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Instructor Interview with Billy Simms

Simms at The 10th Annual International Conference on The Image Conference and Pop Up Exhibition in Manchester, UK
Simms at The 10th Annual International Conference on The Image Conference and Pop Up Exhibition in Manchester, UK

Intern Katrina sat down with Fitton printmaking instructor Billy Simms to talk about what inspires his teaching and artistic practice.

Q: With all three of your degrees, why have you chosen to be an educator alongside creating your art?

A: I had always wanted to be an artist, but I knew that I could do more with my skills. Teaching is also just a handy skill in general to have.

Q: On your website, it says in your artist statement that you ‘decide which media to use based on the idea of the piece…’, do you have a favorite media to work with? Do you have a least favorite media to work with?

A: My favorite are relief prints or fabric, specifically hats that I sell through my Etsy shop. I don’t necessarily have a least favorite, but I don’t really enjoy charcoal just because it’s dusty and it gets everywhere.
[The Clown Genodice Woodblock Relief Print 16”x20” (2007)]
The Clown Genodice, Relief Print, 2007

Q: With your personal practice, how long does it take you to finish a series, from start to finish, on average? When you’re working on a series, do you stop teaching, or create and teach at the same time?

A: I am always working on my art, so nothing ever stops. There is no average time, it just depends on the pieces, and I tend to go back and revisit things later. Some pieces may be ‘finished’, but I’m done with them once I die. I’m always going back and adjusting. Sometimes I leave a piece for a number of years, and then come back to it after I’ve changed, and the context of the world has changed.

Q: When coming up with a new artwork series, are you inspired by your personal life? If yes, do your students inspire/influence your art?

A: I am inspired by my personal experiences. Either the environment, or a book; I pull from the world around me. My thesis show is faintly inspired by the home town that I grew up in. My series The Clown Genocide was influenced by the book, ‘How German Is It?’ by Walter Abish, and I used it to explore the question, how does a culture heal from atrocities?

The Craftowne Country Club, Laser-Cut Relief Print, 2016

Q: You have 17 years of teaching experience, over time have you found that you have a specific age group that you prefer to teach?

A: Now it’s closer to 20 years of teaching. I personally don’t have a favorite age group. Every age group is different in their needs and abilities, so I just adjust the teaching to the needs of the learners. I enjoy that each age is a different experience.
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