ART QUOTES: Billy Childish


Laid back:

Billy Childish “Man on Chairs (Peeling Orange)”


“Great art is essentially timeless. The fact that people want to put it into a time frame is fine, but the actual resonance of it has nothing to do with the time it is made in.” 

-Billy Childish

I reference him all the time on this blog, the co-founder of Stuckism and Remodernism. Working with Charles Thomson, Billy Childish defined the first significant art movements of the 21st century. Their comprehensive critiques of art world excesses recognized the culture had at last reached a dead end. Corrupt Post Modern stylings of sophistry and status signalling have led to a crisis of relevance in the arts. The only way forward is the resurgence of first principles: art as a form of spiritual communication, where personal expression transcends into universal communion.


Great Banks

Billy Childish “The Great Banks”


But with the general lack on knowledge about contemporary art that exists these days outside the elitist art bubble and the maneuverings of the entitled culture industries, I see the need to share more about this cantankerous creative. Who is Billy Childish?


A man of many hats

Childish does more than paint. He’s the masculine face that unwittingly inspired countless hipster handlebar mustaches.  He’s a dyslexic writer of painfully frank confessional books. He has been making raw garage rock since the punk 1970s, as front man of Thee Headcoats and many other variations. He’s failed to cash in with admirers like Kylie Minogue and Jack  White of the White Stripes, by giving them his honest opinion of their own musical efforts. He even left the Stuckist group shortly after he helped to codify their mission.


Billy Childish “Amongst Cactus”


You won’t find much by Billy Childish on many art quote sites, but as an intriguing multimedia figure with lots to say, interviews with him are plentiful. I find wisdom in his words and excitement in his ideas. His example shows a way to create with integrity in today’s confused and troubled times.

“We are all creative but some of us have it in our nature, or necessity, to maintain this and give whatever art form we choose preeminence in our lives. I believe that all these attributes are non-personal and from God: any minor investigation into reality will reveal that we create nothing within the universe; we merely manifest within it. What we are is not very clear to us.”

“I’ve dubbed myself as an amateur, not because I work in different field, but because I do what I do for love.”

“Art hasn’t got any better than the art that was made in the caves, but that doesn’t stop anyone doing it—it remains relevant, this very strange joining with the creator, picking up a burnt stick and joining in with creation.”

“People often talk about how contemporary art’s a success if it reflects who we are in a material, low way. Some people need that. Whereas I try to reflect who we really are—transcendent, spiritual beings which are not fixed in time at all.”

“Tradition is the platform to freedom.”

“In the past, I painted from a dark place and although no one liked that work at the time, it’s what people like now, because today people think that dark is cool. But I’m not interested in ‘cool’ in music, art or life, or even ‘cool’ as a term. I’m more interested in beauty and truth… it sounds so simple but it’s hard. I mean, that feels right, but how you get out of the way and commune with that? Because that is God. That is communing with God and finding a way to get out of the way and drop the bullshit. The struggle is to stop struggling and just drown in it, but that is difficult – we all want to be glamorous and get fucked-up because it seems much more compelling.”

“Writing manifestos and forming groups is a way of playing a game, and playing is very important because it gives us a lightness of touch in all this difficulty…To engage in the world in playful way is to really honor the fleeting nature of being and existence.”

“Before my ‘overnight success’ five years ago, I was surprised I rarely sold paintings, now I’m just as surprised that I do. But either way I just paint—doing as the painting requires—I’m its obedient servant.”

“It is an artist’s duty to be on the wrong end of the see-saw.”

“It’s like a love affair between myself and the world. That’s what my life is: a love affair with my family and the world and the paintings and the world. I’m in love with my wife and with my children, and they are the things that surround me, so they are the things that I celebrate. That’s how God made me.”

“Recognizing the world is what growing is, and recognizing truth is what growing is. There is no teaching as such. When you find out any great truth, you think, “I already knew that!’ It’s the same if you read a great book, you sometimes think, ‘I should have written this… I think I will!’ That’s what great art and music does – you encounter it and you think, ‘I should have done this… and I will!’”

-Billy Childish


Billy Childish in his studio



Billy Childish “Erupting Volcano”



Billy Childish “Son of Art”



Billy Childish “Edge of the Forest”

10 thoughts on “ART QUOTES: Billy Childish

  1. How refreshing to see an artist express such life-affirming attitudes. Childish’s comment about tradition is the great truth that modern society has stolen from the young, who are left so alienated they feel they must distinguish and identify themselves with tats and piercings.

  2. An art specially borrowed from orient,specially the painting”the great banks” directly from Japanese traditional art.for an occidental painter it’s a nice effort and I understand his great job understanding and going towards “the other”.as a Belgian I understand nothing,’n I’m happy like this whole my life,staying a donkey whole my life…of cours the donkey’s would certainly excuse me to have compared myself to them,I’m a dog,a rat but with lots of petro dollars,I’ve sold my mother land to petro dollar no matter where they come from,I’m happy,I’m european

  3. Yeah Yeah! Dear Mr. Childish,we love your quotes.In fact timeless means that it can go through the time zones. Even my Mama Likes your art. She is 83 & still has all her teeth…..

  4. dear Richard,it’s not filtered ‘n it’s not only by van’s the love ‘n respect between people from different nations ‘n it’s so natural beyond all in Europe we dream about the deserts ‘n in deserts they dream about the green spaces here in Europe.we inspire them ‘n at the same time we’re inspired by them.our trace pad through thousands of years are the proof of it.we’d better be honest;artists remain maybe the only honest people in the world.many thanx dear Richard

  5. dear Richard,my reply this morning is not published here but not important.I just wanted to tell you that there’s always a mutual trace pad between different people hacked in paintings,sculptures ‘n other art crafts through thousands of’s not filtered by van Gogh or anybody’s a natural flew of respect ‘n love our planet earth is shouting for,even if the politiciens destroy it in powder.and we as the children of this planet,specially we the artists as the selected one’s between theses children,HAVE to be the voice of it in our paintings.honesty ‘n vertu today are only the words in dictionaries.we as artists were’e probably the only one’s respecting it.we in Europe we know the vertu of the hot sands in deserts,the people of the sands know the vertu of green life in Europe.the important is to keep the equilibrium between two worlds,exactly like the great Japan with their zen the champion of equilibrium in the I stop bla bla ‘n I return to work,I’m only healthy when I work not when I talk dear Richard.many thanx

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