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Billy the Butcher: Clash of Concepts

A Parallel Planets piece by Jofer Serapio

Parallel Planets presents Billy the Butcher
in Clash of Concepts
Story and Interview by Jofer Serapio

Mentioned: slicing concepts of pop culture, alternate identities, and Katy Perry

* * *

"There's a special place in hell for people like me, anyway, so why worry?"
Billy the Butcher
art by Billy the Butcher

A creative director at a busy digital agency in Brazil by day, Billy the Butcher was but a kid when he first realized he was no ordinary sack of flesh. Back then, he was already unstoppable with just a pack of crayons in his tiny, cutie patootie hands. No walls were safe. Not even the walls of his parents' house. Some people loathe walls, they even express their hatred of walls through well-shot (well, most are) music videos, but little Billy? Little Billy drew on walls.

It's that sort of rule-breaking, devil may care, chaotic attitude that inspires Billy's art. He takes what is considered pop culture from a variety of sources - music, comic books, movies, games, etcetera - and mashes them all together to come up with something that draws on nostalgia while, at the same time, provides the audience with a fresh take on a familiar scene. He's not even going to apologize. He has nothing to apologize for.

In this side of the world, making a pop culture reference can be tedious and common place. Everyone does it these days, but somehow a few people, the Butcher in particular, gets away with it. In the Butcher's case, it could be because of his use of dynamic colors: bright, bold, hard to miss. It could be because of his unique take on childhood favorites. It could be because of his frightening name. Whatever it is, it's working for him. Superman never looked as good as The Charming Man of Steel.

art by Billy the Butcher
art by Billy the Butcher

Remember when Batman was all gruff and secretive and ninja-like? How about when Super Mario (no relation to Superman) was half the size of anyone you've ever known? Reimagined by Billy the Butcher, our favorite childhood heroes are no longer who we remember them to be. Some of them have revealed a (sort of) gentle appreciation for good music. Others have stolen the identities of characters they would never, not in a million years, ever meet. This is your crossover wet dream, if you've ever thought far beyond the norm. Oh, by the way, Joker is now a woman.

art by Billy the Butcher
art by Billy the Butcher

Billy seems to be a one-man assembly line when it comes to his pieces. In the time it took for this feature to be written, he has already churned out ten new creations. We at Parallel Planets were pretty surprised at how quick this guy can draw stuff, and without sacrificing quality, too. It's that passion for his craft that makes him virtually unstoppable. That or this writer was just too slow. In this writer's defense, maybe Billy has illegal Christmas elves or Oompa-Loompas working for him. This writer is not going down Billy's workshop to find that out (would you?).

Fueled by bacon and Murphy's Irish Stout, this Butcher only has one thing in mind: becoming famous enough to get the attention of California Girl Katy Perry. Yep. You read that right. After all, Billy is the love of Katy Perry's life. She just doesn't know it yet. But she will. Oh, she very much will.

Read on to my interview with Billy the Butcher and learn more about the rise of the Butcher, his fascination with cult icons, and what power animal the Internet forced on him. Watch that cleaver, love.

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Parallel Planets: Tell something about Billy the Butcher as an artist and before you became one.

Billy the Butcher: “I've always been a big fan of cinema, games, comics, music, tv and arts, and also an observer. I remember being just a little boy and reading music industry magazines. I didn't even know the music but I was interested in the stories, lifestyle and everything about that world. I guess I was always fascinated by cult icons, the way they can be larger than life, more than just normal people and become characters in people's minds.

It's mainly the reason why I chose to be a designer in the first place. I used to say I was born in the late ‘70s, grew up as a child in the ‘80s and a teenager in the ‘90s, so probably I'm a living mash-up of all the pop culture references from these decades. I was practically raised by television and all that came plugged in it, like VCRs, videogames, geekiness and alienation.

