By Luke Whyte, Editorial Director
Editorial is open for submissions: https://bit.ly/3aCuaEE
Billelis doesn’t want to frighten you.
“My main goal with my artwork is to beautify death,” said the 33-year-old Edinburgh, Scotland-based 3D illustrator and digital artist, who just minted his first work on SuperRare. “If there’s one thing we know, it’s that we’re all going to die. But without darkness there is no light.”
“My artwork is not straight up darkness. It is not straight up evil,” he said. “It is flipping the notion of what macabre and terror is into something that can be classed as beauty.”
A somewhat intimidating character himself – broad, bearded and inked – Billelis’ haunting yet loving work has made waves in the digital art space for many years and his entrance into the NFT space reflects that.
His third collection, In Memoriam, released last month in conjunction with IV Gallery garnered almost $2 million with 1/1 pieces hitting six figures and landing in the hands of some of the most prominent collectors.
“(In Memoriam) is a tribute to the memory of everyone that is no longer with us,” he said. “To the ones who challenged us, created us, held us, helped, inspired.”
For his Supperare debut, Billelis presents “Your Majesty“, a 1/1 unique work playing on the human trait toward deity creation and worship. Since the beginning of record, he points out, humans have worshiped perceived “higher powers”, gods. And for almost as long, there have been rulers – emperors, royalty – that have succeeded in convincing the populous that they were chosen by these gods.
“(Your Majesty) is a statement piece on how religion became authority,” Billelis said. “There is a human need to worship a being above us. In the past it was religion, then royalty and now celebrities. I wanted to signify with the underlying (human) anatomy that it is an ever evolving matter and the new deity will appear.”
“Why is an old emperor important? Why is a celebrity important? Because we agree it is important,” he said.
From graffiti to gothic: How the artist honed his style
Raised Christian Orthodox with a Greek father and English mother, Billelis is no stranger to studying the strict and sometimes terrifying efforts humans make at sedating the absurdity of our existence.
Billelis grew up sketching and found a fondness for metal music. As a teenager, graffiti became his medium of choice.
“There was a graffiti crew,” he said, “mostly skaters. We all painted together. It was there that I first discovered community in art.”
Moving from Greece to Britain, he studied Digital Art and Technology at University of Plymouth.
“But it was mostly based around generative and code art,” he said. “So I would say I’m mainly self-taught.”
His current path began with experimentation in Photoshop and Illustrator, mostly photo manipulation.
“Almost by accident I heard about Blender,” he said. “And then someone told me about Rhino 3D, and that led me to ZBrush.”
“The power of being able to just visualize what is in your mind,” he said, “You create the form as it is, true in 3D space. 3D is so powerful and it is not the big monster and terrifying software it used to be.”
Over the years, he worked for ad agencies as an art director, doing his art as a side project in his free time. He worked on projects like games Diablo and Mortal Combat and the John Wick movie series, but never liked being “someone else’s pencil.”
Today, he’s a completely independent artist with a well-honed vision and, in turn, perfectly positioned to embrace the emerging CryptoArt community.
“I’m not here for a couple of months,” he said, “I’m here for the decades to come. I really believe in the NFT space.”
“What is really important is the artworks that have something to say,” he said about the CryptoArt space. “There’s a lot of beautiful designs and collectables out there, but what separates the two is that design solves problems. Art raises questions.”