Friday, August 7, 2015

Tiki Artist Interview: Christine Benjamin

Last year at Tiki Oasis 2014 I was admiring the art show entries and was totally impressed with the art piece submitted by Christine Benjamin.

 I wanted to know more about her.  Christine hails from San Jose, CA where she works in her home studio offering private art lessons.  She curates many bay area art shows and also creates customized art work.  Her work has been shown in galleries in San Francisco bay area, Southern California, Mid West, East Coast, Canada and Hawaii.  Her art is a mix of monsters, tiki, robots, sock monkeys, dolls and stylish women.  Christine was recently a featured artist for Tiki Magazine Issue #6 Summer 2015 and has her work  featured on the cover with a 4 page featured story.

Suz - What was your very first introduction to tiki/Polynesian pop?

Christine - My very first introduction to tiki culture was my mother and father taking me to Disneyland when I was three years old.  They took me to see the Enchanted Tiki Room and I was so amazed and excited.  I remember my mother saying that I thought that all the birds, tikis, and flowers were real.  It was such a magical experience.  I still love going there and seeing the Tiki Room show.  It's very nostalgic and hasn't been changed in all these years.

Suz - Please describe your artwork. (Style, materials, etc...)

Christine - My work is very whimsical, fun, colorful and magical.  I love to create my own world and tell stories with my characters - robots, space girls, aliens, sock monkeys, tikis and other imaginative creatures.  I usually work in acrylic paint on canvas or wood and I also create art dolls created with mixed media such as polymer clay, drift wood, fabric needle felted wool, etc.

Suz - Where do you garner your inspiration for your artwork from?

Christine - I'm inspired by many things.  Old monsters and Sci-Fi movies, vintage fashion, comic books, fairytale stories, and music.

Suz - Are there any specific icons that truly inspire you?

Christine - Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy, Sophia Loren, Goldie Hawn, and Grace Jones just to name a few.

Suz - When did you start making and selling your tiki art?

Christine - I started making and selling my Tiki art in 2012 at The South Shore Tiki Lounge in Maui.  I had a solo Tiki show there.

Suz - What has been your most favorite piece you have created?

Christine - One of my favorite pieces is a painting that I created called "Batty's Midnight Ride".  It's a little vampire beatnik girl named Batty riding in her dune buggy on the beach and she has her surfboard with her and her bat friend is flying by her side.  It's dark out and there is a full moon.  I really like this piece because of the characters and the composition of the piece.  I enjoy telling stories with my imagery and invite the viewer to come up with their own stories.

Suz - What is one aspect of your art or being a part of the Tiki art community that you are truly proud of?

Christine - I'm proud of being a part of the Tiki art community because there are so many great artists  in the Tiki scene and it's a very fun community to take part in.

Suz - Do you have a favorite event you sell your art at and why is it your favorite?

Christine - I haven't sold at a bunch of different Tiki events, so I would say Tiki Oasis is my favorite to sell at.  I like it because  it's like a four day non-stop party and I've met so many super nice people and fellow artists.

Suz - Are there any other events you hope to vend at in the near future that you haven't previously vended at?

Christine - I would like to vend at some of the Tiki events such as Tiki Caliente, Tiki Kon, and the International Tiki Market Place.

Suz - Do you have any words of wisdom to anyone starting a business selling art or more specifically selling art within the tiki community?

Christine - I would always say to anyone that wants to start selling in the Tiki community to first to go the events and check them out as a patron.

If you are visiting Tiki Oasis 2015 in San Diego next week (August 13th through the 16th), be sure to stop by the Hula Hut - Lanai Suite 2, located at the Crowne Plaza, as Christine will have her art, dolls, and other merchandise available for sale.

To see more of Christine's art please visit her website at

Photos of Chrstine were taken by Trad'r Don Vigeant.

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