SWG Interview with Artist Bill Alatalo

We recently sat down with artist Bill Alatalo and got to know a bit more about him and his show opening tomorrow night (5-8pm) at the Small Works Gallery (SWG).

How did you start making art/ why do you make art?

Bill Alatalo’s works will be displayed in the Small Works Gallery from Oct 14 – Nov 12

The summer before my senior year of High School, I attended a culinary career camp at Johnson & Wales University. I absolutely hated everything about it and my college plans were destroyed within a few weeks time that summer. My high school counselors had no idea where to place a non-college bound student in their senior year, so they filled my schedule with art, photography, technical drawing/drafting and shop classes.

This was the start to it all. Over the course of my senior year, these courses fueled new creativity. I was drawn to process, creativity and learning. Thankfully, the best teacher I ever had – the late/great Mr. Kullman pulled me aside prior to graduation. He could not believe that I was not going to college. He encouraged me to apply to a community college and take art classes. He was the first person that believed that I could make a career in the creative arts. I will never forget this.

After I attended Mount Wachusett Community College and transferred to UMass, Amherst where I earned a BFA in Abstract Painting. I went on to work as a showing artist, mural painter, and graphic designer. Currently I am a partner of cdeVision, LLC a small web design studio in Holyoke.

Until this past year I have made art strictly for clients and customers as a way to financially support myself and my family. In March of 2020 I decided I wanted to make motorcycle works of art on canvas – my goal was to bridge and connect the motorcycle and art communities – bringing them closer.

What inspires you?

Currently I am enthralled with the ‘built not bought’ and ‘garage built’ motorcycle scene. Over the course of 8 years, I have turned my small garage into a vintage motorcycle workshop. I’ve taken apart and rebuilt several motorcycles in this time. I was inspired this spring to take this passion onto canvas and return to collaging and painting.

What’s your process?

I start with research, looking for photographs and learning about specific moments in the motorcycle history timeline. I then use graphic design programs/tools to manipulate, scale and print black and white graphics for collaging. The rest of the process is in the moment, abstract layering of paint, collage and drawing. All my current works of art were created in my small garage in South Hadley, much like the vintage motorcycles I build and maintain.

How do you know when a work is finished?

When it leaves my garage to hang on the walls of a gallery.

What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?

Until recently, it was finding a space and having the time to work on art – while having a family and running a business.

I have found that space, time and process now.



Thursday, October 14th from 5-8pm

The show is available for public viewing 5pm -10pm, Wednesday – Saturday through Nov 12th.