Author Archives: Samantha

Die Empty Artist Interview: Carla Benzie

Carla Benzie is exhibiting with Die Empty,
June 27th- July 3rd 2013
Opening night Friday June 28th 5-9pm
Bleeding Heart Gallery, Brisbane

Carla may be a well established, ridiculously talented tattoo artist by day, but the artist in her extends far beyond those boundaries.

Your pencil drawings are incredibly detailed and neat. Is this something that you’ve learned to do as a tattoo artist? Or have you always preferred a realistic style?
 I’ve just always liked drawing realism and surrealism.

By Carla Benzie

By Carla Benzie

Are there any subjects or themes that you won’t tattoo? Sometimes tattoo artists refuse to work on religious themes, or southern cross tattoos, etc.
I’d prefer to do my own style. It’s good when a customer comes in with an idea and lets you do what you want with it.

Almost all of your painted pieces are figurative- how do you choose which reference/models to use? Do you look for particular poses or features, or is it a vibe thing? I just look for models that I think would make an interesting painting or drawing nothing too complicated.

By Carla Benzie

By Carla Benzie

Did you always know that you wanted to be a tattoo artist? What were your favourite mediums prior to a gun and ink?
Pretty much. Always used pencils, water colour and acrylic.

You’ve been painting since you were pretty young- how old were you when you started and how did you get started? How do you feel when you haven’t painted/  practiced any art for a while?
I was probably 12 when I started doing actually paintings and drawings I think, If I don’t paint for a while it’s because I’m drawing- if I’m not drawing I’m tattooing- and if I’m not doing that I’ll be making something so there’s never a time I’m not doing something to do with art!

By Carla Benzie

By Carla Benzie

Your ‘Broken Time’ jewellery line contains some unique ‘lost and found’ items- tell us about some the precious materials that go into your creations.
I find bits and pieces at op shops, markets, antique shops, and friends give me old bits they’ve collected, I just spread them all out and play around with things that match up.

Do you have any other projects on the go or in the pipeline?
Lots of awesome things to come…….

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

By Carla Benzie

By Carla Benzie

She may be a woman of few words, but her work says it all!
Visit her website at and you’ll see why Carla has little time to talk.

Design Your Life- Artist Interview with Die Empty organizer Katie Lee Gretch

Hangin’ with Miss Katie Lee Gretch over the past few years, we’ve had countless chats about our love of art and potential projects. Many of them revolved around the possibilities of Die Empty, so when it came to putting plans into action I couldn’t consider getting started without her involvement.
Having been in awe of her artwork as well as her ‘get up and go’ since we met, I knew her input and experience would be priceless to Die Empty. And it sure has been!
Seeing what she’s achieved while ditching the daily grind makes her one of the most inspirational people I know- this was a great opportunity to share some of Katie’s gold with all of you.

Arludick Gallery

Arludick Gallery

1. You have an exhibition coming up at Arludik Gallery in France. Where else have you had your work shown overseas and how did these opportunities come up for you?

I joined an art group based in Hollywood this year called Girls Drawin’ Girls. It is run by a Simpsons animator Melody Severns, who created the group to showcase female talent in the entertainment and media industry. Since joining, I’ve taken part in pop culture conventions in Chicago and San Diego, as well as the exhibition in Paris last month.


Mermaid by Katie Lee Gretch

Mermaid by Katie Lee Gretch

2. Which mediums were you working in prior to graphic art? What attracted you to graphic art?

I used pencils and pens mostly, sometimes watercolour. I was getting into acrylics when I started studying animation, but fell in love with digital art. I was attracted to it because it’s so versatile and quick to use (once I learned how to). I was being trained as a video game artist, so it was important to get ideas out quickly. I’m quite impatient anyway, so I loved this new medium.


Ryan Vella- He Died With A Felafel In His Hand

Ryan Vella- He Died With A Felafel In His Hand

3. Die Empty isn’t the first community art project  you’ve been involved in setting up- Ashcan comic is  also one of your babies. Tell us what drove you to start  Ashcan. What were some of the challenges involved?

I wanted to make a creative space for artists to interact, born out of my own needs to network with other artists. I was reading a lot of comics in college, and I had been a fan of Ryan Vella’s work (He Died With A Felafel In His Hand – Comic Edition) who was taking part in comic collaborations, and I guess these combined things inspired Ashcan.

I had a hard time finding passionate artists and writers to contribute to the comic. I found myself almost begging everyone I knew to generate content for us. I did contact many established comic artists that I didn’t know like Ben Constantine (Plump Oyster Comics), and some of them did contribute thankfully! After about a year and 3 issues, we were well known in the Australian comic community and we didn’t need to work so hard to get great content.

