An interview with Bill Killen
“TO AVOID PANIC JUST KEEP TELLING YOURSELF…. They are just paintings… They are just paintings… They are just paintings…”
When you visit Bill Killen’s Etsy shop, The Zombie Horde, that’s the first thing you read beneath his banner and I must admit, you sort of have to keep saying that when you see his work.
Bill Killen is from Rhode Island originally and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1993. He later moved to New York City where he worked as an Animator and Graphic Designer, eventually becoming a Senior Designer for Calvin Klein Cosmetics. But in 2005, Bill moved back to Rhode Island to start a new studio and build a family. He is currently married with two children.
Bill’s work come across my desk a few months ago when he sent in a couple of his pieces to be reviewed. I found them to be very well done and at times, breath taking. His works are mostly acrylic paintings and all are originally hand painted. Each painting is signed on the front and signed and named on the back.
After looking through his shop, I decided I’d contact him and ask him a few questions concerning his work. This is the interview.
Michael Summers: “Bill, first off thanks for taking the time answer some of my questions. I just want to say that it’s a pleasure seeing such fine work as yours. What got you into doing the artwork you do and who, or what, has influenced you the most when it comes to art in general?”
Bill Killen: “I have been painting and drawing since I was child. The zombie work is actually a new thing for me. It actually started from a request by a friend of mine, then I got carried away. I found myself obsessed with painting zombies. My influences are actually much more classical, Northern Renaissance and 17th Century Flemish painters, as well as orient lists like Gerome and the Per-Raphaelites of the 19th Century.”
MS: “I’m impressed. Not many artists will mention Flemish painters as influences. What other forms of artistic endeavors are you involved with?”
BK: “My major focus of the past couple of years has been building Killen Studios Inc. I have a little factory that makes artist acrylic paint. We make private label paint for R.I.S.D. and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. All my zombie work was painted with R.I.S.D. paint.”
MS: “Sounds to me like you’re really doing well. Can you tell our readers what your favorite form of medium is to work with?”
BK: “I really enjoy working in oils, but it’s a very different process than working in Acrylics. I’ve been trying to develop a style that emulates working in oils. Glazing many layers of color over a monochromatic under paint. Silver Point is a passion as well.”
MS: “What’s your most major achievement to date when it comes to your art?”
BK: “That’s a difficult question to answer. One of my favorite pieces is a 4’x 8’ Silver Point figure drawing. Silver Point is a very slow process, so a piece that large took almost 2 years to complete. I was going to do a series of them but the time involved was too great. But I would have to say that starting a paint manufacturing business has to rank number 1. My father is a chemist (also an R.I.S.D. grad,) and together we came up with the formula for acrylic paint that we private label.”
MS: “What would you like to be doing in the next 5 to 10 years, providing a zombie apocalypse doesn’t take place?”
BK: “My focus will be on getting my artwork in the public eye more and expanding my paint business. My zombie portraits are a perfect way for zombie enthusiasts to spark conversation with nonbelievers in a classical arts way. Plus, the factory is great space to hole up and fight off the horde!”
MS: “I work in a place that has three machine shops. I know I’d be safe there too! Bill, it’s been great talking with you. If any of our readers want to contact you, how can they get do it?”
BK: “My On-Line store is http://thezombiehorde.etsy.com and you can purchase original art or prints and even ask me to do custom work as well!”
MS: “Bill, again thank you for the interview. I hope our readers will visit your Etsy shop and contact you to order one of your great pieces of art! I want to also say that our readers should also check out Bill’s new shop called “Presidents & Patriots” at this shop: http://presidentspatriots.etsy.com .
That’s it for this installment of the Artistry of the Dead! Until then, God bless you and pass the ammo!
We’re looking for zombie artists to review and interview. To submit images, please email it to:
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: ART OF THE DEAD SUBMISSION and it will be
directed to me. Please send only 2 images for review. You will be contacted if we use your submissions.