Benlin has a degree in Fine Arts Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and has worked as a freelancer doing illustrations and paintings for newspapers, Macy’s, games, and the Seneca Park Zoo. Benlin loves to draw and paint, whether he’s portraying people, beautiful landscapes, or wild birds. He invests time in researching his subject to better understand their characteristics, personality, habits, and environment. With this research as a foundation, he uses traditional media to initially draw the subject, and then he scans the drawing and paints it digitally. His digital painting process is similar to traditional oil painting: he creates his own brushes and mixes his own colors, then applies colors from dark to light, allowing some of the drawing to show through to provide a natural texture.
“As a Bartels Illustrator,” he said, “I had the honor of using my art to inspire others. It is my hope that my work will lead viewers to take a new interest in the natural world.” One of his largest projects was an illustration of the Passenger Pigeon created as a memorial of the 100th year anniversary of the species’ extinction. “I still remember being able to look at and hold a real taxidermy specimen of a passenger pigeon that the Lab had as reference for that painting,” he said. “Learning to paint birds realistically became a rare skill that would help me stand out to clients around the world.“