Hey Billy! Please introduce yourself.
I was born and raised in Birmingham surrounded by the sound of factory drop forges. Inspired by the onset of punk, in the late 1970s I escaped factory life and fled to London to work for Siouxsie and The Banshees. On parting company with the group in the mid-90s, I became editor-in-chief on one of Paul Raymond’s adult publications – the American hardcore version of Club International.
Fast-forward almost two decades to May 2012: now a Hove resident, I showed my art publically for the first time on the Underground Open House Art Movement created by Hizze Fletcher (now gallerist at Brighton’s Brush gallery). When my entire collection of mixed-media canvases and upcycled, bespoke ceramics completely sold out I decided that art was my true calling.
Subsequently, I have exhibited in numerous group shows in such far-flung locations as Brighton and Los Angeles, and have had several solo shows at London galleries. My other achievements include creating an exclusive fabric design for cutting edge design company Charles of London; a range of merchandise for legendary experimental filmmaker/artist Jeff Keen’s retrospective at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery; art for indie superstars The Fall’s 13 Killers album; and contributions to the book Cut Up! An Anthology Inspired By The Cut Up Method Of William S. Burroughs And Brion Gysin.
More recently I embarked on a series of experimental cut up films with Brighton filmmaker Chris Collier – the first two (Goats and Flies) premiered at The Festival of Dark Arts: The Second Coming last August in London.
I am also working with revered musician Anni Hogan (who wrote and played with Marc Almond’s band Marc and The Mambas for many years) on my biggest project to date. Inspired by the works of William S. Burroughs, it’s called C.H.I.P. (Chainsaw Hogan Installation Project) and will be an immersive, audio visual assault on the senses.
What does “being creative,” mean to you? Do you have any particular rituals or routines?
Being creative is quite frankly EVERYTHING to me. My life is a series of rituals, but my creative mantra is William S Burroughs’ “open your mind and let the pictures out” adage.
When did you discover you had to create and make art and what has influenced you the most over the years?
I have been interested in and creating art for as long as I can remember. My first great love was American comic books (which I discovered at the tender age of 10), but since my early teens I have been fascinated by the unknown (in its myriad forms), along with magick, masks, the movies, and the number 23. They’re ever-present elements in my mixed-media pop art, which also reference such diverse sources as cartoon surrealism and tattoos.
However, my metaphysical muse and driving force is William S. Burroughs… I perpetually employ the beat author/artist’s cut up aesthetic whenever I’m creating art.
We love your collaboration with Kitty Finegan, do you collaborate often, and what it is you enjoy about collaborating?
Although we’ve been great friends for several years now, this is the first time I have collaborated with Kitty Finegan. Originally, my ‘Walk Right Out Of The Film’ show at London’s Underdog Galllery was going to be a solo show. But then I decided to expand on the idea and ask a couple of my artist friends to collaborate with me. I asked Kitty because of our shared love of cinema and pop culture. Another reason I asked her was because I figured that, because as our styles are so radically different, people wouldn’t expect us to collaborate. I always knew in my heart that our styles would gel.
I also collaborated with legendary UK comic book artist Shaky Kane for the ‘Walk Right Out Of The Film’ show as The Microdot Twins, funnily enough, for the same reasons. Shaky’s a master of clean line and flat colour, whereas I like to get more expressionistic and chaotic as I mix up the mediums.
Is there something you are trying to communicate with the viewer of your artwork?
When people see my art I want them to be emotionally moved in some way. It doesn’t matter to me if they react in a positive or negative way, as long as they react. Mundanity is the kiss of death for an artist.
You had an extended art exhibition at London’s Underdog gallery called “Walk Right Out Of Film” can you tell us a bit about the curation of the show, how did you choose the artists that are part of it?
I’ve already explained my I chose to include Kitty Finegan and Shaky Kane in the show, but I asked the multi-talented Jason Atomic because, aside from a mutual admiration of each other’s work, I knew he would rise to the thematic challenge. I also did it out of love and respect for the fact that he has included me in so many of his group shows and publications – I’ve created art and comic strips for his ‘Satanic Mojo Comix, the latest of which (issue 4) has just been published.
The last artist to be recruited was Brighton-based resin figure artist, Ewan ZPG. When Ewan moved into the studio space I work out of in Hove, I instinctively knew he’d be capable of complying with my creative request – even though the figure I asked him to create was a million miles away from the mutant creatures he was working on. I came up with the concept (William S. Burroughs brandishing a gun, with a giant cockroach on his back), Shaky Kane did the production drawings, and Ewan did the sculpt and cast the figure.
Your skateboard for Skate at Brush is awesome! Can you tell us how you got involved with that exhibition and the inspiration for your skateboard?
I have been in all of Brush gallery’s group shows – and Hizze is holding a solo show of my art there in March 2017. Quite often the Brush group shows provide an opportunity for me to think outside the box – I love a challenge. The inspiration for my deck in the Skate show came in part from my belief that sometimes you have to destroy to create, and in part from the fact that so many ’boarders and their decks get busted-up. So I used a smashed beyond repair deck, painted a psychedelic skull on it and bolted it together with metal plates – the plates forming the skull’s teeth. I look on my creation as the Lazarus of skate decks… because it rose from the dead.
What advice would you give the younger creative generation? As a self-taught artist, how do you feel about studying art related subjects?
My advice for any artist is, in the words of the mighty Pink Fairies, “don’t think about it just do it”. Whether you are self-taught or studied technique and theory etc doesn’t really matter – what matters is your creations and your 101% belief in them.
Can we take a peek at your workspace?