Thursday, 6 May 2010

Interview with James Benn

James Benn is a 24 year old Camberwell graduate who has worked for FRONT magazine and more recently the Guardian. We love his child like spin on his work and are delighted to of caught a few minutes for some Q's.

Name: James Benn
Age: 24
Job: Freelance illustrator
Twitter: /mrjamesbenn

Hello, Welcome to DEER BRAINS How are you today?
I am very well thank you, though it’s rather grey outside at the moment, but a cup of tea should do the job.

Have you always been interested in mixing art with design?
Yes and no. Art is what I have always been good at, throughout school, A-levels and college, but that was when I was really into fine pencil drawing. After school I went to KIAD in Maidstone, but wasn’t really in a place to get on with it at the time so I left after three months. I played music for three years in various bands but having not really got anywhere and after a failed relationship I decided to go back to college and try again with art, despite not having drawn for years. This experience helped me focus on imagery type and all other aspects.

We understand you went to Camberwell University, isn't that quite a cliche University for 'arty farty' types?
Yes, yes it is. Well if I’m honest I went to Camberwell on a whim. I never wanted to go to university when I was younger and always thought I wasn’t smart enough. But having completed my college foundation I just applied to see what would happen. I applied to Camberwell and LCC. As I only got into Camberwell I decided to just do it and see where it would take me. I didn’t really take much notice of the ‘arty farty’ types, I was on a mission to sort my life out. But I can say that over all it was a great experience and I met some very nice people.

What publications have you worked for?
I have worked for Front Magazine and WUW magazine (now Artbox) and more recently The Guardian.

How is it working for The Guardian?
Crazy! I have never had such a short deadline before. It is usually anywhere between 2-4 hours. But it is a great way to learn. It keeps me on my toes and I love seeing my work in print.

What is your best piece of work you've done?
I don’t know! I quite like this image of a man getting beaten by a dragon that I have recently done, though I am never fully satisfied with anything. I am always working on ideas and when I have one I create it, finish it then it just sits there looking at me, letting me know all the mistakes I have made or how I could have done it better. I am in pursuit of perfection but can confirm that I don’t think I will ever get it. But I can only hope.

And your worst?
The worst piece of work I have ever done is probably a CD cover I did for a company called Boosey and Hawkes. I used to draw an image and then put it straight into Photoshop to colour it. Now I use Illustrator, but this was when I was still at uni and had just got into using it. It was for a world music compilation CD, so I had to draw all sorts of people, but looking back I can say for sure that it is definitely rather shoddy. But I did get paid and at the time I liked it…I think.

Where would you like to go next with your Illustrations?
The sky is the limit. I want it to take it as far as it will get me. Now, I am trying to get a name for myself within editorial illustration, and then eventually try and break into advertising. It makes sense to me, as this is where the money is. I love to create images but if I’m going to make a living form it I have to be realistic. I won’t get by creating a few flyers for my mates band ‘she just won’t stop crying’

What sites do you visit regularly? - I like to occasionally participate - I did work experience here and they are the nicest people I have met in London and have some amazing illustrators – I often get work printed here – I am always interested in what work is out there and whos doing what

and of course facebook!

Who is your biggest inspiration?
Elliot Thoburn and Nome Bar. Elliot was my tutor at Camberwell for the first year and is part of Peepshow. He really helped me get into illustration and taught me the art of being able to criticise your own work. Before the course I didn’t even know what illustration was. Noma is an inspiration because he is simply a genius and a really nice guy. I also like the work of Paul Blow, David Lyttleton, Paul Bommer and Dragon76

Thank You! Anything else you would like to say?
I like it when people set out to do something and do it regardless. They stick to their guns and make things happen. It is a great thing to see when people do what they love and love what they do.

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