Music Merch: Ben Venom – Artist Crafting Handmade, Functional Punk Rock/Heavy Metal-Designed Quilts
San Francisco-located (by way of Atlanta, Georgia) DIY artist Ben Venom stitches together his interest in the extreme subcultures and countercultures of society (heavy metal/punk rock music, mysticism, paganism, skateboarding, B movie horror films) with his San Francisco Art Institute Master of Fine Arts degree to create handmade functional quilts, vests, jackets, pillows, and other textile-based handiwork.
Venom’s creative kaleidoscopic collisions are appreciated by, and have connected, a diverse range of people, from fine arts connoisseurs to metalheads, punks, and rockers, crafts(wo)men – and of course, anyone in need of the warm comfort of a quilt.
The artist’s spreads are put together like traditional 3-layer quilts (with insulating batting for the middle layer), but his designs are eye-poppingly wild and the sizes of his quilts are usually larger than what would fit a king-size bed. His most over-the-top production was a 15-foot by 13-foot quilt crafted out of 125 heavy metal band t-shirts.
Venom takes the cool crazy train and goes beyond tradition, using recycled band t-shirts, denim jeans, leather jackets, and other materials to craft his useful quilts that can also serve as art pieces. He chooses and makes designs that are usually found in vintage tattoos, the occult, and motorcycle gangs, among many other subjects.
He grew up in the Atlanta environs, a skateboarding kid involved in the punk rock/heavy metal scene. Taking his early influences into account, Venom has applied his arts education and skills with needlework to his imaginative and vivid products. One of his designs even appears on a board for Creature Skateboards!
Venom’s work has been shown nationally and internationally, from the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles and Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York to the Levi Strauss Museum (Germany), Wolverhampton Gallery (England), and Charlotte Fogh Gallery (Denmark).
Venom’s pieces have been featured in magazines and he’s been interviewed by NPR: All Things Considered, the Frame, KQED, and other media. He has has also lectured at various colleges, was the artist in residence at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, and is currently a visiting faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Ben Venom – a man and his (sewing) machine – an artist and craftsman bringing his vision and inspirations to the art world and the everyday realm.
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