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Martin Benes: I Make Dreams Happen

by Ksusha Tunikova

Meet Martin Benes – a self-made and self-taught entrepreneur, high-end Photoshop instructor, and expert in online marketing. Martin had a chance to work with such brands as Samsung, Renault Sport, Play Station, Jaguar, Maserati, to name just a few. He is an evangelist at BenQ and an ambassador of such brands as Behance, Depositphotos, and Crello. We really enjoyed talking to Martin and learning more about his creative and professional journey, and now you can enjoy this interview too!

Martin Benes for Crello

Who is Martin Benes? How do you normally introduce yourself? 

This is a tricky one! Since I started my creative career in 1999 I was involved in tons of different projects which brought me to be a multidisciplinary creative person. I think the perfect phrase while introducing myself would be: “Hi, I’m Martin and I make dreams happen” …then I’ll smile and we start from there…

Tell us a bit about your career path. What are the milestones that, in your opinion, defined who you are and where you are today? 

As every young creative, I started dreaming about working with the best brands out there. During my 20 years of career, I had the chance to work on projects for brands like Renault, Lamborghini, Maserati, Médecins Sans Frontières, and many many others. But these are all achievements and not what really defined who I am. What defines a person is his choices and I did few very important ones: when I was 23 I started my own creative agency in Rome. In 2010 I created the first creative event in Italy which influenced thousands of people who needed some fresh ideas and advice on how to grow their creative careers. In 2014 I started my digital nomad lifestyle living and working from different continents and managing my new creative agency based in the UK.

What really defined who I am today is the joy of discovering and testing new ways of communicating with people through visual design and being able to be curious and enjoy what I’m doing. The other important milestone of my career path was my involvement in teaching creativity and Photoshop. Thanks to this I’m able to share my knowledge with thousands of people and help them to achieve their dreams.

You speak five languages and manage to balance a few careers. What’s your secret to wearing so many different hats?

I’d like to say that the secret is my stubbornness. The reality is that I easily get bored and I always need new challenges and inputs. I really love what I do and as someone says: ”When you love what you do you never work a day in your life” so I guess it must be true.

Where do you go when you need inspiration? 

This one is not an easy question because as every creative I often suffer creative burnout and when you are in that phase, it’s very tricky to recover fast. My main inspiration comes from movies. I like to pause movies and observe the scenes. I look for composition, color schemes, and mood. Speaking of mood, believe me, or not, I often use the search filter in the Depositphotos website as a tool for my creative inspiration. Depositphotos is a huge database of extraordinary images which can be used as a giant mood board. Last but not least: of course music, traveling and meeting new people.

Behance projects by Martin Benes: Italia da Prima Pagina and Fighters in the cage

You’re one of those people who find inspiration and motivation in traveling the world. In the world during a pandemic, traveling is obviously more complicated. Have you replaced it with something that serves similar purposes for you? 

I still continue to travel quite a lot. I just got back to Italy from South Africa and in 10 days I’m flying to Buenos Aires and few days after that, to Patagonia. Traveling is an essential part of my life and my lifestyle. Travelling is about living experiences, breathing the air of a different city, taste different foods, and getting in touch with different cultures. Nothing can replace that. During the peak of the pandemic, I used to browse on Instagram using the “place” filter in order to see what the other people around the world are doing through their stories but as said before, there is nothing like traveling in person.

Who are your creative influences? 

The truth is that even if I studied art and design at the university, I’m not influenced by it. I’m influenced by people. I often sit in a cafe shop and I observe people for hours…yeah I know it can sound creepy but I’m fascinated but the human behavior and the variety of humankind. For example try to sit at a cafe shop and look how many different people are around you, what they do, their expressions, what they wear…it’s truly inspiring because, in the end, we have to communicate through design with those people and the more we know about them, the best we can get in touch with them (still sounds creepy eh?).

How would you define creativity? Is it something we’re born with or something we can develop?

We can learn creativity but not all people want to actually do the effort. I think someone is born like an artist but that is a very different topic from creativity. So yeah, everyone can develop his creative skills but not to be an artist.

Name three modern photographers you personally admire. Why them? 

Erwin Olaf, more than a photographer, I see him as a director. His attention to detail and composition is just mind-blowing. Stefano De Luigi, his unique ability to tell stories and capture moments are just fascinating. Recently I started to follow Milos Nejezchleb, I love his last series of photos (composition, colors, subjects). Of course, I could tell all the classic photographers as Newton, Bresson but we all know them and I think it’s nice to look in different directions.

Lamborghini Aventador, Brabham BT62, Happy White Citroën C1, Audi A1 by Martin Benes

If you could take a picture of anything or anyone in this world, what would that be? 

Wow, I love this question. The most interesting question I received in the last 10 years. I never thought about this. I think I’d like to go back in time and shoot some moments I have in my mind and never get the chance to take a picture of them. Thinking of the present I would like to take a picture of my two kids every day…and hey, you know what, I’m doing it.

You’re now an ambassador for many world-renowned brands such as BenQ, Behance, Depositphotos, and now Crello…what does it feel like to represent brands?

Working with brands as Crello, Depositphotos, BenQ, and others, makes me feel proud of myself. At this point in my career, working closely with such important brands is one of the biggest achievements I could dream of. I often have the opportunity to be part of the alpha testing team and bring my own ideas to the table and this is a huge thing. Helping these amazing brands to do better is very inspiring and motivating. I feel very grateful.

If you could become an ambassador for any brand in the world, what would it be and why? 

I would like to be a brand ambassador for Jeep or Range Rover. Their cars represent the freedom of movement and working with them would be really inspiring. Speaking of the photography industry, I’d like to have the opportunity to work closely with Sony. They changed literally the mirrorless market in the last few years and I love to work with innovators.

Do you agree that most artistic souls tend to be protective over their works? 

Yes, I think the biggest “problem” of most of the artists is to be too involved in their art. I come from an Industrial Design path so I’m used to thinking in a pragmatic way. I see design as something which does not need to be nice or ugly, it must be functional. There is no reason to be protective over our work, there will always be someone better than us and we have to evolve and be better and better at what we do.

Martin Benes — We are the Aliens

We are the Aliens by Martin Benes

Describe your relationship with feedback and critique. Do you seek feedback? How do you deal with feedback that’s negative? Share some advice on how to make use of feedback to grow as an artist. 

When I started I was very sensitive about bad feedback and I used to feel very bad when someone used to criticize me. I think these days there are so many people who open their mouth only for the sake of opening it. We have to always differentiate useful feedback from not useful ones. I learned to listen only to who I respect or who is better than me. I don’t seek feedback and when I do, I ask for it only to people who are much better than me, and from these people, I want to hear what is wrong and not what is good. I don’t need good feedback, I look for feedback that helps me to improve and be better so yes, negative feedback is the best one but only if given in a constructive way.

What advice would you give to young talents who’re just starting their career in the creative industry?  

Unsubscribe from the 90% of Facebook groups you are in like now! Surround yourself with people and resources on top of the industry you want to work in. You have to know where you are trying to go and which is your ultimate goal. Don’t waste your time with losers and negative people, they will never elevate you. Be confident enough to believe in your vision because only you can have it and most of the people around you will never really understand it and this is totally fine. Smile and dream big!

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