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Meet The Maker: Brick

This month we are celebrating our 10th Annual Unglued: Craft Fest and met up with Ben Brick who designed our epic poster this year!

Tell us about yourself:

I do branding work through our collaboration in Bismarck called “The Goodkids”. My wife and son claim most of my spare time. We watch Mr. Rogers, explore the neighborhood and throw dance parties to my son’s Mickey Mouse record. We know how to have a good time.

Describe what you create under BRICK?

I’ve heard it’s vintage, fun, yet dark. One person described it as crashing the American dream, which I hope is true. I take inspiration from old Boys Life magazines and Hannah Barbara cartoons and do my best to blend it with satire.

Tell us about your illustration process:

It tends to be a little fluid but here’s the most common. On cheap paper, I scribble a mess until I realize I have no idea what I’m doing. So, I usually act it out with a camera to get a rough idea. It’s never cool to have a stache of awkwardly dramatic poses of yourself but you have to do what works for you. From here, I rough in composition using the reference photos. Then, I like to ink with a brush or Wacom tablet depending on the look we are going for. After that, I color or halftone in photoshop. A big part of every project’s process is a distinct moment where I hate everything about it and I don’t know if I can make it work. But it’s really important to push through that feeling. Work on it till you’re about 90 percent happy with it, then ship it!

Favorite medium to work with:

Ink – I have always been a fanboy of cartoonists like Milton Caniff, Dr. Suess, Darwyn Cooke. When I started I ruined at least 100 sketches, but now, I don’t even really like my pencil work until there’s that nice contrast of ink on top of it!

What is your favorite thing about having a maker business?

I love disrupting “The way it’s always been done”. One thing I noticed – when you have a day job it can be very difficult to move in the opposite direction of the crowd. Being the boss makes it infinitely easier to tackle problems in your unique way which is extremely important.

What is the most challenging thing?

Finding time to work on big personal projects.

Word that best describes you?

Scamp – I’ve heard this a few times and I can’t help but hope it’s true.

How do you stay inspired to create?

Learning and introspection. I just got done researching artists like Franz Kline and my wheels have been spinning all day to find a way to use those beautifully chaotic lines.

What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?

Pick something you want to do with your life in a 10-minute brainstorm and stick to it for two years. It sounds like a huge risk. You might waste two years but I think it’s much riskier to change your mind often. Our world changes quickly but I don’t think individuals should operate that way. Building good things takes time so if you can, start today.

You were this year’s Unglued: Craft Fest poster designer! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the design and/or story happening in it?

Ashley Morken is a brainstorming champ and so much fun to work with. I mainly tried not to mess up her vision. 10 years is a really big deal and I was extremely flattered to be a part of it.

I didn’t really have a story in mind when I made it but if I did it would go a little like this:

There once lived a crafter who hated being a princess. It was so boring and predictable, all she wanted to do was make arts and crafts for her animal friends, but she had no supplies. Every day she would look down at the Unglued fest wishing she could be a part of their world and maybe even one day have a little booth of her own, but this was not possible. The evil king Bison Piñata hated craft supplies and forbid her from using them, sticking her in the highest bell tower.

One day her talking bird friend encouraged her. “Go to the Unglued Fest already,” he said with a weird lisp. “Live your dreams.” It took some convincing but when she finally found enough sheets she climbed down. There she discovered the king enjoying the fest and a cold glass of glitter. Little did she know, the king was hoarding all the craft supplies for his very own and he didn’t do heck with any of it.

“To think,” she thought. “All that creativity just waiting to come out.”

That’s only chapter one, of course, but you get the idea.

How do you feel the community can best support makers?

I think most makers rely on word of mouth and encouragement. Makers spend a lot of time alone with their craft and usually need help with these two things. If you want to see more of someone’s work in your community, be an advocate.

How can we stay in touch?

Instagram: @brickillustration

Ashley Morken

Written by Ashley Morken

Ashley Morken is the owner of Unglued, a modern handmade gift shop featuring over 300 local and regional makers in downtown Fargo. She also a founding member of the Creative Mornings Fargo committee.

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