Feiyue Shapes

Feiyue SHAPES – Interview with Ben Rausch

Feiyue Shapes


Last week we got to know Gerhard van Wyk, here, who created THIS beautiful piece of art for the Feiyue SHAPES window display campaign. This week it’s animator and illustrator Ben Rausch’s turn to create a Feiyue SHAPES inspired window display at the Mooks store in Rosebank. Here’s a Q&A with Ben –


Ben Rausch

Ben Rausch


Between 10and5: Hi Ben! First question, when did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator?

Ben Rausch: As a kid I was always really really into drawing, like as far back I can remember. But as a 6 year old drawing robots fighting ninjas I’d never have dreamt that as a grown-up people would actual want to give me money to draw things for them. When I started throwing the Sovereign Academy parties in 2006, the creatures I illustrated for the flyers were the first Ben-beasties I put out there for other people to see on some kinda big scale. And then, one very uncomfortable summer night in early 2008, was the moment where I actually decided I wanted to make illustrating/ animating creatures my job.


At the time I was working as an insert producer for some kids’ shows, which meant driving all over Joburg, covering kids’ dancing contests, or “Barbie” mall appearances or something equally ridiculous. On this particular summer night I was trying to get home from a shoot, stuck in Friday night traffic in Hillbrow, melting and tired and frustrated. And I just asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Surely I could do something I enjoy more than this?.” And that’s when I realised my dream job would pretty much be to sit in an air-conditioned office and draw monsters. That next Monday morning I quit my job.


10and5: Did you study Art or Design to develop your skills?

Ben: Nope. I actually got so much shit from my teachers that I didn’t even take art past grade 9 in high school, but I still kept drawing for fun. After school I studied film, specializing in direction. Halfway through my first year I did my first stop-motion short and I was just hooked. I decided I was way more into animation than I was live action, and from there out did all my projects animated, a decision that my lecturers were all really supportive of. The film principles I learnt there (particularly some of the cinematography) definitely helped my illustration and animation, but when it comes to that stuff I’m pretty much self-taught.


10and5: Would you say you’re the kind of illustrator who is drawing all the time or do you wait for inspiration to strike?

Ben: It’s quite weird, but these days I seem to draw a lot less frequently than I used to. I used to draw constantly, but with getting so busy with animation, throwing parties, DJing and VJing I don’t find myself with much free time. Whenever possible I’ll incorporate illustration into these endeavors, but I surely don’t get to spend as much time drawing as I did as a kid.


10and5: What’s your favourite subject matter to tackle?

Ben: Kittens, robots and monsters. The kind of things that come out of me through my hands are much the same as the stuff that I put into me through my ears. I really love music that’s really poppy and cutesy and sweet but at the same time really distorted and heavy and screamy which to me is like an audio form of my giant kitten monsters attacking cities.


10and5: And your preferred medium?

Ben: It’s kinda a tie between pen & paper and wacom & photoshop. I land up working digitally a lot more often, it just let’s me do more, but I honestly enjoy working traditionally a lot more when I can.


10and5: What are the advantages to being an illustrator in South Africa?

Ben: I imagine it’s much the same as what makes the South African music scene so exciting to me. We inherently just come out with stuff that’s truly original and sincere and in this day and age finding that is a very rare occurrence. We have this idea of what’s going on in the rest of the world, but for the most part we’re very secluded from things. It’s kinda sad but kinda beautiful at the same time.


My experience of traveling through bits of The States and Europe is that they’re just bombarded by stuff, it totally loses its significance and people that want to make their own stuff become super aware of what’s in and what’s not. Whether it’s writing a song or drawing a picture they come out with something that’s totally self-concious and forced. This obviously isn’t the case with everyone everywhere (there’s still heaps of good stuff coming out of the first world and loads of derivative lame stuff coming out of here) but at its best, our position in the world right now can lead to South African artists making some of the most original, sincere work around.


10and5: Fellow artist/designer/illustrators who you admire?

Ben: It’s really pretty strange how many of my childhood friends have grown up to become some of my favorite local illustrators. Maaike Bakker and Philip Davies and Jean de Wet were 3 of my favourite Pretoria friends, and now years down the line they all draw some of my favourite things. Then there are guys like Kronk and Mary-Anne Hampton, local people I’ve never met, but whose work makes me really happy every time I see it.


10and5: The theme for the Feiyue + Mooks window displays is ‘Shapes’, what does this bring to mind?

Ben: Circle, Square, Triangle!


10and5: If you were a shapeshifter, what would you turn yourself into?

Ben: Some kind of little cat. I could climb things and jump from really high places and eat loads and do that sleeping move cats do where they roll up into a little ball. That looks like the best sleep ever!


10and5: Without giving too much away, how are you planning on interpreting the theme?

Ben: Rock and Roll!


10and5: What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

Ben: Whether I’m animating or illustrating, my favourite moment in the process is when I first get that glimmer of life from something I’m making. Seeing what was a blank page, transformed into the home to some little creature looking back at me; it’s the best feeling.


10and5: And lastly, what would your dream brief be?
Ben: Illustrate and animate the campaign to launch a brand new product; genetically-modified, tiny, vegetarian, micro-lions! I think I may actually be a little more excited by the thought of getting one as a pet than I am by the thought of drawing things to sell them, but that would still be a pretty damn cool brief to work on.
Ben Rausch Work

By Ben Rausch


See more of Ben’s work here and here and get down to the Mooks store in Rosebank, Joburg tomorrow from 1pm – 5pm to see him in illustrator mode as he turns the Mooks window into a Feiyue x Ben Rausch original.


Between 10 and 5