Meet Andy Bennett, an illustrator and visual development artist based in Kent, England. He studied Animation at Ravensbourne, an art college based in Greenwich, and what Andy refers to as, "...definitely not a wizarding school," though it certainly sounds like one. During his studies at Ravensbourne, he found that the pre-production, more specifically character design and storyboarding, was his favorite part of the animation process. Since then, he has been fully committed to narrative illustration and character design. Andy's work is always a showcase of wonderful color palettes, characters overflowing with personality, and incredible environments.
Below you can read about Andy's workspace, inspirations, and upcoming projects! You can also find tons of his artwork here.
What is your studio practice like and where do you work? Do you have any favorite materials, favorite resources?
I actually work in my bedroom, or rather sleep in my studio. The lines have blurred throughout the years and its becoming harder and harder to keep books and materials confined to one space. I guess having my bed and desk in the same room allows me to pass out or work at strange hours, although I try to keep a pretty regular sleep pattern. Most of the time I work digitally, using Photoshop, Illustrator and my Wacom Intuos Pro, though I do keep a couple of sketchbooks on the go. One is full of notes and character thumbs, the other is to keep my traditional skills from getting rusty. When sketching traditionally, I normally work in blue Col-Erase pencils, they have a variable density and are easily removed in photoshop. Recently, I've been playing with Gouache, it's a hugely different medium that requires a lot more thought than working digitally. Reference is super important to me, I keep a reference blog and my shelves are fairly stocked with all kinds of art and reference books.
A lot of your work is centered around character development and environment. What are your favorite kinds of people and background to draw?
Growing up, I was all about Saturday morning cartoons, comics and anything science fiction or fantasy. My dad introduced me to Star Wars at a fairly young age, I don't think I even understood the story at the time but I was enthralled by everything from the sets to the costumes and the cool glowing laser swords of course. Ever since then, I've been drawing characters, and designing my own Jedi, Pirates or X-men. When I finally got to art school and started seriously looking into character design, it became this really fun challenge, and still is. Whenever I get a chance to do self-initiated work, it tends to have homosexual themes. Growing up unable to see that aspect of myself within the characters and genres I loved was frustrating, but I guess now I'm older it's a fun outlet to explore for myself and is definitely very therapeutic.
Do you enjoy sketching and ideating on site? Do you travel often?
I'm definitely trying to get better at getting out with my sketchbook. I tend to always carry a camera but I know it's not the same. I recently visited the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall, and it was stunning and hugely inspiring. The trip was fairly short, unfortunately, so I didn't get a lot of sketching done, but I'm heading back in August of this year. The Island is really remote and it has various ruins dotted across its landscape, including a Neolithic village overgrown with flowers. Ruins, or architecture being reclaimed by its environment is beautiful to me. It's a wonderful place and this time I'm heading there with another artist, so we'll be sketching the whole time I'm sure.
Can you tell me more about the piece you made for the ROBO Show? What was it inspired by and what was the process like?
My piece for the ROBO Show was mainly inspired by 1920's travel posters and cruise ship advertisements. The posters are really bright and twee, they leave so much to the imagination and evoke a real sense of adventure. Once I researched that route, I began thinking about all the travel possibilities Mechs could offer. I thought about Pacific Rim and exploring the bottom of the ocean; I thought about how suits could enable us to traverse tough terrain and climb mountains with ease. Designing the Mech suit was something unnatural to me, and I really enjoyed the challenge. I watched a LOT of Akira for inspiration; I also referenced mountain goats and dirt bikes. That sentence is ridiculous, but I guess inspiration comes from mashing weird things together.
Have you always been interested in Robots? What sparked this interest? Who is your favorite robot?
I have quite a few "Art of" movie books and could spend hours flipping through the pages of Robot, Vehicle and armor designs. I really love how robots can look sleek and modern, or busted and rickety, and I adore how every inch of a robots design can be full of detail and function. Yet, I never find myself drawing robots and I guess this was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself. I don't know if I have a favorite robot, when I found out BB-8 was actually a functioning practical effect I was pretty blown away, and Marvin from the Hitchhikers Guide is pretty cool too.
What is your favorite project to date?
Thats a really tough question. I recently took part in the 1001 Knights Anthology by Kevin Jay Stanton and Annie Stoll. It's a really exciting project involving over 250+ amazing artists submitting people's positive representations of Knights and celebrating diversity. I'm stoked to have been a part of it and i've never been a part of a collaboration so large. I can't wait to see the finished product.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell people about?
I'm currently working on a few projects that are in the early stages of development, but you can spot me in a couple upcoming zines. Burl and Fur is going to be incredibly special and has so many great artists involved, it'll be kickstarting fairly soon, so keep an eye out.
Do you have any outside interest that influence your practice?
I'm inspired by pretty much the same things today that I was inspired by as a kid. I still watch tons of movies, play too many video games and read comics when I can. Nowadays though I've become more critical about what I consume; I'm able to pinpoint what I like and dislike about various IP's and incorporate them into my own work.
Where can people find/follow your work?
You can follow me at these places: