Posted May 9th 2007 by

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An interview with
BEN THE ILLUSTRATORwords by , May 2007

Ben the Illustrator is popping up here, there and everywhere at the moment. Be it in publications such as Computer Arts or through the many incarnations of his/their most popular creation, Speakerdog. With a new set of prints out it’s time to ask a few questions.

Hi Ben, after hovering around Thunder Chunky for quite a while now, you’ve finally got a feature all to yourself (and Speakerdog)! What have you been up to today then?

Today’s been pretty sweet, I finished off a set of prints, Speakerdog mini-prints, so now they’re up for sale in the shop. They’re called the ‘End Of The Rainbow’ mini-series, 4 prints, each with a different place at the end of the rainbow. I’m pretty pleased with them. After that I did some updates on the Speakerdog site, then I took Eddie the dog (an actual dog) for a walk, it was raining and there were swarms of little flies all over the place, not the mellowest walk I ever had. Had home-made vege-burgers for tea.

Tell us about yourself in 3 easy-to-follow steps.

Step 1) ‘Ben the Illustrator’ is actually two people! My girlfriend and I. I (Ben) work with my sweeter half (Fi) who takes care of the business and thinks up most of the ideas for projects, it’s her mind and my illustration.

Step 2) Right now I wish it was 1982, in New York City. Fi’s watching ‘Style Wars’ on dvd and I want to be there hanging out with all those old-school graf legends.

Step 3) I like tea and biscuits, not necessarily in that order.

Speakerdog models

Cutout-and-build Speakerdogs

So what’s Speakerdog all about then?

He’s a little mascot for the environment, I started off painting him on canvasses a couple of years ago, and it all just grew from there; the cult following, the artworks, the paper toys etc etc. It’s cool having an outlet that’s purely there to make people feel good, to offer up words of happiness and spread positive environmental messages. People just seem to like him!

He gets around a bit doesn’t he! Recently I’ve spotted him (is it a he?) in Computer Arts, on an SPUK belt, over at the LCS Mail Me Art project and he even dropped in for the TC Xmas Project too. Have you ever considered investing in a leash?

Yep, he’s a he! But Nope! No Leash! He’s a freedom fighter, I don’t think I could get a leash onto him (not only because he doesn’t really have a neck). I guess he’s a roamer, you know, travelling about and all. I’ll leave him to it, see where he ends up. He has been involved in a fair few things so far, and there’s plenty more on the way.

Living is easy

Speakerdog – Living is easy!

You’ve just released some Speakerdog prints, produced on brown paper, which are for sale on your site. Can you tell us any info about the Speakerdog Magazine and any other projects in the pipeline?

The ‘Brown Paper Posters’ are neat as f*ck! We didn’t know if the printing would really work on packing paper, fortunately it did, pretty darn well. Hmmmmm, not sure what I can let on about the magazine yet! It should be up for sale in the next week or two and it’s going to concrete the whole Speakerdog thing. It’s called ‘Speakerdog Says…’ and Fi and I are producing it ourselves with our big printer, so it’s got some ace new illustrations, some games to play, something to read, all sorts really. It’s super exciting having it all come together like we dreamt. As for other projects, Speakerdog is about to hit the road on a pair of custom sneakers as part of the Sneaker Pimps World Tour, there’s some new Mail Me Art pieces on the way, a bunch of Sketchels I did for Jeremyville, and a rather super print I did for Thund… you!

Speakerdog prints

Speakerdog prints

It’s an obvious question, but it has to be asked; what tracks would be on the Speakerdog soundtrack?

That’s a killer question! Here goes, the Speakerdog top five, scrap that, let’s call it ‘The Speakerdog High Five!’…

1) The Polyphonic Spree – Move Away And Shine (our favourite band and one of my greatest inspirations, their love of the world and sunshine and smiles is just wonderful. This song is very topical since Speakerdog, Fi and I moved out of the city recently and now we’re living in the middle of the countryside, shining).

2) Mama Cass – Make Your Own Kind Of Music (it’s basically a beautifully kitschy way of saying ‘do your own thing’).

3) The Go! Team – Huddle Formation (party music like nothing else, this song could make me cry. Last year my buds and I went and saw The Go! Team play in Brighton on Halloween, I dressed as a white rabbit, it was one hot experience).

4) Adem – These Are Your Friends (the sensitive song, it’s pure beauty, obviously it’s about having friends and holding them preciously ‘They give out nice warm glow’).

5) Smoosh – Rad (Kids that can play drums and keyboards and do sweet lil raps, it’s the carefree and playful spirit of Speakerdog in under two minutes)

Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?

Laugh ’til it hurts.

If you want to check out more of Ben The Illustrator’s work then check out www.bentheillustrator.com or www.speakerdog.com. You can also buy some grand stuff at www.buybentheillustrator.com.

POSTED BY Jon

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