Isa Beniston (aka Gentle Thrills) is a Los Angeles based artist whose airbrush artworks with neon pops and doggy illustrations are instantly recognisable…
We have been fans of Isa’s work for a long time so it was an absolute dream working with her on some artworks for our Oaf TV collection. Isa created some flowers for us, doodle style icons as well as some four legged friends in her signature style which feature in the third drop of our Summer range.
We started talking to Isa in a time before lockdown, when Corona meant nothing more than a summery beer. A lot has changed since then, so we caught up with Isa to learn a little more about her, her process and how the last year has been across the pond:
When & how did you first develop your unique airbrush style?
I started airbrushing in 2016 as a more efficient alternative to painting/drawing on clothes by hand! I started by mixing my own characters (often inspired by the vintage knickknacks I collect) with ubiquitous and kind of tattoo-style imagery like dice, cherries, daisies, etc. In 2018 I started working with Post Malone’s stylist, Cathy Hahn, and that work has injected more pop culture references into my airbrushed pieces. I like to think of the airbrush work I do as a combination of research + rolling the dice. I try to put things you wouldn’t expect to see together and make them make sense!!
Where do you go to find inspiration? Are your dog characters based on real life pets?
Largely via every type of secondhand shopping (antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, etsy, the list goes on!!). And BOOKS. Big bookworm. My mom’s got an amazing collection I borrow from whenever I can. I have a big collection of figurines and toys, but it’s impossible not to be inspired by every dog I’ve ever met. They’re so WEIRD! Cowgirl feels like the culmination of every silly creature I’ve ever tried to capture with my pen and it’s so fun because she LIVES with me!
What would be your dream collaboration?
Somebody with the production capabilities of a high-end fashion company. like i’m not picky lol!!! I just want to be able to make things that are truly weird and unique--the type of stuff you see on big name runways! sequinned teddy bear purses, shoes with plastic goldfish in the heels--i often feel limited by money and access to the types of manufacturers that can do things like this! I’m a little fish but I want big pond capabilities! It is also worth noting Lazy Oaf has been a dream collab for me since 2015 - I put it on a list of goals :’-)
What did your bedroom look like in 2001?
My sister and I shared a room with creamsicle orange walls! (my mom let me pick the color) We had these quilted reversible pink and orange duvet covers from pbteen with sheets that had a big flower print, mosquito nets (for dRaMa), a bubble fish lamp, and a cabinet my mom painted with howling purple and blue coyotes! Absolutely formative.
If you had a cooking show, what would be your signature dish?
Does banana bread count as a dish…?
Who’s your favourite TV character of all time?
I’m watching The Americans right now and I pretty much love Martha!!!!
Go to bingeworthy TV show?
I mean, Law and Order SVU!
As a kid, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist but it wasn’t until I found myself drawing stickers for money and shoes 2 years ago that I was like, “woah 6th grade Isa would absolutely FREAK if she knew this was going to be her real job” !!
Did you go through any awkward or embarrassing phases?
100% - when I was like maybe 10 or 11 years old I was super into drawing these extremely buxom mermaids??? My poor mom had to defend my artistic freedom!!!
A picture which best describes your dogs personality?
Probably this one where she’s equal parts comfy and piggy.
This year has been intense! Have any creative positives come out of it’s limitations for you?
For a while I was back to keeping a journal/sketchbook though that has petered out as work kicked back up! A huge positive has been moving to a new studio that’s closer to my apartment. I can walk to work and have a little outdoor strip for cowgirl to bask! It’s slowed me down in a positive way so I can reflect more on how I’d like to change the way I spend my time when things are more like they were before the pandemic.
Who’s work are you loving right now? Any new discoveries?
Relatively-new-to-me accounts worth a follow imho: @stock_namiogihara @tessnewallstudio @natalieodecor @dadybones @kai.tattooer
Any songs/albums that have helped get you through the year?
This mix CD a penpal mailed to me during early covid has been on repeat in my car since last April so I’ve been singing along to that throughout each week as a form of weird therapy. But Chet Baker, Blossom Dearie, and Patsy Cline got me through shelter in place at the beginning of the pandemic!
What’s your favourite creation or project?
Airbrushing my family’s 2000 Dodge Durango has been one of my favorite projects on every level - I got to spend time with uncle and aunt, I was working outside which I love, and it felt somehow bigger than anything I’d really airbrushed before! The whole project was very sentimental and special to me and a big challenge which I tackled! Huzzah!
Which emoji best describes you?
What are you most looking forward to once the world returns to something like normality?
Making dinner with friends, playing cards, and drawing at a bar - maybe even a hotel bar if I could be so lucky!!!