Interview by Madeleine Dore
Art by Billie Justice Tomson
Billie Justice Thomson
When you meet artist Billie Justice Thomson, you are struck by her boldness, vibrancy and an urge to be her best friend.
The same happens when you stumble across her work scattered across Melbourne's shop fronts, menus, bars, and even hairdressing salons – you immediately want to know the creative brain behind the striking patterns, bold depictions of your favourite foods and magnified objects that has stopped you in her tracks.
Frequently working on Perspex and glass, her work also appears on tote bags, pillows and maybe even your best friend's t-shirt.
Originally studying Visual Art at the South Australian School of Art before moving to Melbourne, Billie Justice Thomson is a self-taught sign writer and has had solo exhibitions at Modern Times, Back Room, Ming Gallery and exhibited in group shows including The Design Files Inaugural Fundraiser. Balancing her own artistic practice with client work, Billie Justice recently left her day job to delve into her work full-time, which she describes as 'pretty good.'
It’s refreshing to hear she is striving to switching off her routine from time to time. ‘Because I work for myself sometimes I feel like I’m ALWAYS working. I have to actively switch off my work brain and allow myself some guilt free break time, which is easier said than done.’
Smitten with everything she creates, we’ve asked Billie Justice to share some of her work alongside lessons on worrying, dealing with dull days and the pressure you put yourself under as an artist.
On the expectations we place on ourselves...
I constantly put pressure on myself to make the best work I can. Regardless of how much I’m getting paid, how much sleep I’ve had or who the work is for, I cannot allow myself to produce poor work. Of course this is all very subjective, but I suppose is about my own level of integrity.
The scrutiny that you put yourself under can be exhausting, but it's necessary because you’re the only one who is accountable for your output.
On dealing with dull days...
I think there are two varieties of dull days: dull being boring stuff such as paying bills and doing life admin, and dull days where you don’t have much work on.
For the first, I don’t really mind doing life admin so I just write a list and get it done, and feel like a real adult who is achieving things while I’m doing it and then reward myself with wine!
As for the second, it’s not often that I don’t have much on so if I do get a free day I’ll often pretend I’m on holidays and spend the entire day cooking a feast or lying around listening to music and pottering.
Because I work for myself sometimes I feel like I’m ALWAYS working. I have to actively switch off my work brain and allow myself some guilt free break time, which is easier said than done.
On how to minimize worry and be happy...
You know that feeling you get after you watch a documentary about the awe of the universe and space and the planets and you are made sublimely aware of how tiny we all are? You are given some perspective and made to realise that it really doesn’t matter that your housemate drank all the milk and you can’t afford to go to every music festival this summer.
I recently met someone who constantly reminds me not to worry about things that don’t matter and it's been great.
I feel like a lot of energy is wasted on thinking about things we can’t control, or things that don’t ultimately contribute to your happiness.
Maybe an extraordinary life is a very simple one where you can align your priorities to your behaviour.