High Art 2017: Interview with Grand Prize Winner Bill Hope
Natural Cannabis Company’s High Art contest, now in its fourth year, concluded on April 20th with the announcement of the top 11 winners, places 1 through 10 and the Best Overall grand prize of $15,000. This year’s winner Bill Hope, from Sydney, Australia walked away with this honor for his piece, Blob Tower. Here’s what Bill had to say about his art:
Q. What, or who, got you interested in art?
A. Growing up my family was very creative and our house was filled with art books so it’s something that has been around as long as I can remember. I knew when I was a kid that my grandfather was a very good painter but it wasn’t something ever presented as a possible career. I once asked my dad if he’d ever had concerns about me pursuing art and he said he just assumed I’d be fine and he better leave me to it. I understand myself to be one of those very lucky people who just knows what they want to do.
Q. You won Best Overall in High Art 2017, out of more than 3100 entries. Your piece Blob Tower is fantastical and psychedelic. What inspired the work?
A. The original idea came from a friend at art school, Louise Zhang, now a brilliant sculptor. She was making these bizarre sculptures from latex, expanding foam and spray paint and I just loved the aesthetic.
Q. What is your process for a piece of art like this?
A. I usually work on paper and plan ahead but this time I started digitally and this allowed me to just get lost in the details and forms and not worry about the final result too much. This became a much more instinctive form of drawing and took me down some strange imaginative rabbit holes when working late at night. I started just on the line work then slowly built up detail and experimented with different features and characters. At one point I had a large open space that needed filling so I just dropped part of an old drawing in there and it worked great. So it was a very flexible process of chopping and changing visual ideas until I got to the final result.
Q. What atmosphere do you prefer when creating? Do you work late nights/early mornings? Music?
A. This one was drawn in my spare time after work so was often working on it late at night. I can’t remember exactly what I was listening to at the time but it was probably a mix of Hip hop and whatever I was exploring on Spotify at the time. I think I was listening to a lot of a British producer called Kalida at the time. oh and Made in Heights. Lots of that at the time.
Q. Is Blob Tower typical of your artistic style?
A. Ha ha, nope! My usual work is usually less psychedelic and a bit more realistic in form. People really responded to this one though so I’ll probably do more like it.
Q. Are you a full-time artist? How do you make a living?
A. Full time Commercial Illustrator. I’ve been represented by a studio most of my career which really help with getting work. But once you’ve worked long enough you just pick up some momentum. I do all kinds of drawing but I haven’t had to go back to my day job yet so fingers crossed.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your art?
A. Everything really comes into the mix. When I have an idea of the kind of work I want to make I kind of just keep a section of my brain open to influence over a period of weeks or months collecting ideas until the concept feels at a point of maturity that it’s time to start drawing. I could make some weird pregnancy analogy but I won’t.
Music really helps, looking at art books. Trying to stay off the internet too, I think an inspiration overload leads to generic work. Just what is physically around me is always going to make it in there too. I’ve just moved in with my girlfriend so she’s in everything now.
Q. Do you have any shows or projects coming up that fans should be aware of?
A. I have an as yet untitled show in a couple months. It’s the 19th of June, Sheffer Gallery, Sydney for any international travelers. Instagram is always worth a plug @billhope_art. I’ve been posting lots of process portfolios on my website too for anyone interested. www.billhope.com.au
Q. How do feel about the medical cannabis laws in Australia?
A. The laws are slowly relaxing and I think that’s a good thing. The stigma is really going away and I think people are opening up to the idea of legalisation.