"Just make something! Anything! It doesn't matter what it is, or if it makes sense or if people even like it."
This is the first of monthly Artist Features where we interview contributing artists with questions from children, to find out more about their work, inspirations, and experiences. Watch this space for more!
Queensland based artist and former high-school art teacher, Chloe Bennett, has worked with EYEYAH! on more than one occasion -- she's contributed illustrations to issues 01 and 02, and we arranged her first Singapore exhibition at Gillman Barracks in June 2018.
We sat down with Yeah Yeah Chloe, armed with questions from Misha Chua, age 14, ready to pick Chloe's brain about her curious illustrations, what inspires her, and her life as an artist.
Why did you decide to be an artist?
I did my degree in art, and then I did my degree in teaching. I was a teacher for a few years, but I was so focused on my teaching that I wasn’t drawing or painting anymore.
One day I realised I needed to get back into drawing – I needed to get back in the habit.
So on my weekends, I made a real focus to start drawing and practicing again, and it just developed from there.
How would you describe your artwork?
Colourful and... basic.
"It just makes me happy every time I see it"
What is your favourite artwork of yours?
My favourite artwork of mine is probably the rainbow with legs. I really like that one. It just makes me happy every time I see it. I think it reminds me of how we connect to people. I find it one of my more positive ones.
Who is your favourite artist?
My favourite artist of all time is Andy Warhol. I think people think he’s a bit of a cliché but he’s such a pioneer. His artworks are just so interesting and engaging!
What do you like most about being an artist?
I love the idea of making something new with my own hands – something that maybe someone hasn’t made before. I like that when I finish drawing or painting something I can step back and say “I made that with my own two hands” – it’s really satisfying.
When you were teaching, were your students fans of your work?
I think some of them were! But they might have just been saying that to get better marks.
"I think creativity is the way of the future"
Why do you contribute to EYEYAH!? Do you think art is important for kids?
I think it’s extremely important! I think creativity is the way of the future. Getting kids engaged in that from a young age is really important so that they know the value of creativity, and I think that’s what EYEYAH! does – it encourages and puts value on creativity. In the past we haven’t seen so much of a push before for creativity in education, and I think that needs to change.
I really like your legs series; how do you get your ideas?
Thank you! A lot of that series was just what things go together in a natural or unnatural way. I was taking the idea of pop art and looking at the mundane and seeing how I could twist it to make people look at things in a different way.
Sometimes it’s just how I see things and associate them with those objects.
I like the artwork you did for Nike too. What was that like? What was your first thought when they contacted you?
It was very cool. It was pretty early after my illustration started to take off from Instagram. It felt like maybe “yeah I can do this, there is something in this, maybe it isn’t just my mum who likes my illustrations” – although I’m pretty sure it is still mainly my mum who likes my illustrations.
It was such a rush when they contacted me. I was very, very excited to be working with such a renowned company. But at the same time, I was really nervous and hoping I don’t mess up.
"I feel like I'm still asking around for ideas of what I want to be when I grow up"
Have you ever wanted to do anything else? If you weren't an artist what would you be?
When I was little I wanted to work as a checkout chick at a supermarket because I just loved supermarkets.
Actually, I wanted to be lots of things! I wanted to be a marine biologist but turns out you need to be good at science – which I wasn’t.
Even now, I’ve just left teaching for a while and there’s so many possibilities. I feel like, even at 29, I’m still asking around for ideas of what I want to be when I grow up.
Do you have any advice for the kids reading this? Any advice for budding artists?
Just make something! Anything! It doesn't matter what it is, or if it makes sense, or if people even like it. Just keep on making it because you like to make it.
Questions by Misha, age 14