We had the good fortune of connecting with Billy Kheel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Billy, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When it comes to work life balance I’m like Mary Lou Retton on a balance beam – perfectly balanced and great looking in an American Flag onesie. Up until my second kid was born I spent most of my time in dingy warehouse spaces and decrepit sublets in the shady parts of town. After child number two I realized things were infinitely more complicated and I decided to convert my garage into a studio space that I could work in and that was my Mary Lou double somersault in 1984 moment. Eliminating my commute and being able to be close to my kids has helped tremendously with my work life balance. Its great when one of my kids wanders into my studio with brutally honest feedback or incredible ideas that I never would have thought of. I loved when my son came in with the idea to make a cardboard shield that looked like a Pollo Loco sign. My daughter is a natural when it comes to doing workshops on IG Live. Of course there are challenges in trying to achieve a good work life balance and there have been many late nights in the studio when I spent time with my family during the day and had a big project to get finished. I have found that working on that balance has made me more flexible and appreciative of my time with family and the time I get to do my work.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
About ten years ago I started working with felt, and at the time I had no idea where these clumps of fiber would take me. I first realized that felt could make ideas more soft and inviting when I made a life sized diorama of the LA River out of felt. Strewn with trash and invasive animals, most people are disgusted by this concrete channel they call a river. But rendered in felt, people were able to connect with and think about the history and importance of this forgotten waterway. I was thrilled to be featured on KCRW, KCET and the LA Times for my installation. The next episode in my felt chronicles came when I got the opportunity to go on NBC’s craft competition show Making It. I had a blast joking around with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman and being able to spend my time making fun projects with other makers in an incredible craft barn. Spreading the power of making things to wide audience was an amazing experience. Nowadays I use felt to do projects inspired by my love of music and sports. I’ve done big projects with NBA2K and the Jordan Brand (if you’re in LA go check out my tapestry at the Jumpman Store downtown). But more importantly, I love seeing avid sports fans experience with art and craft through my work.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would tell my visiting friends to stick to my neighborhood – the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Just walking around our neighborhood they could eat oysters at L& E Oysters, have a beet mezcal cocktail at Botanica, pick up comic books at Secret Headquarters, grab a oatmeal draft latte at Columbe and finish it all off with a nightcap at the Black Cat. In order to help them work off some of the calories from all this eating and drinking I would take them on a hike in Griffith Park or a bike ride along the LA River.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shout out to the city of LA. Los Angeles had provided me with amazing educational opportunities, an inspiring group of peers and support for my crazy projects.

Website: bkheel.com
Instagram: @bkheel
Linkedin: bkheel
Twitter: @bkheel1
Facebook: bkheelart
Youtube: bkheel

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