Artist Proof Interview with Artist: Ben Fellowes
Global Location: Orange County, California
AP Shop URL: http://www.zazzle.com/benfellowes
Working mainly in black and white, my illustration and graphic work has been used to promote everything from punk rock bands to hair salons. I paint, illustrate, and use digital mediums to create a diversity of artwork.
AP: How long have you been making art for and what lead you to start.
BF: For as long as I can remember. But what made me start wanting to draw was Judge Dredd. I used to read 2000ad (the brilliant comic that starred Judge Dredd) at about the age of seven. I loved the black and white ink artwork that was so “punk rock” and spoke of heroes and justice and future worlds yet to be explored. In fact, one of m y earliest memories was running to the corner shop to buy the latest copy of 2000ad. I can still remember the way the ink smelled on the page. I relive that same thrill every time I open an ink bottle. It’s funny, but even though I have always had art in my life, I only started taking my own artwork seriously a couple of years ago when I was invited to exhibit a few pieces of my work at a small gallery in Southern California.
AP: Where do you currently live and work and how does this influence your work.
BF: I work as a Design and Marketing Manager. I create a lot of creative content that includes blog posts, web designs, and print materials. It forces me to think creatively and conceptually. Even though my personal artwork and my practical day-to-day design work are very separate, I am always thinking of ideas and concepts. This means that I am very rarely in a non-creative mindset and stuck for something to sketch, doodle, write, or build. I live in Orange County in California but I’m a born ‘n’ bred Englishman and only resettled in the US 10 years ago with my wife who is a native Californian. I think my work reflects my British sense of humor and a certain cool California aesthetic (that’s how I self-publicize myself, anyway!)
AP: Did you have formal training if so what? If your self taught can you tell us what you prefer about being a self taught artist vs having formal training?
BF: I think this question is an odd one because I believe that most artists are “self taught”. When it comes to the fundamentals of art and design, I think that there’s only so much someone can show you. Personally, there have been few moments in my life where I’ve had instructors actually show me what do, I’ve pretty much learned how to draw, paint, and sketch on my own.
In reference to my actual qualifications and training, I have a Degree in Graphic Design & Advertising as well as a Bachelors D degree in Print Journalism. This training has aided me at times throughout my different career paths, but
I sometimes wonder how much practical use they were? I was taught the basics of design and learnt how to draw, typeset, and compose a design. But unfortunately, when I eventually got an industry job, agencies were expecting designers to know how to design with Photoshop and Illustrator! I had to teach myself really quickly how to use those programs to survive as a design professional. Becoming an expert in digital programs has definitely helped me to become (somewhat) successful in my career but I now find myself reverting back to the pen and paper to create my own artwork. Although I love digital and vector art, and still utilize it often, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating something by hand that that is tangible and physical!
AP: Can you tell us about where you make your work is it in your house, a studio etc.. and how it effects your work.
BF: All my personal work is created in a small, little room, in my small, little town house in Huntington Beach. It is my retreat from the outside world. Apart from my six-year-old daughter who often paints and sketches with me on her own little easel, it is my personal sanctuary where I can relax and meditate on life. My surrounding really doesn’t effect my work very much. My art is more a product of my own inner headspace rather than a product of any outside influence.
AP: What are some of you favorite design projects/exhibitions you have worked on to date.
BF: I have done a shed-load of t-shirt designs, posters, and album covers recently for a handful of rock bands and created some artwork for the R&B star, Keri Hilson (which was fun) but I think that a recent highlight was getting to show some of my work at the FIND Art gallery in Costa Mesa, California, and sharing the stage with some amazing artistic talent, like Jamie Johnson and Edward Frausto. I like the feeling of being part of an artistic community.
AP: What is your medium of choice.
BF: Ink and paper. I also love to work with magic markers and sharpies.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work.
BF: It really drives the content. Even though I don’t stick firmly to one sort of illustration style, I think the character of my work comes from simple ink lines, mostly done with a mixture of ink pens and ink brushes. I feel that I have more control over my work when I just use black ink and simple color choices.
AP: Who are some of the artists that have inspired you and or your work.
BF: New artists I see on a daily basis inspire me. Thanks to the Internet we have what seems like an infinite resource of art to drool over. You only have to look at the Artsprojekt site to see how much talent there is out there. I just went to the LACMA to see Tim Burton’s artwork that I thought was fabulous, and I’m really influenced by edgy artists like Alex Pardee, but growing up I was most influenced by comic artists such as Simon Bisley and Brian Bolland and by dramatic artists like William Blake and Gustav Klimt. There’s really too many to mention. I love art. I’m pretty much influenced by everything, from the art I see, to the horror movies I watch and from the people I meet.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years.
BF: I don’t think in those terms. Go with the flow, man! Just do what you like and what feels good and if people like it, then that’s a bonus. I make art for myself, as a form of meditation, I don’t have a plan.
AP: What forth coming projects and or exhibitions do you have scheduled for 2012.
BF: I really don’t have anything planned. Hopefully I’ll be able to get exhibited again at some point and show my work to a wider audience. I’ve also been painting vinyl toys and selling them on eBay. It’s such great fun! Unfortunately, I find myself limited to the Munny shapes and a few other “paint-your-own” characters available. I’m seriously considering creating molds and starting a line of my own vinyl toys.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
BF: I work a 9 to 5 job designing for a marketing company. When I get home, I use my time to draw sketch, or paint as a way of clearing my head of all the driftwood and debris that the day has washed up. Sometimes I’m working on a freelance project for a band, a t-shirt company, or on a commission, but mostly, I work late into the night on artwork for my own pleasure.
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.