Instagram: @albionworks Website: www.benpearce.com
1. What's your story? Where are you from?I grew up in the countryside in the South West of England, studied Painting & Sculpture in Birmingham, and then moved to London where I currently live with my wife Helen. I work as a freelance animator and art director at creative agencies and production houses across London and abroad.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.Being an animator, I’m often forced to keep my designs simple in order to ensure a project is manageable within a limited time and budget. I enjoy working with these kinds of design constraints and this reductionist aesthetic carries through much of my work. I like finding ways to boil an image down to the bare bones. I try to get humour into my images and animations where I can, or something the viewer can connect with - a familiar expression, situation, or body language. I aim to make the viewer smile or have a moment of recognition.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?I mostly make digital designs using industry standard design tools. I’ve been using this amazing software for many years so they’re the tools I’m now most familiar with. I also find there are always new things to learn and within them, so you can always find new ways of doing things. Having said that, I also love getting back to basics. You can’t beat a bunch of Posca pens and some big sheets of paper.
4. What is your artistic process like?I’m constantly making thumbnail sketches and taking photos of places, people, cars, details on buildings, and anything else I might be able to incorporate into one of my illustrations. Often the starting point for an illustration is something I’ve seen or something that happened during the day. I start with simple shape tools to create compositions, use illustration and photo references and endlessly tweak the illustration until it starts to take shape. I may get sidetracked, focusing on a tiny detail that can then lead to another image altogether. I try not to be too rigid about what I’m making; I’m open to following the surprises that happen in the creative process. Often these diversions lead to something better than the original plan. For a commissioned artwork, I’ll be more methodical and sketch out a rough image to get the idea across to the client before going ahead with the artwork.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?I find London an endless source of inspiration. The architecture, the people and the energy. The anonymity of the city can give people the sense that they’re invisible, so you see things in London you wouldn’t see elsewhere. If I ever tire of London, I find travel is the best way to escape a creative rut. New places and cultures always offer new sights, smells, tastes, architecture. Even a quick city break can offer a fresh perspective. I spend far too many hours looking at artist’s websites and design blogs, and I follow a lot of animation and production houses. And of course, a trip to the art galleries is always a great way to get inspired.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?Whatever I’m illustrating or animating, I need to understand to some degree how it’s been put together, or how it works. So it gives me an appreciation for other design disciplines such as architecture, fashion design, industrial design etc. Artists of all disciplines create their own personal language. Some may share a similar aesthetic, but each will have his or her own accent, just as a jazz musician will have a signature sound. As an artist, you start to develop a ‘nose’ for these accents and appreciate the angles other designers are approaching their subjects from. It’s always interesting to look at what factors came into play in the design of something - whether practical or fanciful. I’m constantly aware that everything that surrounds me has been designed by someone, whether it’s the shape of a number on a sign, the pattern on the fabric on a bus seat, or the layout of tracks on a rail network, someone designed it.
7. Where did you study?I went to Exeter Art College in Devon, then studied Fine Art - Painting and Sculpture at the University of Central England in Birmingham.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?I imagine I’ll still be in London, creating illustrations and short films
9. What about in ten?Living in a warm climate, illustrating books in my treehouse studio. Exploring caves, digging up vegetables from the garden and fishing off the side of my boat.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?I hope to inspire, entertain and educate. Illustration can be a very powerful way to communicate. As well as paying the bills with advertising work, I try to take on projects in the charity sector and in education when I can. I’d like to do more of this in the future.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?A Keralan curry or Vietnamese street food.
12. Favourite book?Anything by Dick Bruna.
13. Favourite genre of music?I love music and I listen to a bit of everything. I’m yet to find something I enjoy in death metal or grindcore but I find there’s great music in most genres. My first love would have to be soul music. It’s impossible not to love Sam Cooke.
14. What are your hobbies?I play the drums and I DJ. I’ve been collecting records for many years and it’s a real pain when I move house. I also love cycling and hiking.
15. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?David Attenborough.