by Luke Amargo
Ben Powis is a indie illustrator who currently resides in Edinburgh Scotland who harnesses a grand and unique illustrating style that is both scenic and evoking—and, in a subtly dark way, beautiful. We corresponded to discuss his unique style, Kickstarter, Joanna Newsom and his “Word of Afar” series—an impressive up-and-coming illustrated trilogy.
Your work is marked by scenic, subtly dismal organic look, caught betwixt 2d and 3d—your characters are often unreal and fantastical, yet through and through, unique and envious in style, and to bring up a writers term, voice. What do you try to communicate in your works, art and storytelling that appeal to readers the most?
I like to create worlds, when telling a story I like to hint at something wider, to make the reader feel as though they are peering through a window to another place. I also think it is important to try to make a connection between the reader and the place you are taking them too, whether this is through the characters, through humour or through a deeper emotional link to a landscape or particular feeling that is common through us all.
Now do some of your random inspirations for your work surprise you? Perhaps poetry, music or pop culture? Many have found inspiration when they are at work in the office, or in math class, or an apple falling on their head…
I am hugely influenced by music, some of my best work has been created when trying to recreate the emotions I felt from a particular piece, or some particular lyrics. For me the link between great music and art is very clear, the need to tell stories and express feelings in the best way we can. This is what drives me to keep creating and improving.
Any specific music that gets you zoned in creating?
I have a pretty broad taste, I love folk music, good singer/songwriter songs, where people are singing lyrics that mean something to them. I was listing to a lot of Joanna Newsom when I draw “Turtle Guitar” and “Where Grows the Bitter Herb,” I think any fans of her music will see a link here!
I can’t listen to music all the time though, I find when I’m trying to solve a complicated story twist, or illustrate something particularly new I can concentrate better with quiet, then pop the music on afterwards!
What would describe the Tone of “World of Afar” in contrast to mainstream comics and the indie-publishing world?
I’d say the “World of Afar” has quite a unique tempo, I want reading one of the stories to feel like a walk through an unknown place, with little surprises around every corner.
I love indie publishing for the freedom of expression it gives and the amazing diversity available to us through this genre. Quality of the final product has always been hugely important to me and I think ‘Turtle Guitar’ and “Where Grows the Bitter Herb” stood out for that reason. I hope to continue this through the World of Afar Kickstarter project, which will enable me to collect the stories together in a very high quality, beautifully presented book.
For those interested in pursuing [this form of] artistry, what is the best way to support artists like your works?
Support can take many forms, many artists work in quite a solitary environment these days, so a simple comment on a blog or email out of the blue can make someones day. I want to share my stories with people, so when readers take the time to drop a little feedback or a short ‘hello’ it can be really flattering and at the time same time pushes me to create more.
I guess this would be a good place to drop in a link to my blog, Lost in the Woods, for anyone who wants to see a little more of my work: www.benpowis.net/lost. I am also on Twitter if you’d like to say hello @benpowis.