An interview with Ibiza based glass artist Ben Walters
Meet Ben Walters glass artist and moved to Ibiza. This is his story.
1 Great to have you here for an interview Ben. Can you introduce yourself to the Ibiza Inside community?
Hi Marisa & Virgil, pleasure to be here and thank you for the opportunity to chat. My name is Benjamin Walters. I was born in Cheshire and I am a professional glass sculptor.
I specialise in a two types of glass making, one is called “Kiln Casting”. This is where a glass is melted into the mould, the mould is usually cast from an original form made using clay or wax.
The other aspect of my work is Glass Blowing, which is a very traditional way of forming glass on a long steel pipe using a tank furnace. The human form and landscape usually play a role in the inspiration for my Artwork.
2. A lot of people have an idea to move to Ibiza and set up a business? What made you move your life and business move to Ibiza..?
There are many reasons for the move, but I mainly wanted to have a change of lifestyle and find a different pace of life to produce my work, this combined with the coastal landscape and warmer climate would be a really inspiring and I felt a more healthy way to develop my Artworks and ideas.
In my previous design role working with a company in Hong Kong, I was expected to do a huge amount of travel between Asia and the UK. Upon completing my consultancy contract and heading home to the UK, I was now in a position where I was able to take time to think about making exciting changes in my career.
I have visited Ibiza many times before and had always felt there was such an amazing energy there, everywhere I travelled in the world I felt like I was looking back at the island wondering what if…? Having finished my contract in Asia I saw it as perfect opportunity to make the move.
3 Did you have any doubts when you are about to move to Ibiza?
I had no doubts about the move in terms of the positive changes it would bring to my lifestyle. I’ve had some experience spending time there and I also have friends living on the Island who have given me some great advice and shown me what it could be like to live there.
In terms of moving my business to Ibiza and producing my Artworks, I was confident I could make it work but finding local galleries and collectors to purchase the works is a little more challenging. People already have their good sellers and safe bets for saleable pieces, taking my work on could be a risk. Fortunately things in that respect have gone really well and my work has been gratefully received on the island.
4. What advice do you have for people who have a dream to move to the white island and start a new life?
My advice to others is to get involved in as much as you possibly can. The Island has a lot to offer, there’s an incredibly rich and creative culture here and amazing outdoor activities you can take part in. Everyone on the Island is very like-minded and shares the same struggles to survive, as you will have.
The Island and people will give back and help you so much back if you extend your support to them. Final advice, which is obvious but sometimes quite difficult, is to learn the local language; I would advise taking a class once a week and then practicing it with some local speaking friends whenever you can.
Not only will you find it easier and the people around you appreciating the effort, but you will have some valuable contacts who could do some translation when maybe its really required for your business to succeed.
5. What is your favourite Ibiza hideout…?
There are some amazing hidden Gems in Ibiza but one of my favourites would be Es Vedra at sunset with a large GnT in hand. The views are absolutely breath taking. If you’re feeling peckish there’s also a great restaurant right on the sea front with a cracking menu.
6. Are there many glass artists in the world. What makes you different…?
The contemporary art glass community is quite small and spread out. However, there are some areas that are quite densely populated with makers like the famous Murano, Italy and in the USA, Seattle that are creative hubs for makers like me.
Seattle especially has become an international training ground for beginners and professionals at a facility called Pilchuck which runs master classes for others to learn technical skills or just learn more about approach. For the majority of Glass Makers in the rest of the world we are usually working out of a small garage style set ups or studio’s.
Artists working like this are dotted all over the world. It’s nice to feel part of a close network and community of makers. If you’re ever stuck or reach out for technical or physical support people are always willing to help if they can. For me this has been the best part of working in our industry.
What makes me stand out?
Maybe my ability to use the material for many other purposes not just my Artwork. I often work with Design and Product companies to develop ideas. So my life and studio practice is split into two parts, one design based and other artistic, which is sometimes a blurred line as they often feed into each other.
Clients often really like approaching my company because I have access to larger industrial facilities. I can handle large-scale projects and also help them from a manufacturing perspective launch and develop product. This could be a large Chandelier, lighting installations or maybe a 500-kilo glass casting for an out door exhibition. I’ll always consider any project as long as it pushes me technically and has a positive impact on my own personal works.
The thing I love most about facilitating someone else’s vision where they use my technical abilities is that it pushes my hands to think and approach my own objects differently. It’s hard not to stay in your comfort zone as a maker so I see my design work as a small break from my art works helping me to approach projects with fresh eyes when needed.
7. We always say to our coaching clients that the move and the business set up involves planning and a system, did you make a plan before you moved to Ibiza?
I had a general plan that I wanted to produce a new body of work and also do some teaching. I wanted firstly to see if there was a facility I could do this from before I’d make the commitment to bring the rest of my machines over.
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I was testing the water and just making a few pieces first. Moving a business is one thing but you have to consider the social aspects of what living in a place would be like. I thought meeting other designer’s and makers first would help me to understand their experience of operating which would be invaluable.
I’ve been on the Island a couple of months now and it’s been amazing! Everyone on the Island has welcomed me with open arms to their studios, galleries and art groups and even for dinners and socials on the evenings. I already have a group of people to socialise with and have met other makers who are doing creative projects on the island.
I’ve now made the decision to move my larger studio equipment onto the Island via container in the New Year to start Ibiza Glass Crafts classes and production. In the meantime I’ll be working from a ceramic studio in Es Canar called PJ’s Arty Party that does children and adult ceramic painting classes.
They said if I swapped knowledge of glass they’d let me use the kiln over winter as a trade and also house my glass making classes in January. Seems like a very Ibizan arrangement; knowledge and skills trading to help each other!
When we say Ibiza you say…?
Are you inspired by Ben’s story and you are thinking of moving to Ibiza make sure to sent us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you in the right direction.