Ashcan issue #1 cover by Katie Lee Grech

Ashcan issue #1 cover

Money was a problem, as it always is for artists. We had just enough between us to print 50 comics and host the first launch party. One of our writers loaned us $300. We couldn’t even give our contributors a free copy of the book, we were so broke. 30 people were involved in the production of that first issue, and we all had something invested in it. So we promoted the crap out of it and it was a huge success. At one point there was a line up of people outside waiting to get in. We sold all the comics and we made enough money to cover the cost of the next issue.

I’ve since left Ashcan because I wanted to focus on my own work. I found that I was spending so much time on the administration of Ashcan, that I didn’t have any time to contribute artwork to it. My comics were always left to the last minute and I was disappointed in their quality. It was a hard decision that took 6 months to make. I miss being in the spotlight with Ashcan, but it’s more important that my art skills are improving and I’m progressing as an artist.

Pin-up Girl at a Cocktail Party by Katie Lee Gretch

Pin-up Girl at a Cocktail Party by Katie Lee Gretch

4. What inspired you to be so involved with Die Empty? What do you hope to gain from starting up and exhibiting with Die Empty?

I think the drawcard of collaborations and group projects for artists is to share the costs and responsibilities. As well as that, each new artist brings at least 50 new audience members so groups are a great way for me to reach new people.

5. What other projects do you have running / in the pipeline at the moment?

I’m working on my new website and have just added a shop feature for selling my wall art prints. After the exhibition, I’m going to start work on another video game with my fiance. I love making games!

Katie making Clear Conscience soap

Katie making Clear Conscience soap

6. A while ago you quit your day job to follow your heart’s desire. How is that going for you and what challenges have you faced along the way?

I quit my day job last year and have been experimenting with various home businesses. I chose four things that I did best and unleashed them into the world: commercial art and design, software development, homemade soap and personal art. It’s very difficult to start a business when you don’t know what you’re doing, even harder to start four! Because I couldn’t decide which I wanted to focus on, I decided to test them all out for a bit and let them organically sort themselves out.

The most challenging thing about it is learning how to change my perspective on failure and how I define success. I struggled with fear and anxiety too, a fear of failure and loss. It was a very painful time, but it wasn’t as painful as being stuck in a job where my work wasn’t being appreciated. Which is why I started my own business in the first place.

Katie's teeny tinies

Katie’s Teeny Tinies

I will always be doing personal artwork and making video games as a hobby, but it’s not always profitable and I can’t rely on that income. The homemade soap business is doing really well and has become my day job which I love because I’m really passionate about protecting the environment and ourselves from toxic additives in our cosmetics. We’ve stopped using synthetic fragrances, and are currently researching how to make our own alkaline naturally out of wood ash.

Smooth Sailing by Katie Lee Gretch

Smooth Sailing by Katie Lee Gretch

7. A lot of your work is very cute and quirky- how did you formulate this style? Do you feel it represents you/ your personality?

I don’t know, do you think I’m cute and quirky? That’s very interesting. I know that my themes change as my outlook on life changes. I used to have a bitter attitude and my work was scary and violent. I feel like I’m more in control of my life now, so I’m happier and my art style is more approachable. I guess it’s quirky because I like to be different, I like to create unique characters.

8. What’s your personal process for producing your artwork? What do you get out of it that makes it such an important part of your life?

I can’t tell you why it’s so important to me … it just is. I’m sure everyone can understand that, everyone has something they love ‘just because’. A perfect evening for me is putting my headphones on and listening to documentaries while I digitally paint.

The Animator's Survival Kit

The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

9. What advice do you have for budding artists? Are there any resources that you recommend?

If you can afford to go to art school, make sure to find one that suits your direction and specific needs. I’m a practical kind of artist so I got a Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment where I learned how to create art for video games. If you want to teach yourself, study animation techniques because it gives you a better understanding of how things move and work. The best animation book available is still “The Animators Survival Kit” by Richard Williams. Study your favourite artists and copy their work for the purpose of learning how they create a successful piece. I have studied hundreds of artists and merged many different styles into my own work. There is an abundance of tutorials on Youtube, I would only recommend that you like the artist’s work before taking their advice.

Ice Cream Girls by Katie Lee Gretch

Ice Cream Girls by Katie Lee Gretch

10. Where would you like to be with your art in the next 5 years?
As things are right now, I’ll have made a few indie video games and had 5 major exhibitions. I want to be established as a solo artist by then and have my work for sale in at least one Brisbane gallery.




