BY RE-ENVISIONING ’80S POP BALLADS AS STEPHEN KING BOOK COVERS, ARTIST BUTCHER BILLY MAKES A NOVEL POINT: LOVE SONGS ARE MESSED UP.
Tell us about yourself. I’m a Brazilian artist with a background in graphic design. I spent the best of a decade working in the corporate world, but got bored and started playing around with these motifs and styles from the pop culture I grew up with: cinema, comics, music, and video games. Unexpectedly, the side project grew to the point where I had to quit my day job. I’m now Butcher Billy, my artistic persona, 24/7.
What was the idea behind the series ‘Stranger Love Songs’? Outwardly, pop music and the horror genre couldn’t be more different, but they actually share some similar tropes. Love song lyrics can be pretty messed up. The concept was to subvert or even just emphasise aspects of the lyrics through the horror genre.
What drew you to old Stephen King book covers? Stephen King always brings a dark turn to an average day-to-day situation: nothing is what it seems in his tales. Also, I really love the big, bold, bloody red serif types that adorn his book covers. The illustrations were always simple and unpolished, yet striking.
What is your artistic process? At first I just wanted to play with the dark feel and vintage design of the book covers. As the series evolved, opportunities to reference King’s other works kept cropping up. The flat yellow and black colours of How Deep Is Your Love, for example, pay tribute to the original movie poster for The Shining. You can see some of Carrie in Lady in Red, and a few of the Children of the Corn in
The Killing Moon. There are also a few subtle homages to non-King works;
The Exorcist, Black Sunday and A
Trip to the Moon all get nods.
Do you have a favourite piece? ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ was one of the songs that first gave me the idea for the series. The film clip is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.
How are your artworks received in Brazil? My work is more appreciated overseas than in my own country, which I find understandable. Everyday Brazilians have more to worry about than pop art.
Any other projects in the pipeline? I’ve recently been working on three different vinyl sleeve designs: one that’s for the soundtrack of a classic ’60s horror flick, and two that are for episodes of an upcoming Netflix series. My second art book – Butcher Billy’s Strange Fantasy – is coming out in October this year.
Where can we see more of your work? behance.net /butcher billy and on Instagram @the butcher billy.