Geneva Benton is the cover artist for the 2017 issues of FIYAH! The following is the first part of an interview we will be conducting with Geneva throughout the year to learn more about her beautiful illustrations. You can view more of her work on Instagram, support her Patreon, and purchase printed apparel featuring many of her original characters on TeePublic.
First of all, Geneva, you’re amazing. The artwork is on point, it’s full of beautiful blackness and its some sorely needed light in troubling times.
1) Where are the best places to find you, locate your art and commission you if someone so fancies?
Thank you so much for this interview! I’m most active posting-wise on Instagram and Facebook, under username GDBee. I also have a static portfolio at GenevaB.com. The best place for commissions is email. Previously my email was quite jumbled and that lead to a longer response time. My new email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) What made you want to get into art? Like what’s that one seminal moment where you said to yourself “Ok, I can do this.”?
Originally I wanted to draw better than my sister and was inspired by some beautifully rendered role playing games growing up. In the late teens, I noticed I really like art and want it to be my career path. I think that switch happened when I had won an art award and given a full scholarship (for general “art,” not animation like I wanted at the time; I never took up the offer) and realized you can earn a living doing this thing!
3)How important do you feel that is to bring your blackness into your artwork?
Very important! Like quite a bit of us as kids, I grew up with only a small influence of blackness culture, especially since I was into fantasy and Japanese animation, which contained even less. So now I draw what I know as a black woman. Doing this has made me realize how well it’s been received and how much more my own horizons need to be broadened.
4)What would you tell other artists out there who might be wavering or struggling with how to bring their racial identity into their artwork without being accused of “identity politics”?
Go for it! Your view and experiences are completely different from everyone else’s, so your fresh perspective is always welcome. There shouldn’t be any politics in drawing what you have fun drawing and what you believe in.