About the art
If thoughts and dreams were photographed then Ben Patterson's works would be just that. Bizarre animals, graffiti birdhouses, and child-like characters are all posed in surreal settings. There is an innocence reflected in his works, yet an underlying sadness that sits upon them. Rendered in a high low style, polished yet simple at times, Patterson's art emphasizes the dream and the possibility of change. Many works seem to be on the verge of a tipping point, depicted at the peak of a transition where the viewer is left to decide which direction it will take. Patterson pushes this idea of the contradictory state, where there is no absolution of right or wrong, no definitive choice, but only a harmonious variation where both exist.
Ever since I was a child, my imagination was my safety net, my own personal birdhouse I could escape to. I was born into the Mormon church, told how to feel and what to do, and was constantly coming home to a broken family. My father was a carpenter and my mother a 80s stay-at-home mom. I was raised by T.V. and grandparents. I used rotary phones, kept change in my pocket to call home, played oregon trail, mastered windows 3.1, was belted when I got into trouble, and watched my younger siblings get trophies for everything. I have been rich and I have been poor. As a whole, I have had an easy life and I would even say I was a little spoiled brat, a true American boy. Nothing was super bad, but nothing was ever super good. Things change, but I remained steady in drawing and sketching, even dreamed about being a graphic artist or architect (we still were drawing plans by hands). Unfortunately, my rebellious teen years coupled with the lack of encouragement and the ever struggle to support myself led me down a different path. I didn't pursue my passion in art for over a decade. In 2009, I started drawing again, went to school, and have been painting ever since. Even now, well into my thirties, I struggle to keep sight of that child-like world where anything is possible. Through my artworks, these imaginative realities become real and the harshness of reality slip away. Life is a constant struggle of right and wrong. We need to understand both dichotomies, support everyone and move the fuck on.
Do you have a name for these broken neck “characters” and how did they come about?
I call them ‘Bleepers’ but also “guys”, humanoids, figures, characters, aliens… They started years ago and have just stuck. I was attempting to draw an unbiased human figure. So, no girl/boy parts, no race, and no visible stereotypes to one specific human. I began playing around with these drawings, or blob like creatures. They were free from the restraints that a human body possesses. That’s how they began and they kept evolving through the years. They have progressed into more child-like characters because a child is the true unbiased human. They do not care about race, sex, or any other stereotype. Sadly, they are taught to identify physical characteristics and therefore judge. My hope is we could all be more like children, where imagination runs wild, dreams are real, and the world is full of unrestricted possibilities.
What inspires/motivates you as an artist?
I am naturally curious. I am intrigued by regular people and extraordinary people, real and fake, mean and nice. This is what makes up society and yet certain constructs of society still bewilder me. This does not push me away but makes me want to understand both viewpoints.
A little list of other inspirations/likes: sarcasm, street art, tongue-and-cheek humor, cartoons and television, being proven wrong (of course), comics, random acts of kindness, society norms, video games, new experiences, moving, all movies, and music (don’t care what kind it is, as long as I can horribly dance to it!).