Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sam Billen Collage - 'BEARDED GENIUS'

Here's a recent collage I did to promote my brother, Sam. He is a prolific musician and loves to go shirtless whenever possible. Check out to hear some of his music.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Assembling the birthday cards

I thought it would be cool to show a 'behind-the-scenes' look of myself putting together the latest batch of client birthday cards. YES - I assemble every one by hand!!!

(Images courtesy of John Holcomb)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I design the client birthday cards every year. This year I came up with a vertical tri-fold that acted like a present that was opened as the card unfolded. For extra effect, we placed colored confetti in the card which falls out in the recipients' lap when unfolded completely.


I am responsible for designing custom birthday cards for my-coworkers. I usually make them over-the-top (and a little uncomfortable) simply for the shock value the moment the card is opened. "Big Al" is an avid hunter and recently told me about a deer he killed with a machete - which he later butchered it in his barn with the same machete. I couldn't resist this "surprise" accordian-fold execution. No pun intended.


I love reading to my kids at night, which may be why this is the second illustration I've done recently promoting reading. I recently entered this in the "Reach Out and Read" contest in Kansas City. Stay posted for the results!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I created this as the theme for the 2010 Arty Party in downtown Topeka. The image will also be on t-shirts and buttons available at the event. I was told it needed to be about how the arts connect the past to the future - so I wanted to show the same character as a young man and an old man all at once. The young man is looking forward to the party, while the old man is remembering what a great time he had.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This is my first monotone, 3D collage for a project at work. I am going to start doing more monotone stuff in my personal work. Originally I thought it would be too boring, but the shadows and highlights show the depth and make it really interesting after all.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


This piece is for an exciting project to benefit the Family Service and Guidance Center. I was among a handful of artists asked to illustrate a poem written by a kid who has benefited from FSGC. The poem I selected is a love poem from a boy to a girl - and it gave me flashbacks to myself when I was younger. It also intrigued me because it was written inside of a hand-drawn geometric shape. It looked to me like the author was trying to solve some kind of abstract geometry problem - and then I realized the poem might be the actual solution to winning this young girl's heart.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SevenEightFive Magazine Cover

SevenEightFive Magazine features a local artist on the cover of every issue. I'm honored to be featured this time around. My illustration pairs up with an article by my good friend Matt Porubsky about a string of small-town restaurants on the Southern edge of Topeka, Kansas. This collage is also part of my "Dessert and Coffee" series.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

River City Reading Festival Illustration

I was just commissioned to do this illustration promoting a book fair in Lawrence, KS. Of course I jump at any chance I have to illustrate a unicorn. Or a robot. Or a hairy creature who loves to read. I'll post the final design when it becomes available.

I'm also posting the original 'reader' who was not called back after his first audition.

Mulvane Art Fair Promotions

Some of you may know I serve on the board of directors at the Mulvane Art Museum. This year it has been my pleasure to handle all of the promotion associated with the annual Mulvane Art Fair hosted on the Washburn University Campus. I was directed to take a 'Picasso-esque' angle, so I created this collage of a modern art shopper just at that "AHA!" moment before her big purchase. I also designed all the materials. It is always cool to be able to illustrate AND design for a big project like this. Especially for a control freak. But I'm only a control freak when it comes to preserving a brand image. LOL.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Year At The Institution Series

Press Release:

Dan Billen created portraits of the eight men he cared for while working at a facility for the developmentally disabled as his senior project at Washburn University.

While working at the institution, he formed close relationships with these men and made small portraits of them as gifts before he left. Billen explains,

"I had poured my heart and soul into each one of the portraits, and they now represented the loving relationships I once had. I eventually showed them to my college painting professor who encouraged me to continue the project. Using the original collages as studies, I enlarged the smaller designs to 4ft x 4ft on large panels, using much of the same techniques used on the smaller ones. My hope was that people would see these guys larger than life and in brilliant color, like I always saw them. I'm using this series as a way of honoring these people, and to present them as important members of our society. These are people we should not turn away from simply because of their outward appearances."

Several of these men attended Billen's senior exhibition and were honored publicly, as Billen had hoped.

Click here for a youtube video on the project.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blue Collar Self Portrait

This is the "Blue Collar Self Portrait" I did of myself when I used to clean parking lots for a living. Can't you see the despair in my eyes?
Made completely out of materials found in the maintenance shop of the company I worked for at the time.
Winner of Washburn University's annual Pollack award. Featured in Creative Quarterly magazine. Now part of the Mulvane Art Museum's permanent collection.

3D collage

If you're having a birthday, consider this my gift to you.

Originally created for jones huyett Partners ( as a self-promo piece for clients. It's part of my "Dessert and Coffee" series.

My Glory Moment

Press Release:

“Paper Dali” was created to help promote the year’s largest fund raising event for Washburn University’s Mulvane Art Museum through various mediums including, TV, outdoor, postcards, posters and T-shirts.

The “Paper Dali” awards journey started by receiving a Gold ADDY Award at the local American Advertising Federation Topeka Chapter Awards in February. The illustration was then sent to District 9 competition encompassing advertising creative work from Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. With the District 9 Gold ADDY Award, “Paper Dali” was then forwarded to the national ADDY competition where it recieved a National Silver ADDY Award (the highest award given for the illustration category in 2009).

With over 60,000 entries annually, the ADDY Awards are the world’s largest and arguably toughest advertising competition. “Paper Dali” creator Dan Billen, and President and Executive Creative Director, Gary Jones, were among the 800 individuals from advertising agencies across the country in attendance. A huge win for Dan, Gary and jones huyett Partners.