Pocketstock recently had the privilege of interviewing Belgian graphic artist Ben Heine. You've probably never thought about combining photography and drawing but that's exactly what Ben's been doing for the last couple of years with great success.
How are you using video with your art? Do you see it as an artistic tool on its own or more of a means for promoting art to larger audience?
I see it more as a communication tool and this is how I use it. It is definitely a creative medium that can be used for artistic purporses as well, but it's not my main goal right now.
You have been copyrighting your work and even trademarking some pieces for a while now. Can you speak a bit to why that is important and how you see your work being distributed and protected?
Any kind of intellectual or creative material produced by a human being and shared publicly is by definition copyrighted. It's important for artists to protect their artworks because once it's shared publicly, it's impossible to control what's happening. Some people steal other person's work and use them commercially for their own benefits. This is what I try to avoid. I usually don't mind when bloggers or news websites feature my images as long as they mention a credit line.
There have been some distinct periods in your art career: your poetry, your political art, and now your current work. Do you feel that shifting focus is important and how do you know when you’re ready to transition to your next phase?
It's the first time I get this question, and I think it's an important topic. I know a bit in advance when a big shift is coming. I’m living such a transition right now. It's really my personal sources of inspiration that are evolving. I'm changing and my production is changing too simply because what I do is a complete reflection of how I'm thinking and what I'm living. I'm just listening to the little voice inside me telling me to do something different. The transitions are not easy moments, because they require a new organization, a different approach to work flow, new tools to learn, finding a new audience, etc.
What concepts do you find recurring mostly in your art? Do you find that certain ones resonate more with you?
Nature and people are my main sources of inspiration. I often talk about love, friendship and I often make animals portraits. These are the things I like to evoke in my work.
We are seeing more and more photographers who have day jobs as the industry changes and becomes more accessible to people. But you’ve gone the other way from many different jobs to fulltime artist. Can you give us a brief rundown of those jobs and how they’ve helped shaped your perspective over the years?
I've been developing creative projects all the time since a young age, but I also had a normal life before my full time commitment to art. For instance, as soon as I finished my studies of Journalism, I worked in a communication agency for a few months, then I worked as a teacher and then I worked in a supermarket. I was an employee in all these early jobs. Then I decided to give up everything and focus exclusively on my projects as a freelance person. It was a bit difficult at the beginning and now it's fine.
How do you feel about starting a new movement?
I don't think I'm starting a new movement, we're a big community of creative people influencing each others. I know Pencil Vs Camera introduced something new in the current art & design industry. I just brought my contribution. History of Art will only remember a few names. It has always been like this.
As a very successful artist, you must see people trying to emulate your work. How do you feel about that? What do you believe is the difference between copying, evoking, and being inspired by?
It's always gratifying to be an inspiration for other people. What else can I say? If some people use my Pencil Vs Camera concept and bring a new dimension to it and manage to do something even better, it's their right. Copying is different. Copying is almost an insult.
What personal techniques, that you might be able share with our audience, do you have for staying at your most creative and what's next for you?
Living new experiences is the best way to fight against lack of inspiration because life is always full of surprises and stimulations. I'll have some new exhibitions in autumn, I'll do some new Pencil Vs Camera works and I'm also working on some music projects.
Check out Ben's Facebook page to see the the entire "Pencil Vs Camera" collection.