We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Fosselman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ben, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Basically, I don’t know how to do anything else. Being creative has never not been a part of my life it’s something that goes back to even some of my earliest memories drawing or coloring. Creative expression has always been my favorite thing to occupy my time with, whether it be drawing, music, or writing. It’s so baked into who I am at this point that I don’t even think I could function doing anything else.
In fact, I know I can’t, I have tried it before. It was horrible.
I also credit my mom for keeping me on track. Despite all of what I just said, there was a time when I was a directionless teenager, and didn’t care about anything. I was about to graduate high school, and wasn’t into the idea of going to MORE school. So I was dragging my feet applying to colleges, I basically wasn’t. My mom, not accepting my apathetic nature, decided to step in and help me find something and make sense of the whole concept of going to college. That’s when we found Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, which had an animation program, AND was in-state. We went to check it out. Liked it. Applied. Got accepted. And, the rest is history. If it wasn’t for her, I’d likely not be where I am today.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
One thing about my art and sensibilities as an artist that is fundamental to all things I do creatively, is humor. Everything I do, no matter how serious, is not without a sense of humor. It has always been like that, I like to laugh, and I like to make people laugh. I like to incorporate a variety of styles, but I’d say my bread and butter jokes tend to be a little dry, and occasionally morbid (I blame my love of horror movies). Because I work in animation though, my art kind of inherently goes all over the place in terms of style. One minute I’ll be drawing cute preschool characters, and the next a giant lizard man ripping someone’s face off. I cast a wide net. In some ways, I feel like that has hurt my own “brand” over the years, but I draw what I like, and I like a lot of different things. Which, I guess can be a brand. “Sock Drawer”. That’s my brand.
Getting to where I am today may seem easy when I talk about it plainly. It was a lot of “I showed up, applied, they liked me, and I got in”. I have been ridiculously lucky in that regard, and am endlessly thankful for that. But, that’s only one side of the coin. Most of my struggles were behind the scenes, dealing with impostor syndrome, and the endless grind to “improve”. It took me a long time to feel like my art was “good enough”, and it’s something that I still kind of deal with to this day. A lot of what helped me to over come that, beyond putting in the time and effort to practice, was accepting both what my art is and what it isn’t. And, even tough I have been working in animation for almost a decade now, I still feel like my career has only just begun. I am so excited to grow and go further and further with my career, and see what the future holds.
If it’s one lesson, or take away I have gleaned from my experience as a working artist, is “remember to enjoy yourself!” When your hobby becomes work, it is both a blessing and a curse. It was one of the most surreal experiences starting my first animation job. A feeling I will never forget. I will also never forget the first day I came away HATING MY JOB. An equally surreal experience. I had never hated art before. Even though, making art is all I ever want to do with my life and something that brings me endless joy, it’s still a job, and you still deal with frustrations that come with any job in any field. It can be so easy to spiral, perpetuate bad feelings, and be miserable all the time when something you love starts to become a source of stress. So, it’s important to always remember to enjoy yourself, and let yourself have fun. It makes for better art anyway!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A week long itinerary for me and my friends would probably look something like this:
Day 1, hitting up some nearby haunts around Glendale/Eagle Rock. “Relentless Brewing & Spirits” would be at the top of my list. It’s a really awesome little bar over in Eagle Rock, open air, great food and drinks, and the staff is also always super nice and friendly too! Watch out for that Hot Chicken sandwich though. It’s no joke.
Day 2-4, Would probably be dedicating a couple days to just checking out Hollywood and Sunset blvd. I almost don’t even need to know what I’m doing when I go there, just checking out all the people and walking the streets is entertainment enough! But, any time I’m out that way I like to stop in at Amoeba Music (I still need to get out to see their new location). I’m also a big time Heavy Metal/Rock n Roll guy, so any excuse to go check out the Rainbow, The Roxy, The Whiskey A Go Go, or any of those old venues is reason enough to go for me!
Day 5, probably hung over.
Day 6, Definitely would be checking out the Alamo Drafthouse, that place is great, I could practically live there. It’s got it all a bar, a collection of weird board games and movies to buy, awesome decor, delicious food, a kick-ass theater. Any time I go there, I never want to leave!
Day 7, probably hung over again.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, I have to give a shout out to my good friend Dan Becker. He and I both went to Edinboro as part of the same graduating class. He recommended me for a storyboarding job on the show Let’s Go Luna (which he was on at the time), which is what brought me out to LA. He’s also a true talent, and I learned a lot while working with him.
And, of course, my lovely wife, Caitlin. Her warmth and kind heart have always been there for me even at my lowest, most dismal moments. I owe her more than I could ever put into words.