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A Dozen: Benjamin Shine

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Who are you and where are you from?

Im Benjamin Shine - from London

What attracts you to making art?

Ideas! An artwork provides a place to explore and present an idea. That being said I work in a few different mediums and my approach is similar for each. I like to question the subject itself what makes a painting a painting? Is it the image on the canvas or is it the physical object made of parts assembled and hung on a wall? What happens if those parts are reconfigured  could they form a painting themselves does a painting need to be painted? Providing an alternative perspective to the familiar is a real interest of mine and creating intriguing and memorable pieces is what I aim to achieve in my art pieces and other work.

What mediums do you prefer to work with?

I like working with fabric, but using it in a different context. I started out studying fashion and that opened up a way of thinking  particularly in how to create alternative ways to construct garments and details - as well as discovering fabrics and textures. This has evolved into working away from the body, combining fabric with materials to create works that really revolve around and highlight the qualities of the materials being used.

How do you begin working on a piece?

It really depends on the piece - most of the time there is a lot of preparatory work done in terms of design, so by the time I actually begin to make it, its almost a case a just putting it together. In some cases and in the more recent work Im working in a much looser way and abandoning any preparatory work to create almost hand drawn works using lengths of fabric. Its only in the early stages but Im liking the feel and natural quality of the end result. The Space Between Light and Shade, uses a single piece of tulle fabric, pressed and pleated to create the image of Rembrandt. For me, this is beginning to refine the idea of painting with fabric by using the basic properties of the material to create real depth and detail.

When did you begin to notice that your art had broken through to becoming a unique style?

Ive always aimed to develop original ideas but Ive never really intended to pursue a singular style. Having said that, within the groups of ideas, techniques become styles as the body of work grows. I think the fabric portraits, which are made from fabric woven through eyelets on a substrate are a good example of this. When I completed the first one it was not something I thought I would ever do again  it was just one of many ideas. However, over the years Ive received commissions specifically for this technique and have since seen it become its own style.

What environment(s) do you find most conducive in creation?

I dont have a particular environment that inspires creativity I think its just a case of playing off the moment wherever that happens to be. In terms of my studio Im quite happy with peace and quiet! I realise that confessing to hanging upside down whilst listening to the mating call of dolphins would be a far more interesting answer - but I tried it and it just didnt work out for me.

Where do you find inspiration?

Mostly in opportunities that come my way - being presented with a problem to solve or a brief to dissect is a joy. A lot also comes from simply working and playing around - and working across different mediums where ideas can translate and grow in different directions. A good example would be Cordz, which is a reusable childrens creative activity. Coloured cords can be applied to Velcro-like boards by hand or via stylus. The child experiences drawing and can easily alter a picture or remove the cord to create a new artwork. The idea grew out of the portrait technique and the concept of painting with fabric.

How would you compare your new work with your old work?

Its hard to compare my older works with recent work, as theres not much like-for -like. I think my approach and ability to resolve an idea faster is something Im aware of, but the work and ideas themselves are only different by virtue of their medium or market.

How do you see your work evolving in the future?

There are so many things Id like to be developing right now and in the future - I hope the work continues to evolve in different fields  for me this is important in keeping ideas fresh and the work interesting. I find if Im learning something new, it encourages questions and ideas.

How do you compliment your art life (how do you stay sane)?

I’m afraid my "art life is my life as a whole! If this means Im insane  Ill have to go with it!

What advice would you give to an up and coming artist trying to work with a gallery?

This can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand  if its a good gallery it has the potential of helping an artists career  and the hefty commission taken (sometimes well over 50%) by the gallery can be justified in lieu of successful sales. If its not a great gallery, it will just be a waste of time. I think the best advice is to live and learn, try it out and see if it works but know it is a gamble.

Which methods of promotion do you think are most effective for the independent artist?

I think this depends on the artist and the type of work but in general, online media, especially art and design content blogs, like this one, are enabling all creatives the chance to have their work exhibited on an even-leveled playing field  across the world.

Whether an artist creates an installation or sculpture, painting or exhibition  if its photographed or filmed and uploaded to the web  it can be accessed by so many people its hands down the best way to promote work.

::all images courtesy of Benjamin Shine ::


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Posted: May 7th, 2011
at 9:25am by Koookiecrumbles

Tagged with

Categories: contemporary,a dozen

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