Bill Tavis is an American street artist. He combines colours, lines and curves to create incredible murals. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions for StreetArt360 readers, here’s his interview.
Hi Bill, great to meet you. Where are you originally from?
Thanks, glad to be doing this interview! I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I was surrounded by lots of inspiring culture, but I did not consider myself an artist until just before I moved away, shortly after high school.
When/Why did you start putting your art onto walls?
I wound up going to college for animation in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t an art school really, but more of a trade school and they were very oppressive, with the justification that they were showing us how it was in the “real world” of commercial art. Unfortunately, they took it really far and we were very overworked and overstressed, while at the same time we were forbidden from expressing ourselves. After a couple years of this me and my friend just kind of organically reacted to the situation and started a propaganda poster campaign, blanketing the small school with bizarre phrases and images. We went ham and really caused a stir. We weren’t thinking about it in terms of street art, but ultimately it wound up being a reflection of that – the school received the naturally emergent “real world” reaction to corporatism that they deserved! Shortly thereafter I met someone that explained the whole graffiti culture to me, and I became obsessed. My school was all about making money with art, and I loved the idea that people would take serious risks for art without any hope of financial reward. My obsession continued once I began working at a studio, and graffiti became my outlet valve where I didn’t have to care about any client feedback or my bosses directions or anything except my own expression (and not getting caught!). Now I am finally making my own art fulltime and all the skills I learned with the spraycan I can put to use on large commissioned murals, which I feel grateful to be able to do.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I’m inspired by my own experiences the most. That includes things like dreams and visions, which I get occasionally, as well as my personal relationships and the city I’m living in. I also love to go into nature and so a lot of my art is inspired by my experiences there. I’m inspired by mathematics, which is what I excelled at as a kid. I didn’t enjoy it though and I tried to get away from it by becoming an artist, but art leads you to yourself so there’s no escape haha. But I enjoy the mathematics a lot more now. A lot of my pieces feature fractal geometry which I am fascinated by. When it comes time to express all of this in an image, I am inspired by countless artists of the past and present, both experienced and amateur. I try to soak in everything like a sponge, then squeeze it out in my own unique mix.
Which of your artworks are you most proud of (And where can we find them)?
I’m proud of my latest mural off of Wood Hollow Dr in Austin, Texas that I painted last September. It is my largest mural to date, spanning nearly 4000 square feet. It depicts a wildflower that is often seen on the side of the roads here, but in a style that people haven’t seen before. I was out there fulltime for a month, and every single day someone from the neighbourhood would stop and tell me how much they appreciated it. I really like the idea that I am brightening up their day. By the time I was finishing up, I had generated enough attention that the newspaper showed up to do an article about it! This mural is the culmination of years of hard work, during which I developed the colour halftone style that I used for it, including not only learning how to paint it freehand, but also coding my own custom algorithms from scratch to help me plan it out.
Is there a dream place worldwide where you would like to create an artwork?
Well I would love to do an enormous mural on the side of a building that is several stories high. It doesn’t really matter to me which city it’s in as long as it is an area with lots of visibility. I often see pictures of other artists painting walls like that and I think my style would translate really well to such a big format.
Do you have any exhibitions or upcoming art festivals?
I will be live painting this May at ILLfest, which is a big electronic music festival here in Austin. They are awesome supporters of the arts and it will be my third-year painting with them, very excited about that! One of my goals for 2020 is to get some gallery representation to display my fine art, which I am currently showing out of my apartment.
Thanks a lot. Would you like to add anything else for StreetArt360 readers?
My style is based on halftones, which involves taking a repeating pattern and modulating the relative thickness to create the illusion of gradients. It’s often used in printing, but with very small dots. I scale the halftone up and use different patterns so that the halftone becomes just as much part of the image as the subject it is creating. I am seeing more and more artists use a similar style and it would be cool to see it become a movement! Halftonism! Thanks for reading this, and I hope that my artwork inspires you.
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