A Prolific Self-Taught Multidisciplinary Artist
Chronological Comprehensive Biography
Ben Heine is a Belgian artist who has produced through the years a huge number of artworks. He is currently best known for his original series "Pencil Vs Camera", "Digital Circlism" and "Flesh and Acrylic". He has a degree in Journalism and is a self-taught person in drawing, digital photography and music (piano and drums). His graphic creations have been exhibited widely in Europe and more recently in Asia. His favorite art movements are Surrealism, Pop Art, Geometric Abstraction, Expressionism and Social Realism. He started creating electronic music in 2011. A documentary about his work was released in 2012. Ben is married to Marta and their son Theodor was born in August 2012.
A Belgian Boy Born in Ivory Coast With an Interest in Drawing
Ben was born in 1983 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he spent the first seven years of his life, with his parents and three sisters. The whole family relocated in Brussels, Belgium, in 1990. His father was a commercial engineer and his mother a choreographer and a dance teacher. As a young boy, Heine was attracted by the things young men are happy to explore such as sport, music and friends. Heine started drawing at 11 year old and quickly understood that graphic art was a powerful tool of communication and expression. At that time until recently, his curiosity for drawing was his keenest interest.
Academic Background and Love for Languages, Art and Music
Heine undertook studies in different countries, including Ivory Coast, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands. Ben has a diploma in Journalism completed with distinction at IHECS school of Journalism in Brussels. He also studied History of Art, Painting and Sculpture at Hastings College of Arts & Technology in the UK and at the Acadťmie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels. Throughout his academic training, he was also able to learn several music instruments (drums and piano) and several languages. Besides perfectly speaking French and English, the artist is quite fluent in Dutch and Polish and speaks some bits of Spanish and Russian.
A Popular Artist With an International Mindset
Hundreds of millions of people have seen Heineís creations. He has exhibited and published his artworks all over the world since 2006. The artist presented his pieces of art in countless fairs and galleries in Belgium, South Korea, the UK, Romania, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, the US, Turkey, Brazil, and Spain. His pictorial works have been published in some of the most famous newspapers and magazines (see "Press" and "Exhibitions" for more info). Moreover, Heine has a huge presence on the Internet as well, and his works continually pop here and there on social media and online news outlets, making him one of the most watched artists on the web today. Ben is an enthusiastic traveller, he has visited hundreds of cities and countries, each one of them being a huge source of inspiration for his creative projects.
Pencil Vs Camera: When Imagination Meets Reality
Pencil Vs Camera is an original visual concept invented and popularized by Ben Heine in April 2010. It is the artistís special trademark and one of the most creative art concepts of the 21st century that has influenced a big number of other creators. Pencil Vs Camera blends drawing and photography in a unique way. The idea was the result of a long artistic exploration and a logic outcome of Ben's evolution: "I wasnít satisfied with only drawing or only photography, so I had to find a way to merge the two and this is how Pencil Vs Camera was born." ("Cultural Voices" June 2014). Benís hand is always visible because it represents the connection between the viewer, the artist and the artwork. In these images, everything seems possible and Ben likes to tell a story and convey timeless messages using imagination, illusion, poetry and surrealism. Starting with simple sketches, Ben brought major innovations to the concept in 2012 and 2013, adding colors and black paper or increasing the drawingsí size (more info in the comprehensive chronological bio below). Since 2012, several smartphone applications emulate Heineís Pencil Vs Cameraís style. Many creators have borrowed from Heineís brilliance and started to fashion for themselves, something of a replica. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. (see "Interviews" for more info)
Flesh and Acrylic: Humans Disappearing in Abstract Paintings
This is a project Heine started in 2011. In this series, Heine creates abstract acrylic paintings on large wooden panels. The artist blends the model (a living person) with the background. The particularity of the project resides in the fact that a living person is integrated in the artwork and is part of the whole composition. Heine wants the model to become almost invisible. The end result is often a very colorful, wild and eye-catching creation. When the painting is finished, Heine takes pictures of it so that they can be exhibited later on. The artist has made several public live performances featuring his Flesh and Acrylic concept (see references in the comprehensive chronological bio below) and he often comes dressed with hand-painted acrylic outfits in public events or exhibitions. In 2013, Ben started the "Black Stickers" series, a variation of "Flesh and Acrylic".
