Born and raised in Patras where from a very young age art in public space drew his attention. He gets into style writing while his need for abstraction leads him to new forms and shapes that can be seen as playful, friendly and particularly distinct. This month we’ll be talking to Bilos, now permanently based in Norwich, England.
Where are you from? Which is the first piece of street art that caught your attention and when did your relationship with street art begin?
I was born and bread in Patras. When I was 11-12 years old I started to show much interest in every kind of street art of my city. The first pieces of art were definitely, those of CASH, EPIK, TEK, TOURNESOL, MONDOK, TAS. After a while, some friends explained to me what graffiti is all about and so i started to take pictures (the analog way back then) of every single piece I saw. It was like a graffiti «safari», where me and my friend Ernesto were trying to discover in every corner of the town.
Lately, we see a lot of street artists from Patras in the spotlight. Is this just random or is there an artist/ workshop promoting those people?
The truth is that I don’t have the full picture regarding what’s happening currently in Patras. The size of the city and it’s graffiti history are certainty essential for this phenomenon, as well as the fact that many university students move to Patras for their studies. Also, the city provides many beautiful spots. Regarding workshops, as far as I know, Inkognito Lab does a great job promoting artists and organizing artistic projects.
How did you decide to leave Greece and move abroad? Which were your first impressions by the local street art scene and did you notice any differences on how this kind of art is perceived there?
I moved to England, Noriwich with my wife in 2014, in order to obtain Masters Degree. Since then, we live and work here permanently. Norwich is a small town with almost no street bombing. There are just 3 legal spots and tags/ throw ups by local people. Now, if we’re talking about street art in general, then yes, tolerance is far more greater.
In London city centre, for example, street art pieces are just a few and very hard to find, but at the same time, there are a lot of HoF that get painted almost daily. Every city provides a space/ gallery where both accomplished and rising artists get to exhibit their art.
Basically, your work is about a different approach to the classical style writing. You remove forms and elements in order to reach a friendlier, round, let’s say, result which is really unique. How did you get there? Was it a conscious decision?
Thank you for your comment, it’s really a conscious decision and it’s the result of a long period of experimentation and research. Charmed by the wild style, as almost everyone else, I started to draw complex pieces full of colors. Over time, I started to remove some elements, like second outline, shadows and other stuff, even that very outline of the pieces. By observing the “toy” pieces, I figured out what I was searching for, and that was something more loose, less “tight”. I stopped caring if the straight lines weren’t perfect or if some elements weren’t parallel. That gave me freedom and flexibility regarding the font’s design and the management of every given surface. Regarding the forms, I always imagine my fonts and my pieces as «creatures» that I give them life and I put them in their «natural habitat», meaning the spots where they get to spend the rest of their lives after their birth.
Can you tell us about your way of work? Do you always start on a piece of paper or are there more impulsive times where the suface / wall caught your attention and you improvised?
I don’t, anymore, make drafts of pieces that I intend to work on, the next day. I just put ideas, single fonts, font combinations and other forms on a piece of paper and have them there until I use them on a piece I am working. I usually, don’t get inspired solely by the wall’s morphology but also by the colors I have available, the world I want to write and how i feel that certain moment. Some times, I use objects that can be found in my environment, resulting in 3D compositions. So, I would say that almost all the time, I move and improvise within these lines.
How difficult is it for a street artist to stand out in Europe? Competition, of course, is multiple, I imagine like the opportunities…
I believe everything depends on the artists themselves, their point of view and their objectives. I believe that it’s very easy for any «street artist», wherever they are, to move forward, using the power of the Internet. This is somehow controversial, though, if we think about the time that one has to spend so he/she can retain an online presence when he/she acts in the real word, in the streets, by definition. It’s a fact, that nowadays, our lives have an enormous digital aspect. When everybody own the same tools, it’s crucial how each one is using them to reach their goal.
As an artist who have now traveled to different places, which is, in your opinion, the best country / city for a street artist to live and why?
Every country has its own pros and cons and there are still many countries/ cities that I haven’t visited yet so I can’t have a clear opinion. I believe that most important is that each artist knows which way of life suits them, so they can decide the ideal place. This could be anywhere in the planet.
In Greece, for the last few years, street art is blooming and like all things due to our temperament, street art has also become a big issue. Phrases like “Athens is the new Berlin”, “Athens, the metropolis of graffiti” dominate … Is there any real interest in your opinion from the rest of Europe?
Sure! There is interest for the Greek scene. We shouldn’t forget that among all the ugly stuff that happen in Greece, our country has many nice things too, it has a lot of talent, history, perfect weather for unlimited time of painting, countless spots and a great spirit for creativity. I wouldn’t like to comment on the ugly stuff…
Any partnerships you have enjoyed so far and any that you’d like to see in the near future? Also, are you preparing something that we’ll see soon?All of these years, I had the honor and the pleasure to work with many artist from Greece and abroad. For many years I travelled with friends (Depon, Pomis, Leet, Gugli και τους Osks) throughout Greece and abroad. We participated in festivals and exhibitions but mainly we did our painting just for our own shake and recreation. There are many more artists I would love to meet or work with, but travelling and exploring with friends, comes first.
Regarding professional partnerships, the one that stands out, is the one with the architect, Dr. Myrto Kiourti, in the awarded projectfor “Discover Your Way” in Patras as well as my partnership with the Athenian artist “Think” for our participation in “No Respect” exhibition held in the Onassis Coultoural Center. Lately, I teamed up with FMS crew from Manchester, a crew by the very talented Krek and Mers. Now, about recent projects, a while ago I designed a capsule clothing collection for a street wear brand in Mexico, which is about to come out. Next, I am working on some murals and some silk print editions.
In ten years from now?
That’s a long story, but God willing, i hope i ‘ll be healthy and still working as a full time artist.