Ben The Illustrator

About The 40 Universal Graphics Recognisable From London To Kenya To Brazil

Ben O’Brien started in the music industry: ‘it was the late 90s and there was a lot of very exciting things going on with music videos, that’s where I wanted to be’. He eventually became creative director of a small animation and design studio, where he found his interest in illustration projects. He is now also known as Ben the Illustrator, who is the great mind behind the 40 graphic elements for Orange.

‘It was a great project’, Ben told us. ‘I loved the idea of working on 40 fairly simple elements, but with the chance to take my time and create them how I envisaged’.

The colour palette was set by Orange, which became the obstacle Ben had to face during the process. ‘I always love working with colour myself, so it’s always a little challenge to adapt to a client’s colour palette’. Nevertheless, he enjoyed the challenge; ‘With a great palette, it’s a nice change’.

Ben told us more about the project:

The Plus: The graphics will be used for varied communications around the world, so the graphics had to be universal. How did this influence the project?
Ben O’Brien:
It was a key part of the brief, so a lot of element had to look universal, so they could be recognisable anywhere from London to Kenya to Brazil. The colour palette, which was set by Orange, was a great palette, fairly neutral without being boring at all. You can really get some nice illustrations by picking the right combinations of colours.

TP: The objects you illustrated are very varied, how were you inspired for which objects you wanted to illustrate?
There was originally a set of over 120 objects and I was able to choose the 40 I wanted to do, so I chose a particular variety. Also objects that work together, like the binoculars, map and leaf, or the sports items, these choices relate to the lifestyle I enjoy myself! I also really enjoyed working on the ‘life-saving’ items, like the life vest, raft and ring.

TP: What would your tip for illustration students be?
Work extra hard and do exactly what YOU want to do. It’s never a good idea to follow a single trend, it’s far better to develop a strong style that’s right for you, and then find a way to make it flexible and appeal to your potential clients.
Being an illustrator is not just about being a great artist, you could be the greatest artist that ever lived, but if no-one knows you exist, then you’ll never make a living. Learn everything from accounting, to managing a client relationship, maintaining your portfolio website to filling taxes!
The one thing that has got me through for over a decade is by simply making stuff and showing people. Whenever I have downtime I get myself excited by self-initiated work. Stay positive.