The chances are you haven’t heard of Billy Childish, or if you have, you may just vaguely recognize the name. Those who have followed his career, however, will be familiar with his eccentricity but will also admit that he is a very talented individual. Childish is actually a internationally renowned artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist.
I had many preconceptions before I interviewed him, however, they were soon dispelled once I began talking to him. We met at Trinity Catholic High School, where he was visiting the school to help the art students with their work. (Can you blame me for the preconceptions???)>>>
Beyond the pointed moustache, and his clothes that look like their from the Victorian era; what I found was a man who was not only genuine, but also completely detached from the materialistic world. Childish was offered the opportunity to appear on Celebrity Big Brother a few years back, but refused, not necessarily because he didn’t want to make a fool of himself, but because he takes no interest in TV. His disinterest actually extends beyond TV, in fact, he dissociates himself with all the other forms of communication which are endemic in our society like: radios, newspapers and magazines. “Don’t aim for fame” he tells me.
But back to art. What does one need to become a great artist? He thinks about his response: “A sense of faith, honesty, engagement and an inquiring mind…they should be unafraid of tradition and not to worried about what’s cool, or what’s perceived to be cool.” I couldn’t help but think Childish was the embodiment of this non hypocritical explanation. I, personally, cannot draw or paint to save my life but Childish gave me a tip: “Immerse yourself in drawing and immerse yourself in emulating the art that you love, be authentic in what you draw!”
They say to be the best, you have to think you are the best, and Childish is no exception: “I believe I am better than most artists, without sounding too arrogant.” Many would regard this as a fairly supercilious statement- I don’t- it was him being brutally honest.
Throughout his illustrious career he has produced more than 2,500 pictures, published 40 books of poetry, four novels, and released dozens of full-length albums . “I would like people to remember me for my honest engagement with elemental forces with painting.” I wasn’t quite sure what this meant-maybe because I’m not an artist, but one thing is for sure-whoever has the opportunity to meet him will feel the passion he has for his work.
by Omar Shahid