Meet the Artist: Ben the Illustrator

Welcome to the latest member of the Phosphor Art team – Ben the Illustrator. Let’s hear about his ideas and how he works…

A graphic editorial illustration by Ben the Illustrator of a home office - to the left there's a backpack and bike, a coat hangs on the wall. There's a book case and a person working at a laptop on a desk.

It’s great to have you on board at Phosphor Art – what were your reasons for joining the agency?

It’s great to be joining the team!  I’ve been illustrating full-time for 15 years now and it’s some time since I had a UK agent, this year I’m trying to make some changes, to collaborate more and work alongside more people. On one hand I’m keen to build on my career so far, but also I want more of the enjoyment of working together with people on a day to day basis. Phosphor has a great heritage and a reliable friendly team, exactly the kind of agency I want to be part of.

You have a strong graphic style with a real emphasis on colour – how has that developed over the years?

I have always been drawn to colour, be it comic books, street art or packaging. Personally I’m happy to be quiet and understated, but then I like my work to be my extrovert outlet – my work speaks for me in it’s boldness!

I love to get under the skin of a colour palette – why do certain colours work so well together, how do individual colours or combinations of colours make people feel?  I’m interested in the psychology of colour, while at the same time I just love making something colourful purely for the joy of it.  The graphic nature comes from a place of wanting to make things that are ‘tidy’, it feels therapeutic to work with simple, perfect shapes and create an illustration from that simple place.

Travel features regularly in your work – did that result from an original commission or an ongoing passion with other cultures? Is there anywhere you have not been to yet but would love to visit?

It’s an ongoing relationship between my love of travelling and my love of drawing. I never travel without a sketchbook and am rarely happier than finding somewhere new and committing it to a pencil drawing. 

My wife is from Melbourne, so I’m lucky to go to Australia every couple of years, over the past decade this has really strengthened my love of the journey itself (jetlag aside!).  I love seeing people from all cultures and countries passing through an airport, I love stopovers, and I love seeing the variety of magazines and chocolate bars in an airport shop.  As tiring as travelling can be, whatever the means, I relish how refreshing it is for the mind, and how seeing a new place effects your soul. 

I’ve never travelled in Canada, I’ve always had a dream of driving from coast to coast, taking in the forests, mountains and cities with a stack of empty sketchbooks to fill in!

You are very involved with the illustration community – do you think illustration is given the respect it deserves?

On the whole I’d actually say no, there is always a handful of artists who break into the public’s awareness, through books, regular editorial features or popular pieces of artwork, but that is a small percentage of the community.  There have been so many examples over recent years of brands seeking illustrators on low to no budgets for projects where the client is quite obviously profiting. The UK has a world class creative industry, we are aware of musicians, writer and filmmakers, they’re household names, often celebrities, however illustrators seem to be less known and often less respected. 

I have always hated the idea that illustration is a passionate pursuit, perhaps considered a hobby, and not a profession with integrity, talent and respect.  There’s definitely been a change in recent years, bodies like the AOI raising awareness of the issues, but still there are weekly stories on social media of another brand trading the profession with disdain!

Finally, what would be your dream job and why ?

I have this down to a detailed plan, but as yet haven’t found the client to make it happen… My dream job would be to illustrate a travel book, while travelling.  So me on the road with my sketchbook, whether it’s seeing global landmarks, or simply experiencing the best coffee joints (coffee and cafe culture are another passion of mine!). 

To be endlessly drawing the places I experience, and then creating a series of fully finished colour artworks to be brought together as a book, that would be a dream!

See more of Ben’s work in his portfolio


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