Words by Monica
In terms of leaving school, did you ever have that feeling that you didn’t know what you wanted to do?
Doug: Yeah, it’s pretty brutal. It’s the whole rut of being young. Everyone is always telling you to do things you don’t wanna do.
Akeem: then you get old and you’re fuckin old, you can’t do shit.
Doug: Yeah I’d say you just gotta full risk it.
Who are your inspirations?
Picasso, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, A$AP.
What inspires you in general?
Music and life.
Do you listen to music while you paint?
When I paint, I gotta have really loud, instrumental music and be kind of like bummed out or angry, or even like a little bit faded.
But when I draw it’s real like, straight lines and it’s all black, white and red.
Yeah, why is that?
It’s just cause, they’re really basic colours and everyone can sort of relate. It’s the colour of skin and the colour of blood, just really human things.
Actually that reminds me, this girl (Maya Crowder) I met and exhibited with in Sydney last month, she takes these film photos of naked girls on the beach and she dips the film in her period blood. When she develops the film it looks so natural, like the bodies are bloody. It’s so crazy.
But yeah, when I paint I’m heavy on Miles Davis.
So you like jazz?
Yeah l’m into the whole bebop jazz, but I also really fucking love sad jazz. You know like when it’s raining and you just got your heart broken, it’s like your lowest point but it makes you happy.
I first discovered Doug Bennett when I stumbled across his Instagram one night and was instantly engaged by his style. A fan of his line work and the consideration behind the way he uses tone, shape and form; there is something that comes across deep within Doug’s works despite the simplicity of his style. Doug takes a lot of influence from pop culture, whether he is re-interpreting lyrics from a song or a scene from a movie, his style frequently illustrates themes that are common throughout many conceptually comprehensive works of the last few decades – whether it be film, music or photography.
Akeem and I visited Doug’s apartment/studio on a hot December day. He was instantly cool and welcoming to us two young’uns as we got to inhabit his rad space where he not only sleeps, but generates a great deal of his thoughts, as his pad doubles as his workspace.
A dish with nothing but a halved avocado, wide open doors to the balcony, walls adorned with countless posters, images and skateboards: Doug is simple, yet an inspired individual who has, even if unintentionally, made a name for himself within the Melbourne/Australian art scene.
On the day we visited Doug, there was a fine line between banter and deep discussion. We questioned society as the audience for our artistic platforms and how the world is becoming more and more desensitized towards new material: in other words, our discussion outlined how trends and modern societal movements expire quicker than they used to, given the technology-dependent age we live in. Yet, inexplicably, we got onto impersonating cringey dudes at a rap concert within the same discussion.
Doug’s independent, ‘risk taking’ persona was evident even in the shortest snippets of our conversation; much of his dialogue became unintentional philosophical statements on life. It was the type of stuff you talk about with a long-time friend when it’s 5am after a big night out. Doug got real with us and it was refreshing to feel that level of familiarity with someone that has created such a successful platform for themselves.
Leaving school in Year 11, Doug became a well-known Melbourne based artist in his own right. He is a kind, collected and enthused visionary.
How often do you skate? Tell us about them skills.
Hahaha pretty often, I’m not a pro but I can skate. It’s good having fun for an hour or two.
Akeem: You should design skateboards.
Yeah that would be sick. Actually I got like an email last week, Vans hit me up like “come down to Sydney next Thursday, you can paint shoes at our Vans store”. And then this morning they were like “hey we actually want a local artist”, and I was like you can’t tell someone that 2 days before they’re gonna go. And I actually told all my friends. Like, I never tell my friends things just in case it doesn’t happen, but I told them this time. It sucks. That’s the thing with being an artist, people are always gonna hit you up to do shit, then just bail. You can’t rely on anything.
But yeah, skating art and photography is like a whole big world now.
You do a bit of photography as well.
Yeah I do a lot of film photos. That’s kinda where it all started, how I did everything and met everyone. I met Baro in highschool, and when he started doing shit I was like “yeah I’ll take your photos”. Next we know we’re going on an Australian wide tour with Allday, sitting at the back of his van laughing like, “How did this happen?"
Do you come up with the concepts of your drawings yourself, or do you draw from photographs?
Yeah some of them are Kate Moss, and then some of them are photographs. But a lot of the time, I just draw shit. Like the ones you see on my Instagram are more of things that already exist, like of girls and what not. Cause I don’t want everyone to see my mind, cause then they just take it all in and question “is that all you’ve got”?
Do you make art every day? What’s your process?
Yeah, and I don’t take that long on each drawing. I’m the type of person that when I start a drawing, I have to finish it in the moment. The whole process of coming up with the idea, drawing the outlines, inking in the black and then scanning it probably takes an hour. Everyone thinks I’m a digital artist, but nah I just scan it because it makes it look so clean if and when I choose to upload it.
I’ve noticed a lot of written parts in your art, how do you come up with them?
I write whatever comes in my head. I have a lot of little books that I carry around with me everywhere and write in whenever I think of something. When I apply that to my art I just reinterpret it, or sometimes existing lyrics are so easy to reinterpret.
Tell us about your music taste!
For me it’s pretty much about rap music and good guitar riffs, that’s all you need. And I love soul music too hey.
But yeah I don’t know, I just go through phases.
Akeem (looking at Doug's Tyler poster): I went through a mad odd future phase, I fuck with Earl heavy. I had tickets for his show last year…
Yeah I went to that, it was pretty sick.
Akeem: I had two tickets, then I had this massive fight with my parents. I was a little bitch back then, I was all like ‘sorry’. I just wanted to go man fuuuuck, I missed out.
It was hectic, I just ended up going solo though ‘cause no one wanted to come. The crowd though, it was like the cringiest lads.
Akeem: (Mocking the supposed accent) “YEAH I FUCKING LOVE ODD FUTURE MAN”.
Are you going to any festivals?
I try to stay away from festivals, I don’t know I just like going to the sideshows. I feel like everyone connects more, there’s more of a common interest between the audience, being mutual fans and all. With festivals, it sounds lame but I feel like everyone goes to get photos, or they’ll just be f***ed up standing there like “who’s playing?”
Do you play any music at all?
Oh yeah I do play guitar, it’s pretty fun. I don’t play in a band though; I just play for myself.
Would you play in a band given the opportunity?
Yeah I would, it sounds pretty lame but I would love to be the front man.
‘All the weird, different, ugly kids are the cool ones now. People should be saying “wow this weird shit that kid was doing this whole time was actually cool?” But nah they’re ignorant to it, everyone is an art wanker now.’
This interview was edited for length and/or clarity.
Akeem: Have you got a girlfriend?
Nah I’m just cruising hey. Like, every time I do it just doesn’t work out. My life is too scattered. But I take so much inspiration from girls. It’s cool, you ask about their issues and they kinda just throw their emotions at you.
What’s your favourite movie?
I’d say Napoleon Dynamite, or like something by Wes Anderson. It’s so cliché but those movies are too good.
If you could go to jail for one reason, what would it be?
Robbing a bank.