Ben Eine has created his own visual language, embracing the power of simplicity by creating bold letterforms that take up vast spaces - claiming the urban environment as his own.
Graffiti is about claiming and reclaiming. As much as artistry is a part of it, it isn't the movements defining feature. What is public now becomes yours - if your name is on it. People don't think about the government or local council's ownership - they just see the name. For this reason, the bolder and bigger, the better.
It was this school of thought that informed Ben Eine. As a young lad he spent a great deal of time causing trouble with a can (spray-can, maybe beer?) in hand and subsequently getting arrested for it. The youthful joie de vive fired him up enough to guide his energy into becoming a well-known face in that scene. Due to the altercations with the police, being well-known had both pros and cons.
When the attention got a bit too heavy from the boys in blue and with the restlessness of youthful legs becoming more sedate - his work went from being ubiquitous to a more thought-through approach. One that has a true claim to the title of 'street art'. It's great that Eine doesn't mind the title. Some people do, but he embraces it and does all he can to propel it, and himself, forwards.
Unafraid of challenges, his artistic undertakings have allowed him a wide berth of exploration, although his fundamentals remain the same. Big, bright and bold letters. It's these that he has become best known for. It's these letters that people want to see.
At the beginning of this year, a collaborative project with Zippo lighters was released, where Ben paints (with some help naturally) a piece of ground that's roughly 17,500 square feet. In other words, it's really big. The birds-eye view makes it clear that it reads 'CREATE'. We don't know why that word or why it was chosen in the first place, but the finished product is quite magnificent.
This isn't a total departure for Eine though. Many of his typographic creations take up vast areas - nearly entire streets can be found covered with his letters. You can see the roots in graffiti - the tribal sense of territorialism is ever-present.
The guy loves art. It's what makes him happy so he does it - lots of it and very well. His dedication has paid off in translating to it being a career. The realisation of this was transformational. It became apparent that he was making an impact when his 'shutter art' in London's East End started doing the rounds in magazines and online. They had that unique transcendent quality that meant his art appealed to people that like art and people that don't. It's simple stuff - they're letters. But their striking presence is infectiously uplifting to passersby.
Things began to change, alongside the shutter art, when UK Prime Minister David Cameron gifted one of his pieces to former POTUS Barack Obama. From Whitechapel to the White House - quite a change. Here his name became associated with a different crowd. Although he embraces the joy of the situation, he didn't lose his head over it. His attitude is quintessentially English. He's frank, matter-of-fact and essentially no bullshit. He knows where he stands, understands the importance of art and his place in the art world. He's a happy-go-lucky chap that doesn't care too much if the paintings get painted over, as long as he managed to get a good picture before it happens.
This isn't a lack of ambition. He's a supremely driven individual, intent on getting his work seen and known by the greatest amount of people. The underlying theme in what he does though is the sheer passion for the artform. It's something he's always done and will probably always keep doing. His hunger for walls pushes him and as they say - 'greed is good'.
More like this:
Please, check your email.