|THE PROOF is a weekly roundup showcasing local creatives. A column for creatives to share their story and work, in a unique, concise format: each creative shows 8 pictures and answers 8 questions. Past participants include Bob Kronbauer, Omer Arbel, Carson Ting, Lizzy Karp, Branislav Henselmann, Hannah Georgas - all living in Vancouver.|
Some people know Ben Skinner as that guy with the excellent salt and pepper hair and a great spectacle collection. Others know him as the guy with excellent salt and pepper hair, great spectacles and the creative brain behind Aritzia’s innovative and beautiful window displays. And then of course he is known as all of the above AND as an innovative and playful visual artist. He is a master of word play, which he explores visually, often with tongue planted firmly in cheek. His art toys with words and colours – and your head. It reflects his personality: fun, kind of weird but also thoughtful and intelligent. Ben grew up in Petrolia, Ontario. He completed his undergrad at NASCAD in Halifax before heading to Chicago to complete an MFA at the School Of The Art Institute of Chicago. Ben now calls Vancouver home.
1. Detail from my latest art project titled “PRESSURE AND TIME”. It’s an infinity mirror, which is a layered 2-way mirror with internal light effects that reflect back creating a false sense of depth. The text is an allusion to how diamonds are formed.
2. A hand-painted window advert near my apartment that makes me chuckle.
3. Leon the chameleon in the Aritzia Visual Display studio, (my second home) just hanging out looking conspicuous. We had over 250 resin cast in 3 poses in 3 different flocked colours. He was the star attraction of the Spring 2013 window display I designed with the theme “Stop Blending In”. Leon’s original sculpt job was done by the talented Rob Turrif.
4. A few of my favourite colours from a set of Color-Aid paper. A full set is 314 perfectly matte, rich ink colours, screen-printed onto paper for colour study and design.
5. The Golden Girls in gold leaf on glass.
6. Lavender 1960’s Olivetti cursive typewriter. Probably the best birthday present one could ever hope for.
7. Some adhesive vinyl text I threw up in an alley in Chicago while on Summer vacation. Not that kind of threw up.
8. My handy note pad is always with me. This from an ongoing series of photos of my hand documenting the reminders to myself. Maybe a future book project.
1. What neighborhood do you live in?
South East False Creek.
2. What do you do and where?
I design windows for the Aritzia & TNA stores, make art in Railtown.
3. What are you working on?
I just started a lifelong ongoing project collecting solid materials as 2 inch cubes. Anything goes. Right now I’ve got a few woods, a mineral called struvite and 2 different styrofoams. Today I made a mold for casting materials in and got some various stones from a stone yard in South Vancouver. Just need to find someone to help cut them down to size for me. The search is very satisfying for the collector in me and also the process of making the materials into my standard dimensions, either through casting, cutting, sawing, sanding etc. If anyone wants to help by donating materials that can be made into 2″ cubes they can contact me. I’m especially interested in people who can cut minerals/crystals/rock and machinists who can precisely mill various metals and composites. The collection will eventually be open to the public for research.
4. Where can we find your work?
benskinner.com & in the windows of any Aritzia, TNA or Wilfred stores.
5. Who are your role models?
Olafur Eliasson, Ed Ruscha, Daniel Eatock, Maurizio Cattelan, Kay Rosen, Douglas Coupland, Ken Lum, Sol Lewitt, On Kawara, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Chris Burden, Erik Kessels, Georges Perec, Christian Bok, Crispen Glover, Anish Kapoor, Wayne White, Jonathan Richmond.
6. What keeps you going in this industry?
A never ending white water rapids of creative challenges.
7. If you had a chance to start your career all over again, how would you do it differently?
Allow myself more studio time, and not to take things too seriously.
8. What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were young?
Work harder. Craftsmanship matters. Keep your receipts. TV is a waste of time, make something, or teach yourself something.
In the amount of time you spent on that heel-flip you could have learned something useful like a second language, how to fix a car, or how to reupholster a couch. Your time is more valuable than cash. Spend it wisely.
If you were going to recommend a creative to VIA, who would it be? (optional)
Caleb Beyers of Caste Projects, Jin Ko from Instant Coffee, Melissa Cartright from Mellifera Bee’s.