Ben Heine Interview in Colored Pencil Magazine (USA)

Artist Ben Heine Interview in Colored Pencil Magazine

Colored Pencil Magazine: Ben Heine’s style is so unique and innovative, it has garnered worldwide attention and fame. He has found a creative way to merge his photography and art, opening a window into a surreal world filled with exciting visual creations.

I was born in 1983 in Ivory Coast and currently live and work in Belgium. I have a degree in journalism but consider myself a multidisciplinary visual artist. I am self-taught in both drawing and photography. My creations have been exhibited in Europe and Asia. My favorite art movements are Surrealism, Pop Art, Geometric Abstraction, Expressionism, and Social Realism. When I’m not creating artwork, I am making electronic music and spending time with my two children.

In 2010 I launched the series Pencil Vs. Camera. After drawing and taking photos for many years, this series seemed like the natural evolution of my work, merging the two to create this project. Pencil Vs. Camera is about illusion, dream, poetry, magic, and simplicity.

The challenge was to create the illusion of 3D on a 2D surface – a simple piece of paper. The sketch needed to connect with the photographic background while telling a story on its own. It is important to me to try to give symbolic meaning to all of my drawings, something more profound than what the photo could portray alone.

This combination of drawing and photograph has been a powerful way for me to express my ideas. There are no limits, and everything is possible in a photograph with a drawing that represents a door to a parallel creative world – straight from my imagination. Producing this concept seemed simple and easy to understand. Sketch a picture, hold it in your hand, and take a photo of it in a place of your choice.

Not all images start the same way. Sometimes an idea is born first. It can take me a long time to find just the right location. Other times, I am inspired by an environment first.

I usually start with a rough drawing, spending hours to days on it, depending on the complexity of the subject. I then go to the location I intend to take the photo. I hold the paper in my hand, carefully making adjustments to line up the subject with the main lines of the scene, and take the picture. Corrections and changes can be made with post-production software to make sure everything works together perfectly.

In 2012 and 2013 I brought some innovations to the concept by adding colors and black paper instead of white. I also tried increasing the size of the drawing. I plan to continue to grow this series, creating images for specific projects I have in mind. In the meantime, you can get my newly published book featuring most images from the series:

Since 2014, many smartphone applications emulate the concept, but of course, it’s less creative. Several other artists have also borrowed the idea to create some variations. At first, I’ll admit, it was a bit irritating to see my original idea done by others, but now I find it cool. I’ve learned what a privilege it is to be able to influence and inspire other artists. I especially enjoy working on collaborations and teaching workshops in schools in which my images have become very popular with the students over the years.

Colored Pencil Magazine