A Discussion with Ben Newman
Ben, a little background . Tell us about yourself – you know, where born, where you live.
I grew up in Hackney, went to school in Islington, did an art foundation at Camberwell then spent two years studying animation in Bournemouth.
I spent three or four years dossing around Bournemouth doing various minimum wage jobs; factory work, selling ice-cream on the beach, waiting tables in a hotel and so on. Eventually I got a portfolio together and got a job with a small startup computer games company in Nottingham. I stayed there about seven years before upping sticks again to move to another games company. I now live in Oxford with my wife and a moody black lab, where I try and scrape together as much free time as possible to draw.
When did you discover you had a talent for art?
My dad used to draw on and off, and once he drew some illustrations to a nursery rhyme book for me and my sister. I think that’s probably what started me off drawing. I remember drawing as a young kid and getting very frustrated because I couldn’t make the marks on the paper that represented what I saw in my head. I still do that, but not as often luckily.
First and most importantly is the idea. I can sometimes make pictures work without a firm idea already in place, but it’s a lot harder.
Then I’ll normally start sketching up rough concepts in photoshop with my wacom (tablet). when I’ve settled on one I like I’ll just start working it up.
Sometimes I’ll start a pic on paper and then scan it in; but I’ve been using a wacom tablet for so long now that its just as easy to sketch directly on the computer. I did a blog post on this, a step by step guide, it was suprisingly popular.
You have a wicked sense of humour and, it seems, a desire to subvert fairytales and classic characters. Where do you get inspiration from?
All sorts of places; Looking out the window of the bus, early morning cartoons, dreams, good books, films, people watching. Sometimes inspiration strikes you when you least expect it, you’ve just got to keep your eyes open and be ready for it. Some of my favourite ideas have come from when I’m just drowsing, daydreaming; halfway between asleep and awake. Although I’ve had some fucking awful ideas that way as well.
You suggested to me that there is a femdom element in your work. Where? Do you have plans to explore Female Domination scenes more deeply?
Ha, afraid not, sorry!
The domination element comes in because my pictures are generally all about the women and what they want. The men are usually just drooling saps being led around by the nose to do what the women want. I’m not into femdom in the sense of women subjugating men though, so you probably won’t see any Kami Tora style scenes from me.
There are SO many! Writing up a list of them would take me forever, and my favourite artists change depending on what mood I’m in at the time. I wouldn’t want to think I’d missed anyone out so I think I’ll just say “yes”!
Tells us about some of your favourites – films, books, music.
film: Paris Texas, Requim for a Dream, Bring It On
book:anything by Neal Stephenson, Ian M. Banks, Chuck Palahniuk, William Gibson or a host of others
music:Braintax, Immortal Technique, The Breeders, Ill Bill, Joanna Newsom,
What’s in the pipeline? What plans/ambitions do you have for the future?
I really want to start doing more painting (ie with actual paint!) I’ve been teaching myself and really enjoying it and I’d love to start getting some more work into galleries and exhibitions. The problem is that my stuff is quite niche, so finding somewhere that will show my art is a job in itself, luckily I have my wife/PA/manager to do all that work for me!