Tim Bengel is a wildly popular German artist who works exclusively with sand and gold.  His artwork is quite remarkable, which may be why he has become an internet phenomenon, with his YouTube videos regularly garnering as many as 80 million views, and boasting almost a quarter of a million likes on Facebook.  Born in Ostfildern, near Stuttgart, Tim Bengel showed an affinity with art from a very young age, and would go on to win his first art competition at the age of just 18.  Tim is involved with the departments of art and philosophy at the University of Tübingen, and continues to produce artwork casually.  I am amazed by the work that Tim produces, so I was excited to talk books with him.  Please enjoy my interview with the talented Tim Bengel…

When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?

I create art with sand and gold.

the philosophy of andy warholWhat are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again by Andy Warhol.

What’s your earliest memory of reading?

My earliest memory would be reading Harry Potter with my Mom.

If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?

I would encourage them to read my first book (not published yet).

Did you demonstrate an affinity with art as a child?

Yes. At the age of 9 I tried to imitate the abstract artworks which I saw in the Museum Stuttgart at home. I wanted to become a big artist.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

The worst job I’ve had was while I was working in a supermarket.

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring artist?

My two bits of advice would be to firstly take risks and secondly dream big!

Who would you say are the three artists that continue to inspire you?

The three artists that inspire me most are Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Jonathan Meese.

Do you read as much as you’d like to?

No and yes.  I ‘read’ for about 8 hours a day if you’re counting audio books.

What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?

I’d recommend reading any books on art or philosophy.  I would encourage aspiring artists to read a book about every artist you are curious about.

who am i?Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?

Yes, there is a philosophy book I have read more than once, it is Who Am I? And If So, How Many? by Richard David Precht, who is a German philosopher.

What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?

The book I’ve recommend most is the above mentioned Who Am I? And If So, How Many? by Richard David Precht.

Do you think there is a relationship between books and art?

There is a relationship between philosophy and art. And most philosophy can be found in books.

What’s your favourite genre of book?

Non-fiction books, because I want to learn. I don’t read books for just entertainment.

What do you think a world without books would be like?

A more stupid place.

Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?

I’d read anything by Richard David Precht, he finds the right words to explain very difficult questions.

Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?

No, you can’t work with digital books in the same way.

why we eat dogs, eat pigs and wear cowsWhat book do you feel humanity needs most right now?

I think humanity should be reading books about the rights of animals. because what mankind does to animals is cruel. Melanie Joy is a good author in that case. The best book to start with is Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy. But reading about it is not everything. There are also great movies like Cowspiracy. But the most important thing about our treatment with animals is to question our habit and our understanding of justice.

What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?

Also Who Am I? And If So, How Many? by Richard David Precht.  It’s a book about the big questions in philosophy, the big questions in life. After this book, you start thinking about the world, about God, and about yourself in a different way.

What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?

I will be trying to read every book about art and philosophy I can find.

If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?

Tim Bengel – A Life Of Vision.

If you’d like to learn more about Tim Bengel, you can find him on his website, Facebook and Instagram.

Photo credit: Florian Roser.