Billie Achilleos is a unique artist. She is strong and original in her creations in which she mixes distinctive tecniques and textures.
Defining herself as a “puppet-maker and prop-builder” with and unbridled imagination, we feel privileged that Billie opens up to Magazine Horse to share her amazing mind and talent with us.
What HORSE inspires you? Woud you tell us 5 adjectives that for you define our magazine and has make you inspire to create our logo?
Vibrant, strong, confident, eye-candy and pleasure to touch.
1-Billie, we met you at the re-opening of Louis Vuitton shop in Barcelona and since then, we were amazed by your work.
Could you please explain to us how this project started with the world renowned french leather goods brand?
In 2010 a friend of mine in retail display sent some pictures of my ‘tomfoolery’ to a colleague of his who happened to be the Artistic Director of Chameleon Visual, they then asked if I could design some animals made out of Louis Vuitton products as window props for the opening of a New Bond Street Maison (London). I was absolutely estatic!
Initially I was only asked to make 12 of them, but that quickly multiplied into 20. I had complete free range of what animals to design and we had everything from cats to owls, crabs to fish and insects. The window was so well received by Louis Vuitton and passers-by that many commissions followed and they became individual works of art. When I would visit the store, the doorman was so lovely he’d congratulate me on how much the public were loving the windows – wonderful when the client loves what you’ve created for them, but when you see the public stopping in the street and smiling at your work, it really is the best feeling.
“It’s wonderful when the client loves what yo’ve created for them, but when you see the public stopping in the street and smiling at your work, it really is the best feeling”
When we met in Barcelona, Louis Vuitton requested that I design an animal in tribute to architect Gaudi: the Salamander he made at Park Güell – colorful and out of scale with the other beasts.
2-What did the project with Christian Dior make-up consist of?
Lacey, the photographer who photographed the (Louis Vuitton) Salamander for Barcelona approached me with Dior’s concept for making an eye out of their mascara products.
Shortly afterwards, Lacey and I created eight insects for Japanese Vogue each made entirely from cosmetics products from Christian Dior ,Yves Saint Laurent, Guerlain, Cle De Peau, Channel, Lancôme, Addiction and Jill Stuart. Not only were they sculptures, but Lacey was keen to animate them, so I housed them in aluminum armour so the insects could be captured (stop-motion ) at Christopher Webb’s studio in Brooklyn.
3-Which project makes you feel most proud?
I think It might be the John Lewis Animals. I dedicated a lot of time designing those animals and it’s the biggest build I’ve ever been involved in. I saw so many families taking delight in the quirky animals, it was really rewarding. I also got to build the Cutlery birds myself – working closely with a welder which was really fun.
4-And what of the future… ?
Probably doing a welding course! I’d really like to create some works of my own and put on an exhibition which I haven’t done yet. I’m looking to move into a bigger workshop first so I have the room to start creating larger pieces and get welding. I’ve got a backlog of projects in my sketch- book that are yet to be brought to life.
I’m currently collaborating with Smythson’s of Bond Street, departing from the animal theme but still using the brands product I created a biplane for their September window and we’re doing a new sculpture for the upcoming Christmas windows. I’ve also been creating some smaller pieces in the brand’s Iconic stationary range which should be on display soon.
5-What is your hobby? What do you love to do in your freetime?
I was very naughty this year and ran away to the Alps for a couple of weeks to learn to snowboard. I used to ski when I was young and after a 12 year break returned to the slopes a couple of years ago and I don’t know what I did without it. I’m not a very sporty person so I’m really proud I’m half decent at something. I really love making snow sculptures too, but mostly playing around in it!
6-What’s the think that you prefer to do: reading, the cinema, going to the theater…? From what you answer, which one is your favorite?
I must admit I hardly go to the cinema these days even though I love Movies. And right now I’d love to teleport myself to somewhere I could hide away with a good book for a couple of days. And from a child myself and my Mum would make regular trips to the theatre. But I think you’ve missed out on one of my vital activities – MUSIC. I can’t survive without my music and need the odd gig or music festival to get me through the year. I’m waiting patiently for Radiohead to bring out a new album and go on tour.