Inspire me or “Re light my fire” as The Doors critically acclaimed song goes…

Inspiration fires most musicians as well as artists and that’s exactly how I felt when I was introduced to the iconic portraits of Ben Riley, an artists from Staffordshire.

Like Jim Morrison once said: “Music inflames temperament”, and this certainly counts for Ben his incredible distinctive portraits. Ben has so far created astonishing captivating portraits of music icons like John Lennon, Bob Marley, Keith Richards, Prince, Jim Morrison to mention only a few.

In his own words his collection is it’s like a rock and roll circus of the decades. Having a closer look and observing his portraits I wondered if he takes his inspiration from the emotion in the songs of the musicians? Capturing their passion, attitude, expressions in each of the vinyl ‘strokes’ he creates on the canvas.

Chatting with Ben he confirmed my thoughts, stating he gets his inspiration from transforming the original use of a record and creating new ways for the passion and creativity within the music to be expressed. With the goal of encapsulating the character and soul of the artist by deconstructing the audible manifestation and reforming it into a visual representation of the icon.

‘Ben, when did you know you wanted to an artist?’

From the age at which I could pick up a pencil I started to draw and paint, my flare for art quickly becoming apparent. I went to study art from the age of 14, being able to freely experiment and therefore evolving my own original styles and techniques.

‘Where do you get your inspiration from?’

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, indoorMy two music inspirations are Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. These two legends were known to have tested the boundaries in their field, going against trends and influences of modern society, instead stepping outside the box and exhuming their art from deep inside regardless of being different.

In 2002 Ben became a professional artist selling his portraits worldwide and gaining respect for the way he captured mood, soul and character of the subject. Using only broken down and grounded vinyl records to give his portraits a unique look and symbolism.

‘Where did the idea come from to use vinyl records?’

Image may contain: 1 personI first created my art using old records, after my granddad was throwing out a box full of vinyl records. However, they were saved and stored by my dad as he thought that at some point they be useful. I came across the records some time later, with my belief that experimentation and change is the art in its rawest form, I decided to start deconstructing the records with a view to recreating the icon from the music itself.

The Doors front man Jim Morrison once said when about his source of inspiration: “You can’t predict what is going to happen. You just have to go with it. We’re trying to project our music, us, our ideas. Our ideas are in the songs, in the music”.

Creating art, in my humble opinion, is about stepping outside the normal perception of reality; looking at the world differently then reshaping it in new and glorious ways.

Something which Ben has most definitely done. Repurposing a medium designed for music into bold and vibrant portraits of the musicians themselves.

If you are intrigued and would like to see more of Ben Riley’s portraits of world famous icons. Check out his website at

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