Ben Newman

by horrorsleazetrash on April 23, 2011

Header art by Ben Newman.

Long have I waited to chat with Ben Newman, the brains behind some of the cooler low brow art in the scene to date.  Below is our conversation.  I could have chewed his ear for hours, an inviting man with seemingly endless talent and inspiration.

See more of Ben’s work here.

HST: G’Day ben, Appreciate the time and the amazing work for the header, damn kind of you. I noticed an image of Leela, from Futurama, (image below) on your site, looking fine i might add, are you a strong advocate for fan fiction. Especially fan fantasy fiction?

BEN: I’ve never actually read any fan fiction, so I don’t really have an opinion on it either way.I’ve done quite a few sketches of characters from cartoons where I’ve sexed them up a bit. I think it comes from watching cartoons when I was younger and being attracted to the female characters, but without the cartoon makers doing anything particularly overt in sexualising them . I don’t, for example, have any interest in drawing Jessica Rabbit, because she’s already a massively sexual creation, whereas Jessie from Pokemons team rocket was never portrayed in a sexual manner, but I was still attracted to her and wanted to draw that side of her that you don’t see in the cartoons. I imagine fan fiction is the written word version of that- maybe if I didn’t hate typing as much as I do it might have been something I’d have gotten into!

HST: Damn glad there are people liek you in this world, Ben.  Is there a sexual coneation with you viewing your art works after you draw them. Like narsis and the lake.

BEN: No, not at all. I don’t like looking at my own pictures because I only ever see the faults and the things that I could have done better. On the rare occasions that I am entirely happy with something I’ve done I still won’t like looking at it because it makes me feel like I’m going “yeah, I’m a badass, look how good I am!” If I was ever caught looking at my own pictures I’d be mortified that the person who saw me would think I was big-headed. For the same reason I hate talking about my own drawings; whenever I’ve done any art fairs or the like I normally leave my wife to do all the selling because I simply can’t face talking up my own art, it makes me unbelievably uncomfortable, like I’m being a massive bell-end.

HST: is one of your favorite sites to draw insperation and life poses from, is that because of the line and movement of the body,or is it more about the sexual fantasy of flexibility and contortion. I guess im asking if its the visual aspect or the sexual emotion it conjures.

BEN: Both! It’s both very satisfying to draw and sexy as well. I love looking at all female contortionists but Zlatas stuff in particular because she doesn’t shy away from the sexual side of what she does, but it’s also not too overt and you can look at it just for the interest of the shapes and forms she can make. I’d hope that’s true of any contortion-based art that I’ve done as well, but I probably push the sexual side of it too much!

HST: You draw form with such definition and truth, your woman have a meat about them, a substance, a real bubbling shape. Would you proffer a female to have curves about here on a personal level, or is it more relative to the image as something aesthetic.

BEN: Thanks! I prefer curvier woman both personally and aesthetically. I think visually all body shapes are interesting in one way or another, but I’ve never been particular drawn to women with model-type igures. I think that type of build works better in images where the artist is trying to portray something ethereal or wistful, but I draw situations that are grindy and dirty and I want the bodies of the women in the images to reflect that. Curvy is sexier, simple as that.

HST: A man after my own heart, If you could have any woman, from any time and place, to study in a week long life drawing – who would it be?

BEN: That’s a tricky one. A lot of the stuff I draw I’m hoping to instil some sort of illicit feeling in the viewer; I believe that a picture of a fully clothed woman with a dirty expression on her face is infinitely sexier than a picture of a naked woman with a blank look an her face. I don’t really get all the fantasy art were the woman have loads of flesh exposed but look bored. It just doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t see the sexiness of it. Eroticism is (or should be imo) more about the emotions that people are feeling in the images not about how much skin you can see; you can have both of course but flesh without personality is uninteresting to me.The majority of the eroticism in my stuff comes from the situation and emotions rather than the figure of the women, so spending a week drawing one woman wouldn’t massively appeal to me- I get bored doing life drawing- I know it’s vital and learning anatomy etc is massively important, but I don’t find the process or the end result very interesting. Having said that it would probably be Zlata, or maybe Nicole coco Austin. Zlata because of the different shapes she’d be able to bend into and Nicole because she’s got an almost cartoon-like exaggerated figure that I find aesthetically really fascinating.

HST: Id have to pick Nigela, its a food thing… Some of your work is risque even at the best of times, a woman winning first price in a show with the arms and legs of a horse, do you find much negative reactions to your art work?

BEN: That series of images was done for an article on pony-play in Bizarre magazine. I’m actually quite surprised by how little negative comments I get. I think maybe it’s because people don’t like to say that sort of thing to your face? Or maybe it’s because a lot of my art has an element of comedy or light-heartedness to it that makes it hard to take too seriously or take offence to. The only comments that annoy me are the misguided ones; a saw some comments on a forum recently where the poster was saying I was obsessed with rape, even though I think it’s pretty damn obvious that everything in my art is consensual and normally any action is being instigated by the women! I think some people have a kneejerk response to stuff that makes them uncomfortable and they can’t seem to get past that.

HST: Is pushing the lines of acceptability a purpose or art, of your art?

BEN: No it’s not; I don’t go out of my way to try and shock people, I just draw what I like. I took me quite a long time to get to the stage where I could overrule my internal censor and just draw what I wanted to. I lot of time spent drawing pinup style art but I just wasn’t happy with what I was doing, it felt sort of weak and unfinished like I wasn’t hitting what I was aiming for. My self-censorship head still pops up now and then but I quickly stomp that evil little voice down again! It’s nice to get a positive reaction to the stuff I draw; It helps me realise I’m not a completely weirdo and other people preciate the same sort of things that I do.

HST: Can you tell me something more about the Movie Images you post on your blog

BEN: I love film in general but grindhouse and old b-movies in particular. I don’t think I have the same judgment criteria as other people because I will watch almost any film and find generally something to like about it. The images you’re talking about started out simply as drawing and colour practice speedpaints that I’d do if I had a spare hour, but over time I’ve started putting more effort and time into them to make them more interesting for myself. After I’ve watched a film that I’ve thought would be appropriate for my needs I go through it and take a load of screengrabs of still images that I find interesting. Normally i’ll take a hundred or so grabs, and then whittle those down to the 2 or 3 that I like the most and then when I’ve got a free hour I’ll copy them; normally trying to do a fairly faithful reproduction of the still. I prefer doing this with films that have a relatively low productuion values. I’ve tried it a couple of times with more recent/bigger budget films and it just doesn’t work for me; the director of photography or whoever is responsible for framing the shots has already done the work, whereas with older/cheaper films I feel like I’m almost discovering these lost frames and immortalising that portion of a second as an image in it’s own right.I’ve recently started working with Robin Bougie who writes and illustrates an amazing horror/weird/vintage porn fanzine called Cinema Sewer and he’s become my film pimp. He sends me loads of cool obscure films that I never would have heard of otherwise and then I’ll do illustrations of them for the zine. I don’t have much call these days to do pen and paper images so that’s fun, and it’s a nice challenge to try and boil down a film to one image that gives an idea of what the film is about or the general tone of it. One of latest ones Ive got that I’ve not watched yet is a japanese dvd called “how to raise a hamster pet girl” apparently an XXX film about a girl who gets bought in a petshop and raised as a hamster! That one should be fun to draw.

Previous post:

Next post: