Billy Turner will change the world. To hear him tell it, Billy is doing what Billy does. Offensive lineman know how to win the tough fights. Their team’s every hope begins and ends with the big men up front. Protect. Fight. Win. This has been Billy’s world since he was a high school standout in Minnesota. Now, as a six year NFL veteran, Billy is taking the lessons he’s learned guarding Aaron Rodgers off the football field. He has a new playbook. He’s calling the shots now.
Public Immunity is Billy’s new lifestyle brand. As the founder and creative director, it is Billy’s vision running the plays for his team. Public Immunity is, as a brand, equal parts artistry, fashion and philanthropy. The brand will craft hand-made art pieces, many of which will be wearable or usable, to sell in a virtual, museum-esque showroom with the majority of proceeds going to charitable causes. In short, art will be sold to benefit the people.
Repurposed, up-cycled materials will be the medium for this first exhibit. The individual pieces will each be displayed with museum-esque decorum. On the unique presentation, Billy mused he may frame a few of the items. Like so much of their trailblazing is, their one-of-a-kind presentation strategy is the result of their collaborative culture. “[Co-founder] Asia [Ashley] and I were just vibing one night during quarantine… Being in a pandemic, it’s tough to go out and to do everyday things… A lot of museums and stuff like that aren’t open… the idea came up to make an art style museum and exhibit virtual… virtual, art-museum, exhibit, elegant yet modern-day glow and vibe to it.” Tradition is getting a facelift.
“Call it whatever you want,” Billy explained in an exclusive ProTrending interview. “Whether its a philanthropic type of vibe or whether its more of the artistic vibe [using] different canvases, I wanted to bring that together along with helping people.” Speaking via Zoom from his Green Bay home, Billy spoke of his new movement. His calling, as he sees it, is to protect the public as if everyone of us was a Super Bowl champion, franchise quarterback.
The signature piece of Public Immunity’s first exhibit (Billy’s term for his releases), ‘The Justice Tee’, is screen-printed on a plain white-tee. The logo of the brand, the brainchild of Billy’s artistic trust, is emblazoned across the chest. The brand’s Latin motto rounds off the bottom, ‘Omnia Vincit Amor,’ ‘love conquers all.’ The back of the shirt lists the names of men and women who have died unjustly. ‘Justice is love in action’ is the last line of text on the back.
When asked about the name, Billy explained each portion individually. The Public portion of the name implies the brand’s target demographic – everyone. Concerning Immunity, Billy said “The idea [is] that you… almost mark people with protection.” In other words, Billy’s brand will do what he does best, but bigger. Protect everyone.
“Anything can be art.” It is a sentiment echoed by both Billy’s artistry and his fashion. “Anything can be canvas. That’s where the creativity comes into play…. that is the idea behind this brand.” Art as a tradition is exclusive. But, as Billy sees it, art as a lifestyle is by definition universally accessible. Chef Auguste Gusteau from Pixar’s ‘Ratatouille’ (2007) made the controversial claim ‘anyone can cook.’The concept was shocking to the film’s cultural elites. LikePublic Immunityitself, Billy is not one to shy away from the shocking. In his art, Billy is as jarringly open-minded as Chef Gusteau.
Public Immunityis as unique as Billy is. As Billy explained it, his muses come from whatever is occupying his mental space in any given moment. “When I am able to sit down and create, I feel… at peace.” WithPublic Immunity, Billy has found the convergence of art and philanthropy. The collision satisfies two driving needs: the need to create and the responsibility to give back. “The philanthropic part of wanting to give back and the art form that drives me, but also calms me down.”
As an artist, Billy is in love with the details and the nuances. Contrast is one of the hallmarks of Billy’s art. One of Billy’s favorite ways to add accents of subtle contrast is with his hand-stitching. “Whether it’s an outfit or something I’m creating, stitching can make an entire piece of clothing art. Contrast in colors… you can see the stitching more… It’s that extra element, that extra piece that you take a little bit more time on. People are going to notice.”
Billy’s mental has been occupied by the same tensions as the rest of us; the wild ride that has been 2020. “There is too much hate in this world and its hate for no apparent reason. On my mental lately, a lot of it is positivity and love because I think that’s what the world needs more of right now and I think that’s what’s going to make a change in our world and our society.” Changing our world? That’s a tall order. But big Billy Turner just may be big enough. And, fortunately, he is not alone.
