PATTA Q&A: Ben Arfur

Ben Arfur is a multi-disciplined, self-taught graphic designer exploring the boundaries between type, illustration, design and arrangement and one of the freshest out. We hit him up and asked him a few questions about his work.

So Ben, how did you get your start in graphic design?

It came from the ashes of getting into animation. I was a hyperactive 13 year old kid that didn't have the patience to sift through tutorials and learn the mechanics of - I think it was Flash back then? I've always wanted a product imminently from whatever it is I'm doing, so hence that dream died pretty quickly.

Around that age I spent a lot of time with my neighbour Clive, I remember he played jazz flute and had a shit load of records. I wasn't particularly into music then, but I was fascinated by the different artwork and how the art and music were connected. As I got a bit older I made some like minded friends. We acquired the necessary bits and started making shit; subconsciously building a workflow that I didn't realise would end up being so beneficial.

In 2012 we started a club night in Cardiff; I'd say that was really the start of it all. I was pretty stoked to be able to make things the way I saw them; it was like a fourth wall into my mind. Over time the designs matured and we started booking bigger DJs on the circuit. They saw the artwork, commissioned me and I guess its just been snowballing since. You’re self taught, how has this influenced your work? Do you notice advantages over designers that went to school for graphic design?

I wouldn't say advantage - there's definitely a lot less rules I follow. My designs tend to spark from instinct through to their execution, rather than structure/formulas etc. I think good design ultimately comes from vision and having the ability to apply it to a canvas.Which graphics or designers have influenced your own design?

I'm a big Saul Bass fan, in fact 'A life in film and design' was the first design book I owned. I really like his arrangements and vast skill set incorporating illustration, type, design, manipulation and so on - it really inspired me to see something not so static and the fact they could be merged so seamlessly. There's also a ton of new wave designers I'm into - that's the thing with social media despite the bad rep it gets, its a constant stream of inspiration.

Which graphics do you wish you’d done?

There's plenty, but one in particular is the Ashra - Correlation artwork. It's incredible.

Animation, is that something you want to still pursue?

I've dabbled since but never carried it through. Maybe.

I’ve read that you tend to work in silence, is your work influenced by music though? What music?

Yeah that's still a thing. My work is influenced more so by environment - I enjoy the process of making something applicable that I've thought of, or that loose concept still rattling around my head. What’s next? I saw you’re getting into designing graphics for apparel as well.
Any applications of your work (billboards, sculpture, murals, anything) you dream about?

Not a clue. I like the pace of my work, there's always something new and heavy enthusiasm with every project. The apparel thing has always been on the back burner, but in all honesty I prefer working on bits for other brands, just because my approach is constantly shifting - I'd hate to get a collection out and then simmer over what could have been done better etc.

What’s the work you’re most proud of?

I wouldn't say there's a project that I'm most proud of. I'm fortunate to work with like minded people so all the work I produce has a shelf life for my own gratification as well as my clients.