|Crow: Although we have not met face to face, I know you as an artist and a teacher. Where were you raised and how did you get to your situation/position today?|
Bill: I grew up in San Jose and Livermore, CA. I was always interested in art, first comic books, and later illustration. I saw that others could draw and wanted to do that too. I took figure drawing classes, watercolor, graphic design, and other things at junior college and eventually ended up in the illustration program at the Academy Of Art in San Francisco. I loved illustration, especially editorial work, work that seemed to do more than decorate the page. Getting to where I am now has been a journey that started with drawing comic books, doing magazine illustration, and starting to paint for myself in the late 1990s.
Crow: Are you living the life you anticipated living when you were a teen?
Bill: I had envisioned that I’d be drawing comic books and that I’d be drawing superheroes. What I’m doing now is vastly different from that idea.
Crow: Which forms of art expression move you most?
Bill: I like stories. Books, movies, comic books, all of those can move me. Certain paintings do as well. What affects me changes over time and the things I reacted to in the past don’t seem the same. Music has an effect as well. I like having it on when I work.
Crow: How receptive are teens versus Studio Bridge (adult) participants? Also please explain Visual Arts Passage to folks.
Bill: Teens are less expressive in their responses to work I show them– if that’s what you mean. I don’t have to explain as much to Studio Bridge members, they have a broader understanding of visual art, and a greater interest in learning. Visual Arts Passage is a program that helps people connect their interest in making art with a path toward doing it for a living. They do this via a series of classes that build upon each other. This starts with picture making and continues through a portfolio class that involves students identifying potential audiences and gaining an understanding of the area in which they want to work. That’s on the illustration side. I’m less familiar with the concept art side but I know it involves exposure to character design, world-building, and solving a different set of problems. The program brings in mentors who are working artists and many industry professionals as guest speakers.
Crow: Your lowest spot so far was when and how did you find your way out of it?
Bill: I’ve had many low spots. I might be in one now as I’m not earning a living from my work and I need to be. I’m finding my way out by focusing on painting and finding a gallery or galleries to show my work in. It’s time-consuming and exhausting, but my hope is that the current work, the landscapes, will find an audience. I get a lot of positive feedback from other artists, but I’m not where I’d like to be in terms of sales.
Crow: What has your highest spot been?
Bill: Again, there have been many. The birth of my son, getting married years ago, doing work for an ad agency that brought in a decent living, and bought me time to paint. Every one of the five or so solo shows I’ve had have been a high point regardless of sales. Some shows have been more successful than others, but I’ve always learned and grown from the process.
Crow: Thanks so much for doing this interview with me. We’ve just skimmed the surface. Our listeners can see more of your work and shop at your website, billkoeb.com. And on YouTube Bill generously offers free video discussions on process and technique.
Thanks very much Crow for this. It really gets at the sources of motivation of many artists and their struggles to make it all work financially.
Crow Johnson Evans
Thank you for saying. It may be the same struggles as a professional nature photographer. xo
Becca B Cowling
It is important that you know your word’s and art often wake me to be aware of my blessings shown via the manner your language boosts my mood to look forward to the day, sometimes during times of depression or sadness. You bring me hope and joy.
Crow Johnson Evans
Becca, That means the world to me. Each of our “jobs” is to be there from time to time. Thank you.