Thousands of Other Photos and Drawings
Heine has been interested in painting and drawing since he was a child. He eventually added photography to his repertoire because it empowers him to create images that are more eye-catching, dramatic, precise, and realistic than most paintings or illustrations. Today, Heine is equal parts illustrator and photographer, creating commissioned works for clients such as Samsung, McCann Erickson, Diesel and others, while still making time for personal projects. He made thousands of drawings and took even more photos in various destinations around the world. Many of Benís photos look like drawings.
There are other less known series in Benís photographic work such as the "Double Landscapes", "Wild Animals Downtown" or "Black Stickers" pictures, among other ideas. When editing his pictures, Ben removes all the imperfections and improves the lights, tones, colors and composition. All the edits Ben makes are only meant to express a specific message and he wants to preserve the essence and authenticity of the original shot. These are the cameras and lenses Ben currently uses: Canon: Canon EOS Mark II. Canon lens EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. Canon lens EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. Samsung: Samsung NX10, NX11, NX20, NX200. Samsung lens 50-200mm f 4.0-5.6 ois. Samsung ifunction lens 20-50mm f 3.5-5.6. LG G2 smartphone camera. Sony Xperia Z1 smartphone camera.
Digital Circlism: Portraits of Celebrities Made with Circles
This project started in 2010. In this series, Heine makes portraits of celebrities (mainly singers and musicians) with digital tools by using only flat circles. Heine defines it as a synthesis of Pop Art (art including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc.) and Pointillism (painting technique that uses small, distinct dots of pure color). Through the use of graphic softwares and a whole lot of creativity, Ben recreates iconic faces from history and pop culture with circles of various sizes and colors, in order to give them a dynamic and 3-dimensional appearance. Each portrait requires between 100 to 180 hours of work to be completed. The artist explained his workflow in an interview for Adobe Photoshop. Many of Ben's circle portraits have unfortunately been copied, stolen and plagiarized in various countries around the globe.
Music Creation: A Challenge Like No Others
An aspiring musician with an unmolested love for electronic music, Heine plays drums and the piano and started sharing his creative sounds for the first time in November 2011. "Music is more powerful", a startling confession for an artist whose claim to fame is a non-musical endeavor. His love for music marries well with his love for graphic art, "It complements my graphic work and it helps me to grow as a graphic artist too" Ben says. ("Cultural Voices", June 2014). Ben owns a professional studio since 2012. He uses Novation and Akai midi/audio synthesizers and plays drums with an electronic Roland drum kit. He edits all his sounds in Ableton Live. He is currently mainly interested in progressive house. In 2014, Ben started to collaborate with other musicians and singers.
In 2010, Ben was one of the first photographers to become an official Samsung Camera "Imagelogger". In this context, Ben had the opportunity to experience and shoot with Samsung latest cameras and lenses between 2010 and 2013 (in particular the Samsung NX10, NX11, NX20, NX200 and Galaxy NX cameras). Samsung also sponsored his promotional brochures in 2011, his collective exhibition at Samsung Dílight in 2010, his project with the Samsung Note 10.1 in Lisbon in 2012 and his solo exhibition at "Hyehwa Art Center" in Seoul later in 2013.
Heine started putting pencil to paper when he was only eleven years of age. Traditionally trained in journalism and communications at the renowned IHECS School, Heine tried his hand at political cartoons. This brief encounter was far less charitable to him than he had hoped. His political activism, at the cusp of his youth, unleashed a string of criticism and threats. In the end, Heine felt it was perhaps wiser to spend his talent elsewhere and walked away from political cartoons in 2009, vowing never to return.
Reach Out to Ben Heine
Apart from Heineís personal website and Facebook page, the artist is also reachable through Instagram, Flickr, SoundCloud, Twitter, deviantART, Google +, Blogger and YouTube.
2014 New Artistic Challenges / More Music / Mission to Tenerife
January 2014: Early January, thanks to his collaboration with the British news agency "Barcroft", Benís new 3D artworks were published in many notorious newspapers such as "The Daily Mail" (ref), "The Mirror" (ref), "Het Nieuwsblad" (ref), "The Daily Record" (ref), "The Telegraph" (ref), "Metro" (ref) and many others. On the 16th of January, Ben gave for the second time an online conference for 3 classes of Collingwood School in West Vancouver, British Columbia with teacher Mahasti Mofazali (ref). Later in January, with the help of his new agent Najwa Borro, Ben held a solo exhibition at "DCA Gallery" in Brussels, Belgium from the 24th of January until the 22nd of March, an event titled "Parallel Universe" (ref). A selection of limited edition prints from the "Pencil Vs Camera" series were exhibited, including some of Benís newest 3D creations. The show gathered thousand of visitors and also attracted national and international journalists such as "Het Laatste Nieuws" (ref) and "Fans of Flanders" (ref) in Belgium or "Press-TV" (ref) and "Irib tv" (ref) in Iran among others (ref)... Inexplicably, the Flemish press heavily covered the event while the French-speaking journalists of Belgium almost ignored it.
