Artist Spotlight: Billelis
Weekly spotlight on a new artist in the NFT ecosystem
This is the eighth instalment of a new weekly series in which I will spotlight a brand new artist along with their works while getting to know them better and understanding their creative processes behind the pieces in more detail.
My name is Boffin and alongside flipping JPEGs for profit with the members of “The One” since day 1, I’ve also been collecting and connecting with these artists. The passion for their craft and the stories they have to share have been nothing but a treat to experience, and it’s with that intention, that this series is being started to share those stories with the wider NFT audience.
This week the spotlight is on the Scottish Artist; Billelis. He is a digital artist and I had the pleasure of chatting with him about religious iconography, balance & experimenting with multiple materials and working with Web2 giants, while also showcasing a small preview into his creative process. You can (and really should) browse his entire portfolio here
Boffin (Boff): Can you please introduce yourself and what style of art you like to produce/specialise in?
Billelis (Bill): Hello there, I am Billelis and I’m a digital artist specialising in dark, decorative & romantic art. I’m fascinated by death and balance in life alongside baroque and classical sculpture and portraiture.
Boff: When was the first time you heard of NFTs and why did you decide to take a leap into this world?
Bill: It was a couple of years back, I was chatting to some artist friends of mine and they shared the concept of NFT. Although at first, I’ll admit I didn’t get it. I was brainwashed by physical art galleries to think art had to be physical to have value, it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of digital art adoption and especially animation.
Boff: While there isn't an overarching theme to all your works, there are a few topics that are prominent throughout all your works. In my eyes, they would be intricate mandalas, the fragility of life & time and a lot of contrast with "Gold" (Both as colour and texture). What was it about this mixture that made you really hone into this style and truly make it your own?
Bill: So many of these elements stem from my love for religious iconography in art, cathedral decoration and humanity’s obsession with precious metals. A very dark subject can be decorated, elevated and celebrated purely by the way it is presented and adorned almost eliminating the sense of fear and despair that exists around death.
B: I'm going to take this one step further and say that it's the texturing of the multiple elements in your pieces that really make them stand out, whether it's different kinds of metals, bone, stones or even cloth. As such, what is the "mental model" while you're designing a piece on what type of materials you could use in a particular condition vs what you actually end up using in that final edition?
Bill: Honestly, It all depends on what I feel the artwork needs to say. Darkness, time, celebration, divinity, life, and growth are all elements I work with and the balance of the sculpture and final artwork is a constant give and take of textures, lighting and feel either to soften the impact of death or elevate senses of wonder.
Boff: There is a heavy emphasis on Balance in your created pieces, whether between romanticism/dark subjects, textures and even IPs. As such, what does "Balance" mean to you on a day-to-day basis?
Bill: I am learning the true balance of life to work. For many years my life was consumed by my work without much room to live. I have been very fortunate and grateful that my career has allowed me to live the life I currently lead. Burnout is real but it’s key to balancing everything and that’s why I am taking active steps to travel and experience the world and wild nature.
Boff: Speaking of IPs, It's fair to say that your work portfolio is nothing short of stacked. This includes clients like Netflix, Nike, Valorant, LionsGate (With John Wick 3), Magic the Gathering and so so many more. Which of these collaborations has been your most memorable to work on and what was the process of mixing in your own take on these already established IPs.
Bill: I would have to say that John Wick 3 & Diablo were key moments in my career. What I treasure the most besides the final artwork is the client’s ability to release control and let me add my spin to these incoming IP’s . These projects are so much more than just commissions, they are length collaborations that I treat as I would treat my own art
Boff: You've been fortunate enough to work with some of the biggest IPs out there and that too in your own way (as you've said already). Having been involved in both Web2 and Web3 quite intimately, what would you say have been the key differences between the two "mediums"?
Bill: I feel what has changed a lot is the power that creators have. In the past, it always felt like a one-sided relationship in favour of the clients but with Web3 creators have come to the forefront. It has shown us the power that lies in true collaboration and respect. Further to that, it has freed so many artists to market their artwork as they dream without constraints from client’s expectations. We are free to create what we believe in and that’s nothing short of fantastic.
Boff: There is a fairly common question of "What you would tell your younger self that you know" but let's add a twist to it. What would you tell your web2.0 self to completely avoid doing and what would you tell your Web3.0 self about the NFT landscape if you could go back.
Bill: I hate to disappoint but I don’t think I would avoid anything as that is what made me who I am today. Even the bad experiences realigned my journey. Regarding the NFT landscape, I would say to value input and feedback but don’t get lost in others’ expectations. I am very fortunate and grateful for my collectors as so many of them offer valuable advice, that being said there are many people in the space purely here to make money so don’t get lost in expectations.
Boff: Speaking of collectors, you reward your collectors regularly by offering them either collection-specific rewards or early access to your new collections. From a community-building tech perspective and you as a creator, where do you see NFTs in the future as a medium to facilitate interactions like yours between Creators and Collectors?
Bill: Rewards shouldn’t be expected, imo. But they should exist to truly reward respectful collectors. We grow through the support of our collectors and it is a mutual relationship. The future of NFT is very intriguing and I’m excited for artists to add their own elements to the medium away from what PFP and collectables promise. Overall I hope these distinctions become clearer and the medium evolves with all key uses while being unique to each one.
Boff: In your collection "In Memoriam", apart from offering a reward NFT for people that collected all 8 of the collection pieces, you also offered a physical collectors book for those that held on to them past the snapshot date. What has the experience been like to create your pieces digitally and then transform them into something tangible?
Bill: I really like diversity in mediums. I’m not a purist by all means and as an artist, It’s crucial for me to experiment. Creating this limited book was an amazing experience, especially from the physical craft aspect of the art. The Balance drop featured additional physical print rewards and I’m working on more tangible manifestations of my art. That being said I also appreciate raw digital creations, so who knows, a short film? Unreal experiences? VR? All is there to play with. I don’t have roadmaps or a clear structured schedule but I have that artistic hunger to explore and experience further.
Thank you to everyone for tuning in to read this. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have to craft this. Tune in next week when there will be a new artist spotlighted and new conversations to be shared.