3D illustrator and animation director Billy Bogiatzoglou, aka Billelis, grew up using graffiti art as a way to socialise but also escape, before taking and expanding his creativity by studying digital art at university and sharing his work across the likes of Behance and Instagram.
His style is rich in colour, larger-than-life and often dripping with intricate gold detail, skulls and roses. Inspired by ancient symbolism and tattoo design, Billelis creates a dark yet decorative infusion of sculptures, geometric patterns and ornate details.
He now works for brands such as Nike (for the iconic first Air Max trainers), Red Bull, Coca Cola and Peugeot – but he attributes a lot of his career success to social media exposure, where he was discovered by agency NERD Productions and a number of his clients.
Praising the artistic community on Behance and Instagram – platforms in which he’s accumulated a total of 35,000 followers – Billelis says he wouldn’t be at this stage in his career if it wasn’t for the power of social sharing.
He’s recently created a variety of album covers for Apashe and Glitch Mob, packaging and interior artwork for a tequila brand and book covers for Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and a few more.
Creating his own artistic approach to historical subjects of religion, mandalas and the occult, Billelis tells us how being consistent and active on social media brought him clients – and how you can do the same.
Like most kids with a distinct creative mind, Billelis escaped through art growing up, but wasn't confident on how to hone his style until he was exposed to what others were doing online.
“It wasn’t until I was introduced to the leading freelance digital artists that were featured on places like Behance that I decided to create a style and body of my work unique to me.”
Working as an art director and 3D artist for various studios, he decided to flourish within his own style and make 3D illustration his full-time career. Using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop on his Wacom Cintiq 27 HD, and rendering with Corona Renderer (but soon switching to Octane), Billelis says 2D art wasn’t enough.
“3D is such a powerful tool. You are not locked to angles and lighting. 3D opens up so many ways of working and in our day 3D software is used for a variety of applications, and not just animation,” he says.
“It gives the ability to young designers and people entering the industry at a young age to create very engaging work.”
Billelis flips between personal and client work from his UK studio in the coastal city of Brighton.
“With clients I make sure the brief is clear, compile references and ideas and sign off on them before starting to get the first WIPs over to the client,” he says.
“Personal work most of the time is purely from experimentation or a spark from something I saw, whether it’s a painting or a piece of architecture or sometimes lyrics.”
But Billelis is quick to give credit to not only his work itself, but his studious use of social media – Behance, Instagram and Dribble – which provided himself with a platform to be noticed amongst this generation of artists.
He now attracts around 35,000 fans across all platforms. He says the majority of his music clients found his work on Instagram, while publishing clients saw it on Pinterest and Behance. It’s also where his own agency, NERD Productions, discovered him before signing him.
“To be honest, it has skyrocketed the past year. But I think the main thing is to be consistent on all social media platforms, engage with the creative community and make sure you show your best work on places like Behance and your portfolio.
“Also Dribbble is a great platform. Having your work shared by blogs and big Instagram design accounts always help. So no harm in contacting a curator or an owner of a blog. It all helps.”
Although he’s used social media as a megaphone for his work, it also exists to be exploited for inspiration, goals and ideas.
“The creative community is amazing for feedback and collaborations. You don’t know when a new client will see your work or where, so I think its best the work is visible on as many websites as possible.
“We all spend so long browsing social media so it seems like one of the best places to advertise yourself and engage with your audience.”
If you’re a freelance artist starting out, or still studying, Billelis says it’s important to collaborate, post regularly and engage with followers and artists who inspire you.