You can see more of Katie’s artwork at rapidly expanding empire also houses the Clear Conscience Soap Company  -and Appelli- interactive advertising and games

Artist Interview: Josh Cranstoun

Josh and John are performing live with Die Empty,
June 27th- July 3rd 2013
Opening night Friday June 28th 5-9pm
Bleeding Heart Gallery, Brisbane

You’re our audio element to the Die Empty exhibit- please tell us a bit about the music you make and your creative processes!
As individuals, John and I incorporate many different influences into our music. He comes from a background as a DJ and I’ve always played acoustic music- we meet halfway with our love for hip hop. Our process is never the same really; we work on separate things away from each other and use our time together in the studio to develop our ideas.

Could you share a little bit about what you have planned for the Die Empty project?
The Die Empty project is such an exciting one in so many ways; a collection of artists all pouring their hearts into the show- it’s amazing. Die Empty is about a collective, not individuals, and hopefully the music reflects that just as much as the artists’ works.

What are you most looking forward to about opening night?
The payoff after months of hard work for all involved. As I have said above, it will be a sense of accomplishment for a large number of people, not just a few of the big guys that benefit. By artists, for artists.

We understand you have a few other projects on the go- what are they?
Our diverse styles allow us to focus on different aspects of our music at different times. We are currently developing solo albums for both myself and John, as well as joint collaborations for internet projects.

Do you have a creative philosophy?
I come from an acting background, so something that has become very important to me is the creative atmosphere. Often times, during auditions etc, you are made to feel like you’re under huge amounts of pressure, a situation I never performed well in. Taking time with my music and feeling comfortable and relaxed when making it is the most important thing to me by far.

What are a few things you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years?
We are at the beginning of an exciting time for our music- we are starting to perform live, getting closer to releasing albums, and hopefully in 5 years time we will have enough revenue to create music in a relaxed, motivating and secure environment.

These beautiful boys are brand spanking new on the scene, and from the samples I’ve heard we’re all in for an awesome treat!! We’ll be breaking news on their forthcoming projects as they evolve so keep those ears pinned back and primed for some listening candy!

What’s in store for you at the Die Empty opening night!

You may have noticed by now that Die Empty is being pimped as an interactive art exhibition, and possibly wondering what that might entail. So here’s some of what we’ve got planned sprinkled with a few of the artworks you can expect to see on show…………


Jason Gorman - Milky

Jason Gorman – Milky

The amazingly talented Josh Cranstoun will be flinging beats and looping sounds from 5pm- you are encouraged to provide voice samples!!

Katie Lee Gretch and myself (as well as anyone who cares to join us) will be drawing portraits throughout the evening, and there will be extra paper and pencils available……..if you don’t feel like drawing a portrait then draw whatever the flip you feel like!
And of course we’d love you to leave them for us to post on the website afterwards 😉


FEEDBACK is my personal favourite.

by Steve Falco

by Steve Falco

There will be a little box for you to post messages and opinions in and we dearly look forward to reading every single one of them. This is our first exhibition of this kind and your experiences will guide us from here….



Joy French - Ane

Joy French – Ane

The spirit of creative expression is communication, release and moving on. In honour of this we’re providing another box in which you can post anything you want to get off your chest. Secrets, confessions, whatever. This box will never be opened- after the week of the exhibit it will literally go up in flames so feel free to spill yer guts!


We’re not only looking at the physically interactive aspect, we’re exploring the emotional interaction and bonding between artists, artworks and viewers. It’s not just art on show, the contributing artists are encouraged to share their creative processes however they see fitting. It may be an inspiration folder, chatting with you on opening night, who knows…

Katie and I will be back on Saturday for more portrait drawing and chats with everybody, and Josh has offered some extra yet-to-be-confirmed performance time throughout the week- watch this space!

Sam x



Artist Interview: Joy French

Joy French is exhibiting with Die Empty,
June 27th- July 3rd 2013
Opening night Friday June 28th 5-9pm
Bleeding Heart Gallery, Brisbane

Miranda Kerr by Joy French

Miranda Kerr

The women in your paintings are strong and powerful; are your subjects imaginary or do you reference real women? 
I am fascinated by strong powerful , women who stand into there space, whatever role they have chosen to play ? Whether it be a mother, singer, poet, actress, mostly those who have made a mark or have inspired me,  it may be their story about their life or it maybe something visually striking where i just have to paint them.


Ray Charles by Joy French

Ray Charles

What part of the female face do you find the most time consuming to reproduce?
I LOVE THE eyes ..

On average, how long does it take to complete a portrait, and what year did you start taking your art seriously?
This is really tricky question to answer, it really does vary so much depending on the subject and my mood sometimes it can be a day sometimes a week or longer .. I Took art seriously as little girl :)) 🙂

Abigail O'Neill by Joy French

Abigail O’Neill

What advice can you give to aspiring portrait painters? Can you recommend a book or other resource that helped you learn how to produce great portraits?
Not really just practise , practise practise practise- be open to new opportunities

We understand you have an exhibition coming up at the Agora Gallery in New York, can you tell us a bit about how that opportunity came up for you?
YES , I am  in November cannot wait , they sent me an email about submitting my works- they had been watching my pieces apparently , so i went ahead and submitted my work early last year and they got back to me at dams welcoming me into the agora family, and have started to pr my work and gallery representation- very excited !! And very grateful.

