Q & A - Ben Rothery

1 July 2019

Since Ben Rothery's Natural History collection launched towards the beginning of last year, the collection has been incredibly well received by customers, with clear demand for us to introduce new designs into the mix. Ben is one of the most talented fine pencil artists in the country, spending between 40-70 hours on each original animal, completely capturing the mannerisms and personalities of animals from around the country, and the world. Ben himself is a huge fan of Animals and has been since a very young age. We caught up with Ben recently and sat down with him to ask questions about his life, how he got into what he’s doing, and what he’s got on the horizon,so sit back, grab yourself a coffee, and have a read below of quite frankly one of the most interesting, top class blokes we know...

For this year's show, we’re delighted to be launching 12 brand new greeting card designs to compliment , and a gift bag collection featuring the best-selling Puffin design. We’re incredibly excited to deliver these new designs exclusively for you. Be the first to see the Natural History collection at Harrogate Home and Gift, from 14-17th July 2019, Stand DP1-C15. 

Ben working on one of his Natural History pieces

1.What was the main pull factor for you getting into the creative environment?

When I was a lot younger my interests were mainly split between Sport (Rugby), and drawing. I’ve been surrounded by wildlife ever since I was little, from living on a smallholding on the Norfolk Broads to South Africa and having some of the world’s greatest wildlife right on my doorstep.

I have books at my parents’ house full of Animal drawings from the age of 6.

2. What do you enjoy most about your work?

For me, it’s the fact that after over a decade of work, things have come full circle...  When I was younger, I had these fantastic books about nature and wildlife, and now I get to create those same books for other people.
I also get a sense of completion after a piece of work is done as they can take me sometimes upwards of 40 hours to complete.
Plus it’s great getting positive feedback from people about my work, knowing that people like what I do helps to keep me going during those late nights with the pencil in my hand.

To see Ben’s newest book, ‘Sensational butterflies’ can be purchased via his website:

3.Where do your major inspirations come from, and why?

As a natural history illustrator, obviously the Natural world is a huge inspiration for me.

David Attenborough is also a huge inspiration for me, ever since I was a child I’ve been fixated by the attention to detail and his way with words, simply an outstanding human being.
I also spent much of my younger years touring Africa, through game reserves, deserts and rivers, coming across some of the worlds most amazing animals. My uncle was also a Wildlife Vet, giving even more exposure to the natural world.

Ben learns to swim in the Ceres River, South Africa

And then from a work point of view, I don’t look up to a more successful artist, rather it my peers who drive me, seeing how hard they work and the quality of the work they produce keeps me focussed. A guy like Ben Talon is a great example, his work is unique and brilliant and on top of that he’s the host of the Arrest all mimics Podcast so he’s really out there hustling which I find incredibly inspiring. 

 4. In terms of Greetings Cards, what occasion do you find yourself buying the most cards for?  

Scarily enough We’re both at the age now (speaking to James Mace, Sales and Marketing manager)… a LOT of wedding cards… Everyone’s getting married. I also write a lot of thank you cards and letters, I think massively important in today’s digital age that we take that time out to send people physical letters, even if its just a couple of words here and there.

 5. What’s your favourite part about working with The Art File?

We’ve got to the point in our working relationship where we both know what to expect from the other party, and be completely transparent about things, good and bad as we know that ultimately we both want the best for one another.
Striking that balance can be difficult in licensing partnerships sometimes but the trust, and honesty is there, so it works,

6. If you could choose to go to one country on an all-expenses paid trip, where would it be, who would you take, and why?

I would probably want to go to the Congo to the Virunga national park in the mountains, its like a lost world and I would go completely on my own. I love people, especially my partner Hayley but I also really enjoy solitude and I’d just like to get totally lost there on my own for a bit and then come home with stories to tell.

My other dream trip would be to drive overland between the two places I grew up, so from Norwich to Cape Town South Africa. One day I’d love to do this trip and write and illustrate my journey as a book. (Penguin books, if you’re reading this, allow Ben to Live his dream!)

7. You’re walking down the street and find a £50 note on the floor. What would you spend it on?

Coffee, I estimate this would last me around 3 weeks… as I like coffee, a lot.

8. You’ve been told you’ve got to move to a desert island for a year, food and water is provided, but nothing else. And you only have space for three things... what would they be?

A big heavy kettlebell. (Training is an important part of Ben’s Life as a strongman)
Pen & paper
A large sack of coffee beans. I run off coffee, coffee is a fantastic friend to me.

9. Have you always had a love for wildlife? Where do you think your love for animals came from?
It probably comes from the fact that I grew up around them, in the Norfolk broads we were surrounded by water fowl and other wildlife as well as our sheep, chickens and pets and then in South Africa, there were a totally different set of animals from little ones like chameleons to big game. 

A young Ben getting close with animals

I was always encouraged from a young age to be interested in wildlife. On my mum’s side, most of my uncles are either farmers or wildlife vets, so it clearly runs in the blood!

10. Whats your most played song at the moment? 

I'm Massively into American Jazz at the moment, the rhythm really allows me to get into a flow when drawing.  
Try this one out... Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - S.O.B. 

We very much look forward to saying hello to you at the show this year. As always, if you have any questions about our upcoming shows, new product, or anything else - please do send an email to sales@theartfile.com


Ben Rothery