February 2014: Benís first comprehensive Pencil Vs Camera tutorial was published on Tuts+ (ref) along with an interview (ref). Tuts+ is a popular online platform aiming to help people learn creative skills. On the 22nd of February, Ben made a public "Flesh and Acrylic" performance at the Brussels "Natural Sciences Museum" in the frame of the "Museum Night Fever", an event organized by MacSwell (ref). His live performance with model Sandra Rassios was filmed by several television channels including Iedereen Beroemd", a well-known program in Flanders (ref). At the end of the performance, Ben wore an overall covered with acrylic paint with the same patterns used on the model and they both walked around in the respected museum (ref).
March 2014: Ben started collaborating with other musicians and singers such as pianist Thibault Crols and singer Lory Guerriero (ref). Mid March, several Diasec prints of Benís new 3D artworks were exhibited by Benís British gallery "The Art Movement" at the "Affordable Art Fair" in London (Battersea). Later in March, Benís video interview for ďFans of FlandersĒ was released in Flanders (ref).
April 2014: Ben improved his knowledge in music theory. He also created several new ballpoint pen sketches (ref). End of April, Ben became ambassador of his new town in the frame of "Wallonie Bienvenue" and he opened the doors of his studio to all visitors (ref).
May 2014: End of May, Ben shared several new musical electronic compositions including "Plucky Ducky", "Rainbow Memories", "You Don't Wanna Play" (ref). Ben started adding vocals to his melodies and collaborated with Belgian singer Lory Guerriero for his track "You Don't Wanna Play" and he also used his own voice.
June 2014: Mid June, Ben collaborated for the second time with Chinese model Zhuzhu to make another artwork with black stickers (ref). Later in June, an interview with Ben was released in "Cult of Mac" and on many other Apple related websites (ref). On the 23rd of June, a group of 21 students from the KCD School (Katholieke Centrumschool Denderleeuw) in Denderleeuw, Belgium) studying Ben's oeuvre visited his studio (with teacher Bart Verhelle). It was the first time Ben welcomed students directly in his studio. Since then, many schools worldwide have used Ben's artistic inventions to teach students to become more creative (ref).
July 2014: Ben travelled to Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) for a creative project titled "#onthedraw" commissioned by the islandís tourism agency "Promotur - Turismo de Canarias" (ref). Visiting the islandís most secret spots, Ben was asked to express his experiences in Tenerife through a number of drawings and an illustrated sketchbook, intending to promote the development of a sustainable tourism, raise awareness on the Canaries as an ideal scenario for film shooting and also to inspire youth from the Canary Islands to use their imagination and creativity to search for new opportunities (ref). The story of this project was published in Yorokobu (ref), El Pais (ref) and many other major Spanish medias.
September 2014: Ben worked part time as a teacher at the IFAPME school of Dinant, Belgium. End of September, Ben is interviewed by award-winning journalist Jessica Soho for "State of the Nation" for GMA news in The Philippines (ref).
October 2014: Ben exhibited a selection of prints at the (Brussels Accessible Art Fair) for the 5th time at the prestigious Cercle de Lorraine in the heart of Brussels. During the opening of the show, Ben wore a colorful handmade outfit made with acrylic (ref). The fair gathered thousand of visitors and different medias talked about it such as the Chinese "CNC News" (ref) or the Belgian "Brussels Diplomatic" (ref). On the 28th of October, Ben participated in an important national awareness action for the World Psoriasis Day by swimming with people having psoriasis to prove that it isn't contagious. This event gathered a great number of artists, politicians and journalists.
2013 International Recognition / First Exhibition in Asia / Animation
February 2013: Ben collaborated with Chinese model Zhuzhu for the first time (ref). Their shooting happened in Benís studio on the 17th of February. Among the photos they made together, "Less is More" showing the model covered with thousands of small squared black stickers is the most famous work (ref).
