William D. Higginson is one of North America's leading modern Surrealists. Driven by his battle with cancer, his views on the corporate world, science and the future, his imaginative works are a unique interpretation of the everyday experiences of the 21st century; reflections and insight mixed with a sense of humour.
Pencils and Paper
William D. Higginson was born in 1978. Several years later, he announced to his parents he wanted to be an artist. Being of a supportive nature, they gave him some pencils and paper. In doing so they also gave him a career.
Bill is one of those people with the good fortune to discover early on where the deposit of talent lay within. He found joy in doing something he was naturally good at, and, as with any such endeavour, good returns on invested time led to greater investment.
In 1990, Bill was diagnosed with life-threatening liver failure. A diagnosis of leukaemia soon followed. He was eleven. For the next three years he lived with the knowledge that his life could end at any moment. Such an experience altered his perspective on life, a change in outlook that never truly departed. Indeed, it has informed so much of Bill’s work as an adult.
Lying in the hospital bed, Bill remembers asking his folks, once more, for pencils and paper. Ruth and John knew at that moment their son was recovering. For many, art is a way of life, or a welcome escape from it. For Bill, art became a way back to life.
High school would expose Bill to many new techniques – he was fortunate to have teachers who recognised his ability and encouraged him to extend himself in new directions. It is a tenet he continues to hold to, never content to confine himself to one discipline.
Following school and unsure a career in art was viable, Bill decided to join the army. He served for three years before returning to his Gold Coast home and a series of day jobs. His pencils and paper would sit, mostly unused, for years.
But talent, that strange and indomitable force, would not stop seeking a way out. In 2003, Bill abandoned any pretence towards living a 9 to 5 life. He set about in earnest what that deposit of talent – that rich vein that can never be tapped out – demanded of him; to be refined, enriched, and utilised. He rented out a studio apartment and filled it with the tools of his craft. There he would live for the next five years, surrounded by his voyages into imagination – and it was here that he underwent the metamorphosis that took him from amateur artist to professional.
By 2009 Bill knew that it was time to venture into the wider world, starting with Canada. It was a decision that would herald a new phase in his life and would have a profound effect on his work.
In a strange new city, knowing nobody, Bill had to work his way up from nothing once more. A cheerful disposition coupled with indomitable will gradually overcame the obstacles before him. He soon found himself immersed in the live competitive painting scene. Performing in front of hundreds of people at a time soon followed – from weddings to charity events for some of the largest companies in the world; Versace, Virgin, and Vancouver's International Car Show.
Mentoring became another part of Bill’s artist life, whether it was one-on-one, or for 100 artists at a time. Better than most, Bill knows the power of artistic expression, and is living proof of how it can change a person’s life. It was therefore a natural progression to want to share this with, and nurture it in, others.
This desire to give back to the art community led to him creating a company – Direct2Artist - that gives a set of tools to artists in over 70 countries to help them become better artists and art sellers.
Building a Name
It is an ongoing process, honing that rude lump of talent deposited inside. Bill has moved far from the pencil-sketches that were his launching pad. From graphite he moved to pastel; from there he went on to add acrylics, oils, charcoal, and murals to his repertoire.
Similarly, from success at high school art shows he has progressed to the point where he routinely accepts People’s Choice, Highly Commended and Excellence awards.
He has also ranged far afield from his initial forays into realism. He continues in the afore-mentioned style with an exquisite eye for detail, but is constantly pursuing other styles and genres that test his ability, expand his mind. Surrealism, abstract and fantasy are all well-trod avenues of expression.
In 2008 he was invited to capture the daily milieu of the Palazzo Versace foyer over the course of a month: a watershed in his struggle to become a paid artist. Since then he is regularly invited by exhibition organisers to be the resident artist, and organised many successful solo exhibitions. He has been commissioned and sold art in many countries through Asia, Europe, North and South America, and by hundreds of businesses and private homes. Through these same commissions and exhibitions, he has made a living as a professional artist since 2007, the goal of every fledgling artist.
What sets Bill apart from so many other artists is his imagination. When coupled with his experiences as a boy and man, his talent and his sense of humour, it is a heady stew indeed. As you view each work on this website, it is helpful to remember that what Bill derives most from his work is fun. You should too. It’s what he wants.
Picture a guy with a pencil and paper, a beer near to hand, a smile on his face and an imagination running smooth, hot and clean and you’ve got Bill. There’s a little something for everyone here, for all tastes and all seasons. But as Bill is only too willing to admit, this is just the beginning. Remind yourself as you roam through the galleries that the best is always yet to come.