3 Minutes with Billelis

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Billelis’s distinct visual style serves as a testament to his unconventional inspirations. Drawing from a diverse array of influences including religious iconography, Tarot symbolism, sci-fi aesthetics, demonic imagery, Renaissance masterpieces, anatomical illustrations a la Da Vinci, classical Greek and Roman sculptures, Baroque extravagance, tattoo artistry, and adorned saints, his work resonates with a haunting beauty that defies categorisation.

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Bill’s recognisable artworks have captivated audiences across the world, propelling him into collaborations with industry titans such as Nike, Warner Music, Netflix, Red Bull, Sony, and Apple, among a myriad of others. Through these partnerships, he continues to push the boundaries of artistic expression, leaving an indelible mark on the creative landscape.

We sat down with Bill for a cup of tea, (yes he drinks tea… just like us 🙂 ) to find out more about the most prominent moments of his career and hope for the future.

What’s the most exciting place one of your artworks have lived in?

Choosing between Times Square and The Dart Milan art gallery is a tough decision! Both hold significant moments in my career and are iconic in their own right.

What is something you’re looking forward to exploring or learning more about when it comes to your craft?

Discovering the fulfilment that arises from achieving a genuine balance between life and work has been a game-changer. Over the past decade, I immersed myself in work, but it took a toll on my personal life. Recently, I’ve made a conscious effort to prioritize my free time, and surprisingly, it has led to heightened productivity and inspiration. It’s as if setting self-imposed deadlines at the age of 35 has proven to be incredibly effective for me.

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Do you have any dream illustration projects? What are they?

We love a glass ceiling, don’t we? I have been so fortunate to work with many aspects of Hollywood and the gaming industry, coupled with the music industry and publishing book cover scene, I found myself spoilt for choice.

I have recently really enjoyed working on more collaborative projects like beer can artwork, stage art for bands and personal illustrations.

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I would love to create a coffee table book with my entire body of work, but focusing on commercial opportunities I would have to say more gaming projects and perhaps a curveball would be fashion. The tangible aspect of my work out in the world is very fulfilling.

See more from Billelis on his NERD Productions profile.

Animate! With Alicja Jasina

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Animators are the magicians of filmmaking – to animate means, quite literally, to bring to life after all. So today, we wanted to celebrate one of our animation directors Alicja Jasina, who fills our creative hearts every time we get to speak or see her work!

A line is a dot that went for a walk”, as famously stated by Paul Klee, deeply resonates with Alicja’s artistic journey. For her, a line serves both as a medium and a distinct way of thinking – often defying conventional linear perspectives. Alicja’s films received many prestigious recognitions, including the shortlist at Oscars in the Animated Short Film category for her short film “Once Upon a Line”. 

With a blend of elegant designs, sharp wit, and a unique conceptual approach, Alicja’s boundless creativity consistently captivates and engages audiences. Commercially, her line animations have earned her campaigns for renowned brands including Google, Casper, Disney, and Airbnb.

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How did you first fall in love with animation?

Animation is part of my everyday diet, though I don’t always consume it as ferociously as in the picture below :D.

I vividly recall my first time at school at Kingston Uni when I crafted a few frames in Flash, creating the illusion of movement – it was truly mind-blowing.

For me, in animation, the focus isn’t solely on a single frame, not even on the in-betweens, but also on what’s in between the frames – the flow, the potential, something hard to express, less defined, more ‘in the movement’.

At times, I catch myself getting caught up in the technical aspects of animation. That’s why I prefer to keep it simple – to stay grounded and remember the core essence of what I do.

To this day, I remain intrigued by the concept of motion, and I sometimes conduct quick film experiments, treating my body as if it were an animation element – akin to being part of software moved by a cursor.

Tell us about the animation project that kick started your career?

It was my thesis project created at the University of Southern California, “Once Upon a Line.” It received numerous awards and was shortlisted for an Oscar. This recognition brought up many work opportunities and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue this career.

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From your perspective, what’s the key to animation that really lives?

Energy and thought behind it.

Show us your favourite or most impactful project that you’ve worked on – tell us, what is it that makes it special and what were the memorable moments or challenges?

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Turbo Love trailer

“Turbo Love” was a fun personal film with a well-defined concept behind it – the kind of project I like. The real challenge for me was the shoot day.

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I asked the crew to redo certain shots many times to achieve the precise outcome I envisioned for my animation. There were moments when I sensed some frustration from the DP – you can see it reflected in his expression in the picture above :D. But perfection we did achieve!

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I learned that providing explicit instructions to our actress, Dominika, about each gesture might not be the most effective strategy for  the most satisfying performance. Unlike my animated characters, who don’t require such independence. Although at times, they do take charge and start to take actions by themselves – that’s when the real magic happens, in my opinion.

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Directing on a live shoot was a truly unique experience, quite distinct from my usual routine of drawing on my Cintiq. That’s when I feel I have proper control of my work. Just like in the illustration above, during the creative process, I like to be comfy and keep my feet warm 🙂

I also really enjoyed working on Swiss Life.
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What sort of briefs or projects do you find more personally satisfying to work on?

Something “in line with my line”, which is a client hiring me specifically for my distinctive style. This was the case when I was approached to direct a commercial for Swiss Life bank. The client had liked my previous films a lot and desired the minimal, quirky, “smart” line animation that defines my work. When you see a big “chunk of yourself” in a bigger campaign like this, it is truly satisfying.

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Currently, I’m immersed in the creation of a short film with the potential to evolve into a show, supported by the Polish Film Institute and Pomeranian Film Fund. It tells a story of a 20-year-old Lotar who is crushed and overwhelmed by the reality around him and through immersing himself in rap music, he gradually discovers his voice. I’m lucky to be working with a talented crew of animators; without them, it would be hard to pull through – the aesthetics are much more intricate than my usual work. Even at the design stage, there were moments when I felt I might be buried under the layers of the project :D.

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Outside of the field of animation, what really inspires you?

Illustration and art. I love being outdoors as well – running, biking, roller-skating, hiking – that all gives me a breath of “fresh air”, inspiring new ideas to bring into my creative practice. Nature, traveling, spending time with friends – all that recharges my batteries.

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And to finish off, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself!

Recently, I enrolled in a course in Spanish law – pretty NERDy, right?

See more from Alicja here.