Who is Benjamin Reaves and what does he do?
I am a multimedia appropriation artist who's interested in consciousness, philosophy, our war on the human spirit, and how modern media, finance, and institutions influence thought in America.
When did you first start playing around with collage as an art form?
My first digital collage was created over ten years ago. I was drawn to collage as an art form as I became more interested in the use of symbols and the juxtaposition of meanings inherent in collage. Using these two elements, I am able to create new messages and sometimes undermine the meanings of these objects in our lives. I find it to be a powerful and almost unlimited tool in the modern era.
Who and/or what inspires you and your work?
Music is a huge inspiration to me . I am constantly inspired by a wide range of music from all different walks of life. Perhaps the music closest to my heart is the work of Nine Inch Nails, and Tool is a close second, followed by just a few of many: The Doors, Radiohead, Outkast, The Birthday Party, Tom Waits, Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Bonnie Prince Billy and A Perfect Circle. I am also inspired by many philosophers, among them: Aldous Huxley, Slavoj Zizek, Karl Marx, Carl Jung, and Noam Chomsky, because of their immense insights into consciousness and how ideology shapes our perception of the world, and their beliefs that it could be different. Artists that inspire me are numerous, but just to name a few: Joel Peter Witkin, Alex Grey, Banksy, Shepherd Ferry, David Wajnarowicz, John Heartfield and Diego Rivera. Like the philosophers above, their work revolves around challenging the standards of society and consciousness, offering a new vision. Film is also a huge inspiration to me but with lists like these I could go on and on, so I digress. I am drawn to work that is cutting, dark and beautiful, often blurring the line, and resides on the fringes of the mainstream consciousness. I like work that makes me feel, that's often raw and is either searching for truth or offers some personal truth; it's what makes me feel the most alive.
What's your creative space like?
Mostly, I sit in front of my handmade computer with a 50 inch monitor. It not only allows me access to my digital creative space, but to music and the ideas of the world at large. Physically, I surround myself with the things that inspire me. These include media and cultural icons from my childhood to the present day, books, prints, magazines. My creative space looks a lot like a collage: a mashing of ideas through images.
How would you describe your creative style or theme?
My creative style explores deeply the idea of beauty in darkness. My theme is consciousness and perception, and perhaps the outside forces that act upon them.
What are some key things you consider when creating pieces?
Normally when I go to create, I have some sort of vision, either inspired by the thoughts of others that support or shape my view of consciousness, or some personal impulse or idea that I desire to express. I look to create some kind of visual harmony, in order to reflect the underlying metaphysical significance of these ideas and their effect on consciousness. I do not shy away from any subject, or symbol. I feel most alive when my work blatantly and honestly expresses my intent to the viewer. My work often pushes the viewer to rethink or reflect on the more serious side of consciousness and of life. I find these ideas not only the most important but the most exciting. While some may see only darkness, I can only see the beauty.
Without giving up all your secrets, what is your artistic process when creating a work?
I normally ruminate over an idea for a day, week, or sometimes a year, before climbing into some music and getting in my creative headspace. I then take to the computer and begin my process of fleshing out the idea. I habitually work in the late hours of the evening into the early morning, often for a few days, to finish a work. I am extremely driven to see a work finished and once I've started I can't stop.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I would collaborate with Trent Reznor, through the body of Nine Inch Nails.
Aside from creating your artworks, what else keeps you busy?
My personal life inspires my artwork, and is spent consuming thoughts and ideas I would like to explore. I am always trying to know, see and hear more. I am working on trying to climb out of my work area and trying to become a part of the art community.
Any recent, current or future projects we should know about?
I have recently taken an interest in zines and the DIY movement. The focus of my zine is different ideologies' role in an American home. The book consists of the interior of a house displaying these very ideologies at work in our lives, while we see them manifest in society outside the doors and windows. The DIY movement lends itself perfectly to such a project, where I am attacking things like religion, government, and the traditional family. Where other mediums might find it hard to be able to express these ideas, the Zine community is one willing not only to receive, but to embrace them.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone looking to start making collage art?
It's nice to know the history of collage and the roles of symbols throughout human and art history. But really there are no rules for anything in this life. If you're interested in creating just start doing it. With each image you create - look at it, cut, and paste and you will learn and grow. And I suggest you keep growing.