Firstly, thank you for agreeing to an interview. It’s great that you were so willing to share more about yourself and what you do. To start, could you introduce yourself, and explain how and when you got into the Photoshop game?
My name is Benjamin van Valen and I’m 18 years old. I live in Utrecht, the Netherlands and I study graphic design here.
Even before I went to this school, I’ve always been creating, but not just photo editing. I made digital music, videos, photos, I danced, and I played the piano, drums, and all kinds of stuff. I had two YouTube channels before the one I have now and also two Instagram profiles. You see, I’ve always been busy doing creative stuff in my free time. However, I didn’t know Photoshop. Or… well, I knew it, I just didn’t like it all that much. Back in the day, I actually used After Effects for photo editing, which is super weird, but to me it seemed better since I knew a lot about the software. But two years ago I started my studies and got pushed to work with Adobe Photoshop. And after one hour of doing random stuff, I absolutely fell in love with it. Sadly, they didn’t teach me a lot about the program, so that’s why I started learning myself, simply by using it a LOT! In the first year I didn’t improve much. However, around May 2019 things started getting to look more and more decent.
Which artists do you use as references and why?
Honestly, I don’t really have an idol or someone specific I look up to. Calop Castellon and Brandon Woelfel have always intrigued me. Both of these artists do a lot with light and that’s a really big thing in my own work too. What makes them so great to me is their vision on composition, lighting (obviously), and colors. Everything works together perfectly. Then there’s also Aljosha Konstanty. He’s a music producer who makes THE best chillout tracks. Listening to his music takes me to a whole other world. It has some kind of ease to it. That’s also why I reached out to him to ask if I could use his music in my YouTube videos. (He said yes. ☺)
How would you define your artistic style? Where do you draw inspiration from for your edits?
I like to tell myself I focus on pop culture the most. I’m in love with movie franchises like Star Wars, Alien, Harry Potter, and so much more. When a new popular movie comes out that I really like, I always want to make something related to it. Maybe because I want to show some kind of love for it. Apart from the movie-themed edits, I always try to aim for a cinematic feel. Many people asked me how I get ideas for an edit. And to be honest…I haven’t figured that part out myself. Sometimes an idea randomly pops up in my head and I’d be like, yeah that’s awesome! But of course there are times when I check out my Pinterest homepage, and get inspired by something I see.
Do you take your own stock pictures or do you only use stock images available online?
Both. Sometimes I shoot pictures of myself or a friend which I then turn into something cool, such as my Joker edit.
But mostly I get my images from websites like Pexels, Unsplash, Pxhere, and Pixabay. But it’s hard to say, because for some edits they come from all over the place.
What would you consider to be your favourite Instagram moment?
That’s a very interesting question. I couldn’t choose between two unforgettable moments. March 15, a normal day. With 300 followers I was struggling to get seen more, not knowing what would happen the next day. For the first time ever I got featured by ‘’TheCreart’’ which is a big feature page. Immediately I started gaining followers, but most importantly I started getting more and more features, and before I knew it, my work was to be seen all over the place. From that day, I began getting bigger and faster. Then there’s also August 28. I got a DM from Justin Quiles, or at least his manager. They reached out because they needed cover art done for a single they’d release. Later I found out this wasn’t some small business. This was Richmusic LTD and the artists were Ozuna and Sech!
Describe a typical day in your life. What do you normally do?
This sounds stupid but these days there isn’t a ‘’typical’’ day in my life. Funny thing, I’m currently in a very weird situation at my school. Basically what’s happening: I’m too skilled for the program. That’s why I will possibly finish it sooner than normal. You understand this causes a lot of insecurities and…weird stuff. Everyday new surprising things happen, and every day is a new adventure. However in general, it’s quite boring. I get up, eat, go to school, go home, and start working on my Instagram and YouTube channel. No more, no less! And would I change anything? Maybe be a little more physically active.
On a regular day, what do you spend most time on?
That’s an easy question; My YouTube channel !
Since august 2019 I’ve restarted my old YouTube channel and It took off like a rocket! I gained at least 15.000 subscribers in less than 3 months and my quality kept getting better in a very short amount of time. This resulted in YouTube being my priority. Now I get 1000+ subscribers a day, and as you might understand, this is VERY motivating!
That’s why I’m fully committed to the cause. On my channel I do all kinds of stuff Photoshop related: Speed-arts, Breakdowns, challenges, projects, tutorials and much more. However, my main goal is not to teach. I want to entertain and inspire. That’s why I try to bring in some humor, and make my video’s watchable even for people who don’t use Photoshop at all!
If you had only one piece of advice to give someone who wants to get started on Instagram, what would it be?
There’s only one thing that matters the absolute MOST! Don’t give up!!!
In the past I’ve had many moments when I thought: ‘’This isn’t gonna work’’, and I quit. Let’s say I learned from that. Because once I started my new Instagram page, Benny_Productions, I told myself: ‘’If you wanna succeed, you gotta keep going.’’ And that’s exactly what I did. I started, and haven’t given up ever since. And look at me now.
What are some websites you enjoy or find helpful for your creative endeavours?
I personally don’t really use anything other than Pinterest. I get most of my inspiration from other stuff, I think. Unclear things…
Thanks again for your time, it was a pleasure. Do you have a final message to inspire and motivate the Learn-Photoshop community? Impress us!
If you’re a beginner in photo editing and you want to grow big and increase your skill set, all I can say is to keep going forward. Look around you, learn from others, teach others what you know. Watch tutorials, be inspired by the people you look up to, and always stay ambitious. If you want to achieve something, you have to work for it. Work hard, work consistently, and don’t give up. If you do those things, you’ll get where you want to go. Maybe not now. Maybe not in a few months…But you will get there. I know you will.