Welcome to part two of Soma's Creative Profile Series. This week, we're featuring the incredibly talented designer, Ben Biondo.
Tell us about your craft. What is it about graphic design that captivates you?
I have always had an insatiable need to make stuff. I am captivated by the limitlessness of graphic design. It can be serious or playful, conceptual or surface level, vibrant or black and white, intricate or minimal. I don’t just have to pick one medium to work with. I can paint a background, do an illustration on top of it, scan that in, add some type over it, add a photo in the background and then print it in a book, or... I can just make a pattern on the computer. At the end of the day I have made something and that makes me happy.
Can you elaborate on the items that fuel your art? How is each item instrumental to your creativity and craft?
There is always something else to learn as a designer, a new way to experiment, a new medium to create with. Being a maker is a practice and that mystery/opportunity of what I could make next is a huge driver in my work. That and fun; never not have fun.
On a more tangible level... Micron pens, mechanical pencils, music, The Office with Michael G. Scott, Field Notes notebooks and my Macbook are all crucial items in my creative process.
How did you develop your own design style and aesthetic? Can you walk us through your creative process?
Over the years I have hopped from one design style to another. Those explorations were a way to define and refine my design aesthetic. I have always made things that make me happy and I would say my style is a culmination of things that I think are cool. Colors and shapes that I think jive together. Type design that feels good to me. I just make something I like and hope one or two other people think it is cool.
My process is pretty loose. Sometimes I start with sketches, other times I go straight to the computer. I explore type layout and the interaction of type and image and color and line work. I have found my process is not so much a step-by-step ordeal, it is more so a way of making. I like to understand the story that needs to be told and then make the things that tell that story.
Another big part of my process is side projects. It is important to make something for yourself. Whether that is making something fun to put on the internet, a print for a friend, or a card for your mom. Whatever it might be, as artists I think it is crucial to make things for ourselves every once and a while (and by “every once and a while” I mean always have a side project, or two going on).
What inspires you? Are there any places, designers, writers, websites, etc that you immediately go to when you’re stuck in a creative rut?
I am most inspired by other makers. Whether you are a woodworker, or a musician, or a florist, we are all designers at heart linked by a desire to create and tell stories. I find that incredibly inspiring. Watching other people create stirs up something within to make more. Location is big inspiration for me as well. When I move to a new place I create new habits and interests and these things shape my design in more ways than one. From the colors I use and patterns I make to the sayings I typeset and the drawing in my sketchbook... the culture surrounding me has a big impact on my design as a whole. Two artists that inspire me are Chaz Bundick and Chris Stamp.
When I am stuck in a creative rut, I find it is best to take a step back from the project and create in another way. I will go for a bike ride, or a surf, take some photos, or noodle around in my sketchbook and let my mind wander a bit. If that doesn’t work, it is to Tumblr I go. Tumblr is a constant feed of content and I truly never know what I am going to stumble across and those random pieces can be the ones that have a nugget of inspiration.
How does a utilizing a product like Soma in your daily life hydrate your creativity?
Soma is a fantastic compliment to my daily life. I see being a designer as living an aesthetically driven life where I take into consideration the details all around me - the way my home looks, the photographs I take, the clothing I wear, the things I collect and even the way my water filter looks. Soma looks good. It also gives back and it keeps me hydrated.