Exhibition at the Avenue, London, UK, June 2012

Xavier Axelson: How is being an artist in 2012 different from when you first started?

Ben Heine: Social networks and specialized online artists platforms have really brought me a lot of positive things in my evolution as an artist. It helped me reach a broad public and it also helped me to progress by receiving constructive criticisms from a large number of people and art lovers. I would say this is for me the biggest difference between now and when I started sharing my works. The connection with the public is stronger than ever and it’s for the better.

If you could go back to when you first started your Pencil Vs Camera concept and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

I’d tell myself to do more complex drawings, some of the first sketches in this series are very simple and minimalist, which is not bad neither because the contrast between the photo and the drawing is then stronger but I think more realistic illustrations are a bit more impressive to look at.

What did your experiences making political art and being an activist teach you about being an artist?

Doing political art in the past was a good lesson for me. It was a good experience to understand that I wasn’t made for this, that it’s a bit dangerous and that artists shouldn’t have and share straight political opinions, we should make people think but in a very subtle way. Some succeed to do so and it’s not an easy task.

On your website a love of language and people is mentioned; how did your love of language evolve and what aspects of people do you find most inspiring?

My love for languages and for people is strongly connected. I use the languages I know to correspond with others and to meet new people. I’m definitely a person of communication. I like to observe people and understand how they think and react. It’s always fascinating and it is definitely a source of inspiration.

You also refer to nature as one of your main inspirations; being that nature can be both cruel and kind, are you able to find inspiration in the darker natural aspects?

I don’t think Nature can be cruel, because it has no will or conscience. It’s just the way we, humans, interpret it. When I refer to Nature as a source of inspiration, I just want to say that I like to spend time in natural and beautiful places earth can offer, so I guess I wouldn’t find spiritual stimulation in the darkest aspects of Nature, such as natural catastrophes, for instance.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

I like to combine different art forms so I guess I would describe it as “mixed media art”. I'd also say that Pencil Vs Camera gives me supernatural powers.

When you first start a project do you already see the entire piece done in your head or does it evolve as it goes?

Many people ask me this question and I always say yes. I have a clear idea of what the final result will look like as soon as I start a project. Somehow all the images I do are somewhere in my imagination and it’s just a matter of time, chance and inspiration before I can finally have the opportunity to express them.

What type of art/art movement inspires you?

Mainly Pop Art, Surrealism, Social Realism and some aspects of Street Art. That’s it. These movements inspired me when I was a student.

What is your favorite work of art that you have created?

It’s that one so far: Pencil Vs Camera - 57.

Do you ever suffer from a creative block? If so, do you find stepping away from what you are working on helps? Or do you just plow through it?

When I have creative blocks, I do other things such as answering emails and then I try to live some new experiences because it is the best way to fight against lack of inspiration. Creative blocks happen but they never last long because life is always full of surprises and stimulations.

When you finish a project are you ever surprised by what you have learned from the piece? Is a painting/drawing ever really complete?

A creative work is never totally finished. I think the best works in the history of art are those that are unfinished, because they reveal the artist’s initial vision and because they give the viewer the occasion to interpret them in many different ways.

What’s next for you in 2012?

Some new exhibitions in autumn, some new Pencil Vs Camera works on black paper and some music projects as well.

What does being brave mean to you?

A brave person is someone showing fearless courage in whatever they are doing may it be very hard, very dangerous or very boring.

(*) Examiner.com is a dynamic entertainment, news and lifestyle network that serves more than 20 million monthly readers across the U.S. and around the world. Examiner.com is fully powered by Examiners, thousands of writers who are self-motivated independent contributors. Each Examiner is able to express through words and photos a deep expertise in a topic. Xavier Axelson is a writer of erotica for Silver Publishing and Seventh Window Publications. He is also a Columnist for Examiner.com, and writes a column for All Bear Online Magazine.

See some past interviews.