I am an artist, creator of Bollis, a name I have given to my wide-eyed characters which feature in my paintings. They look right back at the viewer, representing eyes as windows of the soul, holding a mirror to modern society. My pieces are painted on big canvases with eyes taking large amounts of space. There’s no such thing as eyes too big after all. The philosophical concepts, combined with simple, cheerful representation create a very personal universe searching emotional reaction in the viewer. I want to put across my values and beliefs and at the same time force others to question their own. I try to create art which all people can relate to by expressing emotions we all face. I want to change the world by representing my vision of utopia, a place where ethnicity and backgrounds don’t matter, where we are all the same, equal, where there is no prejudice, hatred or war. I paint people of all colours and sexual orientations. There are no rules, just Bollis dreaming with their eyes wide open. My art is inspired by the street art and crafts I saw on my backpacking travels through Central and South America and Africa as much as some famous pieces in NYC MOMA. Bollis have been exhibited internationally in several countries and there are upcoming 2021solo and group exhibitions and art fairs for them in NYC, Madrid, Paris, Milan, Nice and London.
Creating art and I continue to do so.
I started painting in my early childhood. I was very keen on all things creative. I remember drawing and painting on the walls of my family home which my Dad strongly supported although my Mom wasn’t convined that my early graffiti was a form of art. Maybe my Dad thought they would be rediscovered by archaeologists in many years to come. I made the first version of my painting ‘Tabula Rasa’ when I was 4. It wasn’t called ‘Tabula Rasa’ then obviously and it didn’t feature Bollis in their current form – the eyes were square at that time. Today’s Bollis are very much influenced by my early art as they are a return to that feeling of childhood innocence, when you are not moulded by everyone’s expectations of what they think you should be.
Since the pandemic, I have been very much immersed in my paintings. I love to travel and meet new people but this unfortunately wasn’t possible much in the past year. But I’m definitely hoping to continue to meet inspiring people once the pandemic is over. At the moment, aside from my art, I also tutor several young, aspiring artists to help them discover their way in the art world and avoid some of the pitfalls which have happened to me. I also engage (virtually) in some charity work, mainly with children in an orphanage in Uganda. I also love to keep active but I always find that traditional exercise bores me so I do pole and hoop fitness which I find both to be a lot of fun but not as much fun as they used to be. It’s difficult to keep
motivated exercising alone with the fitness studio closed.
Discuss your educational background:
I do hold a Masters degree which actually is totally useless to me.
For me art is not about a skill but about an idea. The level of education doesn’t matter at all. Everyone can express themselves through painting and everyone can create amazing and unique art. It’s always about the idea and about being yourself, never about the education you have.
Tell me how you handled a difficult situation:
I struggle with depression and most of the difficult situations are very much worse in my head then they actually are. I often fall into a rut, For me it’s not an artistic rut as I don’t normally run out of ideas or go through what would be described as writer’s block. For me, it’s a rut in general, when there are too many things to be done at the same time or when things are going wrong I start feeling depressed and overwhelmed. Many people think artists just paint, but there are many other things involved: shipping, customs issues, organising exhibitions, communicating with people, taking photos, updating website and lots other things I can’t think of just now because I’m in a good state of mind today. Sometimes I’m so busy, I hardly even find time to paint and that’s when I start feeling stressed and end up in a rut. I feel overwhelmed and feel the darkness coming and I don’t like my art and life anymore. It’s normally just A temporary feeling though and the next day, I wake up and look at things with fresh eyes. I find it helpful to take a break and meditate, just focus on painting and ignore everything else around me for a while. When I paint, I’m happy and I’m in a state of mindfulness and no problems exist. It also helps me talking to friends and of course to stroke my cat.
What motivates you:
For me, inspiration comes from within and without. Everything and anything inspires me. I’m fascinated by people and I want to express what’s around me and what’s on my mind. I find inspiration in the people I meet, conversations, music which moves me, current affairs, life experiences I’ve had. Even my cat inspires me. It also comes
from my dreams and I keep a notepad by the side of my bed to write down any ideas before they fade with the waking dawn. Once the seed has been planted in my head, it’s all about how to develop it. Where do I take this idea? If the idea is selecte, then it’s taken to the drawing board (which in my case is normally just pen and paper) and finally to canvas. I rarely paint things I see. My art is usually an expression of thoughts which linger on my mind, inspired by people and things around me.
What’s your availability:
My schedule is normally very busy but I do always find time for friends and people who need me. The best place of contact is Instagram and I always try to get back to people as soon as possible. Sometimes, I do get stressed when there are too any messages backlogged out there but I always get back to people.
Who’s your mentor:
I don’t really have one. My Dad taught me to paint when I was young but he passed away in my childhood. I paint and I always try to be myself. I think it’s important for artists to create something new instead of trying to copy what has already been done.
What do you like the most and least about working in this field:
To me, painting is the labour of love. I could spend my full days painting, it makes me happy and is really good for my mental health too. When I paint, I’m in the present moment and nothing else matters. What I dislike are the distractions, there are times when I hardly find time to paint at all. Many people think artists just paint, but there are many other things involved: shipping, customs issues, organising exhibitions, communicating with people, taking photos, updating website and lots other things. If I could take all these distractions away, I would be the happiest person in the world.
Any big thing you done till today:
Going online was a big thing to me. I have been painting and exhibiting for years but I always valued my privacy so going online was really scary but also worthwhile. I have had such encouraging responses from so many people that it keeps me painting and keeps me upbeat. Sometimes, a nice remark will make my day and in turn inspire the current or next painting I do. So, basically, every ‘like’ or positive
feedback I get is in some way part of the continuous development of my art. And also part of me. I feel grateful to have the chance to influence the world for the better, even in a small way. If you can make someone smile, it’s worthwhile
Dream for life:
Making the world a better place
Your work achivements till now:
International exhibitions (NYC, London, Madrid, Paris, Nice, Milan).
These are work achievements. But they are not the things that really matter.
I believe in making the world a better place and in giving back. Existence is a postcode lottery and if we are lucky enough to to have been born into a happy family, in a wealthy country, and have enough food and essentials to never worry about our survival, then I believe we have a moral duty to give something back. We don’t simply derserve the things which come our way and no one in the world is more or less deserving than others. We are all the same and there’s no excuse for living excessively and with such careless abandon while so many others in the world are starving. I also like the idea of paying it forward. If someone does something good for you, then you, in turn should pass that on to someone who needs it.
My biggest achievements are not the business achievements but the differences I manage to make in people’s lives.
Message to public:
I want people to look around. We seem to have lose sight of what’s important in life. Having a big house, nice car, clothes, jewellery. Consumerism generally, it’s an addition. A habit that’s hard to break. An obsession with possession. You get one life. I want to say that it’s about each other, noticing more than just the immediate environment – it’s about love and support. When you die, it won’t matter what possessions you had during your lifetime, it’s the impact you have on the lives of
other people which will keep living on within them. As someone once said ‘You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one’.
I am persistent, upbeat, encourage others to shine.
I sometimes let my depressive episodes take the better of me and I struggle to handle multiple things at once.