BENJAMIN CRAVEN | DESIGNER | LEEDS
Benjamin Craven is a designer who uses bold, abstract geometric prints to recreate everyday imagery in quirky new ways. Using a combination of screen printing, digital work and paint, his work crosses multiple mediums - from bags, homewares, wall pieces to large scale murals. Craven doesn’t shy away from incorporating clashing shapes and colours in his designs, encouraging his customers, clients and the viewer to take a playful approach to the world.
Having set up your studio outside of London, how instrumental has social media been for you as a freelancer?
I have had my studio space in Leeds for a year now, and platforms like Instagram have allowed me to share with my followers an insight into what I am up to. The majority of my clients come from Instagram - but a lot of people seem to think I’m based in London. I also think Instagram in particular really complements the nature of my work - it’s a fast-paced platform where you often scroll until a something appealing, like bright colour, captures your attention. So, I think a lot of people engage well with my work on social media. I would say that it has taken a lot of work to build up my Instagram to what it is now; it’s not something that happens overnight. I used to dedicate probably a half hour every night, making sure I’d upload at least one picture a day in order to engage with my followers.
In what way do everyday sights and occurrences significantly inspire the approach that your work takes?
The everyday inspires me because I can never get bored of it. The world is constantly changing, and the unexpected is always present: scaffolding on buildings, new road markings, people moving all the time - and people themselves interacting with their surroundings. I came across a theory by Guy Debord and the Situationists called the ‘dérive’ - it’s about the act of ‘drifting’, wandering around aimlessly and absorbing the surrounding environment and the ambience. I was already doing a similar thing; I regularly go out riding on my bike, taking in my surroundings, and incorporating what I see into my designs. The idea of ‘drifting’ is something that appeals to me, as a way to explain the importance of ‘everything and anything’ inspiring my work.
A lot of your work features sun-soaked scenes in vivid colour - do you see these landscapes as complementary to, or in stark contrast to the humdrum of everyday life?
I’d say that it’s a bit of both. A lot of the architecture I’m inspired by is brutalist, so it’s solid concrete that can look quite dull. I often add colour to these structures that I see around and about - so it’s about reworking my surroundings in a visually pleasing way. A lot of people have actually picked up on my obsession with the sun. I like to incorporate the sun into my work, as it’s a form of escapism for me - and hopefully for people who look at my work too. The reality is, a lot of the scenes I create originate with washed out concrete buildings, so I like to reimagine the monotony of the everyday in its best possible form.
What should people take away from your work?
I create my work in order to add a pop of playfulness into other people’s lives. For example, last year, I released a limited release of a series bags that were bright and fun, but also could appeal to a wide range of people. I did them in a few designs, anticipating that people would pick out a design that they really enjoyed. I have also done some work for a few places in Leeds, including lightboxes for Headrow House. I want my designs to inject colour and energy into these spaces - and jazz up people’s experiences. It’s the same with my wall prints - they’re about adding colour into people’s surroundings. All in all, across the products I sell, the projects I collaborate on, and the bigger pieces I paint in public, I want to create something fresh and dynamic.