Eye Candy

Ben Thomas’ work first came into our world through his designs for his clothing label KneeDeepInSleep, with the intricate explosions of colour and detailed abstractions soothing our tired eyes, seeping out his originality and modernist explosions at every possible opportunity. Hell... even the boxes he sells his t-shirts in are painstakingly detailed. We caught up with him to gain an insight into how he does what he does...

How would you describe your art, to the uneducated?
Most of my personal artwork is a bit of an abstract, sometimes angular, sometimes curvy, multi layered and colorful affair! The work I do for clients is generally not as abstract - but it's easy to see my style stamped into each project.

How did you get into creating it? Was it something that you were always into, or can you pinpoint down a moment of realization (of sorts)?
I actually used to play the saxophone (bet you're wondering where I'm going with this!), and it was my teacher that actually first showed me the software. I was about 16 at the time and had never heard of it. I was always quite good at art - but was totally frustrated by the fact that I could never get what was in my head onto paper with traditional mediums. Photoshop totally blew me away! Obviously you can layer everything like a montage, add effects and layers that react differently with blending modes etc etc. You can move everything around and there's no need for paint that smudges and pencils that snap.

Can you give us a little insight into your techniques (without giving away trade secrets)? Like how do you do it?
As far as the process goes - I scribble a lot and always take a notepad to bed… that sounds weird; I appreciate that but I find it hard switching off at night and sometimes I have some cool ideas when my head hits the pillow. Sometimes I'll wake up, switch the light on, take some notes and then get back off to sleep. When I get down to starting a job, I always begin with a sketch now… I think it helps to stay on path with projects, even if it's totally rubbish.

Nearly all of my work is digital and created across 'Photoshop' and 'Illustrator.' I do also dabble a bit with a 3d program 'Cinema 4d' and a cool bit of software called 'Blender.' I'm also a photographer - so you'll often see stuff I've shot myself incorporated into my artwork. I draw some stuff straight into the computer too with a tablet and really it's all about layering with me. I tend to start with a main focal point and build on it from there making strong use of colour and negative space.

Where do you go for inspiration?

First up, music is definitely the biggest one for me. If there's some cool stuff released at the start of the week, I'll breeze through the week’s projects! I also read a lot of books, read a lot of design blogs and have subscriptions to lots of cool design and photography mags. The usual stuff really…

I love finding cool painters too - that kind of stuff blows my mind. I’m totally into the work of Russ Mills (byroglyphics), Simon Goinard Phelipot who’s an absolutely incredible painter and Hannah Stouffer an Illustrator from Los Angeles. I also adore Mariano Vivanco's photography and the work of Greg Williams. Definitely worth a look in!!

Have you ever been to fabric? If so can you describe the experience(s) you had there?
I've only been to Fabric once - I was actually meant to go for my mate's birthday earlier this year. But I couldn't make it in the end. The club's insane and it appears to be a very beard friendly club. I'm down with that.

Anything else you’d care to mention?
Do check out my clothing label: www.kneedeepinsleep.com and my online portfolio www.ben-thomas.com


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