Over the years I have interviewed people who have made bags out of old books, old vinyl records …. and I have interviewed musicians, music producers…. and I have interviewed sculptors, painters, doodlers…. AND this week it gives me great pleasure to interview somebody that is a combination of all 3. A bit cryptic I know, but my guest is the accomplished British artist Ben Riley, whose art features icons of music throughout the ages using the medium of broken and ground down pieces of vinyl records on canvas. Intrigued? Hi Ben & welcome…
Hi, I’m international artist, Ben Riley.
What inspired you to specialise in artwork out of broken & ground down pieces of vinyl on canvas? Why vinyl?
It is easy to fade into the background and do what everyone else is doing. I believe as an artist, you should strive to create your own methods, styles and diversity. I have a huge love of music and art so I bridge the two. The idea behind my work is creating portraits of music icons of the past and present using the music itself, eliminating the use of conventional mediums such as paint, pencils and charcoals, thus creating my own method.
Your pictures feature icons of music throughout the ages – do you have a favourite?
My favourite icon that I have created is Jimi Hendrix as his music and fashion style was very unique and unconventional like my work. I feel that it’s the perfect match.
Do you have any other favourite artwork mediums?
I love pencil and pen studies, particularly shading between light and dark. That’s what I also like most about my work, creating complete darkness, extreme highlights and all the gradients in between, it’s very dramatic.
Growing up, have you always wanted to be an artist or did you have other aspirations?
At one point I wanted to be a photographer, I have had a few different career paths, I can’t quite remember many of them :/ I think I was put here to create art, it’s not by any means an easy or stable career, but it’s the path that I’ve been put on by fate.
As your artwork features music icons, I gather you are a big music fan yourself. What genre do you enjoy? Any favourites?
Yes, I’m also a singer/songwriter. I have a big love for bands from the 60’s including The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience to The Rolling Stones, and more recent artists including Amy Winehouse, I believe that she was ‘the’ icon of this generation.
Your artwork is full of detail & expression? Do you work from photos, sketches or from sitting studio sessions?
I start by doing a sketch, roughly get it drawn on the canvas then start building it up with large pieces of broken records, then I work on the details from dark to light. As I work with them flat on a table, it’s not until it’s finished that I get the chance to step back and look at the piece.
I’m sure every artist has some form of art theme that they just cannot master as well as other themes – some avoid drawing people, others animals etc. What theme of artwork do you find hardest to recreate?
I’d say landscapes, they just aren’t my thing.
Your work has been exhibited throughout the world – have you got a favourite venue or exhibition?
I love exhibiting in London, it’s one of my favourite cities. Some of my favourite shows have been in the US, I particularly like LA.
Although you are based in Staffordshire, do accept commissions worldwide?
Yes, I think it’s important not to be restricted to the UK.
What music icon pictures will you be working on in 2018?
I mainly work on a commission basis, so it’s whoever comes in I guess..
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I love vintage clothes, they are generally better made, more individual and your less likely to pass someone on the street with the same thing. Shoes, I like brogues, and Chelsea Boots. Also love vintage hats!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
eBay is pretty good, if you have an idea what your after, you can find some hidden gems on there.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
No idea.. Erm a nice pair of jeans maybe..
Boots or Shoes?
Ankle boots, I don’t know why, I just prefer them, maybe just less formal.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your work.
I love all your artwork Ben, but I think my favourite out of the photos I’ve published is the one of Mick Jagger – I love the facial expression and how you’ve captured it to a T. Dear readers, What do you think of this art medium? Which of Ben’s artwork do you like best & why? Do share your views!
All photos have been published with kind permission of Ben Riley. Photographer: Ben Riley.