For The past 15 years Ben Hucke spent most of his time riding BMX professionally. After becoming a father and wanting to travel less he started to feel lost, looking for a creative outlet. Soon after Ben started a clothing brand with his friend that started to see some success. This success moved him forward designing more t-shirts and making him more obsessed with drawing. He started to get the same excitement finishing a piece that he had felt landing a new trick on his bike, so he decided to just go for it. For the first year he continued with BMX and was still drawing everyday. In January 2015 he retired from BMX and took art on full time. Ben Hucke never considered himself an artist until January 2016 when he realize he made it a year supporting his son and self with his work. His large scale photo-realistic artwork draws you in with hours and sometimes weeks of detail.
When you sit down at your desk or drawing table… What initiates your creative process and goes through your head?
Every time I sit down to draw something new there’s a lot going through my head. Excitement, doubt, hope, excuses – the list goes on… Once the pen touches the paper there is no turning back and all of that goes out the window. I’ve learned some important things from drawing, the biggest being patience always pays off. It’s tough starting a piece sometimes when you know it’s going to take you approximately eighty hours. When I draw I do everything piece by piece. This gives me mini rewards throughout the work rather than just struggling towards an end accomplishment.
That being said, patience must be one of your virtues. With so much detail, what was the longest amount of time it took for one piece and do you feel a point at which you feel finished? What was the piece?
The longest piece would be the 70 inch tall Penfolds wine bottle. I lost track after about 80 hours but that one was around 100 hours. It’s odd, usually when I get to a stopping point and stand back to realized it’s finished, I don’t quite believe it actually is haha. I have to call it a night and check it out again in the morning. There’s so many little parts to a large scale pen drawing that after 12 hours of working straight I am convinced I’ve missed something.
What inspires most of your drawings and artwork?
Half the drawings I do are commissions. I always do one commission, one personal piece, commission, personal and so on. Doing so keeps me fresh. A lot of the time while working on a commission is when my next idea pops into my head. If I ever feel like I can’t think of anything new I just call it a day and go have fun. That’s life telling me to take a break and I need to accept it.
Did you start with pencil and charcoal as mediums or find your way to using these tools and techniques that you are currently drawn to?
I started with pens, I used sharpies until I discovered Micron pens. I used those for a while until I discovered Uni Pin Pens which are much cheaper and work more efficiently for my technique.
Do you work with any other mediums…? If so – tell us how these mediums helped you grow as an artist.
Every once in a while I’ll use oil pastels for really large scale commission. Mostly comic style color pieces. It’s a lot of fun and breaks up what I’m typically working with so I come back refreshed after playing with them.
Tell us what a day in the shoes of Ben Hucke is like from morning to going to bed?
Typical day would be me getting up around 7:30-8:00am, getting my son to school, grabbing coffee and getting back home to start on a drawing. If for some reason I need a break I head out on a hike, the mountain to snowboard or just grab my bike and wander around the city for the day. Otherwise I draw all day. Pick my son up from school around 3pm, hang out with him for a bit, make dinner, help him with homework, get him ready for bed and then back to drawing until midnight typically unless I’m close to finishing I’ll work until 3-4am sometimes.
Do you have any upcoming exhibits you would like to talk about? Have you collaborated with other artists.
I don’t have any gallery exhibits coming up, however I do a lot of smaller shows for first Thursdays here in Portland, Oregon. Next show is on March 3rd at Sticks & Stones in NW Portland.
In five years where do you see yourself as an artist in terms of – techniques, scale and success?
Honestly I can’t even imagine where or what I’ll be doing in 5yrs. I started drawing just over two years ago and it’s been been a crazy exciting time. My style has changed a little bit but mostly just to be more productive on larger scale. I would love to be able to only do large scale pieces and have the market to sell more of them. Large scale is my favorite but understanding not everyone can afford to buy and frame something so large, I do a lot of smaller pieces as well. Either way I love making pieces for people.