March 2013: The 17th of March, Benís animation and music "Time Warp" were released online. The 23rd of March, Benís circle portrait featuring Jesus was featured on the cover of "W Sieci" Polish weekly magazine.
April 2013: The 13th of April, Ben shared his animation "Lion Walk" made to illustrate his eponymous electronic music creation released the same day (ref). Ben travelled to France the 14th of April to co-organize (ref) and participate in "Tour de France Photo" along with founder Thomas Ueberschlag and photographer Stephan Deneuvelaere (ref). The 18th of April 2013, during the Tour, Ben exhibited some of his conceptual photos in a collective street exhibition in Marseille, France (ref). He also made a public Pencil Vs Camera performance the same day at Pavillon M (ref). Ben took some highly acclaimed pictures during this tour, such as "Time Traveler" or "Old Times", among others (ref).
May 2013: The 29th of May, Ben participated in the famous Belgian event "Culinaria" at Tour & Taxis (ref). The 2013 theme was "Pure Street" (ref). Ben's mission was to decorate the working space of Michelin Star Chefs Yves Mattagne and Axel Colonna (ref). He created "Taste Buds", a giant 27m2 abstract and colorful mosaic painting (ref).
June 2013: Early June, Ben opened his first official online stores (via Zazzle and deviantART) to sell reproductions and derivatives of his creations at more affordable prices and also to counter the massive piracy and illegal reproductions of his art in several countries, particularly in India, Asia and South America (ref). The 18th of June, Ben gave a conference to present his work at "Images International Photography Club" in The Hague, the Netherlands (ref).
July 2013: Ben started creating much larger drawings with more visible 3D effects using anamorphosis tricks. These images have had a huge success instantly (ref).
August 2013: Mid August, Ben signed a major contract with Kare Design, a decoration and design company based in Germany. Prior to the contract, Kare had sold to Endemol (international television production) several of Benís circle portraits, without Benís permission, to decorate the house of the French television reality show "Secret Story" that took place earlier in June. Fortunately, a positive solution to this infringement was found (ref).
September 2013: The 28th of September, Ben participated in an outdoor collective exhibition in his new town via the "Centre Culturel des Roches" (ref). Benís audio and video interview for Flickr (via "The Weekly Flickr
" by Ameya Pendse) was released on Yahoo news pages in different countries on the 30th of September 2013 (ref).
October 2013: The 11th of October, Ben exhibited some limited edition prints at the "Event Lounge" (ref) for "Exhi-B" in Brussels (ref). He then travelled to Seoul, South Korea between the 18th and 28th of October to organize and hold his first solo exhibition in Asia titled "The Universe of Ben Heine" that took place at "Hyehwa Art Center" from the 24th until the 31st of October with the help of INMD, a Communication Agency in Seoul and Benís local partner since 2010 (ref), Samsung and the support and presence of the Belgian Embassy in Seoul with Ambassador FranÁois Bontemps and Consul Pierre Steverlynck (ref). During his travel, Ben also created 2 new Pencil Vs Camera images in Seoul featuring Cheonggyecheon streets and Gyeongbokgung Palace (ref), he also took hundreds of photos in famous Seoul spots and gave conferences for students of local universities (ref). Different South Korean newspapers talked about the exhibition such as "The Hearld Business" (ref), "Hankyung" (ref), ebuzz (ref) among others.
November 2013: Early November, Ben officially started collaborating with Najwa Borro, an art lover he met thanks to their mutual business partner Stephanie Manasseh. She became his agent in Brussels and Paris and she helped him to organize exhibitions and find new business opportunities. Mid November, Benís interview and cover for "Volkswagen Magazine" was published in French and Dutch in Belgium (ref). End of November, Ben officially joined the popular social platform Instagram.
December 2013: The 5th of December, Benís music track "Fly With You" was available for sale on Spotify
in the collective album "Mesh 1.0" released by DMS in the UK. Mid December, iCanvas, a renowned US company selling museum-quality canvases offered Ben a long-lasting partnership creating a special collection with a selection of Benís artworks (ref). The 18th of December Ben co-animated a debate about the "limits of freedom of expression" with popular Belgian cartoonist Pierre Kroll at "PAC Bruxelles" (ref). On the 29th of December, Ben was featured on the trendy website "Optical Spy" along with artists Donald Rust, Escher, Liu Bolin, Guido Daniele, Banksy and others (ref).
