Sienna Hayes by Soulcraft

Hello photography lovers!

Today we are treating you to the Second Part of our fascinating interview with an equally fascinating artist (a winner of countless photography awards!) : Benjamin Sumner Franke aka Soulcraft.

(Check out Part 1 right HERE if you haven't yet!)

Benjamin is also a pretty magical human being with a very unique and soulful view on the world, and a great friend of UTadventure. We simply adore his deeply emotive, sensual, serene photography that carries a surreal narrative.

Learn about what inspires Benjamin, how he battles the loss of inspiration (yep! it happens to the best of us), how being on UTadventure influenced his art, and much more!

We hope you enjoy!
Sienna Hayes by Soulcraft
5. What is your main source of inspiration?

"When I was studying painting and illustration, I was deeply inspired by Jean Leon Gerome, Bougureau, Luis Ricardo Falero,  John Singer Sargent, and J C Leindecker. In the concept design realm, although not always celebrated or recognized, the level of mastery in crafting images is unbelievable and the work hidden away behind NDA's and in studio hard drives is unmatched.

Some of my favorites are Craig Mullins, Jaime Jones, John Park, Sergey Kolesov, Sung Choi, and many other friends I met in art school. On the more modern illustrative side, I was always inspired by Katsuya Terada, Moebius, and several thousand other artists, too many to name. 
Murina Fae by Soulcraft
As I was learning to draw, paint, and sculpt, the concern was always achieving the likeness of my subject and eventually understanding anatomy enough to illustrate the imaginary in a convincing way.

I was consistently adding to a collection of inspiration on Tumblr full of magical photos of nature, tasteful nudity, elegant machinery, and artwork that I loved.

Using it almost daily as fuel for my illustrations, I cherished the cohesive collection of images but always held a desire to be behind the camera. Lack of knowledge and perfectionism prevented me from ever trying to shoot. 
Muirina Fae by Soulcraft
7.  Do you ever lose inspiration to create and how do you deal with it?

I battle with losing inspiration quite often. I've always been an intuitive artist, chasing spontaneous flow states and rare bouts of creativity. Sometimes it's just not there. This can be truly discouraging, especially if I've invested a lot to travel and work closely with another creative soul.

I chose to explore this art form because it combined everything I loved into one creative pursuit. Travel and social connection were two core aspects of why I picked up a camera as opposed to a paintbrush. The pandemic forced a lot of us to reimagine our lives and put a standstill to the things that gave me purpose in that realm. 
To be an artist and continuously share your expression takes a lot of self belief. Be it perfectionism, comparison, social media's censorship, or an overactive mind, I'm not always open to "showing up". 

On top of that, our art is at constant war with instagram and other social media platform's policies and double standards. It can be very stressful knowing that the threat of losing every contact, direct message, and years of effort growing an audience, is a possibility at any time if you violate their policies.
Femina by Soulcraft
How do I deal with it?

I reconnect with the experiences and moments of beauty I'm immersed in during these adventures. I remember that creating together, surrounded by the magic of nature, is an embodiment of freedom. I've been lucky enough to set up multiple streams of diversified income.

I make enough to support my creativity through licensing out my old art, running an etsy, and occasionally designing sets/props for films and music videos. I also rent my backyard as a photo studio, assist photo shoots, fix/modify/sell cameras, rent the gear I own, and a dozen other little things.

I've spread myself very thin but it gives me the freedom to occasionally dive into the art I love.  
Anoush Anou by Soulcraft 
8. What is your current biggest creative challenge and what is helping to overcome it (if anything!)

My biggest creative challenge is probably logistics. I live in LA and there are very few places in nature to shoot. The places that are worth it are overshot and overcrowded. Working with professional models is priceless. Although that brings the struggle of money. For much of my photographic exploration so far, I've simply traveled to unique places with no plan at all. Part of "alignment" to me is allowing the plan to unfold in the moment, all I have to do is show up. 
During my first attempts: I spend a few weeks connecting with locals of my target location through instagram. Then I'd fly there, rent a car, find a place to sleep or couch surf, and further seek locals who were especially creative and interested in self expression. If they liked my work, we discussed shoot ideas, met up, and made art! Wherever you are, there is always someone excited to collaborate. 
Femina & Sienna Hayes by Soulcraft 
Looking back on these journeys, it all seems otherworldly and hard to imagine in the context of our current social climate.

Some of these solo trips were very defeating and left me emotionally distraught, questioning everything. I've ended up in bizarre, hellish situations and been ghosted a big percentage of the time. But the few creative strangers that gave me a chance have become long term friends. Together we've created some of my most cherished art. 
It reminds me of a quote from a movie that really spoke to me. I'm not sure of Life magazine's true motto, but in the particular movie it reads as, "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."

I'm reminded that when they read that quote in the film, I spontaneously burst into tears... and I knew I wanted to travel and meet people in faraway places, but also, to discover and understand myself. Photography allowed exactly that, while also practicing the same art that previously confined me to a desk. 
Sienna Hayes by Soulcraft
9. What feeds your vision?

My vision has so many influences. During my art education, I began to learn the origin of the art I loved, the roots I'd glazed over in history lessons. Years upon years of studying master artists definitely shaped me to the core and greatly influenced my eye. Likewise, I spent even more time studying the figure in live drawing classes. 
My focus as a traditional artist was the same, In a sense I'm still drawing and painting with a camera. I'm shaped by the sensitivities and subtle understandings I've honed during years of interest and exploration of altered states, both ceremonial and wildly irresponsible dances with entheogens. 

Poetry and music go hand in hand with the emotions present in my edits and in the images themselves.
Meghan Claire, Sienna Hayes & Femina by Soulcraft
10. How did being on UTadventure a number of times now influenced you as an artist? What keeps you coming to us? :)


Being on tour has shaped me in several ways. Following my introduction to photography, I was immersed in and surrounded by the fashion industry.

The entire philosophy and focus of the fashion world, not to mention the toxic treatment of models, rampant materialism, and bizarre standards left me so disillusioned with the art form. None of it aligned with what I seek and feel to be authentic and meaningful. 

Tour was one of the first places I felt free to connect with a side of photography and art I'd been yearning for. It was an opportunity to step back into what I missed from my years of traditional art. 
Meghan Claire by Soulcraft
UTadventure takes everything I enjoy about nature, traveling, socializing, and making art, and wraps it together in a cohesive experience.

The models are artists themselves, eclectic free spirits, not confined or defined by an insane industry.

I get the sense that we all ended up in this niche corner of the art world because we share a similar vision, similar origins, and a desire to break free from the norm. 
Meghan Claire by Soulcraft
Beyond tour, the art models/photographers in this niche are spread all over the world but share a unique connection and community.

UTadventure is a nexus point for these vagabond visual poets. It's like some long lost family I'd never known but always felt I was missing.

Each time I revisit, our journeys are full of new faces with unique stories, lots of laughs, and endless collaborative creativity.

The memories, friendships, and art made on tour will forever hold a warm space in my heart."
Femina & Meghan Claire by Soulcraft

So many beautiful thoughts and insights from this conversation! We are definitely inspired and are looking forward to have Soulcraft back on tour with us in 2022! :)

Make sure to follow him on his IG to see more of his magic: @soulcraft

By the way, the registration for our 2022 events in Utah and Mexico is wide open on our website, just saying. ;)
2022 Tour Dates / Models

Let's make those memories together!

Stay inspired,
UTadventure team Dasha and Dmitriy
IG @UTadventure
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