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Archive for May 19th, 2010

"A Pair of Knuckleheads" - By David Bill

For some the price of fame is getting too steep.  Aggressive paparazzi posting up everything which then becomes water-cooler chatter in The Sun or the Daily Star tabloids.  It’s a dilemma.  Celebs need the publicity to remain famous, but in publicizing themselves they trade-in some privacy.

Most of us don’t have photographers crawling through the bushes nor have we achieved celeb status where a media horde follows our every move once we set foot outside the house.  However, this blog post will likely trade-in some “Billy” The Artist privacy for additional media attention!

Who is “Billy” you ask?  His name is David Bill and he is a UK-based artist who is incredibly talented in capturing the unique attributes of Harley-Davidson fine art.  He contacted me earlier in the week about a fine art print taken from his original pencil drawing and suggested that I share it with the blog readers.  I truly admire folks who have these incredible artwork skills and gladly offered up an article.  The print in reference is of a 1946 and a 1947 Harley Knucklehead.  It’s titled ‘A Pair of Knuckleheads’.  More information is available at the link.

Detailed View - "A Pair of Knuckleheads"

So, who is this talented artist?  In a word he is a classic “Renaissance Man”.  A person with broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in the arts.  What follows is a transcript from my ‘interview’:

Q: All the so-called famous artists (Picasso, Warhol, Dali, Pollock etc.) are dead and seem to get all the mainstream media attention.  Tell me something about yourself that blog readers would find interesting…
A: As a teenager I wanted to work in comic books as an illustrator and went to art college.  While there I was told to ‘express myself’. What this really meant was to do anything other than ‘express myself in the art that I enjoyed producing’. Within a week I was called into the headmaster’s office being asked “Billy what don’t you like about Modern Art?” I used the local Museum’s Galleries current exhibition as part of my reply and explained “that it was finger painting for adults!” The head of the art department eventually laughed as it was the school’s drawing tutor whose work was on display! Talk about dropping a complete clanger…… but at least I was honest.

Q: Being an artist is a tough job as you just pointed out.  Is this about oppressed artists sticking to the man?
A: Well that clanger I mentioned was the start of a lot of problems. I paint representational work. That is how I ‘express myself’. “Do I hate all contemporary art?” No. But pickling a Shark and saying it is ‘Art’ is a sham along with a lot of other smoke and mirrors that is offered up as art today. These days kids are jammed through the art system and told to express themselves, but left abandoned to try and earn a living in a heartless industry filled with lies and hype. At the end of the day food costs and paying bills means riding into a big headwind while trying to ‘express yourself’ and it leads a lot of people down a path of depression.  But, my advice is that rather than complain you have to pick up your brushes and pencils and get on with it. I have never met an ‘inspired’ electrician who only works when the ‘feeling’ is right!

Q: For all those unknown Bob’s Tool and Die Shops out there what other snippets of insight do you have?
A: For awhile I ended up in a factory and worked for a year before returning to art college where I studied for my degree in multi disciplinary design at Staffordshire University.  It was at University that I ‘fell into’ industrial art. Looking for projects to do I ended up producing a Truck manufacturer’s 60th birthday painting which led on to many other bits and pieces. I really enjoy painting and drawing people at work and machines, hence the motorcycle art, be it heavy industry or musicians at a gig. Since then my family has grown with three children (Peter, Hannah and John who are the children in the Stepping Stones paintings) and I have had a roller coaster ride in the art world with two London Shows, work in private and corporate collections including Aston Martin, Britannia Building Society and the BBC among others. I have been down salt mines and thrown out of a plane for a painting (with a parachute). This all sounds ‘Great and Grand’ but is like most people a life of struggle and pain. Of great highs and incredible lows. It has not been an easy ride and I wouldn’t want to misguide you. I have packed and made boxes, done a stint as a bus driver and written off thousands of pounds after not being paid for work completed. The joys of the freelance life.

David Bill became an artist in order to make art.  He has the will and determination to continue making it until someone takes notice and perhaps, one day, we’ll read about his fame in the NY Times or in a blog.  Visit his web site.  I think you’ll find it compelling.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of David Bill (a.k.a. Billy The Artist).

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