Rock Art Wednesday-Billy Perkins
Posted by T Rex on January 8, 2008
As the 2008 Rock Art Wednesdays get in full swing the artist response has been great. From the conceptual design process to the final details of shipping our artists have been sharing a wealth of information. This week is no different with our Austin based artist who asks when giving advice to aspiring rock designers that no one move to Austin :). For this week’s Rock Art Wednesday Billy Perkins discusses how he got started and some of his influences. He has designed for a huge range of bands including Pixies, Los Lobos, Widespread Panic, Alice in Chains and David Bowie to name only a few. Billy’s new website is under development but you can you can see his entire collection along with his contact information on Gigposters here.
See the entire interview with Billy Perkins and some of his favorite posters after the jump…..
Is this your full time job?
Yes, I have a full-time freelance gig. Poster art doesn’t pay the
bills though. I also design CD packages for bands, ads, logos, t-
shirt designs and (as it says on my business cards) “all kinds of
I was art director at a large printing company here in Austin for a
couple of years. A few prominent poster artists had also worked there
at some point, including Frank Kozik and Lindsey Kuhn. It was a very
successful company but was severely mismanaged. The owner was a real
asshole of a human being. I remember one time a couple of sheriffs
deputies showed up to repossess some equipment because he had
defaulted on his lease at an expansion location in Dallas. He thought
he was going to be arrested. I found him crouching behind some boxes
in the warehouse. I peeked over the top of the boxes and told him I
needed a raise. Man, that felt good.
That company finally closed its doors for good in 1992. I did some
work for some of its former clients to pay bills until I could find
another job. I soon decided to stop looking, and have been
freelancing ever since.
As a kid in the 70’s, I was a big fan of Marvel Comics and was
inspired to start drawing by artists like John Buscema, Gene Colan
and Jack Kirby. I created many of my own comics stories and
characters before I was even out of elementary school. As I entered
my teens, music and album cover art took over as the major influence.
I was into the visual, theatrical stuff like KISS and Alice Cooper-
especially KISS, because they were sort of like superheroes (at least
to a 12 year-old). KISS provided a great segway from comic book art
into rock music. That’s the first time I remember music conjuring up
imagery that I felt inspired to put on paper. It’s kind of been like
that ever since. I always try to listen to the band when I’m working
on a poster for them, and let the music inspire the imagery.
Later on in my high school and college years, I discovered 60’s
psychedelia posters. I really liked the hand-drawn text and began
developing my own lettering skills. There were a handful of poster
artists in Austin whose work I discovered while I was in college-
most notably Guy Juke and Micael Priest. I was so mesmerized by their
poster art that the more I saw, the more I knew that I wanted to be
From a pure illustration standoint, I’d say my 2003 poster for X
remains a favorite. I had a severe case of the flu during the 30 or
so hours I worked on it, but somehow it came out exactly as I
envisioned (which is rare). I’m also a big fan of conceptual imagery,
so I like other posters equally as well for that reason. One of my
favorite concept pieces was for Alice in Chains, which featured a
lesbian Medusa kissing a blindfolded girl (so she wouldn’t turn to
stone, of course). A recent poster I did for ZZ Top featured a
woman’s pubic hair that formed a long beard and a face. It’s almost
as offensive as it is funny. I love that one for sheer shock value.
The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies treated me very well. I’ve done
several posters for Widespread Panic, who always seemed to appreciate
my work. I definitely appreciate bands that respect my work enough
not to micromanage, and let me run with my own ideas and do what I do
best. I recently worked with Alice in Chains on a series of posters.
I think they may be my favorite band I’ve ever worked with. They
handled their business with class, paid promptly and showed me
respect that I gladly returned. That was a very pleasant experience
that I hope to repeat.
I have some work for local bands on my plate, including my own,
Butcherwhite. We’re currently mixing tunes for a new CD & I’m in the
process of designing our CD cover & packaging. I’ve also got a poster
for B.B. King on the schedule, as well as one for The Cure.
Get up early and work late if you have to. Pay your taxes. Go through
the proper channels and make sure your posters are authorized and
“official”. Meet your deadlines. Know the bands you’re working for.
Realize that not everything you put on paper is gold, and learn to
take criticism and get better.
Oh, and don’t move to Austin. 🙂