Twitter is a wonderful medium, and through it, I have had the pleasure of “meeting” so many new friends, all with varied interests. Of course, my big passion is Doctor Who, through which I've forged many friendships, on and off of social media. Over the past few months, I've got to know and respect a fellow fan, and an incredibly talented artist, whose ability and talent belies his age. At just 17, his artistic capabilities are quite extraordinary, and so it was a pleasure when he agreed to do an interview for my little corner of the blogosphere.
I'm incredibly proud to be able to showcase some of his work here. All art featured is available for purchase, in a variety of formats, and the pictures link directly to his sales page. I hope you enjoy looking at his extraordinary body of work, learning a little about his creative processes, and so, in the words of The Ninth Doctor, and the title of the first image.. Do you want to come with me?
Firstly, tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I'm Sam Richard Bentley. I'm 17 years old, and currently a student studying Graphic Design at college in Hertfordshire.
When did you first discover you had an aptitude for art?
I've always loved drawing and colours, from a very young age. You know, I was one of those kids who hated it when other kids didn't colour in the lines of the colouring books? I've always had quite a passion for being creative.
I've come to know you through a shared love of Doctor Who. How long have you been a fan, and which eras do you enjoy most?
Well, like many teenagers I became a fan of the show when it returned in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston. I have very vivid memories of watching the first episode 'Rose', and being completely petrified of the Autons! So, my father stopped me from watching it for a while.
Ironically, it was with the episode 'The Empty Child' that my dad allowed me to start watching again - possibly one of the scariest, and most tense stories in the shows history! But, alas, by the end of part one, I was hooked.
I was only 7 when the show was picked back up, so I really have grown up with the show. However, I eventually looked into the classic stories, Hartnell through to McCoy and McGann. And I fell in love - possibly even more so than I loved the modern series.
I have a real, true, undying love for the Who of the late 80s though - the Colin and Sylvester years! That's my favourite era, hands down. But, I do love the late 60s as well, with Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, amongst others.
How do you come up with your ideas for your pieces? They are incredibly creative!
To be honest with you, I don't really have much of an answer to give here. Essentially I just take something I love, whether it be a Doctor Who episode or theme, or maybe a film or other show I love and feel inspired by, and just play around with my thoughts until something comes up.
I do sometimes go in with an idea of a design, but more times than none the end piece is not quite what I had in my head originally, though I often find I'm much happier with it.
I am really inspired by film and television - in fact, it's my favourite thing. So, on my portfolio, you'll see work from... 'Back to the Future', to 'Game of Thrones', to 'The Wizard of Oz'! Sometimes, I'll watch something, and go 'Oh! Now I have an idea for that... quick let me see if I can get some images together...'
It's evident that you have a particular passion for the Seventh Doctor era; what is it about it that you enjoy so much.
Hah! I get asked this a lot. I just love it, you know? I don't know if it's because I love the 1980s, or what - but I just adore those three years that McCoy held the top-billing for the show.
It's so colourful, so whacky and barmy . Some call it cheap - which is was. However, I would never said that was a bad thing, not at all. I think they did a fantastic job, for what they were given. If you put into context the behind-the-scenes hassles they had, given that the show was coming to an end against their wills and wants, it's some truly brilliant work.
Oh, and don't get me started on how fantastic Sylvester McCoy's Doctor and Sophie Aldred's Ace are. If I started on that, we'd be here for eternity.
How long does a digital piece of artwork take to create, and what software do you use?
I use a free-to-download software called GIMP. I couldn't afford Adobe Photoshop when I started doing this - so I searched on Google and found this alternative. And, while I now do have the full Adobe program, well, I just can't turn my back on ol' GIMP - it's what I'm used to.
A piece can take up to one to two hours, excluding any breaks and thinking time. That's, possibly, why I love making digital art - it's really rather quick.
As well as the digital medium, you also create hand drawn, original pieces. Do you have a preference for a particular medium?
I don't draw as much as I used to - I used to do nothing BUT draw. Hours and hours I'd spend in my bedroom, drawing. Pencils, and the occasional pens, used to be my main way of expressing myself. But, since taking up digital art, I've not really felt the need or want to draw. However, on my portfolio there are lots of my drawings and I have no plans of removing them just yet - it's still a talent I am very proud of.
Are there any artists which particularly inspire you?
I've always loved the work of Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol - two big names, I know. I often say them, when asked similar questions, and people rather... nod along. 'Oh yes, yes I know, yes we all love them.'
But in recent years, I found lesser known artists that I just adore - such as Will Brooks, who has done the occasional artwork for Big Finish's Doctor Who audio range. Or Lee Binding, who does some of the best Doctor Who promotional artwork of recent years.
You sell your work on a site called Redbubble. Can you tell us a little more about it? I gather your work can be printed on a variety of formats, from posters to mobile phone cases?
Posters, phone cases, prints, pillows - heck even an all-over print t-shirt, if you so wish. And much more - I would list all the items, but you know, I just don't think I can remember it all, there's just so much.
I upload my designs to the site, and then, if someone comes across and wishes to purchase it on a product - then they pay through Redbubble, who print and ship the item, and I get a 30% cut of the earnings, as they did all the printing and processing. It's not a lot - but it's a reasonable cut, for someone who simply uploads their designs.
What is the long term goal for you? A career in artistic design seems a natural next step, but is there a particular company you would like to design for?
I'm not sure if I want to work for any particular companies, to be honest. I'm still rather figuring it all out at the moment. I mean, what I truly want to do is get the licenses to be able to print some of my designs myself (for example, I cannot sell any of my Back to the Future, Star Wars of Marvel designs on Redbubble). The goal is to be a freelance artist - get commissions, sell my designs and just do what I love!
I've picked two favourite pieces of yours; The UNIT piece (above) appeals immensely to my passion for the Pertwee era, and the Series 9 Zygon inspired piece (below) that has an extraordinary three dimensional quality which I love! Those are my personal favourites.. Do you have a piece which you would call yours?
Oh my - that's a hard one, I must say. I hate to sound ostentatious, but I am so proud of a lot of my work, that it is simply impossible to choose.
However, earlier this year I got a lot of high praise for a collection of designs I made. Twelve pieces, one for each Doctor, showcasing a prominent companion of that incarnation. I got some very high praise for it from the companions I used in the pieces - Frazer Hines, Katy Manning, Sophie Aldred. I must say, they are probably the pieces I am most proud of.
Sam, it's been a pleasure chatting with you, and I'd like to thank you for taking the time to share your work and passion with us!
You can follow Sam on Twitter @SamRBentley and can view his portfolio HERE. His work can be purchased directly from his Redbubble site (clickable). And it is nearly Christmas.. Go on.. treat yourself..!