Benjamin Howard was raised in a household that embraced the arts. His father John Howard was an avid draftsman and practiced illustration daily. His grandmother Eleanor was a watercolorist and oil painter. At a young age Benjamin developed his own mark making, often relying on his father for help in transcribing his lines. Growing up in the 1980s, cartoons were a big part of his daily life and became a heavy influence on how he viewed line and composition. Frequent trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with his parents had him transfixed with the bold nature and color of pop art.
His formative years were spent doodling in the margins of his notebooks and voraciously tearing through construction paper until the next logical step: he left for art school. Benjamin attended Tyler School of Art in 1997, enrolled initially to pursue graphic design, but quickly fell in love with painting. Howard studied painting from the mid-century artists, such as Philip Guston and Arshile Gorky, admiring their quirky composition and strong contours. Upon discovering artists from the Chicago Imagists, the Hairy Who and Peter Saul, he was hooked. These artists were luring the viewer in with cartoonish quality while conveying bigger meaning.
Benjamin's current work seeks to explore the culture of everyday life infused with the fantastical. Now a long time resident of Philadelphia, traversing across the urban landscape each day lets him experience the over-sensory stimulation that inhabit his compositions. His paintings are grounded by tangible characters, such as boats, architecture, flowers, innocuous icons of American life, and otherworldly anthropomorphisms. Like his influencers, forms are derived from a balance of strong graphic line and the organic, haphazard, application of paint. Folded between these gestures are social commentaries and references to current events presented in a playful reminiscence of a children's coloring book.