Sit Billur Kazaz down with some plants, some paint and a cup of water, and she's well and truly in her happy place. The New York local dabbles in watercolour and ink, creating floods of people diving in budgie-smugglers, sweet and surprisingly soft-looking cacti, and cosy, curled-up cats, amongst a bunch of other things. We had a chat with her below.
What is your name and how old are you? My name is Billur Kazaz and I just turned 24.
How does where you live affect your art? The strive for survival and greatness in New York is like nowhere else in the world. Living in New York City has directly affected my work and you can see the organised chaos in most of my patterns. There is constant exploring, stimulation, and hunger for greenery, which I try to make up for by drawing and hoarding plants.
How did you get started with this medium? Watercolour was something I fell in love with immediately at a young age. I was really restless growing up, so my mum occupied my attention with any art project she could come up with and that was my introduction to watercolours. I’ve tried working in almost every medium and watercolour is still my favourite.
Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it’s your art studio or kitchen bench! An art studio is the dream, but for now I work primarily from my desk that’s located between my kitchen and sofa (aka my living room). New York is not the friendliest location to have a large workspace. If I take on a bigger project it usually swallows up my whole apartment!
Are there any downsides to this medium? Watercolour adds so much unique texture and so many watermarks to your work, but it is not a forgiving medium. You can’t really paint over it and start again once it’s dry.
Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind? I’m not the best at telling jokes, but drawing is how I express my sense of humour and make people smile. My work usually reflects my personal life and my love for food, animals, and plants. I usually get obsessive about a certain topic and draw it till it is out of my system, much like listening to your new favourite song 100 times till it’s no longer stuck in your head.
What makes your work unique and truly your own? I like to give life to ordinary objects with my illustrations. If I can draw a sandwich and make you laugh, I’ve succeeded.
How has your style changed over time? I used to draw in a realist style using as many colours as possible and blending them for hours. My work was really stiff. This was until my professor forced me to complete a series of drawings using only a pen and one colour. I was horrified at first, but that’s how my style changed into the one I have now.
If you were to teach an art appreciation class, what kind of lessons would you try to teach your students? I would teach one of two lessons:
One thing that I hate hearing is how people are so “bad” at art. I would teach an art appreciation class to discover what type of art they are good at or enjoy.
I would teach my students patience – I’m a super impatient person but when it comes to art I have endless patience for intricate patterns and details. Even the most impatient person can reach a calm state when doing such repetitive and detailed work.
What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work? The strangest thing that has inspired me to create work is not so strange at all… I was inspired by the idea of fitting in and created a series of drawings being a cat, cactus, and even a piece of cake!
What’s the coolest art tip you’ve ever received? When someone asks, “ How long did it take you to make that?” Your answer should be your whole life! It might have taken you only two minutes to make that drawing, but that’s only because you have dedicated so many years to your craft. That’s the best tip I have ever received about valuing my art.
What other budding artists do you love? I love the work of so many young artists, but some recent favourites are Sophie Roach, Monica Ramos, Jeannie Phan, and Rachel Levit.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making art? I would either be a food photographer, or have my own nursery so I could be around plants all day.
Where can we see more of your work? billurkazaz.com and recent doodles or upcoming projects from my instagram @billurkazaz