly hunting, but completely chills out inside. The last year has been tough and he’s been a really good companion and distraction through it all.
Thank you sincerely, Billy, for taking the time to answer our questions and tell us about your lovely wife, your home, and that sweet dog.