Illustrator Liselle Benjamin is leaving
Janelle De Souza
Liselle Benjamin is a graphic designer, designer, entrepreneur, creative thinker and, more recently, a book illustrator.
Benjamin, 40, told WMN that she always loved art and being creative, but never thought of becoming a graphic designer.
In her mid-twenties, she took business classes at the University of the West Indies and met a new friend. She had computer and program skills, and made crafts for sale, so her friend knew she was creative.
Knowing that Benjamin was looking for a job, the friend hired him in a sign company.
There she had the opportunity to learn and train on the CorelDraw graphics editing program.
“At the time, she had no goal or direction. I just wanted to do something I was good at, something I could improve on, and something I liked. This job was the push in the right direction.
Benjamin worked there for a few years, but left and took on other jobs while doing graphics for flyers and tickets for his church and friends. She started getting more clients so, while it was still a part-time business, in 2008 she started her own business, Le Bouquet Collection.
In 2015, she launched a line of t-shirts, AfroRutz Connection, using silhouettes of black women with varying lengths and textures of natural hair.
She recalled hearing that a local group promoting the love of natural hair had a showcase of natural hair products and services. She had recently cut her hair and was going natural, so she was horny and she wanted to be a part of it.
“I thought, ‘How can I promote being a graphic artist while still having a product that people could physically buy and I could make some income from it.’ And I decided to try some t-shirt designs.
Benjamin attended the event and, based on the positive response, expanded the collection. She started going to craft markets to sell the T-shirts, became friends with people who had small businesses, and started helping them.
“I started to focus on packaging to help small businesses get started, get seen, get noticed. I was helping them while they were helping me, so it was a win-win situation, helping each other grow. I was able to get more customers, I was able to help promote some of their products, and that’s how it all started.
She focuses on graphics for small start-up businesses such as calling cards, flyers, logos and product labels.
She added that due to covid19 there were fewer events in the market, so she slowed down the production of AfroRutz t-shirts. For now, the business is online based on ShopCaribe, Facebook and Instagram.
However, she intends to grow and would like to start printing dresses, hoodies and other clothing as soon as she can afford the financial means and is able to obtain quality products.
With a solid client base and income, she rebranded the company, renaming it Off the Beet.
“My logo is a wacky little purple beet. It fits my personality – a little bit crazy, a little eccentric but fun and expressive, creative and colorful.
It was in one of these markets that she met a friend of author Mary Cuffy, who was looking for someone to bring a character from a children’s book she was writing to life. .
The friend thought Cuffy would like the t-shirt designs and gave her Benjamin’s contact details. Cuffy called and a few months later Benjamin was the illustrator for Lola and the Dancing Ladybugs.
“I never intended to get into illustration or book design, but Mary was so passionate about her project. She told me about the idea of Lola the Ladybug, her story, her story, her goal of helping children learn, and I came up with a concept for her. We tweaked it a bit and she loves Lola. Lola is her baby now.
The book was published in 2018 and since then Benjamin has designed all of the characters in the Lola the Ladybug series – Lola and the Dancing Ladybugs, Lola and the Magic Sticks and Bake the Cocoa Biscuit with Lola – as well as all the graphics of the books. and coloring books.
She said it’s always fun working on Lola with her ideas fueled by Cuffy’s passion.
Benjamin does not see herself as a book illustrator but if the opportunity arises for her to learn more about book illustration, she will gladly take it as she sees herself constantly progressing and improving her skills.
Plus, if the right project comes at the right time and if she is creatively inspired, she would consider doing another book.
“My imagination is so vast that it even amazes me sometimes. I never thought I would make books and characters. But if it’s well received by the public and people like what I do, it’s something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.