Constructing Piece by Piece
Who influences you graphically?
There are so many places I pull inspiration from – I am always looking at art, everything from the Northern Renaissance ,underground comics, to scientific illustrations and of course a wide range of contemporary artists. But I don’t think I’m too directly influenced from anyone in particular. When I’m in the studio its just me and the drawing.
To what extent has growing up in Washington influenced the way you perceive and draw the city?
I don’t make my drawings to be of a particular place but I do base them on my own experience and pull largely from photographs I have taken when I’m looking for reference material or inspiration. My drawing of the Suburbs is specifically a reimagining of the suburbs I grew up in outside of Washington DC. I went back to the neighborhood and good photos of more than 100 of the houses for that drawing.
What is your work process?
Of course it depends on the project, but most of the time I build the idea for the drawing as I am working rather than having it planned out from the start. I have found that for me the creative process works best when I leave the drawing open for discovery while I work. I’ll just pick a place to start and build it piece by piece on day at a time.
What defines the way you chose to insert colour within your images?
Colour is something I don’t work with too often although I am doing more experiments with it recently. As for now I am still more interested in adding some limited painting to drawings then full on painting. Isolated color can have a strong impact, so far I use it pretty sparingly.
Ben Tolman is an artist working in Washington. He received his MFA in 2012 from American University and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.