Today we’d like to introduce you to Bill Porter.
Bill, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My desire to become an artist started in elementary school, thanks to inspiration from Sunday comics, cartoons and the encouragement of my elementary school art teacher. I went on to earn a BFA in Animation and a Certificate in Film Studies. In my attempt to make art a career, I worked in a variety of industries as an animator, illustrator, videographer, video graphic artist as well as a web designer. I really enjoyed working in all those mediums, but ultimately I was not satisfied with making commercial work for clients and a particularly bad experience served as a wake-up call.
As a result, in 2013, I made a shift away from commercial work to a strictly personal studio art practice and enrolled in the MFA in Visual Arts program at the Art Institute of Boston (now Lesley Art + Design). In the studio I reflected back on the influential stories and images from my childhood. In an effort to engage with those narratives, I began painting, which is a medium I never thought I would touch because traditional materials like oil on canvas never appealed to me. In this case I approach painting on my terms working with familiar materials like house paint and reclaimed wood. My father was a painting contractor as well as a great storyteller, so these materials serve as an integral element to the work’s development and comprehension. My current studio practice continues to be an evolution of this body of work.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not. Finding my path as an artist has been met with plenty of challenges. One of which is the fact that I have a progressive retinal disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa. This genetic disorder attacks the cells in the retina causing night blindness, peripheral vision loss as well as other symptoms. Although my greatest obstacle has been ignoring the naysayers, like a leading ophthalmologist studying the disorder who told me to give up on my dreams of becoming an artist back when I was 18 years old and about to start my first semester as a BFA student. Instead of listening to his misguided advice, I decided to use his words as motivation.
Fear of judgment and discrimination has lead me to be very discreet about my condition, that is until this year when the deterioration of my vision reached the point where I could no longer hide it, which culminated in becoming officially registered as legally blind. Despite the new distinction, my commitment to art making and teaching has only grown thanks to the incredible support from my family, friends as well as the gallery that represents me (Coastal Contemporary Gallery, Newport, RI) and my colleagues at Lesley University, where I work as an adjunct Professor of Animation and Motion Media and Learning Technology Designer.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
The bulk of my work these days is painting. One of the more distinctive aspects of my work is my use of materials. I work with reclaimed wood from housing materials like step ladders and housing shingles and the surface of the work is layered with book pages and acrylic house paint.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am in the process of completing the renovation of a gambrel garage into a full-serve painting and digital media art studio.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Trusting my instincts. It has not come easy in life, but in recent years, I have grown to trust my gut and give in to intuition. It fuels the creative process in the studio and serves as a trusted compass for my life’s path.
- Website: billaporter.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @billaporter
- Facebook: @billaporter
- Twitter: @billaporter
© Bill Porter