THE FREESOUL PROJECT

Surf - Photography - MTB - Run - Travel - Van Life - Art - Humanism


Q+A with of Lee 'Beef' Bennett



Lee Bennett

This week I got to speak with Lee 'Beef' Bennett. Lee is one of the OG's on the skateboard scene in Wales and is also a super talented, controversial and thought provoking artist. His artwork tells real life stories of the issues going on in the modern world and our local communities.

Lee has a zero f*%ks attitude to life and isn't afraid to use his art to highlight the bullshit and wrong doings of governments and the establishments across the world.

Growing up in the golden era of skateboarding during the 80's - 90's, Lee's art has many hilarious references to skateboarding, some of our childhood heroes and pop stars gone by whilst showing the darker sides of modern life which people are often too PC to talk about. Lee has published two books over the past two years: Osculum Infame and Cerebral Tersorium and has donated all the proceeds to childrens charities in Wales.

I've really been looking forward to finding out more about Lee and the stories and inspirations behind his work. So here it is, Lee 'Beef' Bennett.


Hi Lee, thanks for speaking to me. You are well known on the skate scene across the country, but for those who don’t know you can you tell us a bit about yourself?



My pleasure, thanks for inviting me Dan. I’ll try to summarise myself without sounding like too much of egotistical bellend giving himself a blowy.


I’m an easily bored, borderline schizophrenic, chip on my shoulder, Welsh man, full of self-doubt, hypocrisy, misplaced confidence with a huge karma deficit I’m currently trying to correct. I grew up in a variety of places in the valleys, my family is from New Tredegar and I lived between there and Blackwood until I was in my teens. From then until now, I’ve been floating between Newport, London and now I think I’m finally settled in Cardiff. I’ve been a skateboarder since I first borrowed someone’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles board when I was 9-10 years old, although there were some huge gaps in amongst all this where I was just an asshole, doing nothing, being a piece of shit, barely existing.

Come to think of it, it’s only when Grim and Jerome Loughran, two Newport skaters persuaded me to get back on a board that I started being me again. So I’d like to thank them for that, I don’t think I ever have before.

As for being an artist, I began copying my way more talented brother around 6-7 years old and any tiny bit of skill I have comes from things he’s taught me. Its only since around 2014 , I would say that I’ve actually been an actual ‘artist’ producing work too. Anything I did before that I either lost, threw away or burned. The brilliant Cardiff artist, Phil Morgan took an interest in what I was about and persuaded me to do more, which I’m very grateful to him for. We did a joint zine in 2014/15 called, ‘I Got Beef’s’ that did really well and from there on, I got the confidence to continue to do more.



Prince of Wales - "Merthyr Rain"

F@%k the Tories!

Whilst the world turns a blind eye, this is happening right now in Syria.

Wallbuilders

Your artwork might be described as controversial with a dash of anarchy to some. But it paints a true picture of modern life across the world, the UK and particularly Wales. When we spoke online you said some of your friends have often said you might have taken it a bit ‘too far’ with some of your stuff. I think not, what are your thoughts on this?


Haha, yeah, my friends that say, ‘too far’, actually mean, ‘I’m so glad you took it that far’. The actual complainers and reporters that genuinely mean, ‘too far’ on Instagram baffle me, especially as there’s so many of them. Why are they even looking at my work or following me?

You know exactly what you’re going to get with me, why waste your time making the effort to actually complain to Instagram? I don’t know what they get out of it. My intention is always to make people laugh, that’s all I want from this. I don’t want to upset anyone but I also don’t give a flying fuck if I do. Instagram is a giant joke to me, it means nothing in the real world. I couldn’t give a flying fuck about likes, followers and all that bollocks.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion but in my eyes, not everyone’s opinion holds the same value. If someone whose values I admire tells me I’ve gone too far, I’ll probably take that on board and consider what I’ve done may not have been the best idea. However, if some bland, vacuous moron that only lives for posting inspirational quotes and twenty pictures of their own fucking face every day decides to tell me I’ve gone too far, then I know I’m doing something right.



