- Guest Artist, Musician and Author -
Welcome to a very interesting and talented man who is an artist, musician and author from the United Kingdom - Bill Perring. Bill must have been paying attention when talent was handed out.
Welcome, Bill ...
Tell us about yourself and your artistic journey
I was born and raised in the east-end of London. We lived in one of the more high-class areas, where most of the kids had nits and rickets of their own, and didn’t have to share them with their brothers and sisters.
As a boy I was always drawing, and loved comic book art - especially Mad Magazine, mostly because of the work of Mort Drucker, who I still consider a God. The seemingly effortless way he caricatures, adding brilliant background details to make each frame a comic masterpiece, is a talent not of this earth.
If I were given the chance to meet any two great artists, past or present, they would be Norman Rockwell and Mort Drucker – and I’d trample over any amount of Van Goghs and Picassos to get my hands on an original Rockwell or Drucker.
I’d also liked to have met Frank Bellamy. I grew up with his Garth strip in the daily newspaper, and decided very early on that I wanted to be a comic strip artist just like him. Unfortunately, he had a huge amount of something called talent, while I possessed very little, if any – and newspaper editors at the time had an uncanny knack of spotting this discrepancy.
However, being a plucky lad, I simply lowered my sights – very considerably – and began doing illustrations for the bottom end of the men’s magazine market. Here, I discovered, editors were less concerned with talent, and more with how cheaply you would work. It was mucky, back-street stuff - but being a product of mucky back-streets, I thoroughly enjoyed it – and the experience I gained allowed me to climb a few rungs up the publishing ladder.
"The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. This has always been a favourite book of mine, and in the late seventies I had one last try at breaking into the comic strip market. Lettering was hard back then – or at least it was for me, as I’m sure you can see. These days it’s so much easier – you just scan the artwork, and add the balloons in Photoshop. Where was this magical program when I needed it!"
Next stop, women’s fiction.
‘Glenda looked down at the photograph of Tim, and wept silently. If only he hadn’t passed her over for the woman with the wooden leg, and the squint ...’
Such stories were the meat and drink of my illustrating life for several years – and to this day I still twitch if someone mentions ‘wistful look’ or ‘vignette’. But they gave me the chance to work in colour - and learn of the coronary-inducing properties of working with acrylics.
Don’t get me wrong; I love acrylics for many things – but because of the fast drying times, trying to lay in a flawless sky, across the full width of a 20” X 30” illustration board, requires you to move at a speed that a humming-bird would find exhausting. So when I first tried oils, it was a revelation.
If acrylics are a burger – bought at a railway station, with only four minutes to go before your train leaves – then oils are a three-course meal, with a very fine bottle of wine, consumed in refined atmosphere of an excellent restaurant. In short, oils are for gentle-folk who have no care for the lengthy drying times - whereas acrylics are for snotty-nosed oiks with tight deadlines.
Since I fell very much into the snotty-nosed oik, category, this posed a dilemma. Once you have tasted Dover Sole, it is very hard to go back to fish fingers.
I tried various ways of speeding up the drying times, but none were totally satisfactory – and all were completely hopeless for emergency jobs. It may sound bizarre that the word ‘emergency’ and ‘picture of an old woman with a cat’ should ever come together in one sentence – but come together they did – along with numerous other unlikely combinations.
"Barber Shop. One of my very first jobs after I gave up the grunt and grind of the porn industry, and moved into women’s fiction. The obligatory vignettes and wistful looks abound."
The solution to my increasing infatuation with oils was to give up illustration – and turn to ‘fine art’.
This term always make me chuckle. The majority of ‘fine art’, particularly as displayed at the Royal Academy Summer Show, is anything but ‘fine’, whilst the majority of illustrations tend to be very fine indeed. Still, these are the accepted terms, and I guess we are stuck with them.
I decided - in an uncharacteristic moment of perception - that success in the fine art world lay in niche markets. I had some small success with traction engines, which at the time were enjoying a revival in interest, with steam fairs being held all over the country. But it was when I turned to aircraft that things really took off (come on – could you have resisted such a pun?).
I set up D’Arcy Collection in order to run limited edition prints of my paintings, effectively becoming my own client, and it has proved a very enjoyable way of going about things for the past twenty-four years. No deadlines; paint what you please - and with no art-director asking for more planes, fewer windmills, etc, etc. What’s not to like?
