Joel Benjamin – Interview
Hello Joel. So you’re a local boy born and raised on the plains of Suffolk. Tell us a bit yourself and what you do?
My name is Joel Benjamin and I currently reside in Norwich.
Well for the last 5 or 6 years I’ve worked part time as a freelance illustrator. I like to draw things largely from observation, be it nature or people etc, sometimes with a bit of imagination added in. During my high school years I was an avid skateboarder which I think influences a lot of my work now. I listen to a lot of music and read plenty of comics too. In recent years I’ve made work for skateboards, clothing brands and magazines. When I don’t have any commissioned work on the go I really like to make zines.
When did your first real passion for illustrating start and what kind of art influenced your early work?
I couldn’t pin point when being passionate about drawing started for me, but after trying my hand at fine art and graphic design I decided that illustration was the path for me. As a kid I read comics a lot and they were probably the biggest influence on how I like to draw.
Do you remember your first piece of published work and if so who and what was it for?
My first published work was in a London newspaper called The Epoch Times. It was for the sports column and I had to draw an American football manager whom I had never heard of before. Nonetheless it came out quite well.
I read you have just released a design for Milk Skateboards. How did that come about?
My good friends at Smash Skates (www.smashskates.com) in Beccles know quite a few people in the skateboarding industry and through them I got in contact with the owner of Milk. I’m really pleased to be working for a skateboard brand; it’s a bit of a dream job for me. We’ve only released one design so far but there’s plenty more to come!
What projects are you currently working on?
More skateboard designs and a new commission for a Pets magazine. I get to draw dogs! All is good.
Wolves seem to be a running theme through your work, what is it about the image of the wolf that catches your imagination?
I just really like Wolves, it’s as simple as that really. I have a bit of a thing for wild dogs like Wolves and Foxes, I think it’s exciting having them live alongside us in our little cosy and convenient lives.
Do you have a favourite piece of work that you have created?
I’m really pleased with my latest zine; ‘Shoe Portraits’. It came out really well and I got to include lots of my friends in the making of it.
What are you doing when you’re not creating?
I like to go skateboarding or ride my bike sometimes. But just hanging out with friends is my favourite.
What are your work goals for the future?
Definitely make more T-shirts and zines, those are my favourite things to create. I’ve got my eye on working more in fashion illustration and possibly comics too, everyone tells me I should make a graphic novel but I’m not sold on the idea just yet.
Do you follow have any blogs you would like to share with us readers?
What’s the local illustrating scene like and any local recommendations?
I think it’s quite good, there’s plenty of creative types around the city if you only know where to find them. Things seem to turn out well when we get together to plan a drawing club or pop up shop.
Where can we find you, see more or buy your work?
Okay, last question, do you have any tips or inspiring words for other budding illustrators out there?
Draw a LOT, read lots of books, listen to lots of music.
Joel Benjamin illustrated our latest Spring Market poster and will be having a stall at our next event on Saturday 20 April. Come and say hi!