American Illustration Profiles: Guy Billout
My latest American Illustration Profiles interview is with legendary illustrator Guy Billout, who has been a powerful presence in the illustration world for over 45 years. In 1969, new to the States and inexperienced as a professional, he gathered together a set of illustrations and showed them to Milton Glaser, the design director of New York magazine. Glaser loved the pieces, and soon ran the entire portfolio. Billout’s range and style has grown exponentially since, and he remains one of the most significant image makers working today.
Billout’s illustrations are beautiful, elegant, and serene; with lush colors and exquisite craftmanship. The style and technique belies the surreal, almost psychedelic aspect to his work. Billout’s images live in an alternate universe, a parallel dream world out of a science fiction novel (or movie) where something is always out of kilter. He combines the strength of his artfulness with an uncanny ability to tell stories and express complicated concepts through illustration. Billout is a masterful visual storyteller, and it’s no surprise that he has created a brilliant series of children’s (and other) books, as well as illustrating countless covers and insides for what seems like every publication in the business.
Most significantly, for many years Billout created a standalone page in The Atlantic magazine. This was a defining series, which Billout considers his best work. These magnificent pieces dealt with issues of life, humanity, and the world at large, designed and illustrated with deep intelligence and wit.