Ben Tan, the poster designer for

Cartoons Underground 2018

Name: Ben Tan

Where do you live: Singapore

1. Tell us more about how you got started as an artist?

I think this is a rather premature question because I’m not really an artist, or at least not yet- I’m only 19. But I suppose the question is not really of how I got started but rather why I got started, because I haven’t even begun!

I got started because art has the ability to communicate emotions, ideas and feelings, much like having a good conversation without there being any words exchanged. This conversation that we have when we look at art is something I find very magical because it communicates not only to the viewer but allows the viewer to introspectively communicate with himself in personal dialogue. IMG_20180909_135645_942

More than that, I think there’s a certain satisfaction of being able to create something from nothing. To think of something and see it come into form, and knowing that this form exists not only in your imagination but in a larger social consciousness when it is exhibited, printed, etc, gives it a permanence. Knowing that your art will outlive you and influence those that come thereafter is something very comforting, and that’s another key reason why I do art.


2. How do you go about completing a piece. Can you share your creative process?

For me any creative endeavor always starts with an obsession of something, whether that something is a particular visual aesthetic, concept or vibe, it starts with a genuine sense of “my days, this is the shit”. Thereafter its about trying to understand the visual language behind that sense of wonder; understanding what makes this “this” and that “that”.

Once you can figure out the visual taxonomy of the language you can start to twist and mold it to create something new. I think that’s another important aspect of this process, a willingness to let go of any preconceptions of what art should be and allow it to develop organically into what it can be. Personally, I think it’s rather misguided to create something with the intent of imitation as your final product because, as cliché as it sounds, only you can do you. 

In that sense while I suppose I kinda have an idea of how I go about doing things, I believe that the mentality with which we pursue any artistic project is more important that how we do it.


3. Can you name an artist where you draw inspiration from? What about him is most inspiring?

There are tons of great artists that I’ve drawn from in one way or another, with the internet there’s so much visual discourse that sometimes I don’t even know the artist in question, but I really like the work of (abstract painter) Albert Oehleson.

His approach towards abstract painting is amazing in that it blends a lot of traditional abstract schools of thought with more realistic elements. In his works there always seems to be a sort of visual narrative between the different elements, like abstract storytelling; which is really interesting because abstract works are mostly created around a particular emotion/ vibe rather than having any more figurative elements. I think that willingness to find new ways of expression and be bold in your decisions regardless of controversy is the virtue that, beyond technical ability, I admire the most.

4. What’s your inspiration behind the 2018 Cartoons Underground Poster?


To me the cool thing about Cartoons Underground is that its independent, self-run, it’s big but not too big and its attended by people who are open to anything.  So I wanted to create something with a lot of movement and energy which is why you have this network of snakes and ladders and interconnected elements. To me what makes animation unique is that it’s temporal, it exists because it moves and there is an element of time to it. In that vein I wanted to create a still piece of art that implied movement, like a tableau or a still frame of a movie caught in stasis rather than just an all-over explosion like Pollock.

5. What’s the dream for you in the future?

Just doing the things I enjoy, creating the art I like and living well.

6. Do you have any advice for budding artists who are hesitant about launching into a creative profession?


Considering that I’m a budding artist as well I’m really not sure what advice I can give, but I think the most important thing is that if you enjoy doing art than do it regardless of anything else that might impede you, because if you give yourself to the medium then you’ll succeed even if success doesn’t come immediately. 



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