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Cycling To Murree, Pakistan

October 15, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

A personal piece inspired by my weekend ride from Islamabad to Murree. Hope to get back up there soon.

 

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Islamabad Security

August 27, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

A selection of characters based on the various security factions in Islamabad, Pakistan.

 

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HELLBOY

August 22, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

A bit of fan art for this week’s @sketch_dailies

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Space Pirates!

August 21, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

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R.I.P H.R Giger

May 15, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

A little homage to the late great H.R. Giger.

 

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Nesta: Innovators

May 5, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

I was recently commissioned by Nesta UK to produce a series of characters for their “Which Innovator Are You?” Quiz on their website. Check it out here http://www.nesta.org.uk/quiz/which-innovator-are-you

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Airline 1.0

April 30, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

B-Air

 

in other news I now own a small airline operating out of a fictional Middle Eastern location (on Paper)

The Barbershop Series #1: Pakistan

April 3, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

A selection of characters inspired by the numerous fantastic styles of hair and beard in Pakistan. All characters are based on real people I have met. Mainy to avoid stereotype and to highlight the fascinating diversity of the country. Pakistan Zindabad!

 

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Cycling In Pakistan

January 8, 2014  by Ben  |  Blog

A little something I wrote that was published in my Cycling Club Magazine

Warning this post contains more words than pictures!

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Islamabad-Muree ride October 2013.

5am alarm, call to prayer drifts in through the window, gulp down porridge, hop on bike, out the door, avoid the local pack of wild dogs lusting after my cycling shoes, pedal through the checkpoint chicanes, nod at the policemen with the magnificent facial topiary. Navigate the deserted zero point intersection. 

Haroon, A local roadie is waiting by the side of the Kashmir Highway with his brilliant blue steed. We ride together out of Islamabad, northeast through the sleeping streets of Bhara Kahu reaching the gateway to the mountains in about 45 minutes.

Here standing by the expressway toll plaza are Kazim and Ziyab two more local skinny tyre fanatics I’ve met through a local cycling group. The usual amount of pre-ride faffing ensues as is customary with all groups of cyclists but with final checks completed, tyres pumped up and last minute wardrobe alterations made we’re on our way.

Today’s destination is the hill station of Murree. Once a regional summer capital of the British Raj now a bustling tourist destination perched precariously atop a ridge looking back down towards the plains of Punjab on one side and up to the mountains of Kashmir on the other.

Initially there’s not much doing. The morning mist obscures the blue pine peaks ahead. Roadside stalls selling everything from Pepsi to life size fibreglass dinosaurs dot the road intermittently. It’s not long though until out of the murk we spot the dark shadows of leviathans. The foothills of the Himalayas. The image alone creates the feeling of great adventure. Maybe I should have bought more bananas!

Almost in reaction to this sight the road rears up. Our pedals rotations slow, struggling to find a rhythm. I spin away at high cadence trying to remember all those Cycling Weekly articles about how to go up the lumpy stuff. The gradient isn’t that steep just a monotonous drag that slowly turns your legs to jelly. Kazim proves that raw power is also a viable technique as he churns away in the big ring.

There’s a gorge on our left, small farmsteads nestle in the awakening valley floor. We rise, passing Heaven (aptly named rest stop) with its white robbed men beckoning us in for a hearty Pakistani breakfast. Further up in the clouds a slogan painted on the side of the road reads ‘Trees cool the breeze’ and sure enough the air here is definitely chilled. Pine fresh.

The kilometers tick by slowly, not that I mind, I’m enjoying every minute. At one point a group of kids from a small hillside village run alongside us in there brightly patterned Shalwar kameezes, giggling and high fiving but not seeming to understand my breathless requests for a push!

The Murree expressway in its entirety is a smooth two-lane highway, at this time of day it’s almost deserted. The odd car passes us sometimes letting out a loud blast of the horn just as it comes alongside, providing a useful if not entirely consensual adrenaline burst.

