Ben Eine, one of our bright and fabulous British street artists recently partnered with Casa Havana on a Cuban-themed pop-up with Havana Club Rum. They took Ben to Cuba earlier this year where he met with local artists from a range of backgrounds including traditional film poster producers to graphic designers. He has brought those experiences to life in his own artwork which were showcased at Casa Havana before being auctioned for charity. We speak to Ben about his art, lifestyle and favourite hangouts!
Where are you and what did you do today?
I am in the Havana Club pop up event/restaurant, Casa Havana, doing this interview!
What is your earliest memory of art?
I don’t know what my earliest memory of art is, aside from making art at art school, I think I became aware of advertising as an art form at a really young age and smart, clever, funny advertising. I think that led to me discovering artists. So yeah, I became aware of advertising before I became aware of art. My parents weren’t really the kind of people that would drag me to art museums, my school never took us to an art museum, I think we went to the zoo once, so yeah, through advertising.
Can you tell us what inspired you for this piece?
Basically my inspiration came from a trip to Havana with Havana Club as we’ve been collaborating on ‘Casa Havana’ and we spent four days out there, toured the city, saw lots of sights, met lots of people and that was basically my inspiration for what I did here with ‘The Unexpected’ artwork.
What’s your favourite new hangout in London?
Oh my God I haven’t lived here for three and a half years! I’ve been back for six months, lived down in Peckham and spend most of my time in foreign countries so I’ve got no idea.
Favourite hangout worldwide?
There used to be a really horrible bar in downtown LA, like the dirtiest dive bar ever, I can’t even remember what it was called, it was just called that number what it was on the street, but it had a big horseshoe to walk through and it had a life-size unicorn on the end of the bar and around six o’clock in the evening they’d come around and give us free pizza, that was definitely my favourite LA hangout.
Who is your favourite artist at the moment?
I would say a guy from Germany, he lives in Berlin and his name is Jaybo Monk and he’s doing abstract, surreal paintings. Visually to me they really, really work.
Can you give us one word you can use to describe art?
Most of it- boring. I don’t know, it’s like most people don’t go to art galleries or museums so you know, the art that I do I would call it inspiring and happy because it’s on the street, and people who don’t go to art galleries get to see it and enjoy it
What’s in store for the next year?
No idea what’s in store for next year, I couldn’t tell you what’s in store for the next two weeks. I stopped planning ahead and a few years ago, I would make commitments to go to art shows a year in advance, two years in advance and they generally involve spending two or three months making paintings in a studio and I would miss out on loads of opportunities to travel and do exciting things, so last year I decided that I wasn’t going to do any more and now I have an art show that’s open in Denver tomorrow, I’ve just had a small one in Helsinki and after that I’ve got no art shows planned at all, I’m just going to see what lands in the inbox, travel the world and go to places I haven’t been before.
What do you do to get away from everything?
I come home, spend five days in London and just hang out with my girlfriend and relax.
What was the last thing that really made you stop and stare?
I can’t tell you just in case my girlfriend reads this…