Like Bruce Wayne before Batman, I too had to travel the world to understand what I wanted to do with my life and how to develop this other persona called Butcher Billy.”

art by Billy the Butcher

Parallel Planets: What defines your artistic style? What are your “trademarks”?

Billy the Butcher: “I like to experiment with my references in pop culture, which I would say are a blend of everything I absorbed during all my life – street art, vinyl album covers, comics, cheap tabloid newspapers, exploitation movies, historic cultural movements, cartoons, outsider artists, pop music. I like to study everything about those references from typography to creative concepts, and I believe all that ends up reflecting in my style in one way or another.

I have to admit I like to poke fun at serious statements. It's probably why so many people label my work as controversial. As a lot of it is based on the clash of concepts, I target the figures that people seem to care about the most.”

art by Billy the Butcher

Parallel Planets: What influences your work? Who inspires you?

Billy the Butcher: “I’m basically inspired by the retro feel of the ‘70s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s design-related pop culture, including comics, movies, TV, music, videogames, magazines and everything visual. Not coincidentally, the pre-digital/pre-web eras, I just love the imperfections of the early creative process. Mainly I like the fact I’m using digital creation tools and social media trends to emulate and promote such vintage visual concepts. That contrast is a mash-up itself.

Funnily enough, I’m not inspired by designers, but actual creators and producers of all genres, like Steve Ditko, Banksy, Tarantino, Jack Kirby, Tony Wilson, Salvador Dali, Robert Crumb, Shigeru Miyamoto, David Bowie, Tim Burton, Malcom McLaren, Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick, Hanksy, D*Face.”

Parallel Planets: Why Billy the Butcher, by the way? What is with that name?

Billy the Butcher: “The name started a few years ago in the form of an electronic music project. As I used to work a lot with samples and loops, slicing pieces of vintage songs and mixing with others, I thought the name Butcher Billy sounded good and was weirdly appropriate. The songs weren't really good, though. I was trying to add heavy carnival-samba drums to Led Zeppelin. I really didn't know what I was thinking. 

When I started releasing the visual projects, the name kinda caught on and people started calling me as if I was some kind of character with a secret identity. The funny thing is that currently I've been doing the exact same thing before, only visually. It doesn't matter if it's photo manipulation, electronic music or vector illustration, I'm always slicing concepts of pop culture and mixing it up, boldly looking for the perfect cut.”

art by Billy the Butcher

Parallel Planets: What project(s) are you currently working on?

Billy the Butcher: “So many ideas and so little time to develop them. It usually takes long to figure out the right take to the concept of a project, but I'm actually interested in the ideas that are really simple. As simple as ingenious. The ones that make people think: ‘How come I never thought of that before?’ I guess that's the common reaction to pieces like Ian Curtis as Batman and Sid & Nancy as Super Mario and Princess Peach, which I'm very proud of. They are mash-ups of totally opposite visual sources, but in the weirdest way, they make total sense. That's what I try to achieve.

I've been looking back at the ‘90s a lot for inspiration lately, stuff like American Psycho and Spice Girls. You can expect some of that being released from me this year.

Behance is usually the place I use to release the full project. But I also use Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter to unleash some interesting special edits and remixes. And, of course, Redbubble and Society6 if you wish to purchase some of the stuff.”

Parallel Planets: In this planet that we're thriving in—

What is your power animal?

"The owl is my power animal because this really cheap internet quiz test says so. It also says I'm emblematic and have a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge. I'm likely to have the ability to see what’s usually hidden to most, which is funny because I'm usually unable to see what's right in front of me.”

Who is your alternate ego?

“Bily Mariano da Luz is my day identity: pretty nice guy but a little weird and boring.”

art by Billy the Butcher

Parallel Planets: In an alternate universe where butchers do not exist—

What would your name be?

“King Billy. My creative urges would be easily replaced by my dictatorial impulses.”

What would you be doing instead?

“Ruling the Earth with my queen Katy Perry, guiding humanity to a better future.”

art by Billy the Butcher

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