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Meet the man behind the artworks for Ben&Ben’s songs

By JESSICA PAG-IWAYAN

Filipino folk-pop band Ben&Ben is known for its chart-topping songs that almost everyone can relate to. But aside from their heart-touching hits, another notable thing about their music is its art covers. There’s something magical and nostalgic about these that even fans couldn’t help but adore the artworks every time the group would drop a new single or an album. 

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle asked Ben&Ben who the creative mind behind those beautiful digital artworks is, and they led us to a 25-year-old freelance artist named Nicolai Maverick

Here, Nicolai shares how his partnership with the ground began, where he gets inspiration for every piece, and a lot more. 

Ben&Ben art work

An accident or fate?

Believe it or not, Nicolai says that it wasn’t really his plan to delve into the arts. He started with computer science in college, and it was his sister who is really into visual arts. “I didn’t really have any concrete goal of becoming an ‘artist’ artist—and this is true even now. I was a ComSci student, at first. When I spent too much time drawing rather than coding, I ended up failing a few classes. Before long, I found myself looking at courses at other schools,” he says. “I ended up enrolling where my sister graduated animation, purely because it had some semblance of familiarity for me. I wanted to take up a game development course but my mother convinced me to take multimedia arts instead.

I powered through my classes not because I wanted to be some great designer or artist someday, which might be off putting for some people, but it was really just me trying not to be a failure to my mother.”

Nicolai also says that, before starting with his new course, he had no experience nor background in the arts, aside from occasionally drawing and sketching. “It was a struggle to get my bearings in an art school, but I somehow managed thanks to the people I met there. I picked up a lot of the fundamentals and sort of taught myself from there, especially with 3D with painting,” he says. 

Sa Susunod na Habangbuhay

After graduating, he then found himself working for a production company, which was where he met Ben&Ben (known back then as The Benjamins). He was tapped to make promotional materials for the group’s first EP album. But fate had much better plans for Nicolai.  

“They asked if I could make a poster for the first EP Launch. A few days before the printing of the EP’s packaging, they said if they could use the poster I painted as the cover for the album instead,” he shares. “I was surprised as I didn’t really expect such late changes in the design at that time, but I said yes anyway. So that was my first project for them.” 

Four years and counting

From that first project, he forged a good relationship with the group. From a single art piece he made for them four years ago, Nicolai has now created more than 20 song and album cover illustrations for the band. He now works as a freelance artist. 

Doors Artwork@0,25x

“I’m grateful that they trust me enough to have me do the artwork of almost all their songs,” he continues. “It’s always a challenge to bring something new, which is what I strive for every new song.” 

Asked where gets ideas and inspiration for every art piece, the young artist says that, aside from listening to the songs, he also gets inputs from Ben&Ben. The band’s members share their ideas with Nicolai. 

“I tend to approach every song differently but it helps that their songs have a narrative that’s easy to follow, so that’s my foundation,” he says. “I get my ideas from things I find on the internet, mostly—a certain painting, or a photo that my mind thinks would be a fit visual representation for the song. Then would I try to execute that imagery in a way that I think would best represent the narrative.” 

Hulyo

He then shares his favorites among the covers he did for the group. “I’m leaning toward either ‘Baka Sakali’ or ‘Araw-araw,’” he says. “These were the most fun to make, the songs I really like listening to, and I also love the stories behind them. Both were such a breeze to make even though I was half asleep, awake at 2 a.m.”

Aside from Ben&Ben, Nicolai has also worked with other musicians, including SUD and Hulyo. “When I went freelance I worked with other artists as well, like Limbs, NoFace RecordsChris Sta. Romana, PPL,” he says. 

Missing Part0,25x

He thanks all the people who appreciate his works. “I’m sorry I if sometimes don’t reply. I’m very anxious 80 percent of the time,” he says. “But I see all your kind words and messages, and I love them all. Thank you so much. I wish we could do workshops soon.” 

be.net/nicolaimaverick 


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/11/meet-the-man-behind-the-artworks-for-benbens-songs/)

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