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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Interview with artist Ben Chlapek

May 27, 2012 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Ben Chlapek is the creator of Never Sleeping Designs and a musician from Columbia.

Zac Early is a local blogger who writes about craft beer and indie rock. This article was originally posted on his blog, Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement, which is part of the Missourian Media Guide.

Ben Chlapek prints posters and plays in bands. Of course, this only skims the surface of his creativity and drive. Ben’s Never Sleeping Design posters can be found everywhere. Half the bands covered in this blog have used a Never Sleeping poster to advertise a gig. Then, there are his music projects. The layers and textures Ben builds from scratch are pretty unforgettable and just as striking as his printed work. Luckily for me, as with many of the subjects of the series, Ben lives here in Columbia and agreed to answer my questions about his indie-craft.

1. Describe your craft(s).

Freelance artist (illustrator, screen printer, painter) –

Musician (guitar, keys, vox) – Enemy Airship, Neatly Knotted.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?

Well, I suppose having a little control over what I do is the big reason. Though I’m totally broke, so maybe if a halfway decent corporation said “jump” I might ask how high. I don’t know though, I’ve always been a do-it-yourself type. I want to take broken things apart and fix them, and print my own drawings, record my own songs, etc. It’s really frustrating that I can’t do everything I want by myself, and that I have to get others involved to get a certain desired result. Not enough hours in the day to learn everything I suppose.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?

It’s all entertainment, which is good and bad. People need entertainment like art and music to feel like they are people and not some sort of hamster in a wheel. At the same time, it’s totally disposable. No one has to care about it. No one is going to die if I don’t make drawings of weird little houses or play my guitar or synthesizer with the perfect tone that took hours to get just right. That being said, music and art affect me daily. Hourly. I can pore over an album or series of artwork and analyze every single detail … just totally get lost in it. Maybe one day someone will do that with something I make.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?

I’d like to make a line of effects pedals. I’ve always been fascinated by that, and I think I might be good at it with a little practice. Fixing/building old mopeds from the '70s and '80s is something I sort of got into, just because I had no idea about it. I still can’t do a lot with the engines, but I know how to swap out parts and clean carbs and a few other things. More than I knew when I started. I obsess over sound and trying to get a good recording on my four-track tape machine. I’d like to make a short film. Like, write the soundtrack and plan out every shot and be the only person in it. Or something along those lines.

5. What is your dream of success?

I know it shouldn’t have to do with money necessarily (or at least that’s what people say), but I won’t truly feel successful until I can stop living hand to mouth. It would be nice to get more exposure from any of my art or music endeavors, but it seems like you have to be in the right place at the right time. If I stay in Columbia, I’m not sure the “right time” will ever come around. I’d like to think if I make work that’s good enough then people will notice, though.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.