16.02.08 Ben Long, Grafik Magazine, Special Report Art, February 2008

Welcome to our annual adventure into the art world. This year, as well as features on Toby Paterson’s painted visions of modernism, Peter Saville’s genre-defining wisdom and Gareth Jones’s reinterpretation of Oscar Wilde, we’ve enlisted the help of London-based artist Ben Long to create our cover.

Long makes sky scraping sculptures out of scaffolding, and created the typographic construction on the cover especially for us. Keep your eyes peeled next time you pass a building site—you might spot one of Long’s other scaffolding works. Each one stays on display for a set period of time before being dismantled, transported to another UK building site and rebuilt as a new work. He describes the process as “similar to working with Lego or Mechano, but on an architectural scale.” At the moment Long has his sights on Elephant & Castle’s regeneration zone, which will soon become a huge building site and home to another of his sculptures.

As well as throwing up masterpieces in scaffold, Long is handy with his digits—another long-running project is Truck Drawings, for which he uses his fingers to draw intricate, decorative compositions into the grime on the back of haulage trucks (leading the classic van-grime graffiti “my other van is white” to a beautiful conclusion). Long works mainly at New Covent Garden Market, where each drawing takes two-to-three hours and is then sent out into the world as the lorries go off to make deliveries around the country.“I’ve always been interested in finding ways to make art so that the end product becomes an integral part of people’s daily lives,” says Long. He certainly succeeds, and also does a very fine job of turning corners of the world usually devoid of beauty into surprising sources of visual delight.