When I feature the work of student illustrators or those otherwise new to children’s literature on the first Sunday of each month here at 7-Imp, I tend to use the title you see above, which involves the phrase “up-and-coming illustrator.” Somehow that doesn’t seem enough for the work of artist Billy Renkl, who is actually a local artist to me. (He lives and teaches in Clarksville, Tennessee.) He’s been making art and teaching art since the late ’80s. Given that he has a newfound interest, however, in illustrating children’s books—he talks a bit about that below—I’m going to run with the whole “up-and-coming illustrator” moniker, even if he’s been making beautiful art for decades now.
Renkl, who teaches art, drawing, and illustration at Austin Peay State University, works in collage. “The old, retired, images and documents that I use,” he writes at his site, “many from antique didactic texts, allow for the possibility of meaning and metaphor in their peculiar beauty and often accidental æsthetic.” His work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions, and he has also done editorial illustrations for many clients over the years. He’s had work in Creative Quarterly (the current issue, in fact), American Illustration, Society of Illustrator’s Annual, and 3×3.
Not only is Billy sharing some of his captivating artwork today, but he also shares his thoughts on his influences, why he loves collage, how teaching informs his work, and more. I thank him for visiting. Let’s get right to it.