Interview with Andrea Nuzzo, author of "Bill leaves the web"

Interview with Andrea Nuzzo, author of Bill leaves the web

Interview with Andrea Nuzzo

We recently met the most famous stickman on the web in our review, but we have known him for years thanks to his increasingly amplified presence on social media. We all know him, or almost, and his name is Bill, but who owns the hand that created him and the mind that conceived him? To find out more about Bill's origins, and not only, we interviewed Andrea Nuzzo, a young entrepreneur, as well as "parent" of the stylized man who is the protagonist of an increasing number of cartoons and memes on social networks. After leafing through the pages of his novel, Bill leaves the web. Be like Bill, let's discover together the background not only of the character in question, but also of its creator.

How did the idea for Bill come about and how has it evolved over time?

The idea was born on December 22, 2015 during a night when, bored and sleepless, I started on Paint to transform my inability to draw into something to communicate, in an extremely simple way. Of course, there was no flash of genius in one night, but it was the result of experiences with other Facebook pages that I had already opened and I realized the need for content that would make you laugh, because in the end people visit social networks in their spare time for recreation, but also conveyed a value and were useful. In fact, the first meme, which featured Bill sitting in front of the computer, was precisely to denounce the phenomenon of fake news, much discussed and debated at the time and which still has not been resolved today. Faced with yet another fake news, I asked myself: "But no one really understands that it is enough to read the source to realize that it is not reliable and that one should not compulsively click the 'Share' button?"

The interesting thing is that the idea was only to deal with discussions related to the web and social media, but then, given the feedback from people, who began to suggest from the first post, I started to create other characters too, simply by adding a small detail that distinguished them from the original little man. In this way, I could also create different situations, and the first step was to differentiate the situations, and then bring the memes to Instagram. Here, addressing a different and younger audience than that of Facebook, the topics also changed, to get closer to this target. Another interesting passage was that of the memes suggested by the public itself, with proposals that were made by users, and that I made by quoting the author. Over the years, the activity continued commenting on the various topical issues, but the last two important leaps were in 2020: the novel was finally made after a couple of years that I had it in mind, the main step forward , and then I worked on the magazine Be like Bill, on the web but not on social media, to talk about more in-depth topics and to create a team of people around Bill.

What prompted you to take Bill "off the web"?

In my opinion there was a need, I realized from the feedback of the last few years: people fond of Bill and the philosophy of the page, asked if there was a website or a book, or often themselves they printed cartoons to convey a message starring Bill. For example, in Trentino, to raise awareness of recycling in the mountains, a sign was printed with Bill as the protagonist and this did not distort the identity of the character, on the contrary, he definitely left the web but continuing to criticize the wrong behavior of people. .

This character makes irony and stinging criticism of social media behavior its main weapons: do you think there has been an evolution (or involution) in the behavior of social users since Bill was born?

I have to be honest: in the niche of people around me, I have not noticed any changes of this kind. But even if Bill's memes were to change people's mindsets it would be a great result; I don't pretend to change people entirely, but even if there was a change in a small part of them, it would really matter.

From a personal point of view, how much satisfaction has Bill brought you? Did you expect such media success?

Honestly I didn't expect it, Bill has definitely changed my life, both personally and professionally. On the study side, after opening the Facebook page, I became more and more interested in communication and I decided to study at the Faculty of Digital Communication, where I am graduating with a thesis on Bill, of course (laughs, ed). I also gave something to the public, I often receive positive messages but I did not expect such a 'boom', because in the first period between 2015 and 2016 they had created an English page "Be like Bill" and at the beginning many accused me of be copying what this property does. Of course, in the end it is a meme and it was created precisely to be replicable, no one accuses someone else of copying each other, but the problem arose when in Italy Bill was used to spread not very constructive reflections. For example, the little man was the protagonist of a homophobic cartoon, and this was a problem, also because the character was associated with me, but luckily then this thing ran out by itself and I was able to continue my project without other particular problems.

Memes are a communication tool child of our time, between short captions and the predominance of the evocative image: do you think they will have a long life on social media or is it just a (relatively) impromptu phenomenon?

In my opinion no, they will continue to exist for the simple reason that they are part of our world, are able to reflect the reality that surrounds us and have become part of everyday life. Memes are a very simple way to communicate situations, to spread messages, so being so effective it is difficult for them to leave social networks.

Besides Bill, what other projects do you have in the pipeline? Do you plan to develop this character further, or will he have company with other stickmen?

At the moment I focus on this project, not only for the thesis I am carrying out, but also to continue to carry out the potential of this work. Of course, I wouldn't mind devoting myself to something else, I'm also possibly thinking about how to expand Bill's universe, but in fact the attention remains focused on this activity.

Nowadays, many of your peers and even younger ones aim for success using the web and social media: to succeed, how important are competence, luck and courage?

Surely a lot of courage, that must never be lacking, also because no matter how much one might think of having to wait for the right moment to make something happen, this moment never comes when we want it. Then a bit of luck that never hurts, I would be hypocritical if I didn't admit that luck is always needed in these activities, and finally more than competence, I would say that it is essential to be interested in what others have done in the sector in which we are orienting ourselves and we would enter us, to understand how they are moving, what jobs they are carrying out and how we can differentiate ourselves

Finally, some advice to give to those who would like to succeed in a successful project like yours.

Don't be afraid to try, put passion into it and carry it out consistently, without setting excessively high goals. Anything could happen.

If you are a fan of Andrea Nuzzo's stickman, we recommend that you buy Bill's novel from the web. The "Be Like Bill" novel

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