Billy The Artist: the King of Contemporary American Pop Art

(Graphic Art Gino Aloisio)
(Graphic Art Gino Aloisio)

The column online “PIAZZA NAVONA” has the honour of meeting Billy The Artist. He is an internationally renowed self taught Artist who works in New York. It is a pleasure to have with us – in this virtual square – this Artist whose colours are so full of life.

Enjoy the reading!

Today we have the chance of meeting one of the most important contemporary Artists all over the world. He is based in the East Village of New York. He worked and he works for such clients as Swatch, Vans shoes, Nescafe, Suzuki, Lamborghini, New Balance shoes… And he is famous for his live painting all around the world (from the Bund of Shangai to Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy). His strenght are his simple and essential Art. Besides he is an amazing and astonishing self taught Artist.

Billy The Artist
Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)

Billy The Artist is appreciated on reviews such as Vogue, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. He is the point of reference of the Contemporary Art. His style is defined “on the road” characterized by brightly and lively colours. In fact, his colours and his mark remind us the world of Chilhood and Fantasy.We can say that Billy The Artist creates Magic!

So I am very happy to be here and to realize this lovely and pleasant interview. I am so excited to have the chance to share my virtual square with this great and amazing Artist!

Billy The Artist, New York City
Billy The Artist, New York City (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)

But now… let’s start this interview!

  • When did you realize to be a painter?

Since I was a child I always wanted to have a creative life. I drew and painted and actually made my living at first as an actor, but my passion was also art. When I moved to New York City in the late 80’s and especially when I moved to the East Village in 1990 I was inspired by the vibe and feel of the neighborhood. That was when I started to paint seriously and I haven’t stopped since.

Billy The Artist's motto (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
Billy The Artist’s motto (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • What does inspire your Art?

I’m inspired by people and the energy of the city. I always talk about looking at life with eyes wide open… taking in everything around you.

  • What about your artistic training?

I’m a self taught artist.

Original Painting by Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
Original Painting by Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • Could you tell me about your first work and your emotions?

My breakthrough project was painting 60 feet of black and white ceiling murals inside the theater for the Broadway musical RENT. It was the biggest hit at it’s time and was about east village artists similar to me. It was the most challenging project at the time and was one of the most inspiring..from that day on I’ve been making my living as an artist.

Original Painting by Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
Original Painting by Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • Which Artist did you influence your style?

Some people say if Picasso, Keith Haring, and Peter Max got together and had some drinks and got a little loopy…you would have Billy The Artist.

  • Your Art is full of colours, the meaning of life. What do you want to say through them?

I want to celebrate life and live life to it’s fullest and I want my work to show that…and make people happy.

Un'opera di Billy The Artist (Per gentile concessione di Billy The Artist)
Original Painting by Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • In your career you worked with important brands such as Swatch, Lamborghini, Hyundai, Toyota, Van shoes and you are the designer of the new Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine. How do you feel to paint on such different surfaces? What are the difficulties and the advantages? Which one of them do you prefer?

I don’t have one particular element of my art that I like best. I love it all. It’s fun to be able to put your art on various products, 3 dimensional objects, murals etc. It makes life interesting and challenging to find ways to fit your work on the different surfaces, products and projects.

Billy The Artist e il marchio Vans (Per gentile concessione di Billy The Artist)
Van Shoes and Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • Talking about brand: could you tell me about the event Swatch life in which you’ve painted in front of thousand people?

Yeah, that was definitely one of the highlights of my whole life. It was the world launch of my two new Swatch watches in Venice, Italy.

To be able to paint a huge canvas in front of 30,000 people in Piazza San Marco with the music of the Young Gods with massive projections of my art on the Piazza walls was beyond a thrill. It also really helped put me on the map internationally as an artist. I will always be grateful to Swatch and everyone involved in the project.

Billy The Artist allo Swatch Creart di Venezia (Per gentile concessione di Billy The Artist)
Billy The Artist at The Swatch Creart in Venice (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • You are the first one American artist autorized to paint live on Bund in Shangai. Could you tell me more about this project?

I was one of the special guests for the opening of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, an artist residency created by Swatch. They were doing a live painting festival on the Bund, I believe one of the first of it’s kind and I was invited to paint along with the Chinese artists. There was one more american artist who was doing a residency at the hotel that got to paint too. Another great moment and thrill.

Gli orologi della Swatch firmati da Billy The Artist (Per gentile concessione di Billy The Artist)
Billy The Artist and Swatch (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • Do you think your Art and your colours could be the expression of a sort a fantastic childhood? So do you think children could have good time and teaching thanks to your work?

I do numerous workshops with kids and just love it. Their energy and enthusiasm is inspiring and so much fun. There are many teachers that have introduced my work to young children. Obviously they relate to the colors but I think they look at my work and it makes them happy. In fact I always say I’ve been blessed that anyone from a little kid to a grownup seem to enjoy and celebrate my work.

Un'opera di Billy The Artist (Per gentile concessione di Billy The Artist)
Original Painting by Billy The Artist (Courtesy of Billy The Artist)
  • What are your next projects? May we wait you in Italy for one of your exhibition or live work?

I’m working on a bunch of new projects in New York, Europe and now in Asia. I did the poster for the Spoleto Art Festival and I work with a gallery in Milan. I love the italians! It’s also my favorite food..cheers from the East Village.

Il Manifesto dello Spoleto Art Festival 2018 creato da Billy The Artist
The Poster o the Spoleto Art Festival 2018 created by Billy The Artist

Dear Billy The Artist… we love you too!

It was nice meeting you… It was a pleasure to talk with you about your life and your Art. I know you have so many things to tell us. Your colours speak for you. And they tell us about the Joy of Living and Smiling, Fantasy, Happiness… They are so positive just like you.

We will wait for in Italy… And the column online “PIAZZA NAVONA” is very happy to have seen your colours… they are so contagious!

We are waiting for you… I hope you will get back to telling us new stories, new plans, new projects…

So much Art!



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