Entertaining people with art seems difficult, but not when Benny Productions takes charge. Mastering his Photoshop skills to perfection, he gives his audience a real feast for the eyes. The artist and the performer, Benjamin van Valen talked to us about editing, DRAWing attention on Youtube, and his love for making music.
Are you a professional artist or a self-taught?
I’m a self-taught Photoshop artist. During my study in Graphic Design, we had some Photoshop classes, but for me, it felt shallow and not professional. That’s why I started learning on my own. I really felt like this was something I wanted to do more often, on a higher level.
What were your first steps in editing?
I started editing photos I had taken myself. Usually funny things like riding dinosaurs, standing on trains, that kind of stuff. Once I started getting better I tried to start with simple compositions too. I kept going and tried out new techniques along the way. Step by step I got better and better, simply by using the software. I’ve never been the tutorial type. I’ve always been too stubborn. I wanted to see it for myself!
What resources do you use to create photo manipulations?
I use Adobe Photoshop for my manipulations, and Camera Raw for the color grading and final touch. Both of those come from Adobe’s Creative Cloud. For my artwork, I depend on stock photos. Usually from websites like Pexels and Unsplash, but also paid services like Envato Elements. I only use two or three additional brush packs in photoshop. As far as hardware goes, please don’t ever give me any kind of tablet. Believe it or not, I’ll always stick to my gaming mouse.
Which artwork is your favorite?
May 4th, 2020 I made a huge Star Wars wallpaper featuring nearly every character, creature and starship from the original movies and the prequel movies. This ended up incredibly good, and that’s hands down my favorite of all time!
How did you start making videos on Youtube?
After I found out people on my Instagram page liked my work so much, the idea of YouTube came to me. At this time I already had about 10.000 followers on Instagram. In the past, I had created a YouTube channel on which I made vlogs in dutch language. This never took off so I dropped it pretty quickly. This however really helped me with this new channel, since I now already knew how everything worked on YouTube.
Who’s your audience?
I’ve always wanted to show my work to everyone, and not just the people interested in Photoshop. That’s why most of my content on YouTube these days is entertainment instead of tutorials and such. I want to believe my audience is one that’s interested in art, but also loves a laugh so now and then. Mainly I just want to show the world how much fun it is to do Photoshop and digital compositing.
How did you manage to gain such audience around your channel?
Many people claim to have specific techniques to grow their channel and improve their view and like count, but not me. There’s one thing I can tell you: Good quality content. From the start I’ve been doing things on my channel that weren’t there yet. It was new, fresh. I don’t have many rivals on YouTube, because I keep my videos so unique and different. That’s something that pulls an audience. It doesn’t have to do with the right hashtags and timing. It’s hard work, love, discipline, and quality content.
Where do you take your ideas for the next videos from?
Strange enough, usually those ideas just come to me. Most of the time when I lay in bed in the evening, when I have time to think. I just always try to find new ways to entertain people in a fun and innovative way.
Do you remember the moment you noticed that you were actually starting to become popular among other creators?
Oh hell yes, I do. I still remember how I finally got a thousand followers on Instagram, after all that time. However, obviously, it didn’t stop there. After posting frequently every day for a few months I reached 10.000 followers and started a YouTube channel. This channel premiered on the 1st of august, 2019. In December I reached 100.000 subscribers. That’s when I knew there was something different about my channel. That was the moment I really started my journey.
What was your most interesting project so far?
I don’t really think there’s one in particular. However, I am really proud of one specific project. Rich Music is a record label covering artists like Ozuna and Sech. These singers are known worldwide, and when they asked me to make cover art for their next single I jumped! The name of the single was “Si Te Vas”, and they chose me to make the cover art for it. This was used on their social media, all music platforms, shown on billboards all over the US, and even printed on HUGE buildings!
Do you consider Youtube a profitable channel for artists these days?
Not an answer you’d expect, but I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, for me it is. I currently still live with my parents, but if I wanted/needed I could easily make a living out of it. However, it’s not for everyone. It only works if you’re willing to fail. A lot of times. I had the luxury of going viral in the beginning. Reaching 340.000 subscribers after your first year isn’t exactly something that usually happens. I like to say I’m talented, but on YouTube, I just got incredibly lucky, and I’m thankful to all my fans for that. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a while before you really start to make a profit out of it. Let’s just say there’s other, better ways to earn by doing design and art. I myself just really love entertaining people.
What are your other passions?
As many may know, I’m a huge movie lover. That’s of course not something talent-related, but it’s something I can enjoy VERY much. Besides Photoshop I love making music. I play the piano and used to play drums too. Creating complete tracks with Fruity loops is also something I like to do, even though I don’t consider myself to be great at it.
If you could say something to the beginners, wanting to succeed in what you do, what would it be?
YouTube is a thing on its own. Doing art is one thing, but translating it into a video everybody understands something completely different. If you wanna succeed on YouTube you gotta try to be new. Do something that’s not very common. Something fresh and innovative. That’s a factor that’s always important for social media growth. However on YouTube, the absolute most important thing is having fun. This guy (who shall remain unnamed) emailed me the other day saying he had been doing YouTube for five years now, but still didn’t get many views and support. I gave him some tips on how he could improve, on which he replied with: “I don’t think I can do that. I just wanted to do YouTube for a living.” I could tell he didn’t do it because he liked to make videos, or because he liked to entertain. He just wanted to get many views, likes, subscribers, and money. I can’t say this enough: Do YouTube because you love it, not because you want to live the “dream job”. If you don’t love to make the videos you make, it won’t be a dream job after all. Be innovative and new. Be passionate. Be proud of what you make and show that to the world whilst staying humble. Don’t be afraid to fail. Use it, and learn from it to do it better next time. Nobody ever said doing YouTube is easy. If you do those things, you’re a thousand steps ahead of people that do it for views only. Just don’t forget to have fun.