Brookline graduate pursues digital art career


Ben Batchelder

Ben Batchelder ’16 draws inspiration from various aspects of his life. Works like the one above reflect the role of fairytales in an increasingly unnatural world.

Doctor, lawyer, teacher. These are the career choices we hear most often from students. For Ben Batchelder ‘16, it has always been different – it has always been art.
Batchelder has been pursuing digital art at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. He hopes that hard work and dedication will eventually assist him in making digital art his career.
For as long as he can remember, art has been one of his passions. Despite his strong interest, Batchelder didn’t always think of art as a career option.
“It can actually be pretty isolating as artists growing up, especially in a culture where we’re told that this isn’t a real job or we’re given a starving artist stereotype. I didn’t really think of art as a career option for the longest time, but midway through high school that sort of clicked for me,” Batchelder said.
Once he realized what he wanted to do, Batchelder was able to pursue his passion for art through a variety of art classes offered at the high school.
Batchelder said that in the current world, one can use both school and the digital world to pursue their passions.
“One of the great things about the digital age is that you don’t have to go through the traditional schooling and you can just hop on the internet go on YouTube, and as long as you budget your time correctly you can learn a thing or two,” Batchelder said.
Currently, Batchelder is able to find inspiration for his work in any place, even the “objectively ugly” ones. He said that inspiration can be found anywhere from video games, TV shows, movies or even to the landscapes of downtown Boston.
“Inspiration can come from anywhere as long as you’re up to it and as long as it’s actually something that drives you, something that interests you and something that appeals to you,” Batchelder said.
After many years drawing, looking back at an amazing piece is still one of the best parts of the job for Batchelder.
“When you have a piece you’re working on, you step back from it and realize that you’ve made a really great piece, that feeling is unbeatable,” Batchelder said.
Visual Arts teacher Donna Sartanowicz, who teaches drawing and painting along with many other art classes at the high school, had Batchelder in a few of them. She found his technique to be one of his great assets and was always fascinated by his art style.
“For a digital artist, his work was very painterly and I have not had any students since then that were able to use the computer in quite that same way to create landscapes,” Sartanowicz said.
As for himself, Batchelder has always been experimenting with his art, and he strives to push himself out of his comfort zone.
“You know that if you’re going into an art school, you might feel pressure to find your style immediately and then start working on that,” Batchelder said, “But from my experience, you’re always going to be in flux. You’re always trying out new things and your art style is going to be evolving.”
Visual Arts teacher Eric Latimer has had Batchelder in multiple classes. According to Latimer, Batchelder’s willingness to experiment and his openness to criticism are what ultimately allowed him to pursue a career in the arts.
“I would have a suggestion and he could go with it. There wasn’t an instant knee jerk reaction that said, ‘I already had my fixed idea and I’m going to stick with it.’ He was actually interested in developing new skills and learning and pushing his current ability level,” Latimer said.
As for people who want a career in the industry, Batchelder strongly advises them to know their worth as artists.
“I’d say the leading cause of being a starving artist is the lack of self-worth or lack of putting yourself out there. You know you’re not just some stepping stone for other people to use,” Batchelder said.
Although Batchelder was quickly able to discover what career path he wanted to pursue, that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. Latimer said that it’s never too late to start heading towards a goal, especially at the high school where kids are able to explore a variety of career options before settling on the best one.
“More often than not, there are a lot of things that are out of our control. We have no say in that we must do,” Latimer said. “So in those times when you can take control and and say, ‘This is my life, I am going to read this book, I’m going to make this painting,’ I think you should do it.”