Billy & Katie Trick’s full interview from Vague Issue 11 is now online. If you saw Billy’s amazing part by Will Miles (which you can watch HERE) then you might be familiar with him. This multi-talented man isn’t a bad artist either as you’ll see below alongside his talented sibling Katie Trick! Read more about this interesting duo below! Check Issue 11 to see their shared artwork which graced the front and back cover of the mag if you scroll down or click HERE.
The Tricksters! Billy and Katie Trick are no doubt one of the more envied siblings I’m aware of. Not only do they get on incredibly well, but their talents are something we can’t get enough of. Their artwork is on another level and each aspect can provoke being immersed to the point of time losing it’s own concept. Combine this with them both being lovable weirdos means the metaphorical platter of their personalities is a banquet you’ll never tire of. Thanks again for doing this and so stoked on both of y’all.
Introduction and Interview by: Guy Jones
Photography by: Rich West
Could you please tell us how you both became paint brush wielding maniacs (in the best possible way) and what your preferred mediums are?
BT I just didn’t know what the fuck I was doing in primary school. I drew so much growing up and if you’re one of the little art kids you try everything the teachers suggest, so painting came like that. Just being asked to make posters for the class and there being paint around. There wasn’t a definitive eureka moment though.
KT LIKE A BAT OUTTAAA HELL… yeah I guess it’s the same for me – I just naturally went that way. There’s something about painting that has always turned my brain on. I remember the first paintings I ever made in school. 5 grim black and white, thick dreary paintings of Florence, and a really shit white horse. I remember how hard I found it to make them, but there was something about the process, not knowing where it’s going to go. It’s exciting. And still is. Also, a big nod to having good teachers, Mr Rowlands! Bill, do you remember the first ever painting you made?
BT I don’t remember the first painting but the earliest attempt of painting for me that actually sticks out is trying to paint two like Greek gods or something for a poster in year 4. It was a girl and a guy and they were massive and blue. They had loads of gold bangles and necklaces and shit on it was so funny. I’d love to see that now. Euros Rowlands!
KT “Oh isn’t it a loooooveeely day, my patios on fiiiiiireeeeee.”
Growing up with 2 siblings who seem to fear boredom, were your parents always knackered or did they encourage you both to paint and draw to give themselves some breathing space? Also do they ‘create’?
KT There’s another two of us, we have an older brother and sisters, so we’re like the Neath Port Talbot version of family Von Trap… without the singing on the stairs and whistles. I don’t think our parents found us hard work, they’re both as strange as we are. I guess when it was just me, Billy and mother dearest living together we probably cooked her head. Sitting upstairs in our rooms with the doors open screaming, singing. How many different ways can you say the word ‘sausage’
BUT we are super lucky in that they have always, always encouraged us to do whatever we want.
BT Yeah, there were pretty much no restrictions whatsoever. My dad was always so open and was just like “go for it, just be safe” with everything. I feel like even when we were super young. I was never told “no” about doing certain things really so there was none of that rebel punk kid thing where the kids like “fuck you, I’ll do what I want”. We could already do what we wanted! But I think that just makes you respectful because you understand what’s right and wrong, what’s safe and dangerous. It definitely fried our mother’s head living with her. Me and Katie will be like super calm doing something in our rooms and then one like sound or word will spark it then we’ll both unite in each other’s room and go off. Dancing, singing, doing mental impressions. Like how we act together can’t really be translated through words. As far as being creative they just let it roll and we’re supportive. Dad always says he used to draw loads when he was a kid. “Any bit of paper laying about, I’d draw all over it.” He used to tell me he loved drawing ships. Fucking pirate.
We all know Port Talbot has generated celebrities such as yourselves and Anthony Hopkins, do you have any more localised heroes of this area that probably won’t have been heard of in the next village?
BT So, there’s Captain Beany…. he’s this weird, bald, little man who you’d see painted like this weird peachy orange colour and in a muscle suit like a super hero and he was always doing things to raise money for charity. He lives in like a proper little council flat it looks like and it’s a bean museum. Google him you’ll find it. His last big thing for charity was getting the whole top and back of his head tattooed with beans and there’s initials in every bean that people have sponsored essentially. So yeah he’s a fucking legend. Then there’s Terry Alan.
