Creator Quarter: Meet Ben from Angel & Anchor

Welcome to the very first post in my Creator Quarter series! I have amazingly talented friends who are making and doing really cool things in Northern Ireland, and I want to introduce them to you as part of Capture NI.

First up, we have Ben Connolly from Angel & Anchor. We’ve been friends for a few years now – it’s been really fun to know him and Nicole in various stages of their relationship, and to hang out as friends AND colleagues. I think you’ll love meeting him!

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WHO ARE YOU?

I’m Ben, I’m married to Nicole and together we proudly live in Antrim. I’ve been running my freelance creative company Angel & Anchor for just over a year now. I’d like to say I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to creative stuff… making, upcycling, building, painting, designing, take photos and illustrating. I sometimes blog about my home renovations and exploring Ireland’s natural beauty.

WHERE DOES THE NAME ANGEL & ANCHOR COME FROM?

The short answer is nowhere. I started putting random words together with friends, and somebody came up with ‘Angels & Anchor’. In the end I took the plural out of there so that my mate couldn’t try and take me to court over copyright infringement. I guess it’s not the hippest story, but if anybody else can come up with a more profound story I’m definitely up for hearing it! People try too hard to come up with some amazing connection to their brand name. In the end, keep things simple and cut out the crap!

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HOW DID YOU GET TO SETTING UP SHOP AS ANGEL AND ANCHOR?

I’m a full on properly trained youth worker, and until last year I worked at The Green Hut in Monkstown. I loved working with young people and being part of building some creative ways to help them reach their potential (I’ve still got the lingo!). Due to some circumstances outside of my control I left last year and jumped head first into full-time self employment… I haven’t looked back yet.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT TO WORK ON?

Every project is different so I enjoy different parts of each. I’ve been working with The Emerald Armada since day one on a variety of projects, and now behind all their major visual direction. These guys are great to work with because they value their visuals and invest in it. Loads of work has come out of the relationship I’ve built with the band, and I’m so grateful for the big part they’ve played in my journey so far!

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IS IT A CHALLENGE TO KEEP CREATING NEW AND FRESH DESIGNS?

YES!!! I don’t think there’s anything new and fresh, but newer and fresher. When it comes to any art, we can trace it back to a source of some sort. I just aim for something which I think is of great quality, works for the client and is something I am happy to release into the public. I’m such a perfectionist so if it passes my strict test then I believe it’s worth putting out there!

On top of that I’m really competitive, with myself and others. I want to be the best at what I’m doing and better than what I’ve done before. That pushes me out of complacency and towards trying to think of something more original.

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WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I hate this question! I think it’s hard to point towards something or someone and say they do it for me. I guess I’m collecting images, thoughts and ideas throughout my daily life and hoping that when it comes to game-time all that good stuff will make for great ideas. There are a few designers who’s work I really love though – people like Jessica Hische, Jon Contino, 1924US & Kate Moross.

BUT YOU DON’T JUST DO DESIGN, DO YOU?

Oh yes! At the beginning of A&A I focused heavily on your typical graphic design work (branding and promotion), but these days I’ve done a lot more hand-lettering,illustration and now photography. I’m at the stage in this adventure where I want to take on new challenges and so I’m going to take on photography work. I’m excited to see where this takes Angel & Anchor and I’m really looking forward to working with a whole new audience of people in a different creative medium.

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HOW DO YOU GET ‘IN THE ZONE’ AS A CREATOR?

Hours of Netflix, copious amounts of tea, Pinterest, Instagram, emails and staring out my window. Getting in the zone is hard graft, and to be honest it rarely happens. I can remember real moments of magic when I’m so engaged in work that I forget about the time and the hours that have flew by. The daily grind is all about chasing that experience and in the process hoping the stuff I create is really good.

NI HAS A LOT OF HOMEGROWN TALENT. ANY FAVOURITES?

Two of my favourite artists are Oliver Jeffers and Colin Davidson. Jeffers is a master of composing incredible scenes with art and lettering. Colin Davidson is one of the best portrait artists about. I used to paint portraits all the time and I don’t get as much time these days, but if I did his work would definitely inspire me.

FAVOURITE SPOT TO VISIT IN NI?

My wife and I are discovering so many amazing places in Northern Ireland. I’ve been blogging about our adventures in a series called ‘Explore‘. It’s been a great excuse to get out there and experience new places. We went to Gosford Forest Park in Armagh not so long ago. I guess it’s not a place many of us around Belfast might visit, but it’s a beautiful place and you can see proper stags and deer (not just on hipster jumpers).

Press play for a tour of Ben’s creative space.

GIVEAWAY:

Every post in The Creator Quarter will involve an exciting giveaway. This month, Ben is very kindly giving one lucky person the chance to win one of his gorgeous prints AND one of his very comfy, very stylish t-shirts. The giveaway will run from today until Sunday 26th at 8PM and we’ll announce the winner online!

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WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

Facebook: share the post, and ‘like’ Angel & Anchor’s page. Comment on the post when done!
Instagram: follow @angelandanchor and @gemmaruthbrown, and comment when done!

Good luck!

All photos and videos are my own and may not be used without permission.

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