EP82 How to Start a Social Enterprise Side Hustle with Sue Norton: Podcast (click to listen)
Rock Legend and Artist Billy Morrison to Sell Original Art
Through Canadian Fashion e-Marketplace
For Immediate Release (Ottawa, Ontario)
March 3, 2014 – What do rock and roll, fashion designers and hand grenades have in common? In a word, Billy Morrison.
As lead guitarist for Billy Idol, The Cult and Royal Machines, Billy Morrison looks and sounds like a rock star. But that’s not his only talent. A writer and actor (Californication), Morrison is also making a name for himself in the pop art world.
Inspired by pop art icon Andy Warhol and street artists Shepard Fairey and Banksy, a collection of Morrison’s edgy, visceral art will be exclusively available through www.PinkTiger.com. The e-marketplace offers Canadian and American fashion, but owner Sue Norton is making an exception for Morrison’s work after she became a patron of his art during a meeting backstage at a Montreal Billy Idol concert.
“I was immediately struck by his talent on and off stage,” says Norton, a lifelong rock fan. “Once I got up close to one of his pieces, I knew this was something special. He is a multi-talented artist with so much to say.”
For Morrison, his foray into painting started a little over a year ago, after he painted at a charity event and was later encouraged by close friend, Ozzy Osborne, to paint daily.
“Ozzy draws every day and has been pushing me for years to try painting. I took the charity event experience and listened to Oz, and here I am a year later.”
Currently finishing a series of commissions, including a stars and stripes butterfly for US Congressman, Kevin McCarthy, Morrison says he’s been pleased with the response to his art, which normally sells for between $3000 and $6000, however he has made available select pieces with exclusive pricing to pinktiger.com starting from $1500 US.
“The butterfly series got so much attention, it broke the wall between the artist and the audience. I can’t paint quick enough—it’s absolutely bananas.”
Art lovers wishing to purchase an original Billy Morrison should visit www.PinkTiger.com/BillyMorrison .
The art of the Punk: Billy Morrison’s not afraid to pick up a brush
Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards do it. Mick Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Mac, does too.
Now you can add the guitarist Billy Morrison to the list of rockers who also find time to paint pictures.
Morrison, who can often be found on tour with Billy Idol, and has had a legendary career with other bands such as The Cult, picked up his paintbrushes about a year ago on the advice of his good pal Ozzy Osbourne.
“Ozzy and Sharon are my best friends and I hang out with them a lot and for years, Ozzy had badgered me to paint and I resisted. Then I went to a charity event and they asked me to paint something for an auction. I laughed and said ‘You can’t auction a stick figure.’ But I painted something and it was cool and I told Ozzy about it.
“We were in South America together in an art store and he was badgering me to buy some materials and I did.”
He had never painted in his life until a year ago. “He saw the value in pushing me to do that.”
“My career is as a musician but my passion is creativity and so it doesn’t matter where it comes from. If my creative fires are left to go out, I will end up in jail or somewhere nasty,” Morrison says. “My creativity gets out of me some of the darkness that most people just live with.
“I have a punk rock attitude to my creativity. I saw the Sex Pistols on TV when I was 11 years old and I realized that what matters most is that you have something to say, not how you say it. It’s not about whether what I do is good or bad, it’s about the fact that I have the balls to do it.”
It is that fearless approach to creativity that defines everything Morrison does, he says.
Art is a way of making a statement without actually having a conversation, he says. It is another form of communication.
“It doesn’t matter to me what my painting instills in you, as long as you think it’s about something.”
The man is a fan of Andy Warhol (has been since he was 13) and artists like the activist and painter Banksy and Damian Hurst. But he paints objects that fascinate him such as skulls and hand grenades (about 30 of them so far). He renders these dark subjects less threatening by the strong and vivid colours he uses. He also collects art and owns a pink and yellow electric chair by Warhol.
“I’m a fan of Banksy because the message in Banksy’s work is clear and plain and simple and yet multi-faceted.”
A chance meeting in a hotel lobby in Montreal a month ago has his work for sale on an Ottawa-based web site called pinktiger.com.
Pink Tiger is the idea of Sue Norton and the site mostly sells designer clothes in what is called in the business an e-marketplace.
Norton loves fashion but she might love hard rock and roll even more.
Norton follows and has met bands like Mötley Crüe, Poison, Scorpions and performers like Alice Cooper all showing that her tastes run to metal as is reflected in some of the jewelry available on her site. But her favourite, by far, is Billy Idol.
Every tour by the British punk icon, she makes a point of going to a concert. The furthest she has gone is Las Vegas. The most recent was in Montreal on Feb. 3 and in the lobby of her hotel, she bumped into Morrison who was carrying one of his paintings.
Norton is fearless too and, not wanting to miss an opportunity, she approached Morrison and asked him if she could buy the work. It was a painting of a red skull. They worked out a price and Norton picked up the painting backstage after the concert for a cool $2,500 U.S.
“I saw it and I wondered if it was for sale. I knew he painted because I follow him on Twitter so I walked over to him and I said ‘I love this painting’ and asked if it was for sale. And he said, ‘Yes it is’.”
But the two worked out more than that. Norton offered to sell Morrison’s paintings on her site for a minimal four per cent of each sale. Many galleries charge up to 50 per cent.
Why did Morrison go for it? Blame it on punk rock. Morrison says he liked what he feels is Norton’s gutsy entrepreneurial approach.
There have been nibbles but so far none of the 11 paintings listed on pinktiger.com/billymorrison have sold. When they do about five per cent of the proceeds will go toward the charity Random Acts of Kindness. But there has been another benefit. Morrison has more than 31,000 Twitter followers and they have descended on Norton’s website bumping up the traffic dramatically.
As far as she’s concerned it’s all good.
As for Morrison, he is about to head to Australia with Billy Idol. Of course he’ll be bringing his brushes along and he’ll paint away. He’ll also do something else he always does while on tour — visit art galleries for some inspiration and for the simple act of viewing beautiful art.