'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 28 June 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Ben Clifford

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Detailed, realistically playful, and intriguing.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Movies and music or podcasts. I mostly put on movies with lots of dialogue
 when I work, as I don't really watch them. This comes from lying on the carpet as a kid, drawing in front of the TV.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Acrylic. Fast drying, easy to clean.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Graeme Base, Alphonse Mucha and Frank Frazetta.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
Probably the first Lascaux painting (Magdalenian period)
to learn why they did it. Was it decorative? For story telling? Educational?

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Graeme Base. In 1986, Animalia was released and shown by my school librarian. I still remember the pages she showed us. I have my copy of the book from that year and have collected his work ever since. I turn into a fanboy at his book signings. 
Much later, I lived in England for a few years. I needed money to get home to Australia, so I drew portraits and learnt quickly. I haven't stopped.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
The work space isn't that interesting, so here's a few things I keep nearby. Paintbrush tin (new, needs more stickers!), a real dictionary, a pen mug I drew at school when I was around 9, a paper butterfly from a family funera,l and letters, cards and notes which are a small sample of thanks from people. They're all sitting on an old chair my grandfather made.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
Walking into a bookshop and seeing the work on the shelf, and inspiring kids to draw.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
I only know what I've been through, but I hope this helps. I gave myself a 5 year plan to get published. I knew nothing and gave up everything. I had no idea what medium to use but I could draw well. After 6 years of advertising in one place, I achieved my goal. You'll get knocked down, but keep getting up. Next time you'll get up faster. Do your best work and they will chase you for it. When Johnny Cash tried to get a record deal, the producer told him  'If you were lying out in that gutter and you had time to play one song before you passed, what would you play?' 
So, aspiring illustrator, what would you draw?

Ben was born in Tasmania and began illustrating after travelling to England in his early twenties. He then moved to Sydney, studying and working as a photographer. Ben now lives in Tasmania where he studied graphic design and developed his illustration and painting. His first picture book was written by Laura Wallbridge, with many titles to follow.   
You can follow Ben on facebook and instagram, or find out more via his website and Illustrators Australia.