I’ve been drawing since I was a kid and seemed to have a natural talent for it. I remember in elementary school I got in trouble for drawing in class and was sent to the principal office. There the principal called my mom at work but instead of scolding me over the phone to my mom, the principal praised my artist ability. It was very weird. To this day, my mom and I are still not sure if the call was suppose to be “Don’t draw in class again” or “Please keep drawing.”
That list is pretty massive, but currently with how my style is translated into illustrations my first inspiration is Adventure Time by Pendleton Ward. I took a lot of cues from how Adventure Time was made and used that as my basis to create my unique style. Of course I’m big fans of Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, and Ezra Keats, all who are illustrators and authors since this is what I do too.
I was asked to participate in the Ride or Die show at Sky City with eleven other great artists. As the deadline drew near, I was struggling on what I wanted to do. One idea that I started with I soon realized that it would not been completed in time, this made me rethink what I was needing to do. That’s when it hit me to do a kind of Mad Max interpretation of my artist friends. Some characters I knew exactly what I wanted them to look like. Others I had to think a little about. I knew though that each artist needed to have some kind of vehicle and weapon.
Your work in the Book Tavern whose inclusion of the arts seems pretty extensive, there’s story times, sketch parties, and Art on the Box. Could you explain what Book Tavern is trying to bring to the Augusta public?
David, the owner, really loves Augusta and wants it to succeed so having a store in the heart of it was his way encouraging the downtown to grow. As far as the art aspect, Jay Jacobs, an awesome local artist, had approached David about doing something in the store that combined art with books. What birthed from that was Art on the Box art shows. This would help give local artist another place to showcase their talent and connect them with the greater artists community. Secondly, this acted as an exercise for artists to take what they are already creating but now filter that through the perimeters of the art show. Typically, it would push artists to try something they haven't done before so that when they returned to their own artworks they have newer ideas to experiment with.
Kurt Vonnegut. I leave it at that for now, but the submissions for Art on the Box will be happening soon.
What are currently your favorite reads?
A book I keep going back to over and over is Creativity, Ink by Ed Catmull (Pixar’s Founder) and Amy Wallace. The book is a great tool for business, but for a creative that does storytelling it’s really a wealth of knowledge. Another local artist, Jason Walter, recommended that book to me.
Where can people find your work, currently, and are you planning on any shows soon?
I currently have pieces up at Buona Caffe on Central Avenue and Mod Ink Screen Printing and Design on Broad Street. You can also see most of my work for sale on my etsy page, and find me on my website, kennethjamesbenson.com, or on Facebook at Kenneth James Benson Illustration.
I am developing an upcoming show, but cannot share any details just yet.