“I like to make fancy letters and not-so-fancy videos about failing at everything,” jokes graphic artist Nim Ben-Reuven. Over the years, Ben-Reuven has worked with a wide variety of clients including Nike, Google, Harper Collins Publishers, Nest, and GQ – to name a few. Interestingly enough, Ben-Reuven doesn’t explore just one medium. Instead, he prefers to exercise his imagination in multiple fields.
This was perfectly emphasized when he explained to us what he’s currently working on: “Right now I am working on trying to find a new studio space since I’m getting kicked out of my current space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll be in my bedroom developing some album artwork for the lovely musician and actress Brittain Ashford; drawing a large handful of lettering pieces; trying to convince a bunch of creative folks to do cameos in my video projects; and figuring out how to properly make an entire room collapse on itself without getting hurt in the process.”
Based on his present-day plans, one can see that Ben-Reuven’s methodology is beautifully chaotic – especially since he’s inspired by “dreams, mostly. And books. And small animals, too.” To elaborate on his projects’ dream-based origins, the artist comically reveals, “Usually I’ll wake up from dreaming about some amazing thing that I HAVE to create and after several hours of eating, napping, and staring off into space, I forget most of the idea and spend the rest of the day sulking about how I forgot my super amazing dream. Then, for the last hour of the day, I’ll try to start making some attempt at what I dreamed about, usually failing pretty hard and throwing stuff around until my tantrum tires me out and I go back to sleep. If I’m lucky, I’ll throw in some cardboard construction or letter drawing in a cafe or something.”
As you can see, Ben-Reuven is distinctly humorously introspective and self-aware, which gives his work a personable edge. It can also be said that the artist’s degree in Sociology contributes to this aspect of his creative process. “Sociology is still a fascinating thing to me and it helps me think about my projects in terms of how they might affect folks in ways beyond just the money-making aspect,” he reveals. “I feel that we, as designers, do have a responsibility to assess what we are doing beyond simply making a client excited because they think they will sell more product with our help.” Such a collaborative approach has also allowed the designer to bring his ideas to life. Specifically, when Ben-Reuven created an interactive event space for Nike, he was able to convince his team that using cardboard was the way to go. In the end, this became one of the artist’s favorite projects and it has greatly influenced his portfolio ever since.
Since he unquestionably sees the potential hidden within cardboard material, Ben-Reuven began to experiment by creating comedic videos depicting a recycled cardboard version of his own life. “Initially it was just to provide people with imagery of ‘me’ ‘working’ in my studio. I also wanted to poke fun of all the videos and images out there that take a completely serious tone with graphic design and hand-lettering,” the artist explains. “The other starting point of this cardboard mess dates back to my grad school thesis days when I built an airline terminal out of cardboard to make some sort of obscure, self-righteous statement on my frustrations with higher education. It didn’t make much of an impact on anyone back then, but it sure taught me how to cut apart cardboard boxes so I could glue the pieces back into other box shapes.”
In addition to his expressive video clips, Ben-Reuven has also developed an array of hand-lettered works that showcase his signature sense of humor. To devise pieces that read “Work Soft, Hustle Softer” and “The Netflix Are Calling and I Must Go,” he typically uses a .5mm mechanical pencil, a kneaded rubber eraser, and opts for minimalistic color choices such as white, black, and gold.
Due to Ben-Reuven’s fun work approach, the artist’s advice for others is quite fitting: “Never take anything too seriously, ever.”