Mixed Tape #53 Cover Artist
It’s all in the mix: German artist Bene Rohlmann blends a head full of visions
with illustrations and brushstrokes.
Detailed to the max, Bene Rohlmann’s art tends to linger in the mind. Teeming with thriving flora and fauna, sketched in the style of Mexican death cults, a scattering of well-loved Disney comic book icons are woven into playfully collaged antique maps. With his Mixed Tape cover art, Bene Rohlmann sets the scene for a rich “musical harvest” of instruments and metronomes, interspersed with the artist’s own styles and markers to create an unusual symbiosis. Born in Münster, Germany, Bene studied illustration in his hometown before moving to Berlin in 2010 for love. And while he may have switched things up in his private life since then, his unbridled love for the city itself is still going strong. Taking a peek behind the scenes of his Berlin-Wedding studio, we gained some fascinating insights into Bene’s elaborate creative process – and got the artist to reveal the best spot for scoring old comic book gems.
The joy of experimentation.
What do you like best about your studio?
I like sharing my studio space with others – having people around adds some extra motivation. And the location, a slightly run-down former factory, is great and just how I like it. On the other hand, the old oven over there might look quite decorative, but unfortunately it doesn’t actually work. During the winter months, we tend to freeze – or simply never come here at all (laughs).
Where did you get the idea for your Mixed Tape #53 cover design?
The working title, “musical harvest”, carries many different connotations. A lot of my works incorporate images of plants and organic elements, so this time around I decided to juxtapose them with drums and other instruments. After extended experimentation, this is what I came up with!
What is the purpose of the light box in your studio?
I tend to use it for digital drawings. Once I’ve printed them out, I can use the light box to continue drawing with a pencil. This turns the result into a real illustration, not just a regular print.
From old to new.
Most of your works are incredibly detailed and meticulous. Do you ever get impatient? Or does the process help you to wind down?
You’re right, I find it very relaxing. I am a fairly patient person – except when something that shouldn’t take long winds up taking ages. I can get very impatient then. But drawing tends to relax me. I can spend hours on end sitting around, cutting away at the tiniest snippets and drawing details while listening to an audio book.
Where do you unearth all of the different paper sources for your artworks?
I cut up out-dated encyclopaedias or old Disney and Marvel comics. I really love comic books. I grew up with them and they are still very close to my heart.
They’ve made quite an impact on my illustrations. Most of the time, I snip monochrome images from encyclopaedias and then mix them with these tiny, slightly faded, yet colourful pictures – the resulting effect is quite beautiful.
Doesn’t it feel strange to cut up the comics you spent years collecting?
I never use books from my own collection for my graphics! Instead, I scour flea markets for finds. I would hate to chop up my own comics – that’s something I would never do!
Do you have any flea market recommendations for us?
My favourite is the one on Boxhagener Platz. Open every Sunday, it has a great atmosphere and usually plenty of good books suitable for my collages.
In the land of opportunity.
You have already had a few exhibitions in the USA. What was that like? Does it still feel special, or is it just part of the routine now?
I wish it were an everyday thing (laughs). Although I have to say that this has been a very good year for me.
I got to show my work in the USA a few times and hope the future holds many more international shows. But working with galleries abroad can also be tricky: You mail off your art and can never be sure how people will react – or if the works will arrive at all.
How do you feel about selling your works? Do you enjoy giving them away?
Most of the time, I don’t enjoy it too much since I pour a lot of my time and thoughts into my art and often develop a bond with the individual pieces. And although I tend to be very critical of my own work, I always like it in the end. So when someone buys one of my pictures, I get some money in return, but it can’t replace the artwork. At the same time, I can’t hold onto all of my works – where would I put them all? And I can’t deny that it’s a great feeling when someone buys a picture to display in their living room. This makes it easier to let go of my works.
I like Berlin.
Any plans for the future?
Good question. I like Berlin, so I guess I’ll stay here for a while. But I wouldn’t mind moving to the USA or Canada, either. Just to live somewhere else for a change. I would love to see a little bit more of the world, spending more than a few weeks in one place. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where I live as long as it feels right.
Thank you very much for this interview!