Bill Sullivan is a local kid. His parents own the Olympic Swim & Health Club in Penn Hills and he was a Woodland Hills Wolverine. He likes to play ice hockey and hang out with his friends in the city.
But mostly, Sullivan does art.
The 23-year-old may be humble and seem unassuming at first glance but his drawings and paintings have been shown in an international online exhibition, featured in a New York City gallery, and won him multiple artistic scholarships at his alma mater, Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.
Now, Sullivan is living his ultimate dream and moving to the Big Apple to launch his career in the art world, leaving Pittsburgh behind him.
“My main goal right away was to move to New York and work in a gallery,” said Sullivan, while sitting outside of his parent’s pool on a bench.
According to Sullivan, his artistic career really started back in high school around junior year in 2007. While he had always done drawings, it really sunk in that art was what he wanted to do, so he started taking all the two-dimensional art classes that Woodland Hills High School offered.
Although Sullivan remembers having few options for art classes, he remarked that the few classes that were available there were quality.
“They definitely know what they’re doing there,” Sullivan said.
After graduating, Sullivan headed to college at Franklin Pierce University, mainly because he wanted to pursue art and still play hockey. This year, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in drawing and painting, as well as minor in art history.
Now that he’s done with school, he—like every graduate in any major—wants to succeed in his field, but Sullivan isn’t overly concerned with impressing everyone with his artwork.
“I just happened to do something I like doing. That’s all I care about,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s art mimics black-and-white photography so exactly that it’s hard to distinguish between his precise sweeps of graphite—his favorite medium—and the print of the photo that inspired him.
“I’ve always just wanted to make things looks realistic,” said Sullivan, talking about his style as an artist.
His process takes a long time but he doesn’t mind. Sullivan is committed to the details.
“It’s fine if it takes a year or a week. As long as it looks like I want it to in the end,” Sullivan said.
Half of the photographs that inspire Sullivan’s art are taken by him and the other half are images that really catch his eye or stick out to him, he said.
His mother, Mary Sullivan, sings her son's praises.
“I think it’s amazing. I know he didn’t get it from me. My husband can’t draw a stick figure either,” Sullivan’s mother said with a laugh. “I’m very proud of his work.”
Sullivan, who moved to New York City this month, is looking forward to his internship and gallery work with Art in Flux, which is a project that will unite and promote artists in Harlem, similar to Pittsburgh’s Project Pop-Up.
Although Sullivan is moving forward, he still has a soft spot for what he’s leaving behind.
“I learned how to do everything here, so I have it in the back of my mind, and I appreciate that so much,” Sullivan said.