We caught up with the fun filled illustrator Ben White to talk style, books and the future.
His work is something of familiarity to me, seeing that he graduated from UWE two years ago. Ben White’s essence of distinctive style still roams around the studios and still makes me crack a smile every time i see it. Its probably this style which makes him a hit amongst other illustrators and artists, offering up a fresh and carefree aspect to his work which allows him to tackle any subject matter but still come out on top.
“It wasn’t all that often that I was drawing things in a realistic way like portraits and bowls of fruit, unless of course I had to for school. Even then I’d be tempted to draw a tiny face and bum chin on the Banana”
Ben’s style is something which wouldn’t look out of place as a cartoon playing on something like adult swim or late night cartoon network (but thats something thats going to have to wait). However his sketches work just as well, if not better, as still illustrations. His use of colour and textures mixed with a slight pun or witty content, along with inventive and imaginable character design makes everything you need for an enjoyable image. And i think its this character design which gives Ben’s illustrations that extra edge. Ranging from a Bad Girl Gang to a nudist tandem bike couple.
“I’ve seen my fair share of characters out and about in London town and they’re all safely documented in sketchbooks…”
I guess thats why Ben’s characters always seem to touch home so well, they all register as someone you’ve either seen or heard about. He has a unique ability to take small aspects of everyday life and culture and transfer them into comical illustrations that don’t scream “look at my drawings with its abstract meanings on worldly issues!”. Having recently caught up with the man himself, it was pleasing to see that he has a lot of plans in the pipeline. With a potential exhibition in London coming up and even dipping his toes in some creative writing, i’m excited for what comes from Ben White in the future.
You have a very distinctive style to your illustrations. Did they come about naturally when you was a kid or was there certain inspirations that led you to how you draw today.
Thank you very much! Yeah if I’m honest I think the style did come quite naturally to me, there has been many variations of it over the years but when I look back at my drawings from when I was a kid they were always pretty cartoony and silly. It wasn’t all that often that I was drawing things in a realistic way like portraits and bowls of fruit, unless of course I had to for school. Even then I’d be tempted to draw a tiny face and bum chin on the Banana. Loads of things inspired me to draw the way I do today. Growing up I watched A LOT of cartoons and I still do now, they never fail to inspire me.
Similarly your illustrations always have a fun and comical aspect to them. Where do you source content before creating each piece of work?
Cheers! Im pleased you think so, it’s not always easy making people laugh at an Illustration but luckily I can usually secure a laugh or at least a chuckle. Even if it’s just a quiet snigger to one’s self, I’m happy. I source content from everywhere, I am forever saying “ooo that would make a good illustration wouldn’t it” which must drive my friends mad. Also, I’m always listening in on conversations which some would say is probably a bit rude but it is a constant source of interest and inspiration to me. Earwiggin’ is a skill (yep I’m going to call it a skill) that has helped to create quite a few different scenarios in my work. I don’t drive so I naturally spend on average 10 billion hours per month on public transport or waiting for public transport to actually turn up. Both of those of course equally depressing but I do see and occasionally meet some top quality characters to draw. I am also often inspired by whats going on in the world, funny news stories and things that are trending on the web. This will often be the source of a lot of my illustrations.
Are there any projects you have in the works at the moment that we should get excited about?
Well, excitingly I am in talks to get my first ever solo exhibition in London up and running. This already is causing me sweat profusely. So currently I am coming up with ideas for that which is cool. Also, I am writing a book about a 10 year old boy who looks like a Potato. Writing is another passion of mine so I am enjoying every minute of it.
I think its become second nature for artists, especially illustrators, to still like cartoons well into their twenties. But i can definitely see your style as its own cartoon, is that something you would consider doing in the future or does the idea of animation scare you?
Definitely! That would be a dream come true! I have always loved the idea of seeing the stupid world that exists inside my brain come to life on a TV screen. I would probably wee myself with excitement if that became a reality. I mean even if I were to just design characters for a show of some sort, that too would be totally eye watering-ly amazing. Animation is indeed something that scares me slightly (how did you know?) I’ve not really had too much experience in it but I do really want to learn so if there’s anyone out there who’s willing to help me out then please let me know. There could be tea in it for you… and possibly Cake.
The exhibition sounds very exciting though! Is there a date or a name or even a theme set in stone yet?
Nothing set in stone quite yet no. One thing I do know for sure is that I want to create some pieces that really reflect the Vibrancy of London and the people who live there. I just think London is the most wonderful and weird place so I feel that theres some big potential to have a lot of fun with this one. I’ve seen my fair share of characters out and about in London town and they’re all safely documented in sketchbooks… so all I’m saying is, if you’re a London resident and you’re wondering why that tall guy was staring at you that one time on the tube, you might want to pop on down to the exhibition to see yourself immortalised through the means of Art! ha!
Also the potato boy book sounds fun too. Can we expect some more fun and easy going books in the future?
I really hope so! I’ve got so many ideas for stories that are desperate to escape my melon head. Even since I was a young un I’ve been jotting down these (often stupid) little plot lines and ideas for characters and it would be beyond cool to see some of those on book shelves in the future. Obviously I’m hoping I’ve improved since I was 6 but then you never know maybe I was actually better back then! Hopefully one day soon we might just find out!