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Bill Balaskas

Bill Balaskas graduated from Communication Art & Design (now Visual Communication) in 2010. Born in Thessaloniki in Greece, he is now a London-based artist working across different media. His works have been widely exhibited internationally, in more than 100 solo and group exhibitions and in curated sections of Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Cologne and ArtBrussels, amongst others.

Balaskas represented the UK in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and in Maribor, the European Capital of Culture. He was nominated for the ALICE Award for the most important emerging artist (Global Board of Contemporary Art) and again, in 2013, for the AUDI Art Award for the most innovative young artist (Art Cologne, Germany).

What are you working on at the moment?

Alongside my art practice and studying for a PhD in the Critical Writing in Art & Design Programme at the RCA, I am also an editor for the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (The MIT Press), and I teach at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), where I did my BA in Video Arts Production from 2005 to 2008. I think, for most artists, it’s a balancing act… and most of the time there’s no balance! But you get used to it. My first degree was in economics, at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in my home country of Greece. When I think about how fortunate I am to be studying and doing something I really love, instead of doing something I don’t care about, all the balancing problems just disappear.

What’s the best thing about studying at the RCA?

After my Bachelor’s degree at UCA, I embarked on a Master’s in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. In many ways, the RCA is the place to be: you meet incredible people. The greatest joy for me on the MA – and now that I’m still at the RCA – is that I’m around people who are much smarter than I am, much more talented than I am, much better than I am in whatever they do. So there are always things to be learned and, for me, that’s a very healthy environment.

What drew you to studying Visual Communication?

When it came to choosing that particular programme, I was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of Visual Communication. You have a very diverse group of people: graphic designers, illustrators, video artists, sound artists… This mixture makes it a very exciting place to be. It’s a creative risk, but it pays off: there are so many other backgrounds and influences that enrich your ideas and your own point-of-view. There’s so much to gain.

How did your work change and develop while at the RCA?

While on the MA, I worked exclusively in video. I wanted to make the most of the expertise and tradition in my field that exists at the RCA. At the same time though, I had my eyes wide open and in hindsight I can see I was starting to use a more installation-based approach, considering space and how it informs the content of the work. Following graduation, all those influences began to show themselves in my work. I began to experiment with other media. So, now I’m producing all kinds of mixed-media installations, internet projects, site-specific sound installations… and this is a kind of legacy that stems from my experience on Visual Communication at the RCA. The course gave me that confidence to experiment and it has proved extremely important for my career. It has actually led me on a completely different path.

What do you value most about how you’re working today?

I’m proudest of reaching the point where I can choose to only work on the projects I feel passionate about.

Enjoyed this story? Discover more alumni stories here.

Find out more about MA Visual Communication at the RCA and how to apply.

"The course gave me that confidence to experiment and it has proved extremely important for my career. It has actually led me on a completely different path."
Bill Balaskas
Bill Balaskas
© Courtesy of the artist and Kalfayan Galleries (Athens – Thessaloniki) | Photographer: Venediktos Kapetanakis