EVERYBODY'S GOING TO SEE THIS IF YOU F#CK IT UP
WNW Member #3261 Ben Voldman designed the brand new homepage header for Working Not Working. We recently spoke to Ben, so he could share some of this process with our readers, as well as open up about his experiences as a freelancer in general. We asked Ben if he felt any pressure to be on our homepage: "Yes totally! If I shit the bed on an editorial illustration I can at least think 'Well, nobody I know reads this magazine anyway' and just never mention it. But the front page of WNW is like singing your solo in the high school play. Everybody’s gonna see this if you f#ck it up."
Ben also shared some advice to his fellow freelancers: "Get a studio with your buddies! I have a shared studio in Bushwick with my wife and 3 other illustrators. It’s nice to have people around to share idea, get feedback, and just have coffee and drinks with. It’s a good life. Also, save those pennies for a rainy day! Totally boring tip but there will come a time when clients are lame at paying or work is slow. Mom, if you’re reading this i have lots of pennies saved up so stop worrying!"
Blue sky brief vs. one with tight parameters: which one do you prefer?
Absolutely blue sky. It lets me know that the art director trusts me which is important. Also I’m totally that guy that goes to a restaurant and asks the waiter what I should have. I love asking people who are passionate about their profession/craft what they would recommend and love it when I get asked the same. It gives you a greater sense of ownership over the project. That being said it was great to have Adam and Justin there who tweaked a couple things that definitely made the illustration much better.
What was your inspiration?
I volunteer at an animal shelter down the street from where I live in Williamsburg called Barcshelter. I got really attached to one dog there named Steve who was so sweet and a lot of my artwork that summer was about him. He also has a sister named Eve (the tinier dog in the photo), who he is very protective of. He ended up getting adopted and has a nice home in the country now. Currently there is a beagle there named Roscoe that I’m quite fond of.
Did you feel any pressure of being the homepage?
Yes totally! If I shit the bed on an editorial illustration I can at least think “Well, nobody I know reads this magazine anyway” and just never mention it. But the front page of WNW is like singing your solo in the high school play. Everybody’s gonna see this if you f#ck it up.
Did you work through any alternative concepts or did you immediately know this is what you wanted to create?
I did have one other idea of doing an ad agency interior with a closeup of one creative sporting a WNW tattoo. I’d been binging on Mad Men so I was wanting to do an ad agency scene. But it was really my second choice and I was more into my “Steve” sketch and luckily so were Justin and Adam. That abandoned idea ended up morphing into a recent cover I did for the Phoenix New Times.
How long have you been freelancing?
Full-time successfully for the last 7 years. Before that, lots of starts and stops.
Is there a time or place that you feel most creative/have the best ideas?
I like mornings and the caffeine from that first cup of coffee always makes you think you’re a genius for a little bit.
What's your ideal Working:Not Working ratio?
Ideally it would just be Not Working full-time! I got dogs to pet! But as long as I gotta pay the bills I prefer to work like crazy for a couple weeks and then take a couple off as opposed to the usual 5 day work week.
Do your parents understand what you do?
Yes. They always understood I made art but once they could hold a magazine cover I illustrated in their hands they were finally like “Oh, so you won’t be starving on the streets” and were able to relax a bit.
What scene from a movie makes you laugh just thinking about it?
It’s not a movie but any scene of Lou and Andy from Little Britain makes me incredibly happy.
What do you do when Not Working?
Walking dogs. Picking up their poop. Tending to the house plants and trying not to kill them. Hanging out with my amazing wife who’s an illustrator (and also a Working Not Working member!) as well as my studio mates. I also love just hopping on the MTA north out of the city and heading to some small town to explore.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Any tips or advice for fellow freelancers?
Get a studio with your buddies! I have a shared studio in Bushwick with my wife and 3 other illustrators. It’s nice to have people around to share idea, get feedback, and just have coffee and drinks with. It’s a good life. Also, save those pennies for a rainy day! Totally boring tip but there will come a time when clients are lame at paying or work is slow. Mom, if you’re reading this i have lots of pennies saved up so stop worrying!
What's your favorite thing on the internet this week?
Also this gif is pretty good.
Anything else you'd like to add that we haven't asked?
Thanks again to Justin and Adam again for the gig! Like many other creatives, I’m always inundated with requests for work with no pay but promise of “exposure." This was a gig that actually did provide good exposure and paid well. Win, win!