Erin: What are you curious about?
Billy Ray: I’m curious about how design impacts the way we think and feel, even when we are not completely aware of it.
Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.
Billy Ray: My work is generally about the relationship between materials and playing with volume.
Erin: Your studio is located in Industry City, Brooklyn. How do you feel that being surrounded by other artist/makers affects or influences your work?
Billy Ray: I quite enjoy having other artist around because when I work on my own stuff, I generally work in solitude. It’s nice to take a break, and see what others are getting into.
Erin: We’re excited to debut your very first furniture collection. Tell us about your inspiration behind it.
Billy Ray: This is a new furniture line titled the Hatchet series. It is inspired by Agnes Martin’s pared down reductive elements focused on line, grid, and shape; combined with techniques culled from custom motorcycle fabrication. This results in the series' overall minimalist aesthetic featuring over-the-top, unexpected finishes and accents. Included in the series are two chairs, a side table and credenza/bar. By using traditional and unconventional materials and techniques, the works are artistic with simple lines and lush features, creating a fun and unanticipated brutalist style. I build each piece by hand in my Brooklyn based studio.
Erin: What is the most important thing you learned and from whom?
Billy Ray: When I was in probably third grade, I had an Assistant Principal tell me that discipline is more important than knowledge. I Couldn't have agreed less. I have been fighting that notion ever since.
Erin: What is the best piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Billy Ray: That cynicism is poison, and avoid it at all cost.
Erin: Where did you learn to weld?
Billy Ray: My dad taught welding in shipyards when I was a kid, but strangely enough I didn't really learn from him. I learned working in fab shops during the summer when I was a teenager. I was walking in Chinatown around 2005, and some guys were welding a railing on the sidewalk. The smell of hot metal made me so nostalgic that knew I had to start doing it again.
Erin: What is the one tool you cannot live without?
Billy Ray: Pencil. it all starts there.
Erin: You have a wide range of material knowledge. How do you choose your materials per piece.
Billy Ray: I like the play of harmony and discord when combining materials. Trying not to see materials or techniques as high or low brow opens up a lot of fun possibilities.
Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be with and what would it look like?
Billy Ray: I think building a motorcycle with Buckminster Fuller would be interesting.
Erin: What is your budget-less dream project?Billy Ray: I don’t know about budget-less, but I have an idea for a set - heavily influenced by brutalist architecture - for Macbeth that I really want to do.