Do you have any advice for artists who are just starting out professionally?
Be true to you , be open to opportunities ,it’s always about the journey not the destination …


Artist Invoking Artists

Artist Invoking Artists

You are a woman of many, many talents- what are you currently working on besides Die Empty, and which of your endevours are your all time favourite projects?
Oh thank you , I am working on the New york exhibit and currently four  commission jobs for some houses in Melbourne. Also a little photography for Tijuana cartel on one of their tours !! Photography is another great love !!

What do you aim to achieve in the next year?
TRAVEL !!! And paint. Be inspired and meet new and amazing souls to share with, love and laugh with.

You can view more of Joy French’s work at

Artist Interview: Hendrix Travis

Hendrix Travis is exhibiting with Die Empty,travis skateboard  deck #1
June 27th- July 3rd 2013
Opening night Friday June 28th 5-9pm
Bleeding Heart Gallery, Brisbane

What drives you?
A sense of wonder and infinite curiosity.

How did you discover your passion for art?
I’ve always created as a means of explaining, understanding, exploring and escaping.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and was it worth it?
I have knocked back various comfortable and profitable career offers to follow my travis skateboard  deck #2passion to create.  So far it is worth it but it feels like an uphill, against the grain type battle.

One thing you want to do before you die
Hold a massively successful sell out show of work in Europe!

Tell us something you want the world to know about you
Only what it can ask in person.

Which artists you admire?
Salvador Dali, Jacek Yerka, Ernst Fuchs, M.C. Escher, H.R. Geiger, Albrecht Durer, Heironymous Bosch, the list goes on and on but these were the first to spring to mind…

What’s your favourite quote/ song lyric?travis skateboard deck #3
“There’s an ocean between, where I am and where I want to be…” Flogging Molly

What’s the first CD you bought?
Green Day, Dookie

What is your most defining characteristic?
I’d like to think it’s my sense of adventure and ability to see the magic in the world.

If you could go back in time and visit your younger self what advice would you give?
Every experience you have is a chance to learn something.  Pay attention to the learnings in  every situation, good or bad.

Any major inspirations aside from other artists?travis skateboard  deck #4
Music, travel, adventure, movies, books, everyday happenstance, synchronicities

If you were a zombie whos brains would you eat first?
My own.

How do you plan your artwork?
I try not to plan it.  I start with random mark making to music, in the vein of automatic drawing.  I then see what imagery I can pull from out of the void.

What’s your favourite item of clothing?
Waistcoat, with a pocketwatch.

What are you afraid of?
Living and dying as a no one.  I am afraid of my life being forgotten over time.  Making a difference in the world and leaving a legacy is important to me.

What was the last thing that made you cry?
Frustration at not understanding the synchronicities that had led me to be where I am and what I am doing.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?
A great evening spent with good friends and a lot of banter!

Most embarressing moment?
I suspect my most embarrassing moment has been buried by my mind deep in my subconscious and is currently not accessible to me. This being the case, I tend to trust my mind to keep it safe and have no desire to delve in there looking for it.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Is it the same as when you were little?
A famous, eccentric artist extraordinaire!

What’s the best advice your parents ever gave you?
You can be whatever you want to be.  Follow your passion.

What are you looking forward to most about the Die Empty exhibit?
The opening night which I will unfortunately miss. The fandom that will increase as a result of the exposure.

Which of your artworks is your favourite and why?
The ones not yet created, because they possess infinite possibility!

How does your art reflect who you are?
They are literally photographs of my inner thoughts, subconscious and dreams.  As a viewer sees my work, they are meandering through my imagination.  How they interpret what they see, is as much a reflection of themselves as it is me.

You can view more of Hendrix Travis’ work at

2013 Exhibition

Come and see what your favourite artists have been up to over the last year, as well as check out the new talent in Brisbane with Die Empty’s established and emerging artists. If you’re an artist yourself, don’t forget to check out the Applications Page for information on how to get your work into the 2014 exhibition.


Artist Interview: Jason Gorman


Wrapped Object by Jason Gorman

Jason is exhibiting with Die Empty,
June 27th- July 3rd 2013
Opening night Friday June 28th 5-9pm
Bleeding Heart Gallery, Brisbane

What drives you?

Artists you admire:
Ken Taylor, Francis Bacon, Ron English

What’s your favourite quote/ song lyric?
Here comes that cold sunrise

What’s your favourite item of clothing?

What are you afraid of?

See more of Jason’s work at