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10 Questions with Ben Tankard - popular Aussie pop culture artist!

G'day guys,  Frankie here.  It's been a while since we've done an artist interview like this and I have been loving watching the evolution of Ben's work on the socials, and thought you guys might want to know a bit more about the man behind "those" Monopoly board paintings!  So kick back, take a break from your life for a little minute and delve into this revealing and candid meandering that is the talented and inspiring Ben Tankard.

Q:  What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you because of your arts career? 

Having shows in beautiful places, most notably I would say Michael Reid's gallery at Murrurundi. Well worth a visit. Also, when something you paint really connects with a particular buyer in a significant way.  

Q:  If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I've always wanted to write a book, so maybe an author, probably a career that's even more difficult to succeed at!

Q:  What is the most challenging aspect of managing your own successful arts practise?

Maybe balancing creativity with doing what you need to do to make money.  It can be difficult to find the right balance, sometimes I have to wait quite a few months to get time to experiment with a new subject or style. 

I find I have to set limits, for example, saying ‘commissions are closed for the year’ or ‘I’m only painting twenty of this style this year’. 

Q:  Tell us five hobbies you are passionate about apart from painting!

Gardening, landscaping - I love building brick and stone walls, listening to music, bushwalking, reading. 

Q:  You are very well known for your super successful “Monopoly” and “Unpopular Penguin” paintings, but is there a style of artwork you’d rather be known for?

No I consider myself really lucky to have had success with them, I wouldn't want to ask for more than that!

Before my 'pop art' I often painted quite careful, monochromatic landscapes, and I'd definitely like more time to paint those, and at the other end of the spectrum I also enjoy painting energetic, chaotic abstracts. 

Q:  Do you think nostalgia is the most powerful emotion motivating your collectors? 

Yes, I think so, people have a connection with the subject matter, and then hopefully the aesthetics of the painting appeals to them too. 

Q:  Do you get any feedback from the brands depicted in your pop art? Like copyright calls maybe :D?

No! I guess I've been lucky, but honestly artists have been appropriating pop culture since at least the 1960s, with Warhol and Lichtenstein. 

Q:  You seem to get a lot of inspiration in your Monopoly Board paintings from song lyrics - who are your favourite bands or artists?

Probably Nick Cave, who seems to be a favourite for many artists. Just very evocative lyrics, and his music ranges from outrageous anger to sadness to love.

Q:  I know you are a huge supporter of the arts in general, and support your favourite artists buying pieces from them on a regular basis.  Who would you recommend we check out online?

Newcastle artist Jo Shand is a personal favourite. She's very versatile and very talented, and the work has humour. There must be something in the water in Newcastle, lots of great artists up there. There's so much great art available online and in galleries, for every price range. I’ve never regretted buying a painting, you can’t have too many.  

Q:  Where do you see your art direction (or your life in general) heading in 5 years time?

So difficult to say. I've painted over 450 Unpopular Penguins, and I’ll probably keep painting them but doing fewer each year.

I'd like to paint more abstracts, and more landscapes, and just continue to take time to experiment and also to improve my skills. I've been missing life drawing, due to Covid restrictions, that's a really good way of improving, so hopefully I can get back into that soon. 

Q:  And finally, tell us something no one knows about you :)

When I’m painting I have probably six or seven cups of coffee a day. Sometimes by about 7pm I’ll realise I’ve had too many, but it’s great fuel for painting energetic abstracts! 

Thanks so much Ben for indulging our curiosity and opening up about your practise! 

You can catch Ben Tankard's paintings over at his website here.  

Or via Bluethumb here.

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