Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mr Benja Art Auctions Starting This Week

At an art show in San Diego's Graffiti Beach, I noticed my friend, Edgar, looking at a piece of art with a slight bit of frustration on his face. He was looking at a piece of mine that had already sold. He was there first, but someone else had put dibs on the art by talking to me and effectively purchasing the piece. This didn't sit well with him. It wasn't fair. But the art world isn't fair, and things like this happen all the time. But was Edgar ever going to forgive me?

Well...he got me thinking of ways to be a little more democratic and less elitist with my art.

The solution?
I will use auctions.
The art world loves auctions.
Now you can love auctions too.

I'm not sure if Edgar ever forgave me.
Maybe he'll read this one day.

See any current auctions HERE.

- Mr Benja -

Pen vs Pencil: A Philosophy And A Practice

At some point in my life, I started using pens to sketch. It kind of changed my life. It reminds me of that one quote by Omar Khayyám:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
When I started sketching in pen, everything felt more permanent. It's not like I was erasing when I was using pencils, but now there was a freedom to every stroke. Once it was created, there was no going back. My creative mark on the world, however small, was made.

I started filling up sketchbook after sketchbook and really getting better at creating ideas. This extended to how I work online as well. The creations can now just flow.

And if I don't like what I created, I can just create another post tomorrow.

If you'd like to know what I'm sketching images for, please VISIT TRANSCENDENT PRESS.

- Mr Benja -

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Commodification Of Art Continues

There are a lot of people that aren't into the art scene (or whatever scene ), and they'll look for an easy fix for their itch. This usually means they'll end up consuming something mass-market and commodified. It's hard to win that game on creation alone. (If you can, you're in a good space.)

On eBay and other marketplaces, people are selling cheap "original" wall decor that are painted in assembly-line factories located in China, Mexico, Bangladesh, and across the US. (Or even think of art that is simply printed with embellishments.)

These items are usually copies of a style, direct facsimiles, or quick Photoshop edits. Aside from the legal and moral lameness involved, I don't think it's very good. But I understand the role it plays, and I'm not mad it it.

What you're seeing is a commodification of art on a large scale. (Notice that the image above says 24 sold.) While, I don't knock anyone that buys this stuff, I think you can do much better for yourself.

- Mr Benja -

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Free Tool To Introduce Calm And Deal With Social Media

One of my tools for dealing with all of the noise and nonsense that goes on around me is some nice ambient sleep music. When I was in school studying software engineering, my mind started getting overrun with thoughts. Another programmer introduced me to ambient music.

While there's a wide variety of ambient music, I've gotten some good relaxation vibes from Moby. He's made these selections free for download and personal use.

Breathe easy, Internet.


- Mr Benja -

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Crisis That Halted Podcast Posting

I got a message from my good friend, Ryan. He wanted to know why I'm posting all this shit, but haven't sent out any podcast episodes.

Man...I ran into an online existential crisis.

See, I follow the classic saying from Busta Rhymes that states, "Don't talk about it, be about it." I realized that a podcast *could* be the epitome of that statement. I felt I was focusing a bit too much on talking about topics when I hadn't lived up to my 2020 goals of being about my art. (And you know I take my New Years Resolutions seriously.)

That didn't sit well with me. So for February, I put my primary focus on staying on the creative habit, so I wouldn't start letting that slip away from me. Because I'll be damned if I become that noisy guy that doesn't create anything.

Also, the current idea is that you just fart out any kind of content and that'll be good for your brand. I've seen that happen enough times to know that's not the case. Also, that'd be bad for the rest of the brand if you saw my regular print creations and things fall off in exchange for some online hot air.

Anyway, don't worry. I'm still doing the podcast, but I promised you steak over sizzle, so that's what I'm doing. Always.

- Mr Benja -

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Print-First Development Procedure

For a while, I only created original paintings and didn't do prints. The concept behind the art required that I create original works only. The philosophy had to do with creating representations of digital works in a 1-of-1 medium. It gets into a lot of artsy talk that I'd rather not get into now, but if you have one of those paintings, I will never create prints of those. Enjoy!

While a lot of artists create prints to supplement their original works, that's never factored into my art. In fact, I would almost rather not have to deal with the idea of prints at all, but times change.

