Interview :: Ben Marriott Illustration (Drive FBi artist)

September 25th 2014

Drive FBi

Maps are cool. They tell you where you are. They give you direction. They reassure you that you are where you’re supposed to be… or make you panic appropriately when you’re not.

We’re into the map of Sydney that you get when you google “Sydney”. It’s practical. For finding shit. But we wanted something more than that… we wanted to re-map Sydney the way that we see it here at FBi. Not just a bunch of weird one-way lanes, bridges, illogical circular roads and tracks for (oft delayed) trains. Something that shows the really cool shit: the musicians that we love, the venues that we frequent, the art spaces that make this city beautiful, and where we get our icecream. Y’know?

Mapping Sydney’s music, art and culture isn’t easy – so we asked a pro: local illustrator Ben Marriott. Ben creates quirky characters accompanied by pearls of wisdom and pun-tastic names: fighting fish tattooed with “THUG LIFE“, space raptors and the personified failure of trying to hide your hangover.

We were stoked to have Ben on board to make our map of Sydney for Drive FBi and couldn’t be more proud of what he came up with. In his words:

“Every item is a reference to the band or musician’s imagery or attitude. Also a couple of diamonds and sand-castles on the norther-beaches thrown in for some biting social commentary on Sydney’s alarming class differences. But mostly it’s puns and rock’n’roll.”

View the full map here, and meet Ben below.



How did you first get into illustration?

About 80% of my childhood was spent attached to a pencil, but I really got exposed to it properly at university. I studied graphic design and we were kind of restricted to what images we could use in layout & typesetting assignments. I started making my own images (essentially to avoid copyright issues) and found that I enjoyed that process more and started to focus more effort toward illustration.

What’s your favourite dinosaur?

Velociraptors. As they were represented in Jurassic Park (however inaccurate the may be).

Where do you start when you sit down to draw? Is there a plan from the start, or are you usually free-balling?

I start with research! Glorious glorious research. I like to immerse myself as much as possible in whatever theme or topic that needs to be covered. Then figure out what combination of elements from that theme could potentially be amusing drawings. I’ll fervidly sketch and jot down any loosely associated ideas that come to mind. I end up with a big stack of unedited notes and sketches that I’ll come back to, refine and filter down to the one image. That’s actually my favourite part of the process, deciding what the image is going to be.

What’s your signature dance move?

Triple back flip. Double back flip if I’ve not had a coffee.

Your instagram is packed with puns. What comes first, the visual or the words?

It’s unusually the words. I keep a big big list of phrases that I write or stubble across and think deserve a ridiculous image. Other times I just want to draw a particular thing and add a ludicrous caption later as a way justify it.

Who’s your idol?

Sam Neil. Flawless.

What’s your go-to soundtrack for making art? (Or is it silence?)

Almost never silence. I reserve silence for emergencies.

I try to match the music thematically with the work most of the time to try and provoke some influence to cross over. Mostly a circulation of recent albums. The majority of it’s hip-hop. Probably because I tend to find a lot of amusement from absurd ideas with serious delivery (or vice-versa). Danny Brown, Riff Raff, Clipping & Freddie Gibbs have probably been the most frequent in my ears of late.

You have collaborated with other local artists – is that process very different to your own solo work?

Yes! I’ve done a bunch work with Sam Shennan (TheUD3) and we’re working on some new stuff at the moment under the name Delta Delta. The process is a bit different. It becomes a hybrid of our two working methods, but it’s very rewarding when you have a product at the end that you couldn’t have made by yourself. And I’m always excited to be working with new people.

Is there anyone else in Sydney at the moment that particularly inspires you?

There might just be too many inspiring people Sydney. It’s becoming a constant threat to my self-esteem. We Buy Your Kids, Chris Yee, Georgia Hill & William Nghiem are all constantly making stellar work. If you’re looking for inspiration those are the folks I’d recommend shamelessly stealing ideas from.

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