I’m Ben Stevens — digital designer, developer, husband, and proud father. I live in
Bow in East London Stamford, Lincolnshire with my wife, two-year old son, and a cat called Maxwell.
I was born in Cambridgeshire in 1981, the first son of two East Londoners who decided to escape the Smoke for greener pastures. I went to primary school in the small Lincolnshire village of Gedney Hill and at the age of eleven in 1992 I started at the all-boys school, Spalding Grammar School. Being educated in a 400 year-old school is a strange experience; you are surrounded by the history of the school, you have your lessons in small rooms with creaky floorboards, you belong to a ‘house’ and go to the tuck-shop get your sugar fix (much like Harry Potter). I began to develop a flair for art and design that would ultimately end up shaping my life for the next twenty years. I studied Art, Design Technology, and Mathematics at the sixth form college (where incidentally I also met my future wife, Joanne), and three A-levels later in 1999 I moved to Harrow, NW London to study graphic design at the University of Westminster.
University in London was an entirely different experience to my life in Lincolnshire – new places, strange people, even stranger housemates. But the whole idea of university is to expand the mind and expose yourself to different ways of thinking. After a promising first year learning the basics, I found that creative talent and a higher than average capacity for alcohol consumption wasn’t enough to get the top grades at degree level, so my professional career began early in 2001 when I took a break from my course to work as a designer at digital agency, MEI Digital. It’s at MEI where I really first caught the bug of excitement actually working in design, surrounded by people similar to you but better than you – and that inspires you to become a better person. This is what convinced me return to university to complete my studies, and two years later in 2003 I graduated from the University of Westminster with a First Class honours degree in BA (hons) Graphic Information Design.
I was given a job immediately after my time at university by MEI’s creative director, Jon Laurie, who had recently left to form a company called Screenplay. Jon was a great mentor and I thoroughly enjoyed a year working with him and the Screenplay team creating motion graphics for some very innovative digital signage products, but as with most things before their time it wasn’t to last unfortunately. It’s at that point I hooked up with recruitment specialists Aquent who landed me an interview at N1 Creative.
N1 Creative (then based in E1) was my first experience working for an integrated creative agency, with print designers working alongside digital designers in the same environment as rest of the agency team (technical, marketing, sales, finance etc). This proximity helped the non-creative team become more creative, and it also exposed us designers to the mechanisms of running a small, buzzing creative agency. The directors, Glenn & Gavin, were very good at employing creatives who got on well together, and this cultivated a genuine spirit of positivity and enthusiasm, which reflected itself in the quality of the work and number of awards we started to pull in. I spent two years at N1 Creative leading the digital team to a number of award wins, making some good friends in the process.
In 2006 I left N1 to develop my interest in installation-based interactive media for museums and pubic places. This lead me to become a freelance interactive designer for the first time, working for companies such as New Angle. After several months of freelancing I was picked up by some old colleagues from MEI who had formed a new company called Liquid Digital that specialised in digital signage and other screen-based installations. The work I did at Liquid was really just a continuation what I did at Screenplay 5 years earlier. This meant I was working on fewer interactive projects and I missed the freedom of being freelance so I left Liquid in 2008 to set-up on my own.
When you become a freelancer after several years working in full-time employment the first thing you realise is how much you don’t know about running a business, even though you’re a one-man business. I found that it’s easiest to approach potential clients with a niche skill that is in demand rather than try to sell something you want to do – so I focused my efforts on Flash development. I was familiar working in a creative agency environment so it was quite easy to approach agencies that were producing outstanding work with an aim to doing freelance work for them. This approach lead me to work for up-and-coming digital studios such as UsTwo and rehabstudio as well as many other digital agencies, startups, and other clients.
After two successful years as a freelance Flash developer I formed Supernova in March 2010, a week before I learned my wife was pregnant with our first child. The reasoning behind the formation of Supernova was to focus on larger commercial projects & to create a platform to collaborate with other creatives on self-initiated projects. My medium to long term goal is to establish Supernova as an independent design studio helping to nurture future creative talent.
As well as my freelance activities and responsibilities running Supernova, I’m also a member of the Electric Union design collective.
— Interaction design
— Information architecture
— User interface design
— Graphic design & illustration
— Motion graphics
— Flash-platform development (AS3)
— Spots vs Stripes Impossible Hoop Challenge (rehabstudio / Fallon) – FWA Site Of The Day 31.10.2010
— EEA Epaedia (WorldWidePictures / N1 Creative) – Platinum Remi, Worldfest Houston 2007
— EEA PRELUDE (WorldWidePictures / N1 Creative) – Winner, Clarions 2006 / Gold + Silver Awards, IVCA 2006
— EEA Honoloko (WorldWidePictures / N1 Creative) – Gold Remi Award, Worldfest Houston 2005