He’s this homeless guy who wanders around with a massive beard and always wearing this rad like proper old looking Stetson cowboy hat. Always got a can of cider and would always wave when you said hello.
KT Port Talbot’s horse whisperer, Terry Allan. What a lovely man. I think you’ve nailed it there Bill, I can’t really think of anyone else. There was this one lady who worked in Tesco’s years ago, that looked like she’d curled her hair with like tins of soup….
I guess that doesn’t give her ‘localised hero’ status though. But she did look fucking mental. Like, an actual sculpture on her head.
Could you give us a bit of background into where you both grew up, I hear there’s a fuck off Amazon office?
KT We’re kind of like Neath Port Talbot gussies, moving around quite a lot growing up. I feel like we’ve lived in about 10,000 different houses, which is a good thing. It does creep me out when people have lived in the same house all their lives, and the furniture’s never moved… Anyway, I guess home, home is Pontrhydyfen, and it’s beautiful there. If you squint your eyes it looks like Switzerland. Beautiful landscape, there’s an aqueduct and viaduct cutting through, super green, Sian the shop.
There is a giant Amazon (booo) but that’s towards Swansea. And Obviously there’s Port Talbot steel works, billowing chimneys of Port Talbot. Filling everyone’s lungs and the sky with the good stuff.
BT Yeah Pontrhydyfen and Cwmavon are definitely just where I feel like I grew up. Tree swings, camping, setting fire to things, swimming in rivers. Proper valley boy shit.
KT Is there a specific place you would take someone to be like LOOOOOK AT THIS when you’re back home, if you were the Neath Port Talbot tour guide of the year?
BT That swimming spot. The Gorad! Just a little bridge over a really deep part of the river. Every day after school when the weather was right, we would just meet there like half an hour after getting off the school bus. There’s a big tree to jump out of too.
KT I remember when you were little you came home from the Gorad, and said you’d brought back some slags.
And I was like, what the fuck… and then realised you meant slag stones.
Katie has Billy always been a show off (again in the best possible way) and any stories? Same question to Billy.
KT I’m not a show off but I guess I do show off. I just love making people laugh or getting people going. Like with skating, if there’s loads of people skating a mini ramp or something and then people just start killing it and it’s going off. I just can’t hold it in! It’s the full on Cardiel effect. Loads of screaming and just holding on for dear life.
BT Other than skating I guess I do love doing stuff that I find funny to try and make everyone laugh or just entertain myself. Whether it be grossing people out or getting naked or all the other little silly things. I just enjoy it when other people are laughing or freaked out! I guess Katie doesn’t show off but she definitely is excitable! I’ve never properly experienced Katie around her friends but when I’m with people and Katie is around or Katie is with us, we definitely feed off each other. Like there’s no filter and she can definitely be worse than me sometimes! It’s so good.
KT I can definitely be a shy child at first, as can you Billy Trick, but I hit a point where if someone finds me the slightest bit funny, I think heeeeeere we fucking goooo and I go into full clown mode. So, Bill I get ya, it’s like I can’t stop it, something triggers in my head and I get too over excited. Billy has been like that since he was a baby, my school bus would pull up outside the house when we were super little and he’d be in the window flapping his winky around. In school he was nuts, I remember everyone saying “Billy, Billy, Billy, spin on your ‘ed” and he’d be flying around on concrete floor, spinning like a maniac. It’s hard trying to pick out of stories of Billy acting like a plonker because the list is endless. I think it definitely comes from the Trick’s though, our father and grampa Trick are exactly the same, bell in every tooth (as few as they are) and fucking mental.
You both pursued the education route, Katie through Wimbledon respectively and Billy is mid-education currently. Would you both recommend the formal education side of art?
KT I mean, you don’t have to, have to, but I would definitely recommend it. I think the best part of studying art is the conversation and the time. You’re so immersed in it, and you’re forced to think waaaaaaaay outside of your heads fence. Unless you’re big money balls then you’ll never have that sort of time to just focus on your work. BUT, it’s not for everyone, I guess. If you’re focused, self-disciplined and have a good circle of people around you making, then you’re good to go. I may just dip my toe back in one day.
