Ben Johnston’s intricate and expert hand-lettering work has earned him much acclaim on local as well as North American shores, where he now calls home. A self-taught designer, Ben’s typographic illustrations that he is best known for cover a range of styles and mediums. “I like to always keep it fresh and exciting otherwise I find that I get bored really quickly,” he explains. “There are some styles that I’m more comfortable with at the moment, but I’m always pushing to experiment and learn new techniques.”
Based back in Canada after growing up in South Africa, Ben says that the design culture in Toronto is different from Cape Town, but with the internet and social media making illustration and design so widely accessible, trends and styles are generally quite similar in different parts of the world.
Like most creatives, Ben draws his inspiration from all forms of creativity and sees each new project as the potential start of the next. “I’ve always been fascinated with all other forms of design, whether it be fashion, industrial or even architecture, so I try to take on any new and exciting project that comes my way or come up with new ideas and projects to work on or different people to collaborate with,” he says.
In answer to the question of how he chooses which words to illustrate, Ben explains that when it’s not determined by clients, he generally just goes with whatever mood he’s in at that moment. However, he also confirms our assumption of the time-consuming nature of typographic illustration regardless of whether it’s hand-drawn, 3D printed or flat vector style work.
Ben has an exciting year ahead with a list of mural projects lined up, some branding and packaging jobs as well as “some big ideas for side projects in which I’ll be experimenting with some new mediums,” he says.
More from Graphic Art Month here.