Ben Mendelewicz’s latest book brings together suffocating stories with a “no way out kinda plot”

The illustrator embraces “aggressive Photoshopping” and stock photos in his dystopian stories.

13 March 2020

Ben Mendelewicz is a rather busy man these days. But despite working across pretty much every medium imaginable, the American illustrator always finds himself drawn back to the allure of print.

“I do a lot of graphic work for TV, album covers, spot illustrations, music videos etc,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I’ve done sculptures, wall pieces and video works too, but I would say the most consistent medium of my output so far has been books, most of it comics or narrative.”

Ben’s latest project is a collection of five separate stories that have been published in anthologies over the past few years. The book is called I Saw My Career Flash Before My Eyes, which serves as a comedic play on the famous Life Review phrase, as well as being related to the themes of the stories themselves. “I realised that most of the stories I had made in the past few years had the same suffocating ‘no way out’ kinda plot,” he says.

Interestingly, for the publication, there are some pieces of work that never made it to print, with the primary story only being published digitally prior to this. “The most substantial of the bunch was commissioned by Mould Map for its digital comics anthology Earth Pantropy. It was the first comic I did that was specifically formatted for digital viewing. And paradoxically I reformatted it for a 8.5 x 11 page and printed it. It’s called Lock In and it’s a sci-fi envisioning of life and work culture, real estate and body modification in the near future.”

These dystopian tales are aptly told in Ben’s digital illustrative style, which suits such subject matter down to the ground. Not dissimilar to a video game aesthetic, it evokes a futuristic feeling that is further exacerbated by generally dark tones mixed with bright flashes.


Ben Mendelewicz: I Saw My Career Flash Before My Eyes

Like most creatives, Ben isn’t a huge fan of describing his own style, however, he explains to us what he is trying to achieve. “There’s only so many ways something can look in Photoshop when using stock photos and factory filters – I don’t like to hide the fact that it’s Photoshop,” says Ben. “That’s what’s great about PS, it has its own language with its own vocabulary. People go ‘oh that’s the bulge distort’ or ‘plastic wrap’ etc.”

Knowing his way around Photoshop as well as he does, Ben is able to use the tools as he pleases, and adapt them in new ways. “I like working within those parameters. Especially when I can push them into a zone I haven’t seen them inhabit before, or even if it fits with tradition, whichever, it’s just aggressive Photoshopping. I also just love the world of stock photos. Can’t get enough.”

Releasing a book like this is something that Ben likes to do every few years, often having built up lots of smaller projects across many outlets. “Every few years I realise that I have a magazine’s worth of stories that have been scattered around in different books, and I don’t think many people have seen them all so I’ll put them together into something,” he says. “It also adds a sense of completion to a lot of them.”

In this case, there was also an overarching theme that linked them all, making the publication an even more coherent one. “Thematically I saw something with this stuff, and I felt it all flowed together nicely,” he says. “It has a different feel for me when it’s all compiled, and telling several versions of the same claustrophobic story over and over again seems fitting to me.”

GalleryBen Mendelewicz: I Saw My Career Flash Before My Eyes

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Ben Mendelewicz: I Saw My Career Flash Before My Eyes

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About the Author

Charlie Filmer-Court

Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.

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