To call Ben Heine’s photography “cool” or even “eye-catching” is a bit of an understatement. His images are mesmerizing. Ben’s Pencil vs. Camera series perfectly blends illustrations in surprising but clever juxtapositions. The end result offers viewers a glimpse into an imaginative and surreal world.
“In my work, I’m really trying to interact with the viewer,” the Belgian artist tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “I want to make them laugh or smile, and if I can, surprise people so that he or she doesn’t understand how it’s made. I’m having so much fun and I want them to feel the same.”
“Pencil vs. Camera” mixes drawing and photography, imagination and reality through illusion and surrealism. Ben says the idea was the result of a long graphic exploration and the evolution of his artistic ability.
“The initial idea happened randomly while I was writing a letter in 2010,” Ben explains. “When I held the letter up to put it inside an envelope, I noticed the paper was transparent enough that I could see my television in the background. I suddenly saw two images working together: the words on the paper and the action of the television. It was surreal, and I instantly thought I could do something with this.”
“The very next day I made Pencil vs. Camera #1,” Ben says. “It wasn’t very creative, but it was the beginning of this new concept. Since then, it’s evolved into more and more complex drawings, and it’s always changing into something bigger and better.”
The process behind the series is very simple. Ben draws a picture by hand and then takes the photo of the drawing at a specific location. His hand is almost always visible in the image to represent the connection between viewer, artist and artwork.
“The drawing has to be nice, and the location where I’m taking the photo has to be interesting,” Ben says. “When I edit my photo, like every photographer, I’m always adjusting. Since these are raw images, I’m adjusting the light, the colors, the contrast – everything. In some cases, I adjust the composition because I want the final image to be perfect!”
“Love and friendship are the main things I’m trying to express in my art because they are a reflection of what I love the most in life,” Ben says. “I’ve made many photos showing duos… either two people or two animals in love or in a friendly situation with each other. It’s a beautiful feeling.”
There is also a lot of illusion and surrealism depicted in Ben’s art. Throughout his career he’s been influenced by famous artists like Rene Magritte. Ben says he likes to play with shapes, geometrics and create illusions with tricky objects and perspectives.
“One of my favorite images shows a lion jumping out of the image,” Ben says. “I took this photo in Tunisia and drew in a lion jumping and appearing. The picture is unfinished, because I mainly wanted to attract the attention of the viewer on the lion’s roar. I liked the powerful effect of this image – you know the lion’s screaming and shouting. For me, graphic art can sometimes be dull, but this image is powerful.”
The reactions Ben’s received from his series has been extremely positive. He credits the reception and encouragement to Flickr.
“I started posting my pictures in 2006, and since then, the feedback from other members has helped me to improve my work,” Ben admits. “I really strive to create a new form of art. For me, it’s very important to be innovative and do something different. I’m having fun only because I’m trying to surpass myself daily. I want people to see I’ve given my utmost best in each of my images.”