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DrJays.com Exclusive: Billy the Artist x Swatch in NYC

Submitted by on July 16, 2009 – 2:11 pmNo Comment


Billy the Artist just unveiled his Swatch watch collection in Times Square, NYC yesterday.

The two watches above, “Morning Glow” and “After Dark” are part of Swatch’s “CreArt” collection, that first started in 1986.


Swatch Times Square


Billy the Artist at work


As stated on Billy’s official website, he “captures the energy and power of the city around him, creating what he calls ‘Urban Primitive,’ a kaleidoscope of puzzle-like images that celebrate the diversity and joy of the human spirit”.

His art has been featured on everything from Suzuki cars to murals for Broadway plays, being recognized by The New York Times, MTV, CNN and more.

Kiki got a chance to interview Billy before the big event took place, where the Ohio native discusses his inspirations, his motto, “create your own reality” and more.

DrJays.com: On your website, it states that your art “celebrates the diversity and joy of the human spirit”. Would it be safe to say that your art is primarily focused on the the positive side of the human spirit? Have you painted darker images, or do you plan on doing so in the future?

Billy: Yes. life is too short to focus on the negative. I would hope my art and my life go in the same vein – definitely on the positive side. I don’t think darker images are my spirit. I mean your work evolves but i think mine will always have a more uplifting side to it.

Hyundai Tiburon

DrJays.com: Your work has been exhibited in prestigious art galleries, and you’ve also worked with commercial clients like MTV, Hyundai and now Swatch. Is there a particular brand or company that that you are eager to collaborate with in the near future?

: Yes, I think the vibe of my work would work well with skate, surf and snowboard brands. I would love to collaborate with someone like Vans or Converse in the future.

DrJays.com: Is your work inspired by any of these brands, or fashion in general?

Billy: My work is inspired by the people and energy in NYC, and definitely what people are wearing, their looks, etc. Part of fashion and part of what you wear is an extension of your personality. The energy and that driving force of NYC itself is a huge inspiration for my art.

DrJays.com: Did you study art?

Billy: No I did not.

DrJays.com: How did you get started as an artist?

I always painted and drew since I was a kid, in sketch books and cartoon books. Instead of writing in journals, I had sketch books. As a child I made my living being an actor. I started at eight years old, and eventually moved to NYC.

I had a successful career as an actor after I moved here, and then in 1990 I moved to the East Village and started selling art on the street. A friend of mine wanted to produce a show – Rent. A year later he hired me to paint murals on set. Since then, my career as an artist has really taken off. I’ve been doing this for 16 years now.


New Now Next Awards, MTV Studios

DrJays.com: Where did you get your inspiration for the Swatch designs?

I wanted to make the watches as a pair, and to use iconic images of my work like the big eyes and faces. “Morning Glow” is the colorful day watch, whereas “After Dark” represents when the sun goes out, and people go out for drinks, to nightclubs, etc. It’s more slick and hip looking.

DrJays.com: Your motto is “create your own reality”. Do you have any tips for success to give our young artists or entrepreneurs out there?

Billy: You’re the one who has to make it happen, you can’t wait for other people to make your realities happen. You have to be the driving force behind it. I always told myself that there’s no “Plan B”. I forced myself to make my plan work out. I always wanted to make a living doing what I’m most passionate about.

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