The Interview – Illustrator Ben Javens

8th Continent, a soy milk company based out of California, appointed advertising firm BBDO West and British illustrator Ben Javens to revamp their packaging design. It seems like a trivial subject. But packaging design can be an art form in itself. The D.C. Internationalist caught up with Ben – his work for 8th Continent is sure to give other players in the industry, such as Silk, a run for their money.

What did the 8th Continent brief call for?
Their wasn’t really much of a brief. BBDO are really great at pinning down what they want but still leaving me lots of space to be as creative as I want to be. So when they first got in touch they already had a pretty clear idea of what they had seen in my work that they liked and if you look closely at the work on my site you’ll see the four carton illustrations in their rawest forms working as part of other illustrations. For example the sun in the Damien Jurado poster was the starting point for the green sun for 8th Continent.


How did BBDO West find you across the pond?
That’s a good question and one I’m slightly embarrassed to say I don’t know the answer to. I can only guess that it was through the great work that my agency (Unseen) do in getting my work out there for clients to see but maybe it was as simple as a chance internet sighting? I should probably find out but I’m generally so stoked to have someone like my work enough to commission me that I never think to ask.

How do you think your designs will impact the other players in the soy milk category?
Being a regular milk drinker, where the packaging is just a clear container with milk written on the side, I’m not really sure what other packaging is out there. If its anything like 8th Continents previous look then I’m guessing that even though these new designs are quite clean and simple this is what will make them jump out at you when sat next to the more generic designs on the shelf.

The bar for packaging design in the U.K. seems to be very high compared to the states. Why is that? Secondly, do you feel your illustrations would be seen as just another example of good work in the U.K. compared to the states where it is being received as a revolutionary?
Much as I love packaging design, unless its something that really stands out as being different I rarely pay attention to it in the shops. I find food packaging over here is very rarely worth more time looking at than it takes to read what’s in it.

I’m not sure its revolutionary but without wanting to sound clichéd this kind of design is definitely a breath of fresh air. If I saw these illustrations on the shelf and I hadn’t done them but somebody else had I would definitely pick them up for a closer inspection and though I can’t speak for anyone else I’m pretty sure lots of people without maybe even knowing it, for that split second of passing it in the isle, would think that there was something very different about this product. The only other example of that here that I can think of was the packaging for a pie company which was illustrated by UK artist Marcus Oakley. Unfortunately the pies are no more but the packaging was beautiful and I’ve seen nothing else like it in any supermarket since.

Note – This post was originally published on June 4, 2010.

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2 responses to “The Interview – Illustrator Ben Javens

  1. Heya, I just hopped over to your web-site through StumbleUpon. Not somthing I might normally browse, but I liked your views none the less. Thanks for making some thing well worth reading through.

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