Recently I have contacted an illustrator Ben Jones, in order to find out more about art practitioners and their profession.
Jones was born outside Manchester, England. He has studied at Stockport College and is being represented by the Heart Agency
Ben utilises printmaking and collage to create his imagery, which are then manipulated digitally.
He starts usually starts with a screen or lino printing, he then collages on top of these with textures and found imagery.
His works seem to always reflect on the history and politics of the world, seemingly comparing the history to the present realities.
Ben Jones has a regular commission to illustrate the covers of The Lancet medical journal, as well as he regularly works for the New York Times. His other clients include The New Yorker, The Guardian, The World Today, The Economist and the New Statesman.
Jones has also produced many book covers, working for the French publisher Gallimard, as well as John Murray, Houghton Mifflin and Pushkin Press. He has written a novel ‘On The Way Down’ and a chapbook ‘The Fop’, both published by Rotland Press.
His most recognised commission has been an illustrated edition of The Clockwork Orange Published by The Folio Society. He created a unique visual interpretation of Burgess’ vision. Ben found inspiration in the use of slang and formation of a language, like a collage from existing elements.
The use of a bowler hat on the cover is a nod to Kubrick’s role in making the novel so well known, while at the same time he looked away from Kubrick to create a diverse set of inside illustrations.
Select Client List:
BBC History Magazine, The Boston Globe, Clerkenwell Post, DuJour Magazine, easyJet Magazine, The Economist, Éditions Gallimard, The Folio Society, The Guardian, Hermès, Houghton Mifflin, Johns Hopkins Magazine, John Murray Publishers, The Lancet, The Long + Short, New Statesman, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Pushkin Press, The World Today.
I have contacted Ben Jones to ask him a few questions about his approach towards his work. Below you will find his answers.
(Kesja) 1. How do you approach a commissioned work vs a personal project?
(Ben Jones) My personal work tends to revolve around social, political, surreal ideas. I like to make works developed from my own writings or make works then come up with a narrative after. I am mainly influenced by writings and history when making personal work as well as fine art practice. With personal work you don’t need to be too concerned with clients so there is a lot of freedom and personal opinion involved. Commissioned work always deals with communication. This can often be very in-depth and complicated subjects that require a bit of back ground research. Commissions also can have very strict deadlines. The two do cross over and inform one another however.
(K) 2. Many of your editorial works feature metaphors and symbolism. Do you find it easy or hard to extract the necessary information from the text and to find a suitable metaphor.symbol?
(BJ) I tend to lend ideas from the surrealists. I think of as many metaphors, tangible and intangible then start to let these collide. I try to match up elements that don’t belong together. I also like to approach ideas from a more emotional stance but still like to have strange elements incorporated.
(K) 3. Do you have a special place that you work/illustrate in?
(BJ) I work from a studio space in my flat. I prefer to work from home as I enjoy listening to music without earphones. I also tend to make a lot of mess due to using print and collage. I make sure to surround myself with inspirational objects, artwork and plants. I have a poster on my wall by my favourite artist Jan Lenica, old letterpress type some strange ornaments and a few geek things such as an astro boy figure from Japan. I also share the studio space with my girlfriend Sarah who is a fine artist. It is healthy to be able to talk about art outside of the illustration world.
(K) 4. Has there ever been a commission that you didn’t know how to approach?
(BJ) Earlier on in my career every commission was difficult to approach this was due to me not fully understanding my process of both making the work and in coming up with communicative ideas. As my working methods have evolved commissions have become much more natural. Working as an artist means you are always learning. Its a very exciting working as an artist.
(K) 5. What was one of the best advices that you were given in regards to art and your work?
(BJ) I would say two bits of advice. One From Gary (Gary Spicer – context tutor) that is to always retain your integrity when making works. The other would be from The illustrator Paul Davis he told me to just draw, draw, draw. I think as long as you are true to yourself, work hard and enjoy what you are doing then it shows in your works.
I think it was both interesting and informative to learn a bit more about an established practitioner’s working method and influences, particularly because it gives an insight into what we as beginning practitioners can expect from the industry, as well as how we can improve on our methods of working and techniques.
I think it was helpful to find out what inspires other artists to work as they do, and further to hear how personal and commissioned works can differ and yet be similar.
Visit Ben Jones website here.