The eXTra finGer

...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Interview with Billy Mavreas

q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, somebackground info, etc?

a)My name is Vasilios Billy Mavreas and I was born in 1968 in Montréal,Quebec to Greek parents. I have one older brother, John. I have lived allmy life in Montréal.

q)How did you get started making art?

a)I have been drawing since I could remember, about the age of three. The first drawing that I remember explaining (to my uncle Iraklis who was a huge influence on my brother and I) was of a monster. I remember saying it was a Hippopotamus that lived in quicksand. My uncles room was covered in the drawings my brother and I made. It was very thrilling to have an adult so supportive. I drew for my classmates in grade school but it was in college that I drew for the student newspaper and started doing postersfor local bands my friends played in. Around this time (age 17) I also started participating in zines. After that everything snowballed out ofcontrol and I found myself in the public eye.

q)How would you describe your art?

a)I draw. Sometimes it's loose, sometimes it's tight. Sometimes obsessively detailed, sometimes minimalist. I love collaborating with people. I have a different art practise depending on my mood and the tools and materials at hand. I draw, paint, sculpt, sing, write, dance, do installation,graffiti, mail-art, etc., etc., etc., My practise is not one thing, so I describe my art as a multiplicity of behaviours and ideas that are unifiedby me.

q)Where do you get the inspiration for your art?
a)I love to look at the textures of the natural world. Vegetables, stone,all of it fascinates me. Sex and organic life are main inspirations. I also love abstraction and delight in making lines on paper. If I ampleased with a shape that I've made, it encourages me to continue, so artinspires art as well.

q)What are you working on now?

a)I am playing with xeroxes (as usual!) and painted acetate overlays for asmall group show. I am also about to embark on a graphic novel of around 80 pages, it will be all done with pencil and eraser and will feature characters I draw for Ascent, a yoga magazine that I do a quarterly comicstrip for.

q)Are there some web sites that you would like to recomend?Artists, art communities,xxx,...!?

a)No thanks.

q)What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?

a)I very much enjoy pencil and eraser because of the subtle gradations I can achieve. I am also hopelessly in love with photocopies beacause of the accidental and immediate.

q)What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

a)I would say that a young artist should not get too involved in thinking what is or is not popular. They should experiment and challenge themselves without regard for the art market. They should also continue to creatework even if it seems that no one cares. Also, they should take advantage of the networks that exist such as zines and the internet.

q) What is your personal definition of life and art and everythingelse in between?

a)I'm sorry but I don't have an easy answer for this. I know everything is connected and that an infinite number of possible trajectories reach out from every point.

q) Take us inside your process a little bit. How do you begin a piece? What inspires the concept?

a)I usually just begin scribbling and reach into the tangle of lines to find a face or a figure, then I bring it out. It all depends of course on whether the piece is an improvisational collaboration or a very particular and intentional project. Depending on the project, the process changes abit. I have methods of play and methods of work and use them when necessary.

q) What are your artistic influences?

a)Do you mean what other artists have influenced me ? I already stated that nature in general and the human world as well are my inspirations. I enjoy all kinds of art. I love childrens art and alot of folk and popular traditions like fibre arts and ceramics. I love to look at obsessively detailed works, African and Native American masks, alchemical and masonic diagrams, incidental aesthetics like math games, schemata, charts,alphabets. I don't follow the careers of any specific artists though I am capable of appreciating a wide variety of work.

q) How are the reactions on your work in general?

a)It would seem that I have some fans who like my stuff. I can't really rely on my friends and family because they are too concerned with how I might feel.

q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?

a)I walk around my neighbourhood. I socialize. I read. I watch television. I waste time on the internet. Regular human things like that.

q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?

a)I think they face the challenge of an artistically saturated world that is increasingly concerned with style over content. I feel that alot of the artists today may fall into the trap of thinking that their is no difference between style and content.

q) What is freedom to you as an artist?

a)Freedom is to create or not create art depending on my needs without feelings of guilt. Freedom is also a sense of play and an energetic exchange with the art as it's being created. freedom is to be able to change my vision, and to be able to experiment with no consideration of the market.

q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out asyour favorites?

a)Occasionally, I'll design a character that really makes me happy or I'll draw a shape that is very evocative for me and i find that i keep coming back to those shapes. I feel that comics, when well done, leave me feeling very satisfied.

q) Last Books you read?

a)Lately I have been reading alot of faerie tales from the Grimm Brothers and the Fables of Aesop.

q) Last records you bought?

a)I am not a music consumer.

q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

a)No comment

q) Which do you think make good art good? originality, or style?And, why?

a)I appreciate when I feel the artists genuine voice is coming through.

q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you missyour work when it is sold?

a)I like my work and have kept most of it but I don't miss it when it's gone.

q)Your contacts..E-mail.links

a)Billy Mavreas
5478 St-Laurent
Montréal, Quebec
H2T 1S1 Canada


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice interview Billy, I hold similar views and appreciate you stating it in such an eloquent and clearheaded manner. Creating authentic work is good for everybody. Work that can deliver the artists thoughtful voice is a treasure to be cultivated by artists and viewers alike.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i also had a extra finger what do you think about having a extra finger?

4:53 PM  

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