I’ve followed you on Instagram for a while, and it seems like you started posting very specific artwork out of nowhere. Am I crazy, or is this a relatively new thing for you?
I started drawing just over a year ago. I was trying to come up with some new shirt designs for a side gig Jared Souney and myself were doing. I became hooked instantly and became facinated with trying to illustrate anything in an attempt to make it look like a photo. I still have a ways to go but I think I’ve pulled a couple off pretty well, enough to get a cease and desist from Lemmy haha.
For those who don’t know, what is this style of artwork called and how would you describe it?
What I started with was called “stippling or pointlism”, it worked for me because with that style of laying out dots you don’t have to commit to doing a line. You can just dot it out until it looks about right. This helped me learn how to get my proportions right and become consistent. Lately I’ve been doing much larger pieces and I would be insane to do anything that big using .035mm dots on a 60 inch canvas. For those I’ve been using a scribbling technique with the pen at an angle and adding more layers for more contrast and shading.
Can you point out what sparked your interest in this style of art?
Big Island (Mike Castillo) tattooed a portrait of my son on me a couple years back and I was kind of fascinated with being able to do the same even on paper. It was an amazing feeling to have someone create that for me and I wanted to be able to do the same for others. There’s no better feeling than someones reaction to seeing so personal to them for the first time. From there I’ve really just been challenging myself to do better on every new piece and go bigger, more detailed and more realistic. It’s fun, I learn a dozen new things with every piece and when I see it coming together it’s just as exciting as pulling a new trick on my BMX.
I assume that this stuff can be very time consuming depending on scale and complexity, how long does a piece generally take to complete?
My first 11×14″ portrait took me about seven days, now I can do one in 2-4hours depending on the details. A 22×30″ portrait that I’ve been doing more of lately can take anywhere form 8-14hours and the big sixty inch cameras I’m working on currently take anywhere from 60-80 hours. I watch/listen to a lot of Netflix while I’m trekking along, a lot of times a whole season of something each day, haha.
What has been the most complicated piece you’ve done?
Probably the Lemmy because it was full color or the Two Dollar Bill. Both of those were pretty intense. I feel like every new piece is the hardest because everyone is new and I have to figuring out how to do it.
Walk us through the process from beginning to end.
I typically start by shooting a photo of my reference/person/object unless one has been submitted to me by the client. I prefer to have a one off unique shot that I feel good about and isn’t recognized off google or something. After figuring out what size it’s going to be, I print it out, take a few measurements to specific points of the person or object. I sketch out a main part, usually the eyes or main part in a corner or closest to center of the piece, sketch a silhouette to scale and most of the time a I’ll grid the piece out into 4-16 parts depending on size and detail. From there I just do my thing in sections and piece it together, a lot of times I feel like I’m building something rather than drawing. It’s like anything else, once you figure out how to do something you can do it. I don’t consider myself anymore talented or born with natural skills than anyone else. I’ve just worked really hard and put in the hours because I wanted to be good at it. I still have a long way to go and each piece is even more exciting than the last.
What tools do you use?
I mostly use .01-.03 Micron pens, Arches 130lb cold press water color paper. (It’s pretty rough texture but that’s why pens work for doing light shading, it can skip across the surface rather than laying down a solid line). A trusty yard stick and clay bar for cleaning up afterwards. The side of your hand will be completely black and it’s impossible to not get it outside of the illustration but the clay bar cleans it right up.
How can people keep up on you and possibly purchase prints?
The best way would be following my art designated instagram @benhuckeart, I’m slowly phasing out of making prints and mostly only doing commissioned pieces and originals unless I get a bunch of requests. I sell everything on my website benhucke.com
Thanks Ben, anything you’d like to add before we wrap this up?
I appreciate you giving me the time, cheers!