Interview: The WIld & Re-imagined With Ben Venom
Images of counterculture sewn into every piece
Mad Love 3y

With an eye for creating complex and kaleidoscopic images, artist Ben Venom might just be the most boundary-pushing fabricator in the game.

Currently based out of San Francisco, Venom has been renowned for his textile-based pieces for over a decade. Through the time consuming and endlessly detailed craft of quilting and textile art, Venom uses repurposed materials to infuse two strong concepts throughout his works: functionality and tangibility. Whether it’s quilts that babies can lie on, wearable jackets or denim vests, each of Venom’s pieces are chaotic and sprawling mosaics of counterculture iconography. Psychedelic colours, visceral textures, and hypnotic patterns all clash to create landscapes of roaring tigers, burning skulls, and macabre goat heads. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Before he sets out towards packed 2019, we caught up with Venom to talk about his unique body of work.

Looking through your expansive body of work, it is clear that punk rock, heavy metal, skating, and the macabre continue to inspire you. Do you remember a specific moment where you fell in love with these cultures? As an artist was it always a goal to infuses these images into your work?

When I was around 11 years old my cousin Jason gave me a Vision skateboard deck and it was all downhill from there. As a teenager I was introduced to the Atlanta punk rock scene and became a follower of D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself). This mentality carried me through my teenage years and into adulthood. Basically, don’t ever let anything hinder you from seeing your ideas through to the end. When I began sewing I had no idea what I was doing…simply a concept I wanted to create.

The Devil Inside Me (Back), Custom Fabricated Jacket with Heavy Metal band T-shirts, (Collaboration with Truth Never Told), 20” x 25”, 2018

Your art possesses the unique aesthetic or re purposing materials into intricate and bold images. What inspired you to incorporate recycling materials as a central aspect to your artistic practice?

By stitching donated fabrics into a unified piece, the quilts are able to display a multitude of personal histories. Everyone’s unexplained stain, tear, or rip will be included and when displayed visitors will be able to see a piece of themselves woven into this larger history. A collection of memories, dreams, and past experiences will be on view in the form of a functional quilt.

Power and Glory, Hand-made Quilt with Recycled Fabric, 53” x 69”, 2018

In the past you have noted how functionality is just as vital to your work as the visual effectiveness of it. Why is this idea important to you?

Textiles has allowed me to push my art past being just a precious object hanging on the wall to becoming the perfect fusion of Art, Fashion, and especially Function.

Bang Your Head (Front), Custom Fabricated Jacket with Heavy Metal band T-shirts (Collaboration with Truth Never Told), 20” x 25,  2018, Photo by: Shaun Roberts

Do you ever find that there are challenges in being a more artist who produces physically tangible works in the age of churn and burn social media?

For me it is still very important to see the artist’s hand within the work. All the imperfections, mistakes, and errors are what ultimately makes us who we are.

Blue Collar, Hand-made Quilt with Recycled Levis, Carhart, Dickies, and Fabric, 65” x 73”, 2018

In between creating new works and exhibiting across the globe, you also find time to occasionally lecture. What type of advice/ information do you do find usually resonates the most with students and rising artists?

Always follow your dumb ideas!

What are your plans for 2019?

-Solo exhibition at Panteon (Mexico City, Mexico) in partnership with Hellion Gallery.

-Solo exhibition at the Midlands Art Centre (Birmingham, U.K.).

-Group exhibition at the Mobile Museum of Art.

-Teaching a workshop at Arrowmont in November.

-Venom / RVCA capsule release.


Find more info on Ben Venom here.

Follow @benvenom

January 29, 2019
Editors Pick
Mad Love: Chris Yee
Ryde's favourite son.
Interview: Through Love With Hyukoh
The South Korean indie rockers first ever Australian interview!