Artist's Story: Benjamin Mackey

BenjaminMackey

Name: Benjamin Mackey (Hi, Benjamin!)

Occupation: Illustrator/Comic Maker (We always love a good laugh.)

Art Medium: Adobe Photoshop, graphite and ink, and acrylic paints. 

Favorite studio tool/supply: Wacom Tablet and this super rad Pentel Pocket Brush Pen I just picked up

Artists you love: Giambattista Tiepolo, Eric FischlJoaquín Sorolla, Mike Mignola, Paul Grist, Gipi, and David Lynch

Sources of inspiration: Comic books and graphic novels, illuminated manuscripts, films of all sorts, art from the Renaissance to Baroque period, and various esoteric philosophies.

Most unexpected quality: I have an avid artistic fascination with Catholic Saints

What does your average day look like?

Mornings usually begin around 7:00 or 7:30...I have a cruel internal body clock that doesn't let me sleep past 8. Once up, I need a damn fine cup of coffee to get the gears turning. If it's a productive day, I'll be sat down and drawing by 8:30. I start with some warm up sketching, then take a break to respond to emails. I like to get all my rough drafts and conceptual work done before lunch, and then on to final processes in the afternoon. I find that a morning of drafting and sketching leads to a more confident hand in the afternoon. I try to be finished with the days work by 6. After that, my brain starts to wander and I feel the need to get out of my artistic hermit cave. Evenings are set aside for friends, films, dinner, parties, and the sort of stuff that refreshes the soul. 

 

"In many instances, my art will begin as a passing comment, an inside joke, or some little creative exercise that eventually builds up enough steam to manifest into a full blown idea."

 

How would you describe your creative process/how do you go about making art?

In many instances, my art will begin as a passing comment, an inside joke, or some little creative exercise that eventually builds up enough steam to manifest into a full blown idea. Once that initial idea seed has germinated, I start sketching and drafting the concept. Pencil, pens, and paper, nothing fancy. Now that the idea has been brought into the real world, I figure out which medium will serve the final product best. Digital illustration? Watercolor painting? Charcoal drawing? After making a decision, I get to work on the final product. I will often pull inspiration from classical sources or find ways to make references to other works of art that inspire my practice. I try to stay open and receptive to the work I'm creating, letting it evolve and change as I go. 

How did your Tarot card series come about?

The Tarot cards began their life as a series of hand drawn Twin Peaks themed beer labels for a Secret Santa gift last christmas. The recipient said they kind of reminded him of Tarot cards and that got me thinking. I went back through the show and started assigning different characters to different cards. Some of the matches were uncanny! After the first 10 or so had been posted, I started getting a very warm and enthusiastic response from the internet. Turns out there is a great deal of cross-over between Twin Peaks and Tarot fans. Their kind words and enthusiasm helped light a fire under my feet to keep working on the series!

 

"The Tarot cards began their life as a series of hand drawn Twin Peaks themed beer labels for a Secret Santa gift last Christmas."

 

What is the hardest part about being a creative entrepreneur? 

The trickiest part is balance. Balancing various project timelines, work time and free time, art made for intrinsic purposes and art made for extrinsic purposes, acknowledging critiques of your work and sticking to your guns, and many other dualities. It's a constant balancing act, and can lead to headaches and late nights. But, when you find that correct balance, nothing beats working as a creative entrepreneur. 

What tips would you give someone looking to buy art? 

Buy the art that you want to buy, buy the art that you love! Andy Warhol prints and Hokusai's The Great Wave posters are popular and might make a space look nice...but are those really the images that illuminate and reflect you? Don't be afraid to go out on a limb and buy the art (no matter how strange it might be) that appeals to your personal aesthetic! If you want a psychedelic cowboy painting, buy a psychedelic cowboy painting...even if it might clash with those eggshell white linen drapes. 

What would you say to someone who is convinced they lack creativity or artistic ability?

Creativity manifests itself in a near infinite number of ways. It may not take the form of painting or drawing or photography, but there is something you do that fills you with an intrinsic joy and a sense of completion. To me, that something is your artistic ability showing itself. 


We totally agree! Grab yourself a "damn fine cup of coffee" and head over to Instagram to enter to win one of his pieces. Then check out more of Ben's work here.