“Digital lends itself to short form, episodic, tactile, visual reading – in short comics!” Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Madefire’s Ben Wolstenholme
Earlier this week we grilled Madefire‘s Ben Wolstenholme about the secrets behind the creation of his man-monster MONO and his series The Old Curiosity Shop, but what about the man himself? Where does he see Madefire heading in the next 12 months, how does it impact upon his agency Moving Brands and how the hell did he get involved this crazy world of Motion Books anyway? (And why so many brands beginning with the letter M?!) The story continues…
BW: There is a lot of scepticism in the move to digital reading – especially around comics, having Liam and Dave as part of the team making original content on Madefire is staggering and gives a lot of credibility. Even more importantly, alongside making content, it’s been critical to have them shaping the Motion Book tools and driving what should and shouldn’t be possible. Our goal has always been to build on the language of words and pictures that is comics – and to make it digital-first rather than for print – having a team made up of creatives and engineers working together is vital.
So what do I do? and how did i get into this mess! 🙂 …I was tracing the dots a few weeks ago actually – when I look back it fits together somewhat
Let’s start at the beginning then, how did you get started in design and how did you and Liam come to team up?
BW: I’ve had a passion for art and storytelling since I can remember. Liam and I grew up in the same part of England, we both won art scholarships to the same school – so our paths have been woven together – we’ve known each other for a long time. While I was still at school I collected 2000AD every week – I remember Liam breaking into the industry with his early Judge Dredd strips in 2000AD, same time as Simon Bisley was doing Slaine – these years seeded my interest in comics and graphic novels. After school I went to pursue Fine Art and illustration but soon realized I wanted to react to more of a brief. I got accepted to a really exciting Art College called Saint Martins – right in the heart of Covent Garden, London – it’s a very conceptual course in graphic design. I realised I had spent my life ‘drawing’ but not really ‘thinking’ and I got very interested in graphic design – and the value of ideas and concepts. As I went through my degree I started to specialise in film and animation. By the end of my degree is was making titles sequences, short films and a lot of animation. Thinking back, I realise my dissertation – or thesis – for my degree was all about pre-visualisation of film – and specifically ‘defining a universal grammar for storyboarding’.
I paid my way through college doing commercial illustration and painting commissions. I was in touch with Liam and interested in getting into comics – I did a few test pages for 2000AD that I don’t think I ever submitted as it was just as I got into a lot of storyboarding. After college I worked briefly in branding and advertising before starting a creative company in 1998 called Moving Brands. A few of us had a real interest in narrative, film, design, creativity and technology – and started Moving Brands on one laptop and a graduate loan… it’s now in it’s fifteenth year and has a few studios. I couldn’t be more proud of Moving Brands – it creates and transforms brands for some of the most exciting businesses in the world. My role was as CEO and creative lead – which meant I was one of the creative directors partnering with clients to reposition their brand or move their brand into new spaces.
For me branding is storytelling – so we built a whole new approach to branding using story at the core and delivering a brand that thrives cross platform. So I guess in summary a lot of my time has been spent working in telling a story for brand and using cutting edge technology to keep them future proof. Moving Brands clients include Apple, HP, Flipboard, Nokia, Stella McCartney, Keane, Mercedes, Virgin. Moving Brands is a constant education in what’s possible and is privileged to look through the eyes of many great innovative companies.