The Converse Lovejoy Art Benefit commissioned 49 original artworks that are on auction now via Paddle8 to raise funds for Artists For Humanity. It’s Nice That has teamed up with Converse to introduce some of the amazing artists contributing to the benefit, and to take a look behind the scenes of the great work that they do. Next, It’s Nice That catches up with LA-based artist, cartoonist and director Ben Jones.
Los Angeles-based artist, cartoonist and director Ben Jones’ work has a psychedelic edge, combining vibrant pops of colour with neatly constructed shapes that seem to have characters hidden within them. Alongside his often large scale artworks, Ben also dabbles in animation and music videos, making his portfolio bright and varied.
Ben first started making work in high school, “I didn’t know about anything cool though, so none of what I did counts,” he says. He went on to study at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and it was here that Ben began to get into a groove, meeting likeminded people who would drive and inspire him. “For instance at Mass Art I met Dave Konopka, who plays in Battles now. He told me what music to listen to and why sans serif was an important font. And all his friends were better than my friends. Thank god for art school!”
The artist’s first major body of work started in 1999 with Paper Radio, which grew out of a series of projects with artists CF and Fort Thunder while at art school. This then progressed into Paper Rad, a collective that made comics, zines, video art, net art, paintings and installations, which saw Ben work closely with sibling duo Jacob and Jessica Ciocci. Paper Rad has had several exhibitions and its visual projects often used clashing fluorescent and primary coloured palettes to create a lo-fi look, referencing pop art, collage and punk art.
Remnants of this aesthetic can be seen in Ben’s work today, especially with his bold choice of colour and his influences. His work is partly inspired by pop culture references he grew up with including Keith Haring’s communicative work and the wit and humour of cartoons like The Simpsons. “My style is like a mixture of those two things, and the success of those two things cancels each other out when I mix them, so lucky for me, I essentially have no success but use simple rounded shapes,” Ben jokes.
Creating work is a “total compulsion” for Ben and his process sees him create vector-based drawings to “allow for a lot of non-destructive revisions”. For the physical works, he then goes on to use Acryla Gouache for its ability to “imitate the paint bucket tool on Mac Paint the best” and create a uniform and clean finish.
Ben has also gained experience working in TV, creating shows for Fox, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. This work has fed into his artistic practice in relation to the themes present in both areas. “Because I write a lot for TV, I have found I like to write stories about character’s reacting to normal things. And then we can get maybe a deeper understanding of the human condition from their reactions to these situations, that you can apply to non-simple things like life, death, god, hate, and fear,” explains Ben. These topics appear more abstractly in Ben’s artworks but it’s interesting to how he interprets them through his unusual compositions and contrasting forms.
This is demonstrated perfectly by the piece he’s created for the Lovejoy Art Benefit, titled LJ Painting One, which sees the artist craft a two-panel painting that contains his signature ladder forms and evolving figuration. In the piece, Ben applies his strict visual language of specific colours, shapes, lines and forms to create a world loaded with symbols and graphics that feel post-internet in spirit.
Inspired by artists including Takeshi Murrata, Michael Williams, Sammy Harkham and Helen Jo, Ben sees his path as a creative as an ongoing journey. “I guess being an artist is just constantly learning and changing, so I started making art very early but have developed.”
All 49 original artworks created for the Lovejoy Art Benefit have been showcased at the Converse World Headquarters in Boston for the past year. Now they’re available to buy via online auction house Paddle8. All profits raised from the auction will be donated to Artists for Humanity, a Boston-based not-for-profit company whose mission is “to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.”
Visit the auction page here to see the full selection of artworks being auctioned for Artists for Humanity