Introducing Eddy Bennett
In celebration of our exclusive print release with Eddy Bennett, we thought we’d dig a little deeper into the artistic beginnings and process of this highly-skilled sign writer.
For those yet to come across his work, Bennett is a self-taught artist who has mastered the art of sign-painting. Each of his artworks is a celebration of the beauty of typography, with the artist meticulously hand-painting his designs layer-by-layer on glass, and in reverse. Bennett paints using natural materials such as Mother of Pearl, or gold leaf – which he applies to the glass using yet another old-fashioned approach, the Victorian method of gilding.
In combining this classic art form with Pop Art sensibilities and phrases from the contemporary vernacular, Bennett creates lively, eye-catching pieces that light up any wall, and have sold across the world.
We sat down for a chat with Eddy to ask him about sign-writing and what makes it so special. He revealed: ‘Over the years, sign-writing has typically been thought of as a trade rather than as a medium for artistic expression. It’s only recently that people have started to recognise and appreciate the craftsmanship and skill that goes into it, and demand for pieces has shot up as a result. As each piece is created by hand, it’s really a ‘quality above quantity’ process. Thankfully, most people recognize that something done by hand will outshine something done on a computer.’
It was after finishing his degree in London that Bennett discovered sign-writing. He tells us: ‘After learning the basic techniques, I quickly escalated to throwing hand-painted lettering across London, on almost anything I could find. It was a natural progression from my earlier artistic work, which even back then showed my fascination with typography.’
‘We take words and letters for granted, but the way these shapes, lines, and strokes make up an alphabet that we can then interpret as words and phrases in our heads is amazing! I wanted to make that process of comprehension as beautiful as possible, using various styles of lettering, colours, materials, and techniques. It’s a huge part of what motivates me as an artist.’
A touch of glass
For those of you with your own artist aspirations in mind, we asked Eddy how he approached adapting this functional aesthetic to give it his own unique twist.
He states: ‘I wanted to develop my own style, so I decided to create most of my pieces using gold leaf gilding onto glass. This is similar to the Victorian methods that were used to make brewery and advertising mirrors. I like to think I’ve turned this old-world process into something that looks contemporary and vibrant; despite being a centuries-old technique. The gilding looks right at home alongside the bright colours, glitter, and occasional expletives that make my work an obvious departure from nineteenth-century stuffiness!’
Translation into print
As each individual piece takes a great deal of time to complete, Eddy has also turned his hand to prints, although once again, he’s not opting for the easy route. At every point, Bennett is an artist who prioritises special details that give his art unique character.
‘When it comes to my prints, I want them to be made in a way that is hands-on, using traditional techniques, just like my hand-painted original artworks.
For my latest print release, ‘Pure Paradise’, I wanted to use a conventional letterpress, as was done with some of the finest examples of event advertising there are - early wrestling posters. Back then, each poster was slightly different due to the nature of the inks used and their alignment, and the colours were always eye-catching.
I love the way that designers back then used stars and striking fonts to glam up the design and bring in the crowds.’
Take me to Paradise
Finally, we persuaded Eddy to reveal a little about his new print, available exclusively at Enter Gallery. He tells us: ‘Each of the ‘Pure Paradise’ editions are printed by hand, using a Victorian letterpress, made up of eight individual woodblocks – one for each colour layer. This approach achieves a beautiful and totally unique print where the patterns from the grains of the wood are visible in the ink.’
He continues: ‘The phrase I’ve chosen to immortalise, ‘Pure Paradise’, is inspired by the time we have all spent in our own little worlds over the past year. Most people will be feeling some cabin fever by now, being stuck in the same place for so long. However, I want people to remember how good that little place they call home can be, and that it's somewhere they will always come back to, whether for family, friends, pets, or art. Here’s to paradise!’
'Pure Paradise - Aqua' will be available exclusively at Enter Gallery from Friday 2nd July. The piece is from a limited edition of 50 and comes signed and numbered by the artist.