We reach the outskirts of Murree in good time. A leaking water main celebrates our accomplishment showering is in a fine spray. Kazim is still on the big plate. Chapeau! Catching our breath we discuss following the road further, to Muzafferabad? Kashmir? China? It feels like a great adventure has just begun. Although rumbling stomachs snap us back into reality and we head back down the hill. In search of sustenance.

The descent is immense we fly the 30k back to the foot of the climb flat out, the road is still quiet and we can carve perfect lines through the alpine bends bunny hopping speed bumps overtaking motorbikes and buses crammed with workers heading to the city.

The final slog back into Islamabad is tough it’s hot down here, no mountain top freshness. Bhara Kahu is back to its busy self, cars, trucks, donkeys, goats, cattle, motorcycles, and pedestrians all vying for the same small strip of tarmac. A stark contrast that has me pining for my mountaintop sanctuary.

Back in Islamabad sitting outside a neighborhood cafe drinking coffee and tucking into a well-earned breakfast we discuss the next ride. Inspired by the foothills we set our sights higher towards snow-capped peaks.

Happy Halloween 2013 ‘Zomstrong’

October 31, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

Wow it’s been a while since my last post! Been really busy, loads of new work on it’s way. Stay tuned! Here’s a little something in the meantime for Halloween.

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Nathia Gali, Pakistan

July 5, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

A couple of weeks ago we escaped the intense heat of Islamabad and headed for the hills. After a couple of hours driving we arrived at the old hill station of Nathia Gali. Hugging the mountain side, nestled amongst the pine and walnut trees it’s a truly fantastic spot that I hope to visit again very soon.

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Homebase

May 29, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog, Characters, Home

I was recently commissioned by Clarity to produce a series of illustrations based around a couple of characters ‘Bob and Helen’ for an internal communications animation for Homebase. The characters have been used across as series of staff training initiatives.

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Back Online

May 21, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

I have recently moved the Ben Scruton Illustration offices (‘ahem’….desk and pencil case) to Pakistan with my wife Helen who has just started a new job here. After a few weeks of settling into my stunning new surroundings and sorting out a few minor internet hiccups I am very happy to say it’s business as usual. Greetings from Pakistan!back-online

 

Inside Housing ‘A Slice Of Life’

April 7, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

I was recently commissioned by Inside Housing Magazine to illustrate a piece about the 1st April watershed moment for social landlords and their tenants as the government’s controversial welfare reforms kicked in. The article can be found on the Inside Housing website. www.insidehousing.co.ukScreen Shot 2013-04-07 at 23.48.02

 

Bologna Children’s Book Festival 2013

March 27, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

A cheeky peek at one of my characters Gluteus Maximus (not his real name) from ‘Oh No It’s the Romans’  a book I’ve been working on for the Egmont’s Red Shed non-fiction launch at Bologna Children’s Book Festival this week. -1

Self Portrait

February 18, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

I was recently asked to produce a self portrait to be used in a catalogue for the new Egmont non-fiction launch at Bologna Children’s Book Festival in March. I’m currently working on one of the books in the series; Oh No It’s the Romans by Clive Gifford, for 7–9-year-olds, which takes a humorous look at the Romans.

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Richmond Park

January 18, 2013  by Ben  |  Blog

First post of the New Year and the first from my new London HQ! richmond-b

Scout London Magazine Halloween Issue

October 23, 2012  by Ben  |  Blog

I was recently commissioned by Scout London Magazine to produce a themed set of characters to appear on the cover of their Halloween Issue.

It was great fun and definitely helped me out with some ideas for my costume this year!

Superheroes Halloween Zombie Edition!

October 17, 2012  by Ben  |  Blog

Just a bit of fun for Halloween! Zombification of my previous superheroes project.

Vulpine Clydesdale

October 15, 2012  by Ben  |  Blog

I was recently commissioned by Vulpine who produce a very smart and very practical range of cycling gear. The brief was to design a poster to promote their clothing sale for tall chaps, big blokes and demon descenders.

They are also putting on a Christmas Cycling Fete in London where I hope to have a few prints for sale. See Poster a couple of posts down.