Illustrator Ben O’Brien (aka Ben the Illustrator) is all about "bringing smiles" and a "positive, creative outlook" with his work, and after concerns over world leaders "turning their back on love" over the last year, he set out to redress the situation.
Ben’s saving grace is Coup – a heart-felt initiative selling a selection of limited edition T-shirt prints to raise money for charities. Commissioned artists, who range from typographers to street artists, choose the charities.
It’s been nearly a month since we got in touch with Ben about the launch of the project. He began with a design by Andy J Pizza (as seen here), and has since released “a bumper batch” of six T-shirts all in aid of children’s charities including Make-A-Wish, Tackle Africa and Unicef. Check out the artists, charities and T-shirt designs that have been released so far in this feature.
Keep an eye out, as next month six more T-shirts will be released all in support of human rights charities in April. The tees are screen-printed in the UK by Threadless, and distributed internationally. You can buy them for £20.
Ben’s main goal is simple - to spread positivity and raise money.
"It's my own rally against the hate in the world, the leaders have started to hate, so now we have to stage a Coup and redress the balance," he explains.
Last year Ben brought a T-shirt in aid of JK Rowling’s charity Lumos around the time of conceiving Coup, and this sparked the idea to use T-shirts as the format for his initiative.
"T-shirts can be gifts or just a treat for yourself, they can have a slogan or a great piece of art, they can be political, fun or uber-cool. Also, I'm a lifelong T-shirt collector and this way I get to buy myself T-shirts by all the best artists," he says.
You can expect to see print designs from TADO, Jam Factory, Sawdust and a design by four artists who participated in the Washington Women’s March among others.
Ben is still curating a list of artists for the rest of the year. His main guiding factor is deciding who will design a beautiful T-shirt. Artists have no brief, and just one guideline: "just bring the love and keep it positive".
"Some have chosen to take a theme relating to their chosen charity, and some have just gone straight for the creative approach and enjoyed making some pure art with a good message," he says.
"I also have a list of artists who don't necessarily suit T-shirts, but we're hoping to do prints and other products putting their skills to the best use."
If you’re wondering if Ben will be designing himself, he says he prefers to be the curator of this initiative, rather than an illustrator.
"I have aspirations of building this into so much more in the future, how I could curate and sell t-shirts and art products for charity full-time, I suppose as a charity entrepreneur, which is a completely separate part of me to the commercial artist I am now."
Ben has worked in the areas of editorial, advertising, fashion, murals, surface patterns and interiors.
And just in case you wanted a better look at Marylou Faure's design, here it is.