Advice to Young Artists: Ben Wood

Ben Wood

En Español.

ML: How did you end up in the Bay Area?

BW: I came to community college at West Valley College on an exchange visit from my art school in England. Even though I eventually went to SFAI and MIT for grad school, of all the schools I attended, community college was probably the best.

ML: Why was that?

BW: Community college really focused on teaching useful skills.

ML: How did you end up in the digital media field?

BW: I was using transparencies in the photocopier to create these sorts of static time-based collages. I wanted to begin animating these collages, to add a time-based element to them. That’s what I’ve continued to do.

ML: What did you study while you were at school?

BW: I had a strong emphasis on history courses as well as digital media courses. Mostly in video and installations.

During my first week at SFAI, September 11 occurred. The resulting financial problems and general uncertainty from that period heavily influenced my visual practice. Later on, while a grad student at MIT, my work became focused on how to activate public places in time and space.

ML: How do you support yourself now?

BW: I do a variety of things. It is my business in motion graphics, video production and web production that mostly earns money. I’ve worked mostly in educational training animations, animated billboards and video projects. I am also a part-time teacher in the community college and other colleges.

ML: Do you think the Mission is a good place for young artists?

BW: I would say that the Mission is good place for artists. It has a diverse variety of people, culture, history, and a lot going on. Compared to other areas of the city it is in some cases cheaper to live. Also, the galleries, artist-run spaces and murals make this a vibrant place to make art.

ML: Is there one particular place you would love to be?

BW: I’d just say right here. That’s where I want to be.

ML: How do you think the market has changed for artists?

BW: I feel that artists get taken advantage of. We contribute so much to culture in way of our time, energy and work.

ML: What artists influence you?

BW: Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralists and murals in general, because of their ability to speak to regular people going about their daily life. Lucienne Bloch and Ben Shahn. Individuals who made an impact in ways beyond their art.

ML: What is the best piece of advice you have received?

BW: Just because something is considered by most to be good, doesn’t mean that it is good.

I’ve also learned more frequently by making mistakes rather than getting something right first time.

Also, one of my favorite pieces of advice was this: “You must look for the devil inside yourself.”

Check out Ben Wood’s work here.

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