An Exclusive Chat with the Artist behind Darkest Cub Studio

Check out our exclusive interview with Ben, the multitalented multimedia artist behind Darkest Cub Studio.

Darkest Cub Studio is the brainchild of Virginia based artist Ben. Originally from Portsmouth, VA, Ben moved to Richmond where he attended art school and graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts in the class of 1998.

He has a passion for drawing and painting, especially the human form. He also creates themed comics, 3D models, and so much more. You may even find him at the next bear event you attend where he’ll likely be selling his work in addition to taking on custom commissions, sometimes even on the spot! Ben is always trying to improve his skills across new mediums in order to develop his style even further, showcasing his talent and dedication with each new piece of art.

Check out some of his work below:

I had the chance to interview Ben about his work, check it out below! 

Bryce Quartz: Hey there, Ben! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. How are you doing today?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: I am great thank you.

Bryce Quartz: So when did you first find interest in creating art?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: When I was younger my parents thought I was more musically inclined (I guess most parents think their child has a voice like an angel), but for me that stopped at puberty lol.   Before that my older sister was the artist in the family.  I would watch her draw (she would yell at me to go away), but I wanted to do what she did.  I was a little brat back then, and I wanted all the attention for myself either through singing or by trying to draw better than my sister.  So I started drawing and as soon as I started, I fell in love with it!  Don’t get me wrong I still wanted to draw better than her, but who can compete with someone who carved animals out of a bar of soap with an ordinary kitchen steak knife when they were bored lol.  I would draw for hours  laying on my bedroom floor.   It got to the point where if I was grounded my parents would make me hand over every scrap of paper in my room before I was left to “think about what I had done”.

Bryce Quartz: What are some of your favorite pieces that you created before and during art school?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: One of my favorites is a painting of the Gatchaman Volume One DVD over.  It was one of my favorite animes as a kid, and the largest painting that I have ever done. The second is a black and white marker drawing I did of a leather daddy smoking a cigar.  I found a picture online and was just getting into using markers when I drew it.  I figured I would give I a shot, and was pleasantly surprised.  Sadly the only picture I have of it is before it was completely finished. 

Bryce Quartz: Are there any other artists that inspire you or your work?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: I love Clive Barker’s work.  Most people know him for the movie Hellraiser, but he is an amazing writer and artist.  He can blend fantasy, eroticisms, and horror in the most amazing ways.  If you haven’t read any of his books I would highly recommend just about any of them.   

My sister is still an inspiration to me.   Can’t beat sibling rivalry I guess.  Though she doesn’t draw much these days.

Bryce Quartz: Your portrait work is really detailed and refined, showing the human body in such a natural and beautiful way. What is your favorite part about doing these? 

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: I just love drawing people.  Especially the male form, but I guess that is obvious lol.  Everyone is different, and I like the challenge of trying to capture what I see.    

Bryce Quartz: My editor tells me you can do a hand sketch in just an hour. That’s quite impressive! When and where do you plan on doing in-person sketches again, and not just because I want one for myself?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: I was an art major in college.  During studio classes for the first hour we had to draw the model in 5-10 minutes before the pose changed.  So, you have to draw pretty quick.   To be able to draw that fast you have to focus on the overall form first and the details last, that mindset was drilled into me, and helps me to this day.  If you are worrying about the color of the house, and the fixtures going in it  before you build it, it will take longer to build. 

For events, I love TBRU. It is a great event, so I plan to team up with my buddy Sean from McFadden Photo again next year.  I am also looking at attending North American Bear again. In addition, I am looking for some events closer to home in Virginia, and I’m always looking for suggestions for other events.

Bryce Quartz: I really love the depth of your artistry that expands into different mediums, such as 3D comics and 3D figures. Do you find it challenging to translate your creativity into these different art forms?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: I love experimenting with new things, and I am having a lot of fun with 3D printing.  I have always wanted to sculpt, but I was never any good with clay.   So, getting into 3D printing was a way for me to do that.   I also wanted to be able to create prints of my own subject matter, so that lead me down the road to 3D imaging, and eventually experimenting with  3D Comics.  Bear figurines aren’t something I’ve really seen at events before, so I thought I would try to bring something new.

Bryce Quartz: The 3D comic titled “BEAR FORCE” piqued my interest to the FULLEST extent. Can you tell us a little bit more about this project?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: The idea for Bear Force was actually  born at the TBRU event that was shut down during Covid.   I was supposed to be vending with a friend.  Since the event ended early we stayed because flights were a mess and we figured that it would be a little safer to stay and not rush into an airport where there were far more people crowded together.  My friend had friends that were there who had the same thought and so we kept to a small group for the rest of the time we were in Dallas.  They are an awesome bunch.  All of them are very different, and while we were hanging out I thought if this group of guys were a superhero team it would be hilarious.  At the time I was just experimenting 3D imagery, and printing.  I  could create avatars of real people (the very 1st being the main character in Shadow Slayers).   I told them about the idea I had for an all gay superhero group, and surprisingly they all agreed to let me make them as characters.  The story is still in progress, but I did show them their characters and they are excited for me to work on the actual book. 

Bryce Quartz: Can you give us a hint at what you’re working on next?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: “Bear Force” and “Shadow Slayer” number 2 are the biggest projects I have at the top of my list.  I consider the first “Shadow Slayer” comic a test, so I am excited to really jump into the main story for this character.  I’m also working on a full line of Bear prints which will include some characters I have been working on for various comic ideas.

Bryce Quartz: For our readers: where can we find you on social media, and do you take commissions online?

Ben/Darkest Cub Studio: I am on Instagram and Twitter under Darkest Cub Studio (see below). I post pics of things I am working on pretty often.  You can reach me through my website and request a commission.  I accept both drawing and 3D print commissions.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Ben!

Be sure to follow Darkest Cub Studio on social media and check out his website to get a better look at some of his work!

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