Recently, my art has changed a bit, and the message no longer demands the works be unique offerings. So now, I have a started creating prints and will be creating them more often. In fact, the message/philosophy has changed so much that I have found myself with a print-first procedure. Basically, I create these images and then decide which ones I like enough to convert to paintings. Some of the prints are rather difficult to render as paintings, so there's that issue as well.

Interesting times.

Click HERE to see the prints that I create for 8BitCubist.

- Mr Benja -

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Behind The Kobe Bryant Prints (Pt 1) - "24/8"

After the passing of Kobe Bryant I was inspired to create. It just happened that way. He is one of those figures that exemplified the push that I have been engaged with lately, so I felt I had to do what pop art does, speak on popular culture.

I always think deeply about those that have inspired me, and in the spirit of pop art, I created two pieces after Kobe's death. The first of these prints is called "24/8". 

"24/8" Fine Art Print by Mr Benja for 8BitCubist
As usual, I went with what felt natural to me. But since it's the first tribute piece I've ever done, I felt weird about not going the usual tribute route. In fact, while typing this, I realized that I needed to delete all of my art-speak and just let you know what was on my mind as I constructed this image:

* an ode to Kobe's legacy
* the game we play
* the ball
* constancy
* forward motion

I will post about the second one a little later on. It's a bit more involved.


- Mr Benja -

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Hey, Ari. Comedians Should Cross ALL Lines, But...

Being that I have a mind that pushes boundaries, I like to think I get comedy. Aside from being fucking hilarious at dinner parties, I did three summers worth of standup at the ACME Comedy Club in Minnesota. (Shout out to Nick Swardson who showed me what it means to be made of puuuurreeee eeeevilllll and to Victor Varnado who showed me what it meant to embrace the "fuck it" attitude.) Also, it's healthy for us to look at all sides of an issue.

Now before I continue, CLICK HERE TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE STORY. You can also check his Instagram to see his statement on the matter.

But calling him right wrong isn't my point here. It's about crossing lines.

I'll start with this quote from the legend George Carlin, which may or may not be from him. He hasn't responded to my tweets, so I can't verify this part.

Okay. So was Ari Shaffir simply crossing lines that should be crossed? Was he just trolling? Because he really does troll people, but not like this.

At face value, line-crossing in comedy is fine. The craft is not necessarily about being "funny" or acceptable. The comic should be out there picking fights, ruffling feathers, making people think, pushing buttons, and even bombing in the presence of innocent civilians. (See what I did there?)

I mean that. For example, here are popular topics that comics SHOULD broach:
  1. The sanctity of life
  2. Race
  3. Rape
  4. Religion
  5. Pregnancy
  6. Prostrate cancer
  7. Gender identity
  8. Sex organs
  9. Murder
  10. Floridians
  11. Politics
  12. Physical differences
  13. Joke thieves
  14. Denial of mental health problems
  15. Culture
  16. Economic status
  17. Social class
  18. Failed marriages
  19. Anything that has ever appeared in People magazine
  20. Black people with thin lips
  21. Overweight freerunners
  22. Your mother (also known as yo mama)
  23. George Clooney
  24. People that browse the hashtag #crystalsforsale
  25. And EVERYTHING else we hold sacred
It's all on the table. That's how it's supposed to be.


Are you helping anyone? Did you make anyone think? Were new opinions formed? Did a reasonable dialog come up? Was it worth it?

See, this whole situation annoys me because I honestly can't stand our war on comedy. We're are a bit soft nowadays. We need comedy now more than ever. I want people to go outside without having anxiety attacks. Unfortunately, we've got Ari Shaffir going around making the situation worse. Even shock outlet Opie Radio had to call him out.

Pretty much.

At its best, comedy like this is lazy. At its worst, it's dangerous. Comedy is a powerful weapon that should only to be wielded by licensed skeptics, cynics, outcasts, and socially-malnourished intellects.

But wait. You don't think bad comedy can be dangerous? Remember the time Ari spoke about showing his privates to a six year old girl? Ehhhh...come on, dude. Do better.

So regardless of my personal feelings or my thoughts on celebrity worship, the "joke" failed because it was delivered improperly. It didn't help the case for art. It just seemed like some guy channeling his inner jerk. I don't know, maybe his career implosion can be used to open the door for better post-death comedy.

Finally, while I didn't want to come on here and stan for Kobe. I have much respect for the Black Mamba, so RIP to Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and everyone else that died.
Click here to learn more about the lives that were lost.

Be well, people.

 - Mr Benja -

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