Article written by Claudia Lee, Founder and CEO of NEXUS. Collaborating with Ben Wild, CEO & Founder of Ben Wild Studios
Earlier this week I got to catch up with, Ben Wild. His creativity has taken him to many areas, including a film startup, as a toy designer, even working with Manchester City Football Club as a portrait painter and illustrator, and eventually starting his own film company.
We discussed making your own path within your industry, the importance of networking, and finding the right people to scale, what it is you do.
Ben left the education world at 16, and with a stroke of luck combined with his creativity, his career journey began, after he "got a bit of online publicity from some projects and, got offered a job in Madrid."
He afterwards, came back to Manchester and started working for a film startup where he learned a lot of valuable skills "doing everything from like illustrations or animation to talking to clients and, and all that jazz."
While there, he met his then-boss and explained, they “made a very powerful impact on my life and really kind of structured, how I want people to be treated and how I would treat people if I were ever, ever in that position.”
Ben explained, he had a few different odd jobs while he was figuring out what he wanted to do next. “I was a toy designer for a little bit, which was a and then that led to working for Manchester City Football Club as a portrait painter and illustrator, and “did occasional animations as well, which was good. I was there for about two and a half years…”
This eventually led him to starting his own film company and where he sits now within the industry. Now working on everything from BBC shows to Netflix shows, and how “that's been awesome.”
Leaving school at 16: The catalyst for beginning the work
I explained my situation to him too, and that I also left school at 16 myself. I commented on his obvious creativity, and asked, “did you find school was a problem with that or did you just find that you wanted to be out working and developing creativity, in the real world?”
He elaborated, “school and I think, it just felt like a pause, and I was having to pause life.”
He divulged, “it didn't feel right. It didn't really feel right to pause it (creativity). Do you know what I mean? It felt like it's not really going to help too much of my stay…and it just felt like a kind of a waste of my time in that sense.”
I agreed, understanding exactly what he was discussing. Although going down different roads, we both went for the same reasons. School felt more like a hindrance than a springboard to both of us.
Growing and Scaling: Did you feel the pressure?
When it comes to getting larger clients, Ben says it was a combination of "meeting people and lots of flukes and lots of lucky interactions."
He explained, “no, I didn't really feel the pressure. I felt how amazing of an opportunity it was, I'm here and I'm just gonna make the most of being at this place.”
Beginning to work on bigger and bigger projects while still only really in his late teens, he just pushed on forwards, building his network and building more of a professional portfolio.
“I feel like those things would have happened regardless even if because don't get me wrong. We had loads of small clients about stopped but I just kind of had an attitude and like, I remember what to work on stuff that really excites me so I'll just kind of try and figure it out. And when we got the first TV job, I just figured it out as it was happening.”
He explained the importance of building an understanding of the industry, making sure to visit networking events and was even emailing 70 people a day in the beginning to promote his business. He attributes his success to working hard and doing what excites him and scaling what he knew he could achieve.
He subsequently, met a business owner who became his partner and, now has built what is benwildstudios.com. “I pitched this idea of like, why don't we both start a company and that's what we did and he provided the investment and the mentorship.”
Times Are Changing
He explained although he's got to where he has in only 7 years, times are changing quickly, and it doesn't seem the same now as it did back then. He mentioned things seem more “structured” and well-defined compared to when he first started his career, and he later explained why that can be sometimes a problem.
“The world we live in now is very, very like opportunities are really kind of filtered and very structured."
We joked, there seems less opportunity to be “scrappy,” this idea of just figuring it out. Everybody wants to be an expert, tomorrow, no one is willing to craft and home in on their skills for years at a time.
“I feel, the reason I've gotten to where I've gotten to so sort of swiftly in not a long period of time is the fact that like, I kept working, over and over again.”
He explained in the past few years we've developed this world where “opportunities are really kind of filtered and very structured and opportunities now are very proper.”
He encourages the rough times, and the times when things were uncertain. Getting there too soon, so efficiently, would not allow you to learn what you needed to.
“So the point for me is I think nowadays, like an option that comes up has to be done through systems it has to be very, very prompt. But I think it cuts off potentially unbelievable opportunities that could come about so like when I got that job in Madrid. It was kinda like it was I was only 16.”
There are still plenty of opportunities, and really it's about how you source them yourselves, but also having a humbleness to work on your craft and hone in on it over time, rather than get it perfect on day one, is the asset that allows for longevity. The importance lies in being able to “scrap their way through and kind of make stuff happen.”
The Next 12 Months: What 2023, has to offer
I asked Ben, what his plans were for the months ahead.
He explains, “it really at a point now where we've got the ability to do quite amazing work, you know, to me, and I feel very proud. The last two and a half years so it's very exciting and I think things are moving very much in the right direction.”
From what I gathered about Ben, he is just someone who grinds on through.
Wherever the opportunity sits, he goes and takes it, if it feels right. Almost a sense of instinctive creativity, it's just moving forward one step at a time and figuring out things when you get there.
I think more people can learn from Ben. It's not about getting perfect but getting it done, and your ability to instinctively move through your career gets easier the more you challenge yourself, and open up to new opportunities.
Thank you very much to Ben for speaking with me, and a can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for you and the team at benwildstudios.com