Interview for Flickr (*)

Photographer literally draws life into his photos (You can also read the following interview on Flickr Blog or find the above audio interview on Yahoo Screen).

Interview with Ben Heine for Flickr - The Weekly Flickr - 2013
Ben Heine for The Weekly Flickr
In this edition of The Weekly Flickr, we profile Belgian artist and photographer Ben Heine. To call Ben Heine’s photography “cool” or even “eye-catching” is a bit of an understatement. His images are mesmerizing. Ben’s Pencil Vs Camera series perfectly blends illustrations in surprising but clever juxtapositions.

Ben Heine has created a form of art that is truly all his own. Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Ben Heine is using art to show that if you can see it and believe it, there are no bounds to creativity! 

Pencil Vs Camera - Art by Ben Heine
Pencil Vs Camera - © Ben Heine
“In my work, I’m really trying to interact with the viewer,” the Belgian artist tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “I want to make them laugh or smile, and if I can, surprise people so that he or she doesn’t understand how it’s made. I’m having so much fun and I want them to feel the same.”

“Pencil Vs Camera” mixes drawing and photography, imagination and reality through illusion and surrealism. Ben says the idea was the result of a long graphic exploration and the evolution of his artistic ability.

Pencil Vs Camera - Art by Ben Heine
“The initial idea happened randomly while I was writing a letter in 2010,” Ben explains. “When I held the letter up to put it inside an envelope, I noticed the paper was transparent enough that I could see my television in the background. I suddenly saw two images working together: the words on the paper and the action of the television. It was surreal, and I instantly thought I could do something creative with this.”

“The very next day I made Pencil Vs Camera #1,” Ben says. “It wasn’t very creative, but it was the beginning of this new concept. Since then, it’s evolved into more and more complex drawings, and it’s always changing into something bigger and better.”

Ben Heine Art - Pencil Vs Camera - Drawing Vs PhotographyThe process behind the series is very simple. Ben draws a picture by hand and then takes the photo of the drawing at a specific location. His hand is almost always visible in the image to represent the connection between viewer, artist and artwork. In “Pencil Vs Camera”, Ben generally focuses on architecture, portraits and animals. Among many others, the main themes he approaches are love, freedom and friendship.

Ben Heine Art - Pencil Vs Camera - Drawing Vs Photography“The drawing has to be nice, and the location where I’m taking the photo has to be interesting,” Ben says. “When I edit my photo, like every photographer, I’m always adjusting. Since these are raw images, I’m adjusting the light, the colors, the contrast – everything (see some photo editing examples here). In some cases, I even adjust the composition because I want the final image to be perfect!” An admitted perfectionist, he uses perspective to create unexpected images that are open to interpretation, going back to the drawing board and readjusting if necessary.

Drawing Vs Photography - Ben Heine Art - Pencil Vs Camera Love, freedom and friendship are the main things I’m trying to express in my art because they are a reflection of what I love the most in life,” Ben says. “I’ve made many photos showing duos… either two people or two animals in love or in a friendly situation with each other. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

“One of my favorite images shows a lion jumping out of the image,” Ben says. “I took this photo in Tunisia and drew a ferocious lion jumping and appearing. The picture is unfinished, because I mainly wanted to attract the attention of the viewer on the lion’s roar. I liked the powerful effect of this image – you know the lion’s screaming and shouting. For me, graphic art can sometimes be dull, but this image is powerful.”

Ben Heine Art - Pencil Vs Camera - Augmented RealityThere is also a lot of illusion and surrealism depicted in Ben’s art. Throughout his career he’s been influenced by famous artists like René Magritte. Ben says he likes to play with shapes, geometrics and create illusions with tricky objects and perspectives. The reactions Ben’s received from his series has been extremely positive. 

Pencil Vs Camera, Concept by Ben Heine - Innovative Art
“I started posting my pictures on Flickr in 2006, and since then, the feedback from other members has helped me to improve my work,” Ben admits. “I really strive to create a new form of art. For me, it’s very important to be innovative and do something different. I’m having fun only because I’m trying to surpass myself daily. I want people to see I’ve given my utmost best in each of my images.” 

(*) Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website and web services suite that was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo in 2005. In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by photo researchers and by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. The Verge reported in March 2013 that Flickr had a total of 87 million registered members and more than 3.5 million new images uploaded daily.