"I'm blessed," Jones said. "Life's good. Sometimes you see your artwork published or posted next to a famous artist that you have admired or looked at your whole life. It's still kind of surreal. It's exciting and it's fun and even though I'm still in the beginning stages of my profession, you never really know what to expect so it keeps you wondering. But I'm definitely pleased."
While Acme has approved three of his designs, Jones' colored-pencil rendition of "Tangled's" Rapunzel currently is the only one featured on its website, www.acmearchivesdirect.com. Titled "Dreaming," the limited edition giclee retails for $185. Creating the artwork on pink canson paper, Jones tried to capture the character's innocence during the Disney film's lantern scene.
"[My artwork] is actually called interpretive film art," Jones said, adding in the future Acme also will debut two of his works that are centered on "The Lion King" and Princess Leia from "Return of the Jedi." "It's not fine art. It's not illustration. It's not concept art. It's actually interpretive. It's basically an artist's interpretation of this specific subject. I guess how they interact with it, how they see it, their way of wanting the audience to see it that hasn't been seen yet. So in a way, it's commercial fine art.
"And the [reason I use] colored [pencils is] even back when I was in college I used all different [kinds] of mediums. I went back and forth from oils to pencils to acrylic, watercolor, everything. I think that with paint, I could not describe the subject the way I wanted to. I could pull it off but it never had the same magic that I could get out of the pencil and get the line work in and the more detail and the textures that I wanted to work with. So it's just an attachment with the medium that I had and I never really went back."
For Jones, designing a piece of art is a fun challenge that also involves striking a balance between meeting his expectations as well as those of Acme and his fan base.
"Some movies do wonderful with a poster and montage where you have a lot of different characters interacting together whereas when I saw 'Tangled,' a shot, a silhouette of her or just a profile of her with kind of the innocence of that reference, just capturing that one scene captured the film," Jones said. "You can capture different stories in totally different ways and it's interesting to see how sometimes very little captures a story and then sometimes a lot captures a story. It's just all about the way the artist breaks it down.
"It's tricky because a lot of times I have to fight between myself and between what I know fans would want to see. And I have to go back and forth with if I do this, I may love it but at the same time will Disney approve or will Lucasfilm approve of this take on it or will they rather me go back? And then I also have to kind of battle between myself and what I know is going to be better in the commercial world," he said, adding Acme selects which artwork will be sold on its website, with Disney having final say on how its movie is represented. "Sometimes I'll find a layout that I love or there's an image that I love and I'll have to go in and either tweak it or change it and remove certain things to make sure that they get the right approvals and that it's going to hit the right fan base and that people are not going to not buy this because it doesn't show a certain person in it."
In addition to Acme, Jones' original art is being sold at the ArtInsights Animation & Film Art Gallery. The venue's website, www.artinsights.com, has a variety of his works posted, ranging in subject matter from "The Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" to "Avatar" and "Star Wars."
"The ArtInsights Animation & Film Art Gallery of which I am a co-owner has been selling film art since we started carrying John Alvin's work who did 'E.T.,' 'Blade Runner' and 'Young Frankenstein,'" Leslie Combemale said. "He's one of the most famous cinema artists and once we started carrying John Alvin's work, I started looking around for artists that had a unique perspective, who appreciated the art of film, had a passion in their work.
"I wasn't looking for somebody else who looked like John's work because that's not possible. I was looking for somebody that could [resemble] the level of passion that John's work had and with Ben, I think I did find someone who clearly is a movie lover himself, a fan and somebody who also has a very fine art aesthetic and an illustrative aesthetic that's unique to himself. He has his own style. You can tell it's his work when you see it and yet it's still true to the spirit of the movie he's creating art for."
While Jones' goal of becoming a full-time artist is starting to take shape, he has been perfecting his talents for about 20 years.
"As a kid I was always drawing," Jones said. "I was always replicating posters and different things other artists were doing. ... But I was always, I guess, afraid to venture into a certain category because it wasn't fine art enough or whatever. But I think when I saw Drew Struzan's artwork the first time I realized that's what I wanted to do because it had the fine art feel to it. It had that approach and the certain essence to the art that I love and it also was the subject matter that I wanted to work with.
"So when I'd seen Drew's work and I'd seen all of those things working together, I realized then that it could be done. And I think that kind of just was my motivation to be like, well this is where I want to go. This is what I want to do now and I've really never looked back. It's been nonstop."
Along with the websites for ArtInsights and Acme Archives Direct, samples of Jones' work can be found at www.bencurtisjones.com.