2012 Birth of Theo / Music Creation / Many Exhibitions / Mission with Samsung Note 10.1
January 2012: Early January, Benís promotional brochures (25 pages) sponsored by "Samsung Imaging" were printed in 5000 copies and hundreds of them were sent to Benís most faithful fans around the world (ref). The 9th of January, Ben shared on SoundCloud his first experimental musical composition (ref). A few days later, Benís interview for deviantART was published on the 12th of January (ref). One day later, he held an exhibition at "Namur Expo" in the context of the "Art Event" fair, gathering several artists and tens of thousands of art lovers (ref). Benís self portrait made of circles ("Remembering What I Am") was featured as the official poster design of the whole event (ref). Benís gallery in London exhibited several Pencil Vs Camera Diasec prints at the "London Art Fair" between the 18th and 22nd of January (ref).
February 2012: Early February, Mc Cann Erickson Romania asked Ben to make some Pencil Vs Camera works for several publicity campaigns for a Lithuanian client ("Bite"). Ben travelled to Bucharest several times between 2012 and 2013 to work on these projects with McCann Erickson (ref). Ben's works were exhibited by 2 different galleries at the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) in Brussels from the 9th till the 12th of February 2012 (ref). It was a successful event. Just after the fair, mid February, Ben travelled to Barcelona in Spain for a special photo shooting with model Caroline Madison. He also made there his first "Double Landscape" picture showing 2 different views of the city of Barcelona (ref) and the Pencil Vs Camera artworks showing the funny monkey (ref). He made another "Double Landscape" image featuring London some days after (ref).
March 2012: Ben brought some major innovations in his Pencil Vs Camera concept: he introduced colors and black paper instead of white (ref). He shared his first colored sketch the 9th of March. On the 21st of March, Ben gave a conference about his work for "View Finders", an English speaking photography club in the heart of Brussels (ref). Later in March, Benís creations were published for the 4th time in "The Huffington Post" (ref).
April 2012: The 6th of April, Ben released his first hand-drawn animation (and a music composition) showing 18 Pencil Vs Camera works in progress (ref). Mid April, Ben visited Lisbon in Portugal and Sevilla in Spain. At his return, Ben participated for the first time in the event "Tour de France Photo" on the 21st of April (ref). During this day, Ben met former "Miss Belgium" Alizťe Poulicek (ref) and they took several photos at "Metropole Hotel" (ref). He created the same day a Pencil Vs Camera artwork with Coralie Nelly, another Belgian model participating in the Tour. On the 30th of April and until June 2012, Ben exhibited a wide collection of Pencil Vs Camera Diasec prints at the respected "Avenue" (ref) restaurant on St James Street in London, UK, with his gallery "The Art Movement" (ref).
May 2012: Ben gave several interviews
in particular for "Fotoflock" and "iFamous". Later in May, his creations were published in some of the biggest UK newspapers such as The Sun (ref), The Telegraph (ref), The Daily Mail (ref), The Mirror (ref) and many other online references such as CBS News (ref) or Msn News (ref).
June 2012: The documentary filmed by Italian director Davide Gentile about Benís work was released worldwide in June 2012 (ref). The 14th of June 2012 Ben exhibited at McCann Erickson headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, a selection of Pencil Vs Camera and Digital Circlism prints on canvas in a collective exhibition titled "PAF/Prints Art Festival" (ref). Ben met Belgian model Jessica De Boeck on the 17th of June and they took several photos in Anderlecht including 2 Pencil Vs Camera pictures. A few days later, on the 22nd of June, Ben had another exhibition at the prestigious "Arsenal" space in Brussels, Belgium, via "Exhi-B (ref).
August 2012: Benís son, Theodor Heine, was born on the 12th of August 2012 in Brussels (ref).
September 2012: Early September, "Samsung Portugal" contacted Ben asking if he would be interested to help launch nationally the new Samsung Note 10.1 tablet and the Galaxy Note II smartphone (ref). Ben accepted and travelled to Lisbon on the 29th of September until the 6th of October. During this experience, Ben made photo-drawings like usual but instead of using pencils, pieces of paper and a reflex camera, he only used the 10.1 tablet as a drawing surface area, the magnetic S-pen as a tool to draw and the powerful integrated camera of the Galaxy phone to capture the final results (full story here). It was a difficult challenge for Ben because it was the first time he was working with these devices and each drawing was a total improvisation. A mini documentary (ref) showing the interaction Ben had with the tablet, the smartphone and the beautiful city of Lisbon was filmed by "Dub Video Connection" via "Desafio Global Ativism" for "Samsung Portugal" (ref). The experience was also reported by "Samsung Toworrow" (ref) and the full story was published in the issue 34 of "Soura Magazine" (ref) and in other news medias as well.
