Children’s book illustrator Ben Clifford loves the simple things in life – a roast chook and time spent outdoors, or wandering through the bookshops of Hobart.
What’s the best thing about Hobart?
Air not dirty. City not large. Wilderness not far. Weather not baking. Traffic not bad. Fresh produce. Take your pick. My suburb has a great sense of community, much like the rest of Tasmania.
And the worst?
The homeless or people generally struggling, it’s a problem most don’t realise. St Vincent De Paul’s food van does great work distributing meals six days a week at nine Hobart locations. Anyone can donate food or funds to their kitchen on Argyle Street.
Tell us a little about your work?
I write and illustrate children’s books and I’m currently working for Star Bay Publishing who are based in
Adelaide. I gave up almost everything to pursue this. It was my dream so I went after it not knowing how or where to start. I gave myself a five year plan. It took six years to sign my first deal but it was worth it.
Where’s your favourite eatery?
I love barbecues or packing a roast chicken and heading outdoors. Stewarts Bay is a great spot. Restaurant, I enjoy The State Cinema. Food, movies, bookshop. Not a bad mix! Take Away, my favourite is Ganges Indian under the Argyle St car park or grabbing a chicken skewer at Salamanca Market.
Mmm… just one? Rolling around with dogs, food fights, Metallica. When I’m feeling classy and sophisticated it’s doing doughnuts with old cars in paddocks. Signing books I’ve illustrated is always charmingly guilty.
When there’s nothing to do, I…
Try new recipes, turn the music up, write and draw random ideas that may become a children’s book. I’m always thinking about the next project and start planning it – usually in the shower, driving or trying to sleep. I never stop thinking, it sometimes drives myself and others crazy.
Favourite Hobart secret?
I painted a traffic signal box on the corner of Sandy Bay Road and St Georges Terrace for the people of Battery Point (it was council approved). The painting is a tribute to Mary Roberts who ran a private zoo at Battery Point for the then soon to be extinct thylacines and other wildlife needing care. Mary often walked a thylacine on a lead around Hobart.
What do you love doing outside work?
Various exercise, kayaking, running, hunting through secondhand bookshops, guitar, live music, reading, collecting Graeme Base books since I was eight, the odd visit to Mona (thank you for free entry Mr Walsh), visiting Hobart Book Shop, Dymocks, Fullers, TMAG and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. When I can make time, I paint large works on canvas and put on random public outdoor exhibitions at Salamanca or Richmond Park.
Quote to live by?
“Don’t follow your dreams, instead hunt them down, get ahead of them and blow them up.Then hunt the next one.”