The adventures of Professor Astro Cat have been a beloved series since the release of the first book in 2013, as indicated by the sheer number of kids at the workshop led by the books’ illustrator Ben Newman. But Ben’s journey has taken dedication and hard work, says Nohely Gedeon.
Like many of us he was somewhat clueless about what he wanted to do after finishing school. He liked art in school, but it didn’t pique his interest at the time. “But then I wasn’t really good at anything else, so I ended up going to art school – which is what everyone does when they don’t know what to do,” he said.
“I always loved comic books and Spider Man,” said Ben. “But I think at school you are shown what a fine artist is but the broadness of art is quite huge, so it’s quite fun.”
What truly helped him develop his talent and follow a career path was taking a foundation year before university. “I guess I’d seen illustration as a kid but I didn’t know what the definition of it was,” Ben said. “Then during the foundation year, I said: ‘Oh I like doing this’, because it wasn’t about drawing fruits, it was about communicating.”
He followed his calling as an illustrator after university, thought for many years he could only do it part-time.
“I did everything from milkman at the hospital, a shoe clerk, a worked in a factory and then I worked in a bookshop for a long time. Eventually I got one job that paid well enough that I could leave my job and have enough money to keep me going for three or four months in the hope it would keep snowballing. And luckily it has.”