Although Benjamin Leon has only been at The Workshop for two months he’s one of those people you really notice when he’s not here. His happy smiley face feels like a familiar friend that you’ve known a long time and his creative chats over the kitchen sink often end in a giggle.
Ben’s travelled a long way around the world since his days of growing up on an avocado farm just out of Byron Bay, Australia. Although his journeys have been vast it sounds like the ones inside his mind have been the real trips.
Ben is an illustrator and as a small boy his vivid imagination made its way onto paper every night. He explains modestly “I never thought my drawings were better than anyone else’s, in fact they really weren’t, I just liked doing them”.
After moving to New Zealand as a young adult Ben taught himself to paint, his part time job at Warehouse Stationery gave him the discounts he needed to fund his craft. After enough “dilly doodling” around he decided to go and study a bachelor of animation back in Queensland, this was the old school 2D animation style in which each frame is drawn by hand on a physical medium. It was from there that his freelance career began.
Ben loves working on complex contracts where creative solutions can’t be found with photography. He enjoys using abstract visual concepts to communicate a sometimes complex idea, or to enhance a potentially unappealing photographic image.
He believes his education in art history is to thank for being able to communicate ideas successfully to the viewer. Years studying how masters of their time communicate ideas through modern art have taught him some savvy techniques, some of his favourites were old British rail posters of the 20th century by Norman Wilkinson. He also likes the style of work by more modern artists such as Victo Ngai and Sam Webber.
Ben has worked on many editorial pieces in The Spectator magazine and HR magazine as well as marketing storyboards, video game covers and website cover images for clients across the globe. He works very quickly with tight deadlines and makes full use of his 24 hour membership. He's often the first person into The Workshop or the last to leave to make sure work is produced before deadline.
Some other fun sideline work Ben does is pet portraits as he enjoys the look on people’s faces when they receive his portraits of their loved ones, a wholehearted happiness that fills him up maybe more than commercial work allows him to see.
When Ben is not working you’ll catch him doing many physical activities such as surfing, tennis or biking, this keeps his busy creative mind balanced. Ben believes that The Workshop is great for his mental health because of the connection with people and the structure of coming to work each day brings important routine to his life.
His favourite offering from the office is the great coffee machine which he loves “I don’t drink any coffee at home, just so I get to use my full daily coffee intake here at The Workshop”. His ritual of making coffee with the coffee machine evokes pleasant memories of his past work experience making coffees at a bar. Well they say it’s the little pleasures in life that make a difference, right? At The Workshop there is no such thing as rationing good coffee, as that would probably be the death of us if we did.
By Justine Jamieson, Brand Idenity Coach