Silent Bill is one of those artists whose work makes you smile and think at the same time. His cheeky thoughts can be found worldwide via his highly successful organisation the Secret Society of Super Villain Artists (SSOSVA).
We recently had the pleasure of finding out more about this talented and creative artist…
So let’s start at the beginning how did the artist persona of Silent Bill come about and what got you started in street art?
I’ve always enjoyed art as a kid, you know drawing comics and cartoon characters but I never let the fact that I’m not very good at it deter me later on as an adult. I had finished Uni and was struggling to find a job so I started making art to detract from the boredom and keep the black dog at bay.
I recalled a documentary as kid about an American Artist, JSG Boggs. He used to draw money then spend it, as an art transaction so I set about making my own fictional money. People within the ‘money art’ genre liked it and I was put in contact with Boggs at somepoint, but the guy was a con man and tricked me into sending my work to him, lesson learnt there.
The street art came about when I had too many ideas to get out my head that couldn’t be conveyed via money art and street art was the perfect medium to get a message across. I met artists from Bristol and London who I became friends with and we all started having Madventures.
You are the founder of SSOSVA (The Secret Society of Super Villain Artists). Where did the idea come from and are you surprised by how big it has become?
It spawned from me making a membership form, the form was an application that artists would fill to join ‘The Secret Society of Super Villain Artists’. I originally only sent it to other artists that I knew with no other intentions of them going “Bill’s fucking nuts” and them filling it out.
I never imagined it would become what it has though and its really nice to know that it has become somewhat of a community, its become something else.
We love the work you produce as Silent Bill. As well as being slightly cheeky and mischievous there’s always an underlying point you’re making. Is this important to you, to say something with your art?
I always say it should fall into one of either two categories, either be aesthetically pleasing or have a message. I don’t have the skill set to fall into the ‘looking nice’ category so I opt for the ‘cheeky and mischievous message telling’ category.
I mostly (well 99% of the time) work in text form as that for me is the quickest and easiest (aka laziest) way for me to be able to convey a message I wanna get across. I often say that as the little people we don’t have a voice, but street art gives us that.
Each week you write a Monday ‘people’s artist’ post on Facebook which always gives great advice. It seems like you genuinely care about people and what’s happening in society? Is your art a reflection of this?The world is a fucked up place at the moment with a lot of uncertainty. A lot of people are struggling mentally, financially and physically and I think that a Monday morning pick me up is something people may appreciate.
If I can put a little smile on someone’s face or make them have a little think then I think that’s a good start to the week. If each person was to adopt something similar in their life you just don’t know how many people it may reach out to and resonate with. So do something if you are reading this, anything, you never know it may make a difference to just one person.
Do you regard your art as a passion? Would you ever want to make art your full-time role, or are you happy to keep it as a sideline?
Everyone would love to be earning a living off things they love doing but no one is going to pay me to vandalise walls. I mean who wouldn’t want to be Banksy rich and do what they love doing, but to achieve that is rare.
Most street artists will never attain that, even the most talented artists in the world struggle to. Most street artists I know are happy doing it for the shits n giggles as they say, the shenanigans.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
I’ve been proud of a lot of things but the stick out thing in mind is putting the SSOSVA logo into near space, that was very special and was on the back burner for a while.
It was also very tense and stressful, could the camera be retrieved?, would the footage be intact?. It was really tense for a few hours when the GPS signal was lost and I was just so deflated, then wham back on it came as we drove to an area with better phone signal. That’s one of the greatest achievements, the other stuff we can’t talk about 🙂
What do you think is your best creation?
My two children, Baby Bill and Baby Belle, they are my greatest creations.
Are there particular artists who you admire? Who do you think are killing it right now?
There are lots of artists that I admire and I am an extremely lucky man to actually be friends with most of them, having shared some mental times and adventures with them, far too many to name.
As for who is killing it right now? My favourite artists are the ones that can make you think “Why didn’t I think of that first” and the artist that nails it time and time again is an artist from Amercia called Cassius King (cassius.k1ng on Instagram). Always makes me giggle and be in awe of whatever crazy little thing they do next.
What do you think of the current UK street art scene?
People have said street art has been dead for years which I don’t necessarily believe to be true.
When I refer to the UK Street Art scene I am mostly referring to the artists that aren’t in the upper echelons of the street art scene, the artists that may not have breached into the main stream but have a good social media following and are known amongst their peers and the sub culture of street art.
These are the artists getting out and up week in week out simply because they love it, that side of it is alive still.
It all comes and goes in cycles, a lot of people I know wait for summer and basically go on rampages but covid has put a stop to that.
It’s strange times for street art as you’ve got this wealth of socio/political material to draw upon creatively but also an obvious need for safety first plus a decrease in people on the streets who would usually get to see the art.
What advice would you give to someone starting their art career?
I’d say do it for the right reasons, do it because it brings you pleasure or calms your mind. I think some people wrongly assume its a road to riches. I’ve had some of the best times of my life with my artist friends and experiences that will be with me till the day I day. Oh and avoid the kranks.
And finally, anything in the pipeline for Silent Bill?
There’s a Pale Ale due very soon, The Villains Finger!
A 4.3 % Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale made in collaboration with a brewery in Chorley. That’s something to tick off the list.