Catholic employee of the month.


Beefy's twist of the famous Santa Cruz hand.

Your background in skateboarding and growing up in 80’s Britain is ever present in your artwork. Can you tell us more where you draw inspiration from or where you don’t!?


Most things I draw inspiration from comes from skateboarding, ive really got a lot to thank it for. My taste in music, art, clothing, my weird vertigo, my drink problems, my friends, my weak ankles, the places I’ve travelled, they all can be attributed to skateboarding in some way.

It’s more of an indirect, unintentional, silent, driving force behind everything I do. But, to be fully honest, I draw a lot of my ideas just from being out wandering the streets and having fucked up conversations with my pals. It doesn’t take long for conversations to take a dark turn with my friends and all these things are planting little seeds of inspiration in the back of my mind.



Also, my inspiration when it comes to Britain is loosely attributed to where I’ve lived over the years. I’ve always said I’ve been very lucky and learned a lot with the places I’ve lived. Growing up in the valleys, raised by an elite team of Valley Wolf aunties I’ve learned intense morals, manners and the ability to not suffer fools. Living in Newport, this is where I found out how violent and tribal the world can still be. The power of sarcasm but also the uniqueness and risks of a melting pot of the last remaining sub cultures in Newport was something to behold in the 90’s, 00’s in Newport. It was a fucking war every weekend.


Newport is definitely where I found, ‘my people’. Then London, this is where I learned about the depths of selfishness and depravity of human life; this is definitely where I get my bitterness and hatred for the upper class elite from. Cardiff, Cardiff feels like somewhere I can lay all this stuff on the table and just relax because it’s got elements of all the other places but in equal amounts. Newport will not be beaten on its punk and DIY ethics but personally I find Cardiff to be a more creative setting at this stage in my fading youth. Cardiff also has way more fuck ups than anywhere else in Wales now. They provide constant inspiration.


As for linking my art to this, look at the world now, it’s absolutely fucked beyond repair. There’s an abundance of content for someone as cynical as me nowadays. Comedy comes from politics and facts come from comedy. It’s completely fucked to the point that it’s just funny now, idiots are rewarded for being idiots and everyone has a price to lower their moral standing in the never ending quest for a glimmer of online fame.

I remember reading a Nina Simone quote that said, ‘An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times’. To me, that’s what I’m doing, in my own way. My art feels like a coping mechanism for dealing with how bad I know the world really is.


Benefits Britain.

Satanic Orgy.


Flossed Boys

Support your local...

Freddie Mercenary..

Whilst some precious little flowers might be offended by some of your work and you are very outspoken in your beliefs, you are obviously a very kind hearted man. You donate the proceeds of your books to children charities, big respect to you for that. Can you tell us a bit more about this?


Thats very kind of you to say. Thank you. I am very outspoken in my beliefs but I think everyone should be. Stand up for something or you’ll fall for anything. My art is supposed to make people laugh but in today’s world, there are people who love to be offended, especially on behalf of someone else. To those offended by a fucking painting, my response would be, get a grip or look away…..maybe look at yourself in your phone camera for the millionth time that day, you fucking crybabies.

The content in the books can sometimes be considered violent, dark, aggressive etc. It’s my sense of humour, I find that the best way to deal with bad things are to make jokes out of them, that’s essentially what these books are. However, I realise that with great darkness you also need a little bit of light to keep some type of realistic balance. That’s where the charity stuff plays a part.

As soon as you start making money from something you love, it creeps into becoming a job. As soon as this stuff becomes a job to me, I’ll be fucking over it instantly. Giving proceeds to Children’s charities alleviates that pressure from the process.


Chippy lane, Cardiff...


Osculum Infame, Lee's first book.

Cerebral Tersorium, book 2.

