All works included here are the property of Laura Bennett ©
Interview by Kathy Halliday (Founding Editor)
The exceedingly talented Laura Bennett is our first featured artist, here at The City Fox. Her illustrations are bold and contemporary, yet retain some traditional charm that makes them truly unique. There is a genuine appreciation for flora and fauna that transcends Laura’s work, as she captures some of the magic of living, breathing animals in her prints. We are honoured to showcase Laura’s work on The City Fox, with some additional pieces to debut in our next instalment: Issue #2 Ashes. Read on to find out more about Laura and her striking artwork…
Laura Bennett has always felt a kinship with animals. When she was 15 she volunteered at her local wildlife rehabilitation centre which dealt with our injured British beasties, squirrels, deer, ducks and even our beloved city foxes. From there her insatiable enthusiasm for animals blossomed, despite often being very pecked and very scratched.
After seeking education in an Animal Management course, Laura found herself studying Zoology at University. This was short lived however as she felt her talents and interests lay elsewhere. She then went on to work in other animal related fields until one frivolous drawing led her to decide on enrolling herself at an art college. Here she discovered her passion for evoking animals in any media she could get her hands on … including toilet paper!
After achieving high grades at college, she then jumped into an Art Foundation course. This wasn’t to last long, the gritty, controversial and often lewd subject matter which the course celebrated, clashed with her traditional artistry, so she left! A short while after leaving Laura set up oddkness.com and this is where she is found these days, putting up artwork every week for any wandering soul who finds themselves there. Laura hopes to develop her style and accumulate a small audience of people who simply like what she does – and see where that takes her!
CF: How were you introduced to art?
Laura: I was in a heart wrenching job working in an animal rescue centre and I felt a lot of frustration observing animal suffering and feeling powerless to intervene. I passionately shared these concerns with my boss, about their backward approach to animal management, and of course I wasn’t welcome there any longer. I began producing vast amounts of drawings at that time and some subtle changes occurred, I thought “I’m actually okay at this”, so I enrolled myself into the local art college where I channeled my enthusiasm for animals in a more positive, creative sense!
CF: What are your main inspirations?
Laura: I find the natural world and its wildlife an endless source of inspiration. I’ve spent years in the company of critters and have always found their behaviors fascinating, the sharp flick of a tongue, a strong stomp of a hoof and the gentle curve of a paw – all these charming quirks which convey their affecting nature, which I then like to express for everyone to appreciate.
CF: What do you hope to achieve or convey through art?
Laura: I try to create a sense of awe and wonder around animals, depicting them with distinct colours and defining the intricate body contours with strong inky gestures. I love the challenge of structure and anatomy of all creatures and developing that sense of fleeting movement is something I’m trying really hard to strengthen. I love sharing my process with others too, to help them to find their creative vices. Art makes me happy like nothing else, it is very therapeutic and I think more people need to discover it.
CF: Who is your favourite artist and why?
Laura: Nicola Hicks and Sally Matthews as they have introduced me to pinpointing those specific characteristics in a species and emphasising them to produce sentient imagery which they evoke effortlessly in any medium. Plus they like getting messy with mud, straw, wool and plaster, that’s got to be admired!
CF: What is your favourite colour and why?
Laura: I really love Prussian blue – the colour of the ocean! I love the sea, if I get in, you’d be dragging me out. Being shrouded in that deep mystery and serenity makes me feel quite spiritual, plus the spontaneous, fluid nature of the ocean describes my artistic style.
CF: What is your preferred medium? (e.g oil paint, watercolour, pastels etc.)
Laura: My favourite medium is watercolour, something which I nurtured myself. I was scared by painting at college so I stuck more rigidly to sculpture and print completely bogged down by the belief I couldn’t paint. But I think I’m winning myself round more these days.
CF: How can we find out more about your artwork?
Laura: oddkness.com – it’s where I post regularly on new work and my sources of inspiration. I also post on unusual mediums I’ve found like coffee, painting with coffee leaves this gritty stain on the paper which I find gives an exciting texture. I like to use my site as a springboard for new ideas, I consider it to be my public journal.
CF: Are any of your pieces for sale? If so, where can we make a purchase?
Laura: I have an Etsy shop which can be accessed from my website. I have lots of watercolour work in the pipeline at the moment, so that will be up on my shop soon. My originals and prints for The City Fox magazine can also be purchased on enquiry.
CF: What does the future hold? Are you currently working on any projects?
Laura: I am working on illustrating a few fables which I will bundle together and make available. I choose the less well known tales and I try to inject my own visual interpretation of the story. In addition to my personal art I get involved with a rolling project called Illustration Friday, a weekly topical challenge to keep me on my toes, I recommend it to everyone! And of course I have my eye out for other illustrative ventures too to help spread the oddkness around.
CF: And finally, what is the best piece of advice you can offer to budding freelance artists?
Laura: My advice is to practice hard and not care about others opinions. This is what held me back from painting for so long, you will get knock backs and people will criticise you, but if you enjoy and believe in your art then brush it off! I wish I’d stood my ground at University instead of let the criticism get to me, because your art is unique to you so you should do your best to honour it.
Many thanks to Laura for her time and devotion, and for sharing with us her absolutely gorgeous illustrations.
Look out for her City Fox inspired pieces, which will appear in our upcoming issue.
To see more of Laura’s work, head on over to oddkness.com, where you’ll also find her Etsy shop.
If you’re feeling generous, you can even tip Laura £1.00! Help support a talented, young artist as she finds her place in the world. Well done Laura!
Want to be our next featured artist? Direct all queries and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.