Thursday, August 1, 2013

Artist Interview: Courtney Billadeau

With Station Zero going on right now, we wanted to take a peek into the minds of some of the many talented artists participating in the show. We were blown away at the expansive knowledge (and interest) in sci-fi that many of the Station Zero artists possessed, and wanted to give them a chance to speak more on the topic!

Meet C. Billadeau- a Chicago illustrator with a widespread pool of interests, ranging from comic art to book binding and much much more. Her work utilizes bold shapes and dynamic compositions (with just the right amount of texture sprinkled on top,) creating dramatic and eye-catching pieces. Aside from her work in several of our shows here at Light Grey Art Lab, C. Billadeau has been featured in Illustration West 48 and 49, CMYK 49, and Creative Quarterly 22. She has worked with Bioware promoting Mass Effect, and most recently participated in a short fiction anthology titled "THIS IS HOW YOU DIE."

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Sebastian Orr Photography

What’s one sci-fi book you’d recommend everyone to read, and why?

As an avid reader and huge sci-fi fan, it is difficult to narrow the list down!

My favorite classic sci-fi is I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. The book itself is a collection of short fiction built on the premise of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics and a logical society that believes them to be wholly comprehensive, with each story upping the ante in showing us robots finding loopholes in those laws and explaining how completely flawed the laws are. His other books in the Robot series are also really great.

If 'hard' sci-fi scares you or you're afraid of being labeled as a nerd or something (but really, it's great, come to the dork side), I'd recommend either China MiƩville's The City and the City or the most recent trilogy by William Gibson, starting with Pattern Recognition. They both definitely fall more into the 'speculative fiction' side of science fiction along with "The City and the City", but are just as solid as any other futuristic sci-fi.


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Work in progress for Station Zero

If you had to pick a sci-fi world to live in, where would you live and why?

Probably the world described in the Shadowrun tabletop gaming franchise (fun fact: the books are heavily inspired on the earlier, more famous William Gibson novels). See, a lot of my favorite sci-fi is about worlds or societies that are horribly, horribly flawed and that's why I enjoy reading stories about them (but not necessarily living in them).

Did you read the book you were assigned, or pieces of it? If so, what’s your favorite part of the book? Did that moment get included in your redesign of the cover?

I…didn't actually have a favorite part of "Cage A Man" because I really didn't like it! As someone who eats trashy pulp sci-fi like this for breakfast, I generally have a high tolerance for poor writing or dated ideas, but this was not the case here. There wasn't a lot of real plot to follow, as literally three-quarters of the book follow the main character's obsession with coercing and eventually forcing his female alien lover to get futuristic plastic surgery to make her look more human, simply because how she looks is offensive to his sex drive. No, I'm not actually kidding. All done in the name of "true love".

It's exceedingly problematic from numerous perspectives--feminist, racial, and otherwise--so it was difficult to digest because of that.

As such, I wanted little to do with the original content and ended up not specifically depicting anything from the book. I ended up relying on more abstract metaphors, instead, to describe a persistent theme throughout the book that didn't immediately make me backpedal away from the book--the concept of captivity, in its various forms.


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What’s a piece of technology that you’d love to get invented in the near future?

Effective interstellar communication and/or travel--for research and knowledge! When I was a kid (and everyone else around me wanted to be a firefighter or a doctor or whatever their parents were), I only wanted to be an astronomer. Mainly to explore the unknowns of space from the comfort of Earth. I eventually grew out of that and into an illustrator, but I still find a lot of inspiration in the mysteries of the universe and deeply believe in what resources and knowledge we could find by exploring it.

What’s your ideal workspace?

My process is both part traditional mediums and part digital mediums, so having a large, dedicated desk where I can roll back and forth from messily inking something to my desktop is a must. As well as a huge scanner and copier nearby. I really prefer working with others, too--mainly for motivation and bouncing and sharing ideas off of each other.

Right now, I work in a space in my apartment with my significant other, but I plan to open up my own studio space with friends someday!


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Work in progress for In Place

Do you listen to any music while you work? If so, what kinds?

Anywhere from industrial grunge to low-fi electronica. Music works, for me, less as a source of inspiration and more of a barrier between me and everything around me. I really can only focus on creating if I shut out the outside world for a bit.

What is your favorite medium to work in, and why?

I love working with ink. I make a lot of my textures by hand, mostly by slinging around ink with brushes on rough bristol.

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Limited edition run of C.Billadeau's Mass Effect print through Bioware

In the future, what are some things you’d like to be working on/where would you like to go with your art?

I'm currently in the planning stages for a historical-fiction, surrealist graphic novel I've been doing the research for some time. I'm a commercial illustrator through and through, so, while continuing to do editorial and marketing work, I eventually plan to do more conceptual work for independent game design while making comics that I will likely serialize online.

Thanks Courtney!

To see more of her work, check out her blog or website, and be sure to check out her piece for Station Zero!

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