BT Yeah it’s definitely not for everyone but I definitely feel like people should be more open about it because it’s not really such a heavy thing. Like you can choose to go to university to try and advance on your practice and it still doesn’t have to be this serious career choice. That seems like a pipe dream anyway. I do take my work seriously but I really want to knuckle down and pull my finger out of my arse now and really go in with these next two years. Utilise every opportunity uni gives me and make the most.
Have you any desire to extend into different mediums?
KT Yes definitely, I think I need to. I really want to start playing around with oil paint, as I’ve used golden acrylics for years now, I think sometimes my work gets too tight so I want to stop working as if it’s some sort of construction, curious in what way my work will go by pushing the paint around a bit – if that makes any sense . Also, I’ve been playing around with this idea of pushing the image outside of the frame, where the lines, shapes, colours are almost melting or expanding. I don’t know, I have an idea of how it could look in my head but no idea how to see it through yet.
BT I feel like it’s healthy to alternate between different mediums and I have full intention of doing so. I keep having these ideas of building little sections of walls. Like an unfinished garden wall where it’s falling apart and bricks are missing but finding it hard to figure out how it can be done or what’s the right way. I want it to look playful and not hard edged and stressful. I feel like the resources I will have when I go back to uni will help with that though. As far as painting, I’m trying to be less blocky and I want to discipline myself to not be so vibrant with every colour. It’s coming along.
I find it so refreshing that your work is done off your own back and brimming with feeling as opposed to a piece of branded content (nothing wrong with that but ya know). Would you delve into the corporate side of creating and how do you feel it would affect your work?
KT I would love to try actually; would be interesting to see how I’d approach it. The only things I’d never be interested in doing is painting your nans dead dog or a portrait of ya misses. Those aside, I’m super keen to try something new.
BT I’d be open to go into the corporate side of work because I feel like you can definitely keep the two separate. But to be honest I don’t know how to use any digital programmes so that would narrow it down a bit. and yeah, like Katie said, I couldn’t imagine doing something that’s just super different to how I work anyway because I don’t actually think I’m skilled enough to be confident in just taking any sort of request or job. I’ll definitely paint on your nans dead dog.
What do you admire about your sibling’s work?
BT: I think the friendliness and playfulness of them really sits with me. The locations seem very vast and everything comes across as quite large to me. As if, if I were in the painting the objects and structures around me would be fit for a giant rather than myself. So, you’d be roaming around in this really bright, big fuck-off, green world. But the surroundings feel safe.
KT There’s so much in Billy’s work that I admire, it’s quite funny sometimes because we’ll make work that’s quite similar. Sometimes one of us will talk about an idea we’ve had brewing and it seems to be there in the others brain too. But there’s something about the way Billy paints and puts images together. The simpler pieces, just two or three colours – there’s always a sexy detail and I’m like phwooooooor g’won Bill. Like a really thin line slicing down the side or through the middle, I love the simplicity. Then there’s the spaces, places – if you go through his sketchbooks you can see where they start, I just love them. His drawings are so good. I’m just always excited to see what work he does next. I can really see him stepping into sculpture, there’s always something really physical about the forms you find in his work. And Bill, that’s quite weird but I’ve never thought about physically being inside of the work, so thinking about it – if I were to walk around yours, I think I’d need a torch and a ladder.
Did the surroundings of the valleys inspire your minimalist output.
BT I definitely feel like the kind of vast open spaces that surrounds the towns and stuff in Wales, do yeah. Like there are fields and mountains everywhere and when I was younger and I’d go camping or just go and wander around, it always seemed like I’d come across some old abandoned structure. Like an old foundation of a super old house or like some weird electric generator building that’s just like a little box in the middle of nowhere. I love seeing those things. It’s the isolated structure or object in a kind of open plain, is what I’ve been doing with my work as of recently. I really enjoy making structures look as decimate as possible but still holding this hint of life or a presence of some sort.
KT Yah Bill I know exactly what you mean. Weird emptiness. I think it’s inevitable to be inspired by the surroundings you grow up in – you’re drinking it in every day. I definitely like to swing back and forth from landscape of home; mountains, trees, nature – and empty, big sky sort of places, mainly from films and photographs. It’s a strange kind of balance. Seeing something that has a slight nod to another place excites me, even though it’s an idea of somewhere that’s built up in my own head. Up to the right along Cwmafan road there’s a house that screams 1960’s America, just a sexy slice in the trees. Along the path just before you get to the river there’s a space which I think used to be a park, metal fencing around it and now it’s just sitting there empty, nothing but shit loads of cement colour blocks on the ground. Those kind of parts of Wales I think probably inspire both our works the most.
