Hey Ben, you appear to be a man of many talents, tell us a little bit about yourself, what is it you do?
I like to do a little bit of everything. I studied photography at university but I enjoy making lots of things. I shoot photos, illustrate, create collages, make zines and run Blue Monday Press.
Talk to us a bit about your latest photography project ‘Goodbye, Blue Monday’?
Goodbye, Blue Monday is a project all about mortality and maturity. The photos were all shot over the last year or so, shortly after I went freelance as an artist. I became hyperaware of the passing of time and found myself drawn to photographing symbols of age and death. All my photo projects are a documentation of the world I find myself in, framed in the context of an idea that has preoccupied me during that time. Goodbye, Blue Monday deals with mortality whereas my previous project Second Adolescence explored the freedom of youth.
Speaking of Blue Monday, You also own an arts publisher called Blue Monday Press. How did that come about?
I set up Blue Monday Press as a way for me to publish my work and to put out collaborative projects. The idea is to try and work with early career artists to help them get their work into print and onto gallery walls. Our last collaborative project, was a collection of over twenty artists each creating a portrait of their favourite rapper, aptly titled Your Favourite Rapper. I want to keep doing collaborative projects and I’m hoping to do some more Your Favourite …… exhibitions in the future.
How important do you think it is for an artist these days to be able to self publish? What are the advantages to Self publishing?
I think it’s really important for artists to be self-publishing their work. There are loads of advantages; you don’t have to wait for a publisher to put out your work, you’ve got full editorial control, you can work at your own pace, and (as someone who loves books) I think it’s really important to get your work into physical form, and not just let it linger online. I think self-publishing also teaches you a lot of creative skills that are really helpful if you’re pursuing a career in the arts, you get forced to learn everything from Indesign to how to market yourself, and all those skills are key.
You also do illustration, we love your Stranger Things Illys. Do you have a particular creative outlet that you prefer?
Thank you! I loved the show and I just wanted to do a little something to honor it afterwards. I don’t really have a favourite outlet, I’ve got a slightly obsessive personality so I tend to get really into one medium for a while, until I get a bit bored of it or burn myself out, and then I’ll switch to another. I also like to do a lot of projects at once so I’ll end up procrastinating on a photography project by drawing or vice versa.
Fave project you have completed so far?
I really like all my old projects but Second Adolescence was my first photography book so that’s definitely one of my favourites. I also recently made a pack of Pokemon cards inspired by Grime MCs, that was really fun to draw. My favourite is often the thing I’m working on in the moment though, you’re excited to see how the idea in your head will translate onto the page and I really like that process. I’m in the middle of a project called Hip Hop High Street, where I’m drawing a street of shops, each inspired by rap lyrics. I’m excited to see how that’ll turn out.
We can see a lots of your photography comes out of things you are experiencing personally, Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?
My photo inspiration tends to just come from the world around me. I try to keep a camera close and if something catches my eye, I’ll shoot a photo. In terms of photographers, I really love the work of Jim Goldberg. I came across one of his books, Raised by Wolves, while I was at university and it’s been my favourite ever since. The project is the story of these LA street kids which is told through photos, interviews, or diary entries, and it’s incredible. I love how he uses all these different techniques to tell this heartbreaking story of these struggling kids.
Finally can we take a look at your workspace?