8 moments of Bilos

7 January 2021 text Violeta Ivanova
If you’ve passed by Veslets Str. lately, then you’ve already seen a piece by this Greek artist. He and his Bulgarian colleague Glow recently rolled up their sleeves and changed the appearance of an old corner house to make it one of the attractions of the last KvARTal fest, which always takes place in this area of Sofia. Now Bilos is ready to show us a bit more of himself in his exhibition, which kick starts the year at Gifted. We can see it until January 31, but before that let's get to know the artist better.


Born in Patras, Bilos started using the city as a canvas for his first graffiti experiments at the age of 12, and today he has collaborated with brands, designers and artists from around the world and has participated in numerous international art events. In the meantime he has graduated in Civil Engineering and Communication design. Why isn’t he working as an engineer and what led him to Sofia (where he recently moved with his family)? Let’s find out together.

The moment when you discovered you were good at drawing
I started drawing from a very young age like any other child I suppose. I remember feeling particularly proud when I noticed I could copy cartoons just by looking at them. I was about 8-9 years old and I would spend hours just flicking through Disney books or Asterix, Lucky Luke, Tin Tin and try to copy the characters. As to first doodles, I don't remember creating all of them but there is a folder full of early drawings back at home. One of them in particular my parents had framed and was hanging in our house. Now it is here in Sofia with me.

The moment you became interested in graffiti art
I remember being about 11 years old when a friend brought some markers to school and introduced me to tagging and graffiti. I was thrilled. I was only doing tags and sketches for about a year and was also taking photos of any graffiti I could find in my city. First pieces that got my attention must have been a few “throw-ups” in the city centre and they definitely do not exist anymore. At the beginning I was fascinated with the complexity and illegibility of the “Wild Style” pieces and was trying hard to create similar pieces. Over the years this evolved into appreciating all forms of graffiti in the broader sense.

The moment when you sprayed a wall for the first time
First thing I sprayed was definitely a tag, “Res” at the time (2001). It was a love at first spray! The same year we painted our first piece with friends. The word was “BOSS” and it was based on an outline by Mare 139, downloaded from graffiti.org. We were a bunch of 12 year olds just spraying in the street. It was a fantastic experience full of excitement, adrenaline and fun that still fuels my inspiration to this day.

The moment that shaped your personal style
Maybe that was around 2009 when I intentionally started to move away from the mainstream graffiti styles. It was a long process of thought and research. It started by stripping back the piece from the outlines and all the effects and many colours, focusing mainly on the forms of the letters and the use of a limited colour palette. I really like exploring when it comes to the places I paint, abandoned and derelict places have a charm of their own. But I would paint anywhere, each spot has its own challenges and possibilities. I started drawing vase like forms as my experimentation with letters led me to the idea of a vase in combination with abstract forms of buildings or creatures.

The moment when you really miss Patras
I mainly miss people to be honest, my family is there, and most of my childhood friends. I feel the most nostalgic about it when I receive photos or videos and cannot teleport there and join them, but I am always looking forward to my next trip there.

The moment when you moved to Bulgaria
We came back to Bulgaria with my wife and our son as we wanted to be closer to both our families and our culture after six years of living in England. There are many funny moments but let’s say that I am always entertained at the post office. I can now understand more or less what people talk about and my regular visits to the local post office are never boring.

The moment when you graduated as a civil engineer
It was a long awaited moment and a personal milestone as it took me a long time to graduate. I have always been busy being creative and my Civil Engineering studies were not a priority. I haven’t practiced the profession as focusing on my career as an artist has been a priority but I always leave an open door or window for it at any point in the future.

The moment when you met one of your heroes
I have met many of my "heroes" or favourite artists over the years. International festivals are a great opportunity for that. But these moments, even though great, will never feel greater than the Chromopolis Festival in 2002 in my hometown Patras. I was only 13 and had just started writing graffiti and got to hang out with and watch Os Gemeos, Stormie, Stelios Faitakis, Besok, Nina, Codeak, Woozy and Vasilis Markosian paint a huge mural. I didn’t really know who they all were at the time but I consider them my heroes retrospectively. That’s when I realised the potential of graffiti and how by drawing on a building you can transform a city and people’s perception of it.


 

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