From the 13th until the 20th of September, Ben exhibited in the "MontBlanc" Brussels luxury boutiques in the frame of the "Louise Nights" (ref).
Benís artworks were presented at the "Photokina" Art Fair in Cologne, Germany in the "Fujufilm Belgium" stand between the 18th and 23rd of September 2012 (ref).
The same week, Ben participated for the 4th time in the "Brussels Accessible Art Fair" at the Conrad Hotel of Brussels from the 21st till 23rd of September (ref). Ben had prepared a unique outfit with several handmade drawings (ref). It was a very successful fair.
Ben then had a solo exhibition at "VIP Offices" in Brussels from the 26th of September until the 15th of November 2012, titled "The Best of Both Worlds" (ref). The vernissage gathered hundreds of people. Ben also created an exclusive Pencil Vs Camera artwork depicting the "VIP Offices" faÁade (ref).
October 2012: October 2012 was another very busy month for Ben with exhibitions every week. On the 12th of October, Ben had a collective exhibition at "Auto World" via "Exhi-B where he showed some Pencil Vs Camera Diasec limited edition prints (ref). Benís artworks were also exhibited in London at the "Affordable Art Fair" by Benís gallery "The Art Movement" between the 25th and 28th of October (ref).
November 2012: Benís interview for "Adobe Photoshop" was released on the 15th of November (ref). On the 17th of November, Ben travelled to Rome, Italy, to give a conference about graphic creation in the frame of "Creative Pro Show", a yearly event featuring some of the most prominent international photographers (ref). End of November, a popular application emulating Ben Heine Pencil Vs Cameraís style was launched worlwide, titled "Fantasy" for Camera 360, developed by Pinguo (ref). Since then, many other applications imitated Benís famous concept.
December 2012: After many exhibitions and new creations, Ben decided to move away permanently with his family to the Belgian countryside in a small and charmful village. In his house, Ben owned for the first time a professional studio (ref) that allowed him to start musical projects and to work on graphic projects that required bigger space, such as the 3D Pencil Vs Camera works...
2011 Ben Heine Documentary by Davide Gentile / Exhibitions / Many New Works
January 2011: Ben met French/Asian model Caroline Madison for the first time in February 2011. They made a first improvised shooting the same day.
February 2011: End of February, Ben exhibited his creations at the "Affordable Art Fair in Brussels" with the help of his agent Rami. Many exhibitions happened the next months in Belgium and abroad (ref).
March 2011: Ben and his agent Rami travelled to London to find new business partners. They met Milly Longin who had contacted Ben previously requesting to have a stock of Benís limited edition prints for her gallery "The Art Movement". They also met Belgian Embassador and Consul in London who had already shown interest in Benís work. It was a fruitful travel which brought several new opportunities to Ben.
May 2011: Italian director Davide Gentile came to Ben's family house in Braives, Belgium, with his crew to film a one-week documentary showing Ben working on different projects. Ben made his first "Flesh and Acrylic" with model Caroline Madison in his garden in Braives.
July 2011: Ben and Rami found in the "Begramoff Gallery Garden" a new partner. Ben had a solo exhibition at this gallery from the 1st of July until the 15th of September 2011. Rami and Ben slowly realized they had different professional goals. The agent wanted to own a virtual gallery with a selection of artists while Ben wanted to continue working exclusively with Rami. Nevertheless they decided to continue collaborating as many events and shows were planned. Several exhibitions happened the next months in Belgium and abroad.
August 2011: Ben travelled to the North of Spain to walk the famous St Jamesí Path towards Santiago de Compostela where he made several new sketches, gathered ideas and took many photos for his Pencil Vs Camera project (ref). At Benís return, Rami had started collaborations with other artists. Ben and Rami stopped working together permanently. A couple of months later, due to worries with other artists and not being able to achieve his goals with his art gallery, Rami moved permanently to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with his family.
September 2011: Exhibition at Berliner Liste in Germany from the 7th till the 11th of September (ref).