Billy’s team includes Public Immunity’s co-founder Asia Ashley, assistant designer Leticia Rosales and Grayson Windham, Public Immunity‘s publicist. Together, they are bringing to life Billy’s grand vision for the brand. The inspirations are fleshed out as a team. Billy explained, “Amongst my team, we all throw ideas out. And, you know, if someone doesn’t like it, they are going to say they don’t like the idea. That’s how you formulate through a process like this.” Weakness is beat out of each idea on the anvil of the communal consciousness.
Co-founder Asia Ashley described the logic behind their method. “[With] a team, we run ideas past each other… and that’s what it’s about. It’s about authentically presenting something that is true to each of us individually, and then as a cohesive brand.” Authenticity in their offerings is their collaborative goal. Their assumed responsibility is honesty. “The only responsibility you should have is to be honest and be authentic and be real. That is what Public Immunity is all about.” Authenticity, honesty and teamwork. The team element is vital to Public Immunity’s identity. “I could be the one with a paintbrush in my hand,” Billy expounded, “but what I’m painting could be something Asia thought of, and it could be something… we are all trying to ex[plain to [Laticia] how we want this to come to light on canvas.”
In his fashion design, Billy selectively uses stitch work to customize his pieces. “It’s dope. When it comes to sewing and hand-stitching, I sort of taught myself how to do that. The concept of sewing a patch on or sewing something onto a piece of clothing, it’s not that it’s a super abstract or crazy type of thought process… but it’s meticulous.” Billy understands the importance of being meticulous. In his day job, success in the meticulous is met with million-dollar contracts. In his art, success means personal fulfillment. Public Immunity’s success will mean victory for us all. “The idea that we are all humans on this planet… we all bleed the same color blood is, [it’s] something I am big on.”
The mission of Public Immunity is as clear as it is universal. Talking to Billy about the origins of his calling to protect and defend, his immediate answer centered around his family. His role models were the heroes he saw every day.
“Blood, sweat and tears. No different than a football team. Those people are the ones that understand me. I’m a firm believer that you are the person you are today because of your past.”
Billy’s past is dominated by powerful figures.
His maternal grandfather, Billy’s namesake and best friend to this day, showed Billy how to find the joy in balancing life’s ups and downs. “Everyone loves my grandfather. He’s a very happy, upbeat person. He’s very optimistic regardless of the situations that he’s come across.” Billy’s greatest weapon, his indomitable joy, he attributes to the man he was named for.
On his father’s side, Grandma Utah was the Ying to Grandpa Billy’s Yang. A single mother raising cousins along with her own children cannot afford to waste energy. “When you talk to Grandma Utah, you come with a little bit more[.] When you [are] in her presence, you just [know]… Tighten up.” Grandma Utah’s impartial honesty defines her influence on Billy.
“You know when she mad. She is about that action at all times.”
Invincible optimism and unflinching honesty. Billy saw them personified. “The respect that they got from others and their peers was second to none.” They earned the respect they commanded the hard way, by years of example. “Noticing that, and noticing how people approached my grandmother and my grandfather – whom I was named after – it was something that was [engrained] in my head.” Speaking his mind is Billy’s tribute to Grandma Utah. His dedication to love is his homage to Grandpa Billy.
A direct, tough message. No beating around the bush. No fluff. This is Billy’s method. “That stern… firmness comes from my father. And that comes from his mother.” ‘Justice is love in action.’ The Justice Tee is direct. There is no bull. ”We’re gunna get straight to the point… yet we’re still being respectful.” Billy grew up watching his parents and grandparents give everything in their power to the protection of their love. Now it’s Billy’s turn. Public Immunity will give back, as his heroes did before him.
“You’re waking people up. If you’re able to do that, you’re able to make change.”
Public Immunity’s rollout will begin in November with the first of three movements. Each exhibit will include roughly 10-20 pieces. Each exhibit will belong to a larger subset, all addressing a broader theme in our society. The first will speak to the theme of racial justice. The next exhibits are still in the design phase of the process. ProTrending will provide exclusive access to the exhibits.