It’s also introduced me to some fascinating people: war-time pilots who I would otherwise never have had the chance to meet and to talk to; and I’ve been invited to fly in a number of military aircraft – quite possibly without the proper permissions, so probably best we just leave it there.
The problem with niche markets is that they come and go. Over the last few years the aviation market has begun to fall away, and though I still paint, I have turned more toward music and writing.
I play fiddle with an electric barn-dance band, and also go out as a duo with the guitarist. If you have a fancy for fiddle and guitar music, then you might like to follow this link, where there are a lot of free tracks. You can make up your own CD. www.darcyduo.co.uk
As a musician my only, and rather tentative, claims to fame are that I was in a band that supported Fairport Convention at one of their first Cropredy festivals – and I appeared on the long-running children’s TV show, Blue Peter.
My first novel, The Seduction of Mary Kelly, took five years to write – and when you see how big it is, you won’t be unduly surprised. Longer than the bible, or so I’m told, it is a fictionalised account of the life Mary Jane Kelly, who was supposedly the final victim of Jack the Ripper. I say ‘fictionalised’, but all the facts pertaining to her life and the Ripper murders are faithfully adhered to – and so there is no reason in the world why the novel shouldn’t be very close to the truth.
Mary Jane Kelly was a fascinating character, with a life that would seem to have been a veritable roller-coaster of a ride: taking her from the poverty of a Welsh mining village, to the heights of London society, and finally to what was considered the worst street in London.
In an attempt to give a tasteful plug, I shall merely whisper that the book is available in hardback, and in Kindle format – both available from Amazon. The hardback is also available directly from the book’s website at
D’Arcy: If you have a taste for fiddle and guitar music, then follow this link to a cornucopia of free tracks, which you can download to make your own CD.
Those who have no taste for fiddle and guitar music should not follow the link – but instead seek professional help immediately.
The Seduction of Mary Kelly: www.marykelly.co.uk
I’m currently working on a second novel, which I hope to finish this year – but I am beset by the usual summer problems – so many cream scones, so little time.
Now, which of Clancy’s questions have I left unanswered? Ah ... most of them. Let’s address that right now.
What’s the greatest compliment you ever received?
A very large cheque. Money is deeply sincere appreciation in foldable form.
What was the worst compliment you ever received?
Very early on, I took stall at steam fair. On guy spent a long time looking at my traction engine prints, deliberating whether to buy one, or spend the money on an enormous foam cowboy hat from a nearby stall. The hat won.
What would you say to all the world leaders, if you had he opportunity?
“Can I have a go?”
Describe you perfect day
Not spending one single second doing anything that I didn’t want to do.
What are your plans for the future?
To not spend one single second doing anything that I don’t want to do.
How do you promote yourself?
Extremely badly. I just can’t bring myself to get up to the tricks you’re supposed to indulge in to get noticed.
The Golden Hind: I love old-fashioned sailing ships. When I first started painting, every gallery would have at least one depiction of a square-rigged ship. Then they fell out of favour – and have never come back into fashion. I did this one more for myself than anyone else – and the original is hanging on the wall even as I write.
Waterfall: Can’t think what attracted me to the idea of painting this naked woman taking a bath in a woodland stream. Probably the interesting arrangement of rocks.
Mosquito: This was my fifth print to feature famous WW2 aircraft. At the time of painting, there was a long-running and very popular comedy series called Dad’s Army, which followed the exploits of a fictional Home-Guard unit.
I’d already decided to include the Home-Guard in the painting – but wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to make the characters recognisably the ones from the TV series. Thankfully I did – as it made the print very popular – with most people being able to identify the main characters.
Rooster: During the ‘Traction Engine Years’ I’d hire stalls at local country/steam fairs – and did quite a brisk trade in modestly -sized originals of animals and birds. Pigs were very popular, as were cockerels. I was particularly pleased with this one – and decided to keep it for a while – or at least until an offer came along that was too big to refuse.
Shortly afterwards I went over to aviation in a big way , and gave up the fairs - so I have the cockerel to this day.
Have one for me, Bill!
Clancy's comment: Wow. Again, I've introduced another clever character with so much talent.
Well done, Bill.
Love ya work!