People tend to think I’m too harsh and too brutal about things but I’m not, I’m just a realist with a broken truth filter. Admittedly, I have a very bad temper and ZERO patience but I also secretly have a very warm heart; I care deeply about children, animals and the elderly. I struggle not to cry at every episode of Queer Eye and I have never fully recovered from watching ‘UP’ or ‘A Star is born’. I watched a programme about children with cancer a while back and it fucking broke me. How the fuck can people still believe in God when kids and parents are put through that?. Children are innocent and deserve nothing but an automatic best start in life and when they don’t get it, it’s left to charities to pick up the governments slack in funding for these areas. Weird really, a government filled with paedos, you’d expect them to want to keep as many kids alive as possible?


All the proceeds from ‘Osculum Infame’ went to a Charity called ‘LATCH’, that provides funding and care for families affected by Children’s cancer. We don’t think about the parents having to take time off or quit work, travelling to specialist hospitals etc. Cancer is a fucking marathon of a disease and the costs mount up quickly.

Thankfully charities like LATCH are trying to take a bit of the pressure off these poor people at a time when their entire world is already fucked beyond belief. Some of the proceeds from ‘Cerebral Tersorium’ went to Noah’s Ark Children’s hospital though, for a more personal reason this time around unfortunately.

I remember being at the finish line in when my friends Dykie and Pritchard crossed having run across the whole fucking country, John O’ Groats to Land’s End, raising money to help this little girl, think it was called the Elodie appeal. I remember seeing their faces as they stumbled across and it made me ice cold. Genuinely felt like my body had turned to ice. I had a cluster fuck of emotions simultaneously. I was amazed and proud as hell of what they had done, ashamed that I couldn’t do something like that, baffled that they had to do this to get money I’d have assumed would just been available to this little girl automatically and lastly, just absolutely ashamed I was just there for the piss up. Seeing how much they’d helped that little girl’s family broke me. I knew then I needed to start doing something worthwhile for other people. Admittedly it took me a long time to do it myself but that was definitely the trigger.


When we chatted online you said you may only have one more book left in you. So, for the fans what are your future plans? Can we expect a trilogy to Osculum Infame and Cerebral Tersorium? And do you have any other projects in the pipeline?


The idea was always to make this a trilogy. I think anything after that and I may just become predictable. I don’t think I’m particularly welcome in the art world anyway (not that I give a fuck).At the moment I’m pretty mentally stable to some extent, so the ideas are free flowing and in abundance, it’s just the process of refining these as I go along. Also, it takes around a year for each book as I have to fit painting in around my actual real life job and factoring in days where I’m just over the whole fucking art world.

Things happen, be it in politics etc that can inspire or change the course of work, one bit of news can trigger three or four paintings or then again hitting the booze too hard can stop me being able to do 3 or 4 paintings.

I’ve started work on the third book but there are some other things I’d like to do first. I want to make a zine/book with some other artists, detailing the exciting life of Matthew Ryan (Dykie). He genuinely has the best stories in the world and I’d like to take each story and get a separate artist to illustrate it followed by an opening night, where he is asked to explain these to an audience. Trust me, the stories are fucking incredible, comedy gold.

Trigger and Pritchard have told me a few legendary stories about Dykey over the years, this sounds great!


I have never had a solo exhibition, probably because the majority of it’s a bit too spicy for public walls but eventually after the third book release, I’ll organize my own interactive exhibition where I’ll burn all my paintings whilst people from the crowd take it in turns to stamp on my hands, hopefully stopping me from ever putting pen to paper again.


Huge thanks for taking the time to speak to me, I’m a massive fan of you and your work. Look forward to the next instalment!

Thanks very much, Good luck with the website and blog mate. Keep doing what you’re doing!!!


If you like what Beefy is doing you can check out his Instagram account and purchase his artwork, books, t-shirts and other treats here:


Lee Bennett Illustration

Lee Bennett Instagram


The Freesoul Project 2019 - Made in Wales