Artistic Director by day in the music and advertising industry. NFT artist the rest of the time.
You can find more information about Ben @ www.ben-thomas.com
Where do you come from?
I was born in London UK and have lived in the Midlands for most of my adult life. I’ve been working as a freelance designer, artist and photographer for about 20 years – I can feel my hair turning gray as I type the words. I live in a really dead town in the Midlands, everything is gray, most people are weird – I think on some level that could be some kind of superpower for me. You have to work really hard to stay creative in a place like this haha.
Can you tell us about your background and what led you to become an artist and eventually experiment with NFTs?
Absolutely, I have worked in the music industry and in the advertising industry for a long time. I also worked as a professional photographer for a few years in London, mainly taking portraits of people in the entertainment industry.
My day job is a mix of art direction and acting as a 3D generalist on a range of different projects. I produce album campaigns, live visuals, TV spots and 3d Key Art for advertising campaigns. I have deepened my work as an art director over the past two years and have been running a small agency for four years where we serve clients all over the world.
I actually first learned about NFTs through Beeple, which led me down the garden path trying to figure out how the technology works and what I could potentially do with it.
There’s a big cliché that I see used all the time in this space about how people came here for the money, but stayed for the community. It makes me cringe every time I hear it, but it’s really true. Like pretty much every artist I talk to, I was first drawn to the insane amount of money some people were making. It wasn’t until I started dipping my feet into the space that I realized how much work and energy it takes to be a part of the space. And then after having better understood what Web3 and blockchain technology represented, I became completely hooked. I’ve truly met and connected with more creatives in the past 12 months than in my entire career.
The freedom this technology can potentially offer artists is simply impossible to ignore. I truly believe this is going to shake up so many industries. Especially the music industry from which my career was born.
When did you hit your first NFT? Which platform did you choose and why?
I hit on Foundation first, it was an abstract series called Geo Kebab. All the meat and bread jokes to one side, I was very lucky to get an offer the first day it went live. I had initially applied to Known Origin, but while waiting for this application, I received a message from David Porte Beckefeld and he offered me an invitation to the foundation. It was just one of those lucky moments. Everyone was going crazy trying to get on the platform. I was ready to strike and the opportunity came at the right time. I know people love to hate the platform a lot, but it still has the best UI and UX in the entire space. In my humble opinion, the selling and buying experience on the platform is still unmatched. The latest updates almost feel like a knockout now.
Can you tell us one thing you can’t live without?
Sorry, I’m a cheese ball. But my dogs. My Mrs. And a small cup of Masha and whole oat milk at 6:30. Bullish on Macha with frothy oat milk.
What is your favorite artist(s) (Non NFT)? How does their style resonate with you?
My work has always been influenced mainly by illustrators and photographers. I have collected so much work from artists Jeremy Geddes, James Jean, Tomer Hanuka and Mike Mitchell. But also artists such as Tyler Stout, Laurent Durieux and Rory Kurtz have all had a huge impact on my work over the years.
James Jean’s use of color in particular has always been a huge source of inspiration. But they are all masters of detail and skillful composition and have all inspired my work in different ways.
Who is your favorite NFT artist? What makes this artist unique?
That’s a fucking tough question. Even after being in this space for over a year (72 in normal IRL times), I’m still floored every day by some of the talent I come across.
I don’t know if I could limit myself to just one. But Ykha Amelz, Willea Zwey, Arclight, Josh Chaplin, Gray Radian, Nocreative, David Lisser, Hannes Hummel are big favourites.
I hate this question so much because I’ve almost certainly forgotten people. But there are too many to list.
What prompted you to get into NFT art?
Freedom and self-governance.
What is the NFT piece of art you wish you had bought but missed out on?
I keep missing Ykha’s The Undercover Bubs, but I managed to score one recently. I wish I could buy them all. I would also like to have the means to buy the Devéloppé piece from Nocreative and the genesis of Willea on Superare. One day.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
There are two places on earth that I love the most. Italy and California. My father was taken in by an Italian family when he moved alone to the Midlands. So growing up, a lot of his buddies were Italian. They are so family oriented and have the best food – I don’t care what anyone says. They have the best food!
But California still feels like home. I do not know how to explain it. I may have lived there in another life. But yes, if given the opportunity, I would absolutely live there. The sun, the atmosphere, the food. I was raised in a family where American culture has always been very present. My old man works in the fashion industry and I always believed that American Made was the best when I was young. Both of my parents have always had a great love for music and American artists were always in heavy rotation. Prince from my mother and old school American blues and jazz from my father. So their culture has always been something that I grew up with and also felt an attraction to.
What are your other passions besides art?
I’ve slowly but surely learned Ableton over the past 18 months and a big long term goal is to become one of those cool old dudes with a huge white beard and tons of analog gear. I just put out a weird ambient techno album every few years and talk about how good the circuitry is in Dave Smith’s instruments.
Do you do other art forms?
I shoot a lot (photography). Before Covid, I traveled a lot and always had a camera handy. I couldn’t quite make it as a portrait photographer, but shooting will always remain one of my passions. Just for fun these days. But learning to film has always influenced my 3D work a lot, at least in the way I frame my work and how I compose.
How did you find your specific style?
Another difficult question to answer. Because I think my style can be very hard to pin down. It’s something over the last 6 months that I’ve been really working on. I’m very excited about lots of different mediums and often make the mistake of trying too many different styles in my work which can lead to inconsistencies – at least in my head anyway. But then I talk to people who see my work and can still tell it’s me, even though it’s some weird, abstract thing that I put together for a client campaign. So there must be some sort of style present, I guess. What is it, I don’t know.
I think ultimately I’ve always been drawn to character-based pieces. I like images that tell a story, or that let the viewer try to imagine their own story around art. I used to keep track of my dreams and sometimes get ideas from them too. So that influenced my ideas a lot.
The one thread that has absolutely united my work over the years has been color. What I lack in the technical department, I sometimes make up for in color theory and composition.
How has your style evolved over the years?
Well, most of my work a long time ago was photographing people and then putting it all together in Photoshop. As soon as I discovered 3D, it was a long journey to do everything myself and build worlds. I’ve run the gamut from Photoshop to Cinema 4d.
What’s coming in the near future?
I have five new pieces that are almost at the clay plaster stage. My goal for this year is to complete a whole new body of work and slowly produce it over the next 12-18 months. My biggest problem is time, my daily work is extremely busy and my agency is growing so fast. So I want everything ready for peak times, so all I have to do is take care of the marketing side. I plan to go strong this year with my 1/1s.
I’m also planning a collaborative series with my good friend John Monkman who is probably one of the most talented sound engineers and producers I’ve ever met. But it will probably be some kind of side project and a different alias. If you’re reading this John, art is coming.
Another goal soon is to have my own website where collectors can hit my work directly and on my own smart contract. But still some work and research to do there. But it’s coming.
If you could collaborate with an artist, who would it be?
I’m afraid most of them are probably dead. Of course, I couldn’t give you a name. But from this space, Nocreative, Yhka and Willea would take a trip. But again…I just need more time.
Do you have any drops coming?
But of course. Bloom Collective chapter 2 with Nocreative, Tina Eisen and the wonderful David Lisser. March 29 on Nifty Gateway – dream team.
What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
My biggest failure over the past 12 months has been wasting time and letting doubt get the better of me. And work too much. I’m afraid it’s still something I work on every day.
Do you have anything else to share?
Absolutely, always be an open knot. Let go of an opportunity that you cannot seize. Above all, be a good human. Nothing else is more important in this space.
Link to website: www.ben-thomas.com
Social links: @iambenthomas on all platforms
NFT Market Links: