Ben Tour is a 30 yearold painter and illustrator straight out of British Columbia, Canada. Tour has forged a successful career translating his fascination with human behaviour into beautifully dense character portraits. Best described as a "visual anthropologist" of sorts, Tour has spent the better part of a decade cataloging and archiving a lab of abstract human autopsies into a visual diary of characters and personalities, assembled from scraps of truth and fiction gathered from everyday life. The first time my eyes lost their virginity to a piece of Ben Tour artwork, I was awe-struck. Tour’s uncanny ability to capture these minute gestures and waning expressions with his feverish strokes and emotive lines forms the foundation of his distinctive style. Most importantly however, his choice of subjects is what intimately informs the direction of each piece. What struck me most about Ben's work then, and now, is the way that he captures human emotion so ridiculously well. It's the sign of a veteran social observer.While viewer interpretation does play a major role in the way Tour’s work is received, personal connection is equally as important. The abundant emotional content built into each of his pieces is at once intimidating and mesmerising. Rarely are the men in his portraits handsome or confident, instead they appear corpulent and misguided, emaciated and overwrought—too concerned with their own neuroses to be bothered by the notion of societal norms. Tour’s female subjects, however, are portrayed in a much different light. Flaws and imperfections are, for the most part, hard to discern at first glance. Pouty lips and long sensual necklines punctuate attractive, symmetrical faces. Thin arms and long slender legs appear designed intently for Fashion Week runways. But closer scrutiny, particularly with regards to the eyes, hints at a more complicated reality lurking beneath each subject’s surface. The 405 were lucky enough to hang out with the man himself, for his EXCLUSIVE interview. Check it out!

When did you first realize that your creations could become a possible career path for yourself?

To be honest i'm still struggling with that- its hot and cold. I take things month to month and some months are very lucrative while others are very frightening. There are no guarantees in this business. Some artists are incredible marketers or their work and fabulous business people- for me i've definitely had to figure out things the hard way on my own. I live in British Columbia which isn't exactly an art mecca. There a reason artists live in New York LA London and its because of the opportunity to be an artist that makes a living. Despite the challenges i'm loving living in BC and i wouldn't trade it for anything. Although i would like to sublet a place in Brooklyn for a few months. To answer the question in 2005 my work started selling for more than a few hundred bucks.

Were you the type of kid who was always drawing on the walls with crayons?
Yeah, i've always made artwork for as long as i can remember.



Where does your fascination for drawing people derive from?

I suppose it derived from comic books and super hero stuff from my childhood- the dynamic poses and ink outlines really got into me at a young age and lead to being inspired by other painters such as the impressionists and post-Impressionists and then later Graffiti in the early 90's- specifically more character based writers like Mode 2 Toast Loomit Twist Felon Phil Frost and work by local writers i knew growing up in Toronto. I was also introduced to life drawing in High school which pushed me into being serious about drawing the human body.



Would you say that each of your portrait pieces can tell or have a personal story attached to the character in them? Is this intentional?

I usually make things intuitively and then decipher them afterwards if i'm prompted to talk about the images. I sometimes get inspired by a color or word or name or a story. Most of the work is about mood and expressing an emotion to the viewer. Bleeding emotion i sometimes call it.

What is your favorite medium to work with when creating a new piece, paint, pencil, mixed?

I enjoy doing big painted panels using water based materials and spray paint but i think my best work is now stuff thats done extremely carefully on paper. Sometimes i like making a mess and other times i'll clean up the studio and do some little ink drawings. Making art makes me my happiest whatever it is, as cheese ball as that sounds.



Have you ever considered doing your own comic book or working as a comic book illustrator?

I did many comics in High School and at one time that was huge goal for me but as i got older i realised i didn't like drawing the same things over and over again- i think if i did a comic now it would be very abstract in both story and image. I'm just this year getting back into buying a lot more comics so we'll see(?) it would be a unique challenge.

I recently saw a fantastic piece of yours that was done on a clipboard, i believe. What's the craziest thing you've ever put your work onto?

I painted on a models breasts for a photo shoot a few years ago(!?) that was crazy.




Congratulations on recently becoming a father! How is this affecting your creative time? Are you hoping for another little Ben Tour in the making?

I'm still in the first month with my son so its all a very new experience- ask me again next year. Its difficult to leave sometimes and go to my studio which is a short train ride away so i'm planning on relocating to my home to work so i can be around all the time. I have less time for art for sure but the time i do get to work i don't waste and definitely i focus my and get more done. I'd be stoked if my son was really into art.

Who or What influences you into creating a new piece?

Pictures i find, colour, music. Trying to make sense of life by making paintings.



Finally, do you have any plans in the near future to hold an exhibit of your work over here in the United Kingdom?

I would love to -obviously its one of the best markets in the world and their are some of the best galleries for my type of work. My entire family lives in England and i'm first generation Canadian so visiting England would be huge, i havent been in years. Wutsup England?



Special thanks goes to Ben Tour for the interview.

Check out more of Ben's work by visiting his Official Website by clicking here!!!