@studiocatherine Not in the slightest! Our printers just require a little extra time.
From creating posters for high profile musicians such as Nirvana, Silverchair and Fat Boy Slim to drawing Stab magazine’s regular cartoon, Ben Brown has a genuine and varied love for the illustrated form. The Sydney-based illustrator has been on the art scene for over twenty years, drawing from his enthusiasm for surfing, skate culture and music to get involved in projects which he’s passionate about.
He’s been responsible for the visual identities for popular local festival such as Falls Festival, Big Day Out and Good Vibrations, has illustratred two children’s books and has been involved in merchandise design for surf brands Rip Curl, Hot Buttered and others. Somehow he also finds time to feature his illustrations in international magazines such as Rolling Stone, Juice, Waves, Mad and other publications. Whew!
I chatted to Ben about band poster art, his future involvement in Art Sydney 2010 and why he likes to draw skulls and bones.
Ben, can you give us a brief background of how you first got into illustration?
I have always enjoyed drawing and doodling since I was young – so it was kind of a natural progression. In my adolescent years I hung around a lot of noisy bands and stinky pubs and I soon found myself doing posters, flyers and record covers for all manner of bands, promoters and record companies. An interest in surfing and skateboarding similarly lead to work with surf and skate companies and magazines.
You’ve designed posters for many bands and musicians such as Silverchair, Nirvana and Fat Boy Slim. Are there any favourites/highlights?
Doing the poster art for Nirvana’s only tour of Australia was good. It’s hard to have a particular favourite. I like a lot of older ones that were actually screen printed. Designing poster art is easy when you are a fan – I’ve worked for acts like Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and Redd Kross,- and more recently You Am I, Pearl Jam and Ice Cube. It’s fun doing jobs like that.
You’re also a cartoonist – from the comic strip Grubb (Tracks magazine) to Stab magazine’s comic. What do you enjoy about this medium?
Comic strips are fun. I have always loved comics – particularly underground comics like zap, eightball and hate. I also love surf comics from the 1960’s and 1970’s. The way comics convey ideas and stories and look so graphic (!) is fantastic. I collaborate with Stab magazine editor/writer, Derek Rielly. We both share a love of mad magazine movie parodies. It’s equally important to have a good writer.
Your series of work showing at Art Sydney 2010 includes a lot of skulls and bones. What inspired this work?
Skulls and bones have always been integral in the imagery I like to use. It is very tongue in cheek. Graphically they look fantastic, but I employ them in a very sarcastic manner.
A lot of the work I have showing at Art Sydney 2010 are from a series and solo show I did recently at the National Grid Gallery in Sydney – called ‘Kill Your Idols’ and uses pop culture icons and images that have become part of the modern junk culture psyche. Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, The Beatles and David Bowie are still instantly recognisable even when rendered as skulls and bones.
What sort of process do you follow when you’re drawing?
It begins as an idea and I will do rough sketches and look for relevant reference material. Once I am set to go – I draw large scale in ink/ brush/pen in black and white on paper. It will be cleaned up and scanned into my Mac, where I can work on colours, layout and composition.
What inspires your art?
Comics, posters, TV, music, surfing – but probably the biggest influence on my work is other artists and their work. I see something I like, and it just inspires me that someone thought of it and executed it. It makes me want to have a go myself! It has always been that way for me. That “Wow! How cool is THAT!” factor.
Is there anything that you particularly like drawing?
Skulls… bones… things that make people smile.
Do you have a favourite series of work that you’ve worked on?
I’d have to say the ‘Kill Your Idols’ series that I will have at Art Sydney 2010. It stands to reason that your most recent work would be your favourite, doesn’t it? I am always striving to make my work better. The quality of the prints, the colours, the subjects in this series really jump out at you. At Art Sydney I will have some new additions to the series that have not been shown anywhere previously. I’m pretty excited to be including brand new works.
Selected artworks of Ben’s will be featured at Art Sydney 2010 from 11 November 2010 – 14 November 2010. Check out the website for more information.