Ben Pell from Studio Paradiso tells us how it all started with making photocopied cassette covers for demo tapes for the band he was in at the time, these days he is busy being a designer, visual artist and film-maker based in Melbourne, and tells us about some really interesting side projects in the works.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? Probably watching old cartoons – particularly those Hanna Barbera ones, like Stop the Pigeon, and Muttley and Yogi Bear and all that. And then trying to emulate them with my textas and crayons; I would draw drawings of other drawings. Also, movies have always played a massive part, just as they do now. I remember drawing my own posters for movies I liked as a kid. A couple of years ago I found some old ‘projects’ I did in primary school. One was for Terminator 2 – and it had all drawings I did of the T1000 and liquid metal and stuff, and the other was for Cape Fear (weird) – as in the Scorsese version. And it had all drawings of the prison tattoos that DeNiro has in the film. Incidentally, a few weeks ago I went to see the Scorsese exhibition at ACMI and they had the original concept sketches for those same tattoos on display, which was cool.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I think I knowingly fell in love with design as a teenager, mostly from digging on album covers. I was always overly (and unjustly) opinionated about what I liked and what I didn’t, and I would try and play around with Microsoft Paint – and eventually Photoshop – and attempt to make my own. So, now that I think about it, I first got started by designing make-believe and/or pre-existing album covers – that and photocopied cassette covers for demo tapes for the band I was in at the time.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. I’m a designer, visual artist and film-maker based in Melbourne. I’ve worked previously as a freelance graphic and web designer, and before that as a typesetter, desktop publisher, video editor, director’s assistant and video store guy (amongst other things) – but I now have my own design studio, which is called Studio Paradiso.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? Don’t listen to your high school Graphics Communication teacher. He’s stupid and he’s supposed to be teaching metal work. Embrace the hard way, reject the easy way (most of the time). Don’t use Zip discs for archiving. Don’t let technology overwhelm you. Helvetica not Arial.
Any passion projects you would like to share? It’s not directly design-related (but in a lot of ways it is), but I’ve been shooting a short(ish) movie for about the last year. It’s called Interior Deluxe, and it’s a kinda psychedelic, apocalyptic, desert island, neo noir thing. I’m hoping to finish post production by the end of the year, and then share it with anyone that’ll watch it.
Whats the big goal in the next five years? I wanna expand Studio Paradiso; move towards expanding the repertoire of what we do, try and move into areas that we are yet to delve into. And I really wanna make a feature film that I’ve been writing for a while. It’s called Platinum Mirage, and it’s set in 1971 Los Angeles, and it’s about a pool cleaner who gets roped into the sordid Hollywood underworld of the rich and famous people for whom he cleans swimming pools.