Humor is serious business to Billur Kazaz who shines a light on silliness with a whimsical style reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s delicate greyscale. Each image has a uniquely playful life, some accented with vibrant bursts of color, connected by a continuous thread of dream-like absurdity mixed with explorations of forbidden fantasy. Various meticulously detailed patterns cascade in stratified harmonious chaos, the bombardment of textured multiplicity meshing in a quirky nonchalance without overwhelming visual input. Delicate use of color and the graceful charm of simplistic brush strokes adorn the timeless silk scarves that she has created, **transporting her art into the realm of/ transforming her art to be psychically adaptable and fashionable. Having listened to the inner discontent from days spent trying to satisfy the exceptions of others, a linen collaboration currently on her palette, and the strong willed intention to keep climbing- the past, present, and future is all a Billur.
Have you always been a doodler?
Yes, for sure- there was one teacher in 4th grade who gave me better grades because I’d do elaborate florals on my math homework.
Do you have a favorite pattern or style of drawing?
I still love florals and I have these little characters, little chubby naked dudes that I draw everywhere.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I mean everywhere, just living in New York, and stuff that I miss- like nature or the food you can’t eat because everyone’s trying to look good here. It’s inspiring, and competitive, and sometimes you want to get away but you can’t so you do that through drawing.
What gave you the idea to involve events in your process?
Last December we did a holiday greeting card class because I always make hand made greeting cards, and I made one for Natasha (founder of WTF) and she really liked it. Our friend had a pop up shop and we thought we should do a card event and she was kind enough to host us. We thought maybe 10 people would come and it ended up being 25, so fun. I got to interact with people and it was really special. People had a great time, so we’ve been doing them ever since. I’ve done events in high school and stuff too, and my mom was really big on decorating with florals and dinner parties.
I saw that you have beautiful scarves on your site. Are you planning to create any more merchandise?
I sell mostly on other people’s sites and I definitely want to keep updating with new things. I used to sell pillows, I have greeting cards, print, and things like that. I’m also doing collaborations like a linen collection now with little drawings of herbs, watercolor stripes- very simple, elegant patterns. My goal would be to do children’s linens.
Where do you see yourself going in longer term goals? Where do you want to branch out and explore?
I would love to do bigger collaborations, like something for Anthropology. I would like to start my own linen patterns for different people, and I would love to illustrate books and publish my own children’s book- I have one written but I haven’t finished it yet. I want it to be a giant scale picture book.
What’s it about?
It’s about trying to fit in. So there’s a girl who tries to be a cactus or a sandwich, all these funny little everyday objects and in the end she’s like “No, it’s best to stand out.” So it’s a feel good book and the illustrations would be long repetitive patterns- one page would be text and a giant pattern on every page you flip.
Why do you specifically enjoy doing your illustrations in a pattern?
There’s something about repetitive brush/ pen marks that’s kind of therapeutic for me. I used to work with a million colors and do oils and colored pencils and blend them all, and then a professor of mine was like “You can only use one color and one pen for the rest of the semester” because he saw my little struggle. So I’ve been focusing on the detailed work, or being really free and then pulling it back with pen mark. My thesis was these obsessive patterns on a large scale. Now I really love patterns. People are like, “Why did you just draw like 300 little swimming characters?,” and I’m like “I don’t know. I just wanted to draw them.”
I also saw that you did an all natural paint class.
I was inspired by Trash is for Tossers. I went to her workshop and she has all her trash from 3 years in a little mason jar, and I was like wow I’m doing nothing to save the world. So then I was thinking, oh my god how much stuff do I waste in my workshop, like disposable things that I don’t need. I started putting salt in ceramic containers, and seeing what little changes I could make. When I was home I was telling my mom and my grandma, and my grandma asked why I would waste money on paint every class when you could make paint like she used to do. So she taught me all these crazy recipes, like onion peels make a pretty bright yellow. It’s mostly her recipes and a little bit of tweaks from me.
Besides encouraging the use of sustainable resource and promoting a positive self image, is there any core message that you want to relay to the community or society in general?
It’s just about being happy, and that it’s a clear choice to be happy or not to be happy. I’ve done things that don’t make me happy, and tried to go with things that I didn’t think were right for me because this is what everyone is doing and what I should be doing- like a 9-5, this and that. At the end of the day, it’s always better to choose happiness. That’s why my artwork’s not serious either, it’s just to make people smile.