T-Files 025: Benjamin Escobar

Benjamin Escobar, perhaps better known as Benjie Hundreds, is an incredibly talented, largely self-taught designer who heads up the design department at The Hundreds. This means amongst other things, he’s responsible for dozens of graphics each season, as well as working closely with collaborative artists and guest designers of all sorts. I think this job would stress most people out tremendously, but Benjie is one of the nicest, most easy-going dudes I’ve ever worked with, and furthermore, he never seems to mind my mind-blowingly inane Adobe Illustrator questions, such as, “Why can’t I move this object?” To which Benjie says something like, “Because the layer is locked.” And then I say, “Oh.” I also have to thank Benjie for encouraging me to keep this blog moving when I was starting to lose interest a little bit late last year too. Ok, let’s get to it…

Where are you today? Staring off into space from the window of my loft in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles.

What are you working on? I’m currently trying to figure out what I need to bring with me on an inspiration trip to San francisco. Art wise, I have some 1/2 done canvases, alot of 1/2 sketched concepts, and a whole lotta half baked ideas floating around.

Where have you been finding inspiration lately? Bad movies, thrift stores, random bits of signs/newspapers laying around, revisiting old music and books I had forgotten about. the last couple of things that sparked a good idea have been a mormon thrift store plastic bag, a neighborhood bum dragging a 6 foot long fiberglass cow across an alley, and buffalo wings, so…. I guess anywhere, really?

What is your favorite recent design/graphic/concept/project? The BAPE/Modernica fiberglass side chairs. I wish I could afford one!

When did you live in Japan? How was it? During my DJ hey-days, I was back and forth Southern California and Tokyo for about 4 years in the beginning of 2000. I was in West Tokyo, Hachioji, which is kind of the sticks to people who live smack dab in Shibuya/Harajuku area. I got to meet and work with tons of creative and talented people, eat amazing food, and (half) learn a beautiful language. It was a great life experience on so many levels, I really recommend traveling to anyone who has the means to.

Have you studied design formally? Never actually went to school for it. I had a few classes in illustration at Art Center Pasadena during high school, but that was about it. I learned everything on my own or bugging older people, and I cant count how many trial-by-fire scenarios I had while doing it. I would love to take a few classes once life slows down a bit, but it would be more hand illustration based than computer work for sure.

How did you get into the field? I’ve actually been drawing pretty much for as long as I can remember. As cliche’ as it sounds, it evolved with my involvement in music. My older brother would DJ at random techno/dance events and I would literally raid every flyer/magazine/mix tape he had. In elementary school I would “borrow” my brothers techno mix tapes and draw out horrible “rave” t shirt designs. Later on in high school,  couple of friends and I would sell techno mix tapes, and, out of necessity, we would draw our own covers and print them. Eventually it would lead to a whole lot of flyer design for stores and parties and such, which rolled into designing T shirts. T shirts turned into different projects, and here I am years later doing pretty much the same thing on a whole other evolutionary scale.

What do you do at The Hundreds? I am the Senior Graphic Designer at The Hundreds. i’ve been with the company for over 3 years and have really watched it grow into the monster it is now. It’s pretty much the best job I could ask for, and our design team is really top notch.

Can you tell us a bit about some of your other work? Outside of The Hundreds, I try to keep myself creatively busy with a few projects. I have my spray candles, which are custom made candles molded into the shape of a spray can that I mold myself. I’ve also recently finished building my screen printing set up to start doing small hand pulled runs of prints i’ve been dying to make. I also dabble in photography, but my girlfriend’s much better at it.

What are some of the other brands/companies you’ve worked with? Probably the only thing really in circulation would be things I’ve worked on for GCS. We have an extremely long history, they’re pretty much family to me.

When are you going to start selling those candles? It’s probably the worst thing to say business-wise, but Ive had more fun/luck giving them to friends than selling. I’m actually a bit scared to mass produce, I think it would suck the fun out of it. My kitchen would finally not have wax on it, though.

Have you started screen-printing at home yet? Not yet, but something is in the works!

Anything cool you’ve seen from another artist or designer lately? Anything from Mr.44, Laundry, 123 klan, Johnny Sampson, and a whole slew of others I cant name right now have blown my mind the last few months. Theyre making it real hard to keep up!


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