Producing my first EP with…Benjamin Poultney: Illustrator

By on 2014/09/22

‘The Wall’ EP by The Draughty Jabber. Illustration by Benjamin Poultney. Art direction: Laura Salesa, 2014.

I love to create but I also love supporting creatives. In September I acted as executive producer and project manager for an EP album of independent musician The Draughty Jabber. It might sound like a regular project but it had an usual twist: I got this done as a surprise to the musician, so he was totally unaware of the fact that his music would be released in some sort of printed and online form. 

The EP album titled ‘The Wall’ contains 3 tracks: an original and previously unreleased song called the ‘The Wall’; a cover duet of one of the musician’s old tracks called “Find you Out” by singers and guitarists Ed Marvis and Anna Ekeroth; and a remix of another old track called ‘Survive’ by fantastic French producer and dj Mac Stanton. The three tracks were also mastered by Melograf thanks to brilliant advice by my friend and singer Christa Vi. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by fantastic creative people who came on board of this special project without hesitation. Big THANK YOU.

I have learnt so much during this project; some music production basics like you need to provide with wav files for mixing and that if you are doing part of the music editing try to use one of the professional softwares that the professionals use! Otherwise you might find a dead end in the project as amateurish music mixing programmes don’t have many options to export files or to work with your compositions any further. Also I have found two great sources in the music mastering service by Melograf and the cd printing and duplication by Xpress duplication. Very recommeded.

I will be talking more about this project in other posts but now I will focused on the visual side of things: the artwork for the EP wallet and cd label. Luckily I am a Graphic Designer, so setting this up was easy. Though I can draw, I feel my drawing skills are limited in various ways, so I recruited a professional illustration to create a visual that represented the theme of the main track: The Wall, a love story of a couple whose lives are separated by a wall.

Listen to THE WALL here:

London based Benjamin Poultney did a fantastic job with a beautiful piece that represents the emotions of the lyrics from the song. Benjamin had some time with us to answer to some questions about his work and what inspires him.

The Creative Post: When and why did you started drawing?

Benjamin Poultney: I began drawing from a very early age, I would draw cartoon strips and scenes that would be considered quite unsuitable for many adults let alone a child. Blood, battles, and losing limbs were common-place and I think it used to worry some of my devout Christian family. I thought nothing of it, and it certainly wasn’t anything malicious. It was simply the end result of me putting my pencil to paper.

Looking back now, it was probably the same process that Salvador Dali would utilise so elegantly by bringing the subconscious to the surface, hence why my favourite cultural movement of recent years is Surrealism.

T.C.P.: What are your creative influences and where do you get your inspiration from?  

B.P.:  Creative influences are early British Comics (1963 -1979) and my late granddad. We were a poor family and hand-me-downs were all we had, so I grew up reading my dad’s comics from when he was young. The Topper & The Beezer were simply amazing and of course the ever reliable Beano later in life. I would recommend to anyone that has a creative mind to read some old Calamity James or the Numskulls.

I would read them at my grandad’s house who would be sat indulged in his own art – poetry. He would give me inspiration and ideas each week, and suggest I concentrate on little ‘projects’ like drawing for his friends and doing caricature of the family. Before he died he made me promise that I would carry on drawing. So its all for him really.

In terms of influences for more recent work, Marxism has certainly played a part in more than one of my drawings, a subject that I am deeply fascinated by. Above all else I would say that the ‘abnormal’ guides my pen more often than not. Nothing puts me off me more so than becoming or experiencing normality, in all walks of life.

T.C.P.: Can you explain about a regular job creation process. Do you use traditional hand-drawing techniques or is it all digital from concept?

B.P.: Advantage and disadvantage between hand drawing and digitaA regular job nowadays would be someone starting up a company and requires art work for their venture. Whether it be a logo from scratch or a cartoon character to accompany their brand.

Up until 12 months ago I would only use pen and paper and was very hesitant on using anything different. I had a system which was working fine for me and I would scan the image on to my computer. It was clear that (like my fashion) I was living in the past, so I saved up and purchased a Wacom Intuos graphics pad along with the programme Sketchbook Pro.

My work now consists of a beautiful marriage of Wacom and Autodesk, and then transferred to Adobe if necessary. Though it’s worth noting that NOTHING will beat the freedom and true expression of a pencil and paper, and I am known to happily relapse to feel 14 again.

T.C.P.: What has been your most challenging project so far and why? 

B.P.: A recent project involved designing and painting an 8 foot tree for a large imaging company’s exhibition. As strange as it sounds, it wasn’t easy finding the balance between drawing something that resembles a tree, and not including too many branches for risk of it not being able to stand when erected. Just goes to show the beauty and mathematical precision that nature effortlessly exudes.

Main achievements, works you’re are most proud of?

B.P.: A few years ago I sourced a T shirt printer up north and set up a small business designing people entirely individual artwork which was then printed on to T shirts for them. I was very proud of this as each design was tailored exactly for that person and only one T shirt of its kind existed on the planet, which is an exciting idea when you really think about it.

What advice would you give someone who would like to work as an illustrator?

B.P.: My advice is to develop a strong stomach for rejection and criticism. When it comes to drawing for other people, it is easy to become personally attached to your design, especially as so much goes in to it behind the scenes that clients have no idea about. It is likely that some of your first ideas and drafts will not be entirely what someone else has in mind, so remain professional and work together amicably to reach an end design that you can both be proud of.

T.C.P.:Tell us about the process of creating an illustration for The Wall CD cover.

B.P.: I noticed a request online for an illustrator to design a CD cover, and I jumped at the chance. Ever since Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ back in 1994 I have been fascinated with album artwork. The process was smooth and as expected, back and forth a few times until I grasped the true emotions and feel of the music behind the illustration. By simply by embracing and really trying to understand the client’s wishes and emotions, can a project become a joy to complete, as opposed to what one would consider ‘work’.

T.C.P.:What’s your next project?

B.P.: My next job involves a 15 foot wide painted wall mural, encompassing the local community and the history of North London where I currently reside. Very challenging but it’s the only way we improve. One of the pieces in the design will be inspired by the 1400’s so I’m really going for it with this one. After that it is a children’s science book which I am putting together myself.

See a gallery with Benjamin’s artworks below:


Picture 1 of 6

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