January 24, 2018, London - London-based Ben Eine is known in the art world simply as ‘Eine’. A master of messages, Eine is famed for painting large, bright, colorful letters and phrases onto city streets across the globe, from Tokyo to Paris.
Eine has since firmly established his own distinctive typographic style that is globally recognized and celebrated by a diverse fan base. Eine gained widespread recognition in 2010 when David Cameron gifted one of his paintings to Barack Obama.
Today, Eine receives commissions from foreign governments and the likes of the Sheik of Abu Dhabi. His work is showcased in prominent galleries across the world and he is a respected street art commentator recently featured in the documentary “Saving Banksy.”
In recent years, Ben Eine has chosen to collaborate with a small selection of brands including Virgin Airlines, The Body Shop and now Zippo. With over 300,000 designs created since 1932, Zippo lighters have become an unconventional conduit for art. The Zippo X Ben Eine partnership is a celebration of art in all its forms.
WORKS OF NOTE
- In 2010, Eine adorned the shutters of shop fronts on Middlesex Street in London with his signature letters, spending a year gaining planning permission to create the whole alphabet along the street. The street is now often referred to as ‘Alphabet Street’ by locals.
- Eine’s artwork ‘Twenty First Century City’ was given as an official gift to Barack Obama from David Cameron on his first trip to Washington as prime minister.
- An artwork titled ‘Vandalism’ which was painted illegally by Ben received such a positive reaction that is has since been made a legal wall which has become a rotating outdoor gallery for artists.
- His longest standing work, ‘Scary,’ was created over 10 years ago and can still be seen in East London’s Rivington Street today.
(photos provided by Spraying Bricks a Truman Brothers Company)
Q&A with Ben Eine
Q: Where did you get inspiration for the piece you’ve created with Zippo?
A: I was intrigued to find out that Zippo has created over 300,000 designs over the years; I love that a simple lighter has become this unconventional conduit for art. When coming up with the artwork I trawled through the brand’s back catalogue of designs to help zero in on a color palette and discovered other artists who have used Zippo lighters as their canvas. The designs are so diverse and that’s really appealing to me. It inspired me to focus on the word ‘CREATE,’ a nod to self-expression, whatever that may mean to you.
Q: Why did you choose to work with Zippo?
A: Being a street artist I’ve seen my work come and go over the years with pieces getting painted over and simply eroding. I like the idea of working with a product that has a lifetime guarantee – a Zippo is an unlikely place that art can have permanence.
I’ve owned several Zippo lighters in my lifetime so I was really open to working with the brand. Through this partnership I’ve rediscovered Zippo from an artistic viewpoint. Obviously being given the chance to attempt the biggest piece of street art in the world has been pretty awesome too!
Q: How did you feel before starting the project, and what were the biggest challenges?
A: The size and scale of the art made it a huge challenge, but I felt confident and excited to get started. Finding the right location, securing and clearing it has been quite a feat. Being on the floor, I couldn’t stand back and see how it was developing, which is very different to how I normally work. At the end of each day, we would fly a drone up in the air and capture footage of how the overall piece was looking. If something wasn’t working, we could take a photograph and come back the next morning to paint over it. It’s been full of ups and downs, towards the beginning it was really touch and go.
Q: How did this project differ from your previous work?
A: Everything is in supersize. Each letter was around 20 meters (65.62 feet) big which should give you an idea of the scale! The floor rollers were 18 inches wide and the paint had to be mixed in bathtubs then delivered in truck loads. Normally when I work, it’s just me turning up to the location in a car with a few cans, but this was a new challenge – we had fifteen 200-liter barrels of paint delivered to the site.
Q: How long did it take to create the piece?
A: We had been planning the project for about three months, taking into consideration sourcing location, clearing the site, finding a team to help paint and then map out the project but it took roughly two weeks in total to paint from start to finish.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges when making street art?
A: I try to take advantage of the environment as much as possible and choose locations where my art can be fairly under the radar. The legality of street art can be a bit of a grey area, but as an artist I want my work to last as long as possible so it’s important to create something which isn’t obviously graffiti. At the end of the day, I want to create art which makes things look better.
Q: How do you feel about your art being removed or painted over by other artists?
A: My art being painted over or cleaned is all part of the process. I grew up doing graffiti so everything I’ve created over the last 30 years has been cleaned away with the exception of about five pieces. My longest-standing piece is probably ’SCARY’ which is opposite Cargo in Shoreditch, London; it’s been there for around ten years now.
Q: How did you develop your technique?
A: My art stems from graffiti in the streets and on trains. I wanted to be different to other artists and paint with a more classic and contemporary style to separate myself from the rest; progressing from unreadable letters that only other graffiti artists would recognize to something more accessible to all walks of life.
Q: Why did you go for a yellow background on the limited edition windproof lighter?
A: I love the fact that it makes all the other colours pop and, since I had the chance to play around with the art-working of the lighter, I thought, why not? We tried various iterations and this one put a smile on my face.