Three Questions With Ben Kwok

Holy crap.

That was my first reaction when I saw Ben Kwok’s artwork online. The detail is mind blowing, and looking at the tools he uses, I knew I had to get him on Three Questions. Thanks Ben!

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

Analog tools play a major role in my life. I'm a professional illustrator, so I use analog tools on a daily basis, but I still use the computer to speed up the process. For a typical project, I will do a quick digital sketch on the computer. Print it out, redraw it by hand to get all the details and line work laid out properly. Scan it into the computer to resize it and I would transfer the image onto a Crescent 110 cold press illustration board. Then I would finalize the drawing with various fine liners like Microns, Copic Multiliner SP, and recently the OHTO Graphic Liner (recommendation from The Pen Addict Podcast). I will also use some watercolor and ballpoint pen for shading. All the fine liners I use are waterproof and archival which is important to me. Since I spend an average of 18-24 hours on each illustration, I want it to last.

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

My favorite tool at the moment is the Zebra Tect 2way 1000 Drafting Pencil 0.5. It has a nice weight to it and I enjoy the 3 rubber rings around the metal grip. Since I draw for several hours at a time, I need a pencil that's very comfortable, and this pencil delivers that. 

Recently purchased several higher end drafting pencils, but haven't had time to really test them. I'm sure I'll have a new favorite in a couple of weeks.

For the longest time (5+ years), I've been using only using the Pilot S3 Drafting Pencil 0.5. After listening to The Pen Addict Podcast, it reignited my curiosity for my tools. I've always hoarded lots of pens and mechanical pencils, but thanks the the podcast, I'm fulfilling their destiny and started using them.

3. What creation or design of yours are you most proud of?

Wow, that's a tough question. I'm proud of lots of my illustrations. It's like asking which child you love more. If it's okay with you, can I list 3 illustrations I'm particular proud of for various reason?

1) Ornate Elephant (See above)

This image was definitely a game changer for me. Started off as a rough sketch that sat in my bag for over 8 months. Eventually when I found myself out of a job and with some extra time on my hands, I decided to finish this drawing. Little did I know what an impact it would have made in the art, tattoo, and apparel community. With such positive feedback, I knew I was on the right track. This single drawing launched what I call, my "ornate" style artwork.

2) Ornate Owl Head

I'm proud of this image because it was drawn entirely with a black BiC pen. I was experimenting with different styles and medium and the way it was executed surprised me. I didn't think too much of ballpoint pens at the time. I knew I could shade with it, but not for an entire illustration. Many people have tattoos of this image, and I'm quite honored.

3) Lion

I love this image because I really pushed the shading and contrast. It was actually a happy accident. Spilled some ink onto the mane of the lion. Didn't want to start over, so I decided to add more shading to cover up the ink spill. Since I added more shading on the mane, I had to add more shading everywhere else. It really pushed the contrast of this drawing and made it pop. Suffice to say that I'm happy with the end result.

Posted on December 6, 2014 and filed under Three Questions.