What do you feel is the Welsh aspect of your work?
BT I feel like I kind of gave that away in the answer above really. Obviously, these places aren’t exclusive to Wales and when I paint these ideas it doesn’t necessarily look like it would be in Wales. But just from memory, that’s where these ideas originate from so you could say the root of the work is semi started in Wales.
KT Waaaales. Yeah snap, same. Could be works from a any old fool, Welsh or not. Maybe we should both try and make the Welshiest painting possible…..
Have you both always gotten on so well?
KT I think we have yeah. I think our brains are too similar to not get on. The only time he does my tits in is when he shouts really, really loud.
BT Aye, we’ve always been close. We’ve definitely pissed each other off in the past but it would be such minor things. I feel like we’ve both been a kind of support for each other in terms of when somethings going wrong or we’re not feeling right about something, the other will always just be like “nah don’t worry it’ll actually be fine.” Then when parents are pissing one of us off or something stressful is happening it’s good to just talk about it. We’re definitely both wired the same and the humour and everything is the same too. But yeah Katie doesn’t like loud shouting and screaming. But I do.
Katie you’ve had exhibitions ranging from South Wales, to London then up to Lancashire. Are there any particularly memorable ones and any lined up for the future?
KT To be honest, I’m not a big lover of shows… well, I guess it depends what kind of one it is, and who it’s with. Always makes me feel like a bit of a nob. A group of us had a show in Dalston, years ago. It was in this dance studio basement kind of space, fucking freezing, super dark and the woman who we’d rented the space off was wearing the smallest hat I’ve ever seen. About 4 people turned up, absolute shit show. And then there’s the shiny ones, where people have glasses on the tips of their nose and fingers in full chin rub mode. I guess they are the ones that make me feel uncomfortable. The only show lined up at the moment is an exhibition Zach Riley has kindly asked me to be a part of. Billy Trick’s got his beak in that one too. Apart from that I’m free as a bird with nowhere to go. Book me en.
I went to your (BIlly) joint exhibition in Peckham in that house which seemed like it would go through at any moment. Did you pick this space to make the viewer consider that your artwork would be the last thing they’d see before falling to their doom?
BT Yeah that show was pretty nice. Everyone’s work was separated around but I managed to wangle to have all mine in one room. Thankfully it was the best lit room too. We had to rent all the lights from uni and we didn’t plan any of it so we got there in the day and then started setting up and it started getting dark and it looked mental because we didn’t have enough lights! (Laughs) As far as the space, we just got it because it was close to uni/all of us and it was kinda cheap. It does seem like a hell hole though. It would be funny if those pieces of work were the last thing they saw before the ceilings collapsed and the walls started falling down and crushing people. Considering they were paintings of big kinda empty walls too. The inanimate surroundings just getting revenge on these shitbags invading the space.
Any other notable exhibitions that you’ve had or have in pipeline young sir?
BT Other than the one dear old Zachariah Riley is putting on, no. But I’m really excited about it. Seems like a good and interesting group of people are in it and a bunch of skateboarders work who I’ve never really seen, in the flesh or in general.
Tell us 5 things about your sibling if you’d be so kind…
Billy still has his childhood Pingu teddy that he goes to bed with. When he was little we used to poke his nose in his head and it would make him cry.
Billy Trick has the vocal range of Shakira.
Billy never ever hoovers his floor. It fucking pissed me off because it’s always really bitty – full of crumbs, shards of paper and if you’re lucky a rogue razorblade. I hate it.
Billy still makes me look at his turds in the toilet if they’re impressive.
Billy likes big girls, big bw’s.
Katie broke her ankle standing on a skateboard when she was younger and my dad had to go grab her and carry her home.
Katie thinks every band I listen to is Dragonforce, then proceeds to sing ‘Run to the Hills’ by Iron Maiden.
Katie thinks she does a really good Nico impression.
Katie’s favourite film is Dumb and Dumber.
Katie’s not actually my sister.
TRICK OR TREAT
KATIE : Treat
BILLY : Trick