An Interview with Ben Eine

Posted on August 04, 2017

Ben Eine (real name Ben Flynn) is one of the most successful street artists in the world today and is regarded as a pioneer in the exploration of graffiti letterforms. In 2010 his artwork was gifted to President Obama by the UK Prime Minister, and his unique pieces can be seen across London. A particular area of the East End has been named ‘Alphabet City’ after his colourful array of shopfront ‘shutter art'. Eine’s work is currently held in the permanent collections of the V&A, London, The Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles and galleries worldwide

Ben Eine is most notable for his alphabet lettering on shop shutters in London.

Some of these letters have been mapped for ease of finding. He has also taken his lettering to the streets of Paris, Stockholm and Newcastle upon Tyne.

Prior to becoming involved in commercial graffiti, Eine was a very famous and highly credible writer in the underground London graffiti scene. His unusual 'throw up' was created to stand out from the usual tags and dubs seen on the streets and can still be found in some dingy areas of East London.

Inspired by the work of fashion assassin Noki, Eine first started to explore more commercial avenues in a workshop above the Dragon Bar in Leonard Street, London. Eine produced a number of custom clothing designs notably some custom "VANDALS" sweatshirts and started to explore screen prints eventually working as a screen printer for cult screen print company Pictures On Walls. Eine produced many of the hand pulled prints for artists represented by POW including Banksy, Jamie Hewlett and Mode2.

His talent for colour combinations meant that he was able to enhance the work supplied by the artists. He left this position to pursue his own solo career in 2008.

Eine first came to prominence in the "commercial" graffiti scene through his symbiotic partnership with London graffiti artist Banksy; through Eine, Banksy was able to access the underground scene and through Banksy Eine accessed the commercial world. In his commercial work he has produced numerous lettering styles including: shutter, circus, neon, elton, vandalism and wendy.

Ben Eine continues to produce canvasses and screen prints from his studio in Hastings and aims to travel the world painting his colourful letters and statements on shutters and walls wherever he can. As he claims: “I get the most inspiration from traveling. Meeting and speak to new people in a different setting of which I am used to be gives me new ideas and interpretations about everything.”  Traveling and meeting people helps Ben Eine in his proces of creativity, which he defines as “having the freedom to do what I want and make a couple of people happy.” 

Text: Mike Warrink / Capturing Creativity

Photo: Henk Warrink / NCO Photography