Western Cartoon Artist Ben Crane
Raised on the flatlands of Alberta's Three Hills country, Ben's involvement in the western way of life runs deep. Work on local ranches and farms during his formative years, as well as a family that saw the benefits of humor, gave Ben a certain twist to his mental process; a twist that has become a permanent bent. His work is his view of life, and is inspired by events that have either happened to himself or friends, or simply a result of late nights and a strong cup of coffee.
Ben is an accomplished artist, recognized both sides of the border, and one of only two Canadians drawing for the famous greeting card company Leanin' Tree. A founding member of the Cowboy Cartoonists Int'l, he has won many awards, and has been a standard at western art shows and cowboy poetry gatherings all across western North America, including Oklahoma City's National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Calgary Stampede, C. M. Russell Museum and annually in Las Vegas during the NFR. His art has also graced many books and magazines, as well as private collections in many parts of the continent.
With a wife and two young girls, he is a family man with family values; somewhat traditional, somewhat unpredictable. But with a goal of keeping his humor clean, he is to some extent a renegade, breaking new ground to prove you can laugh at everyday life and keep a clear conscience too.
His other interests are found in music, where he's as much at home on the stage or in the studio as he is in a living room or front porch somewhere far away from a radio. High on a ridge near Leslieville, overlooking the foothill country beneath the Alberta Rockies, is where he calls home, a modest piece of land where, as his love for tradition would dictate, they are fourth generation· in a family that bought the land off the original homesteader. Ain't in-laws great!
"Coming from a long line of demented folks, humor comes real natural-like to me. For as long as I can remember, all my grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like, have laughed at hardship and other everyday occurrences. It's little wonder, then, that I see humor in the mundane. Raised on the flatlands at Three Hills, Alberta, gave me lots of space to roam and get involved in the western way of life. Although I ate and slept in town, going to most of my classes, I spent as much time as I could away from the bustle of small-town life, choosing instead to work and ride the family horse herd, rope with some buddies, or put time in working for Ideal farmers and ranchers. These activities initiated my insatiable thirst for the rural life, and family camping and hunting trips to the foothill bushland only added fuel to the fire."
"Soon illustrations and experiences of this lifestyle were cropping up on any paper found lying around, and it wasn't until the ninth grade that I even thought about a career in art. I just did what come natural, not realizing that folks might pay to own these scribbles. In that grade 9 year, a local artist from a commercial studio asked Dad for permission to apprentice me, and things went on from there. Thankful for that boost, I rigorously applied myself to the art business all the way through high school and full-time following graduation. But after a 10 year stint as a commercial illustrator and graphic designer, and tired of deadlines and illustrations I had no heart for, I moved on, searching for my own sea legs."
"Moving out to the James River area near Sundre in 1988 gave me more fuel to the fire, and within the next few years events would take place that literally spun my cartooning career around and headed it towards goals I had dreamed about but never thought of reaching. I started showing at a few Cowboy Poetry Gatherings from BC to Saskatchewan, then got into a few bigger shows, all this time hoping to educate the general public that cartooning is a viable artform; not just a quick doodle sketch torn from a paper and stuck to your fridge. People had been investing in my work and buying my philosophy, but I needed more exposure somehow."
"In 1992, I entered a show with a group of like-minded cartoonists in Cody, Wyoming. We all shared the same philosophy about our style of art, and I soon realized I was in unbelievable company. With a host of other Leanin' Tree artists, some whose careers I had followed since a kid, we all formed a now notorious group of artists called the Cowboy Cartoonists International. That's where my career as a Leanin' Tree artist started, as well as launching a host of other ventures, allowing my work international exposure, and to span a broad price range, bringing it affordably to all walks of life."
"From there, my work has been shown at such places as the Calgary Stampede, National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the NFR and CFR at Las Vegas and Edmonton, 3-month exhibits at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls and the George Phippen Museum in Prescott. I have won numerous medals from these CCI shows, and have established my work and myself as contemporaries with such established artists as Boots Reynolds, and Leanin' Tree's top selling artist, Mike Scovel. The future is bright with potential.
"A recent move to the Leslieville area, buying our own place, has resulted in another creative streak. Having a hand in the cattle business continues to throw more situations my way that just beg to be put down on paper. Lately I've been adding new and more productive shows to my schedule; culling the ones that don't do much and spending more time in the studio preparing for the ones that do. Plans are under way for potential tours to Hawaii and Europe, and expanding into more shows south of the medicine line."
"Sculpting is starting to take some of my time, always searching for something new to try. I've taken advantage of many opportunities to speak, and teach seminars and classes for school kids interested in art, affording me the ability to finally pay back to the next generation what my mentors have passed on to me. In my opinion, that's the name of the game."
Be sure to visit Ben Crane's website to view more of his art!
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Western Cartoon Artist Ben Crane
E-mail: email@example.com Website:www.bencrane.com
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