Ben Willis is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and studied art at Ohio's Miami University. He moved to Arizona in 2010 to pursue his master's in fine art, which he completed in 2013. Since then he has adapted to working full time at the Phoenix Art Museum and managing a studio practice in Tempe, Arizona.
Willis was largely interested in oil painting throughout graduate school, where he created a series or portraits that identified the community of artists who shaped his experience during his M.F.A. program. He then grew tired of trying to render form and wanted to explore more of what he had learned about color, relationships, layering, composition and texture.
The pattern paintings he makes now derive from concepts of optical art. In contrast his use of materials has allowed him to go beyond creating a visual depth, adding a third dimension of suspending paint, iridescent pigment and glitter in many layers of resin. Willis says, "My patterns do not just end in paint. Their repetitive nature has provided a fluid outlet for collage, digital, mixed media and installation in my work."