October 2011: Mid October, Ben travelled again to London, alone this time, to exhibit his works at the "Art London" event (ref) and at the "Affordable Art Fairs" in Hampstead and Battersea with Benís local partner "The Art Movement" (ref). Every exhibition in London was a success. Back to Belgium, Ben exhibited at the "Brussels Accessible Art Fair" in the Conrad Hotel between the 28th and 30th of October (ref).
November 2011: Ben travelled to Sousse in Tunisia and came back with hundreds of pictures including several studies and ideas for his Pencil Vs Camera series (ref).
December 2011: Early December, Ben started using the music sequencer and digital audio workstation "Ableton Live" to create his own experimental electronic music (ref). Later in December, Benís creations were published in some of the biggest international and British newspapers including The Sun (ref), El Pais (ref), The Telegraph (ref), Dein Spiegel (ref), Het Nieuwsblad (ref), The Daily Mail (ref) and many other online references such as The Huffington Post (ref), Yahoo (ref) and others... (ref). The critique was massively praising and supporting his graphic inventions.
2010 Birth of Major Creative Art Series / Samsung Imagelogger / Many New Creations
February 2010: Early February, Ben created his first circle portraits (ref). The first circle portraits he made were experimental works and Ben refined his technique later on (ref). On the 10th of February, Rami Achcar, an old acquaintance of Ben from high school approached him to request to become his agent. Ben accepted and it was the beginning of a prosperous association. Thanks to the success and worldwide buzz generated by Ben's Pencil Vs Camera series, they received countless professional opportunities and started to organize exhibitions in major European cities (ref).
April 2010: 2 months after launching his creative concept with circles, Ben tried something completely different. He shot his first Pencil Vs Camera artwork with a modest Nikon D70 (ref) on the 12th of April 2010. Both series instantly had a huge impact on social networks and Benís images were quickly featured on influential news and art sites. International press agencies and freelance journalists contacted Ben requesting to publish his fresh artworks in well-known magazines and newspapers (ref). In Pencil Vs Camera, Ben usually portrayed peopleís life, nature, animals or architecture. The main themes are love, freedom, life and friendshipÖ (ref). Ben began with simple black and white sketches on white paper. He brought several major innovations later on (ref).
May 2010: Ben started working part time at "Fondation Shan", a foundation meant to help autistic people (ref).
June 2010: Ben was one of the first photographers to become an official Samsung Camera Imagelogger (ref). In this context, Ben had the opportunity to experience and shoot with Samsung latest camera devices between 2010 and 2013 such as the Samsung NX10, NX11, NX20, NX200 and Galaxy NX cameras and lenses (ref). Samsung also sponsored his promotional brochures in 2011 (ref), his collective exhibition at Samsung Dílight in 2010 (ref), his project with the Samsung Note 10.1 in Lisbon in 2012 (ref) and his solo exhibition at "Hyehwa Art Center" in Seoul later in 2013 (ref).
July 2010: Samsung Imaging interviewed Ben as a member of the "imagelogger" program and a sponsored photographer. The interview was published on "Samsung Camera" official website on the 12th of July (ref). In July and August, Ben exhibited at ďLe CoachĒ a trendy restaurant near Montgomery in Brussels (ref).
August 2010: Too busy with his successful artistic projects, Ben stopped working at "(Fondation Shan)".
December 2010: Throughout 2010 and particularly in December, Benís interest for electronic music creation kept growing.
2009 No more Activism and Political Art
Ben stopped doing political art. He worked as a teacher (French, English and Dutch) at "CollŤge Cardinal Mercier" secondary school in Braine LíAlleud, Belgium from November 2008 until March 2009 (ref). To make a living, Ben also worked as a seller at "Colruyt" supermarket (in Schaerbeek) from June 2009 until February 2010 (ref). Next to these brief professional experiences, Ben started making watercolor illustrations and he never stopped working on his creative projects.
2008 Different Jobs and Professional Experiences
Due to the heavy economic crisis, it was not easy for Ben to find a job in Journalism directly after his studies. So he had to try different jobs to make a living. He briefly worked as a communication officer at "Txt Ibis" in Kortenberg (Flanders) from September to December 2008 (ref). Ben also worked as a teacher for a private school in Brussels ("Reussit School"). Despite these jobs, Ben's priority always remained in his creative projects and he couldnít manage to keep these jobs very long.
