The Artwork Of Ben Riley
Ben Riley is unusually, for somebody so young, a great admirer of the iconic figures from the 1960’s. His subjects range from the blonde bombshell who took Hollywood by storm, Marilyn Monroe, to the King of Reggae Bob Marley – and everyone in between.
Sitting with Ben in his Stoke on Trent studio, with his artwork on every wall, you have to admire his candidness as he says: “I’ve become an experienced, creative, innovative professional artist and my work sells worldwide. I specialise in portrait work with my main focus being the cult and retro figures from the past and present time; people who have shaped the future in their own fields of expertise. My favourite era has to be the sixties though as I can totally relate to the fashions, sounds and looks of that period”.
Ben doesn’t restrict his work to the great icons however, and I notice in amongst his display a retro image of all things, a Volkswagen camper van! Commenting on my interest in this out-of-place image hanging on his wall he explains: “I also take on commissions for people who want my style of painting to reflect their granny, mum, uncle, dad, pet or even their car. It’s an individual thing but when starting a painting, I recreate a scene, add my own timeless, bold, eye catching style to it and end up with an outstanding image that captures the subject in their/its best light. My paintings always create interest and intrigue, even to people with no interest in who or what the subject is. I must be doing something right because my artwork was recently featured on MTV where I was interviewed about my work and the music that I was into at the time”.
I first met Ben when he joined the Fan Club and further offered to help us financially by making his talents available to us. He particularly wanted to paint a picture of Brian exclusively for Pat Andrews and earlier this year he came down to London, met Pat and Dick Hattrell and gave Pat her picture of Brian – which now hangs in pride of place on her wall at home. My first visit to Ben’s studio after our meeting in London was an eye-opener, his professionalism really impressed me and you have to see his work up close and personal to really appreciate his talents. I asked how it all started: “I’ve had a love for art and of art since I was five years old, from painting to drawing to making things. In 1992 I went on to High School and as soon as I could choose Art as my specialist subject I did.
At school, art wasn’t easy as my Art Teacher, for some reason, took an instant dislike to me and told my parents that I would never make an artist, and that I would never be able to sell my work professionally. Because of this I had to get most of my tips and advice from books. When I reached the age of 16 I did my Art GCSE exam but my final exam piece went missing….? I later found it in the waste bin in the Art Room. My teacher had marked it as a D and trashed it before the moderator came in to look at our work, and the moderator acted on the marks given so I wasn’t best pleased."
"Not being put off though I graduated to Art College and re-took my Art Exams, this time achieving an A* along with another A* in photography and a B in Graphics. So I guess after a year of hard work I had the last laugh over my High School teacher. My studies continued at College with me eventually scoring a B-Tec in Graphic Design and Photography and several A levels two years on from that."
"I’m often asked why I didn’t go to University to further my Art. My personal answer and opinion is that I was ready to fly from the nest of education after the three years of college training, and I truly believe art is either in the blood or it isn’t. I wanted to teach myself new skills and progress with time and age and not set myself boundaries as to what should and shouldn’t be done. Art has no boundaries, limits or rules, and I truly believe that you need drive and motivation over everything else”
I started to realise what motivated this young man who, for a long time now, had been heavily into musical and cult figures, and who concentrates on mainly bold and striking icons. Whenever he painted or drew a picture, he explained how he wanted to create a ‘wow’ factor and that the most striking paintings he did were of cult music and film stars. Ben explained how, being very much a perfectionist, he often shocks himself with the final outcome of his stunning images, and if he can shock himself then surely he can shock others! I agree.
Ben went on to explain how, in 1999, he did his first big scale painting of Jimi Hendrix and how, when he’d finished the portrait, its effect absolutely stunned him. He says: “I suddenly thought that if I can impress myself, and feel the true powerful effect of my work, then what must it be like to stun other people, and give the same effect that I got from it – even more, imagine doing that as a job, and getting paid for it...”
Ben continues, “I then found myself doing more and more work, and felt that I was getting much better by continually adapting and learning new techniques and bringing textures to my paintings that brought them to life. I have since become an experienced, creative, innovative professional artist. I specialise in portrait work with my main focus being iconic figures from the past and present eras. I’ve become recognised for my paintings to order, for Bars, Nightclubs, Cafes and Offices – and my greatest achievement being my recent Art Gallery Exhibitions. To see my work covered in the press is very self fulfilling. None of my paintings are digital prints, they are all original and hand signed, not one of them is exactly the same but they are all of the same high quality.”
Visit Ben's gallery by clicking here. If you'd like to know more, please contact me at the usual address and telephone numbers. We are more than pleased to promote Ben’s work and hope that you might be encouraged to pass the word on about this young man’s talents. If you want to purchase any painting from the extensive gallery then please get in touch. If you have a subject that you’d like to commission then again, please contact us for details. Finally, from every painting sold via our website Ben has kindly agreed to donate a proportionate amount to the BJFC Fund.
I’m sure this young man is going places and his artwork will only increase in value. Whether purchasing an original painting or a print of our special commission, please support your fan club and by doing so, have a great original piece of artwork to hang on your wall……