2007 Graduated and New Perspectives
From January till August, Ben travelled to Utrecht in The Netherlands to study Information and Communication Technologies and to improve his knowledge of Dutch. In September 2007, Ben graduated from (IHECS) Journalism school with distinction in communication, information and journalism (ref).
2006 Political Activism and Journalism / First Solo Exhibition
During his studies and being highly influenced by the political aspect of Journalism and by professors like Paul Delmotte (ref), Ben made several political illustrations for different national and international newspapers throughout 2006. Strongly manipulated by a network of cartoon associations (including "Iran Cartoon"), Ben was asked to submit some controversial sketches for the provocative and immoral "Holocaust Cartoon Contest" sponsored by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, (meant to denounce the "Western hypocrisy on freedom of speech"). Benís final assignment at university included an investigation about the "limit of freedom of expression in political art" so this contest was also an opportunity for him to experience and study such situation. Ben later wrote a public letter to apologize for the confusion he had generated (ref) and to beg pardon to the Jewish community (ref).
In the summer, Ben organized his very first solo exhibition at "Les Coulisses Saint-Jacques", a trendy cabaret near Brussels Grand Place (ref). Many of his early experimental acrylic paintings were exhibited there during several months. He also did work experience as a journalist at La Libre Belgique in August (ref). Ben joined Flickr the 22nd of August (ref). End of October, Ben attended a workshop with German master acrylic painter Sebastian Kruger (ref). Early November, Ben travelled to Kenya for an African safari into the wild with his family (ref). He came back with thousands of wild animals and landscapes photos. Ben joined deviantART the 12th of November (ref).
2005 Learning Journalism and Photography
Ben learned analogue photography with teacher Guy Philippart at IHECS. Every evening after high school, he also went to the "Acadťmie Royale des Beaux Arts de Bruxelles" hoping to refine his painting and drawing techniques with teacher Jean Paul de Moor (ref). He learned several languages (English, Dutch, Spanish, Polish and Russian).
2004 IHECS Journalism High School in the Heart of Brussels
Ben continued his Journalism studies at IHECS, a well-known High School in the heart of Brussels (IHECS). Due to some highly committed teachers there, Ben got involved in different political causes. Ben sold his first acrylic paintings (early works).
2003 Poland and Slavonic Culture
Ben met his future wife Marta Konikowska in March 2003. After completing his studies in Hastings with distinction (BTEC in Foundation Studies Art & Design), Ben came back to Belgium in Summer 2003. Because Poland was not yet part of the European Union at that time, Ben and his family had to fight a lot to have his Polish ladyfriend move permanently to Belgium. Ben started studying Journalism and Slavonic languages at the "Universitť Libre de Bruxelles" (ref).
2002 Travel to Hastings / Sculpture/painting / First commissions
Ben completed secondary school with distinction at "CollŤge St Vincent" (boarding school) in Soignies, Belgium in June 2002 (ref). He travelled to England in September to study sculpture (clay ceramics), painting and history of arts at "Hastings College of Arts & Technology" in Hastings (ref). Ben made his first commissioned painting for a local Asian restaurant (depiction of Buddha) in Hastings in December 2002.
1996 - 2002 Secondary School
In September 1996, Ben started secondary school at "St Vincent College" in Soignies, a well-known Belgian boarding school (ref). His interest for graphic arts, along with music, poetry and sport grew fast at that time. The first year in that boarding school was not easy for Ben. Fortunately, he started a lot of creative and sportive activities (drums, basketball...). In 2000, Ben became a very studious and a rather solitary person. Along with his studies, he spent a lot of time writing poetry. He also improved his drawing techniques on a daily basis. He learned piano and guitar on his own. In 2001, one of his teachers, Anne-Marie Lansmanne, deeply helped him to believe in a possible future as an artist. Ben travelled to Florence, Italy, with his school in the winter, visiting many classic art museums.
1990 - 1996 Primary School
In 1990 Ben started primary school at Notre Dame de La Trinitť (ref). It was a difficult time as Ben had just left Ivory Coast, his hometown. In 1993, due to some family issues, Ben became a demanding and compulsive child and he started having small behavioral problems at school. In 1994, at 11 year old, Ben made his first drawings. In 1995, Benís parents divorced. The same year, Ben failed at primary school but completed his 6th year successfully at Notre Dame des Gr‚ce in June 1996 (ref).
1983 - 1990 Birth in 1983 and Childhood in Ivory Coast, Africa