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Meet Our Professors: Ben Sowards, Illustration

Associate Professor Ben Sowards dropped out of preschool so he could have more time to draw. He is now a successful artist creating works and illustrations for a variety of clients and is also teaching students at SUU. For the last 16 years, he has shown his passion for learning and illustration with his students, always inspiring them to do their best and find their creativity.


Associate Professor of Illustration

Department of Art & Design

How long have you been working at SUU?
16 years

Where did you grow up?
Las Cruces, NM

Where did you attend college and what did you study?  
-Bachelor of Fine Art in Illustration at Brigham Young University
-Master of Fine Art in Painting at Laguna College of Art & Design

Where did you work before coming to SUU?
I worked briefly in the video game industry as a concept and production artist. I continue to create commissioned works and illustrations for a variety of clients.

When and how did you decide what you wanted your career to be?
I dropped out of preschool so I could have more time to draw.

Favorite thing to teach about your subject?
I love teaching because I love to learn. Teaching illustration gives me permission to explore the meaning and origin of story, the human story that connects all of us. I get to investigate human anatomy and its power to convey meaning through gesture and representation. I teach this through drawing and painting as well as sculptures that begin with the skeleton and continue through the muscles and skin. In a single day I will paint and draw in the traditions handed down to us across the centuries and use the digital painting and sculpting tools that are at the leading edge of technological development.

Why do you love your field?
Illustration is a rapidly evolving field, experiencing a period of unprecedented expansion and diversification. There are no two illustrators that would develop a solution or create an image the same way. I am continually delighted and inspired by the creativity of others.  

What has been your proudest moment working at SUU?
Contributing to student growth and achievement- seeing a student experience a breakthrough in the classroom or realize a professional milestone can be an incredible high.

What is one thing you wish to tell every student in your class?
Whatever you choose to do, do it with your whole heart.

What do you love about SUU?  
We like to say that at SUU, “professors know your name.” It goes beyond that. Small class sizes allow me to spend enough time with each student to learn much more about them than just their name. Understanding a student’s individual motivations and goals allows me to customize course content and create experiential learning opportunities.

 Ben's father commissioned this piece when he was four years old. After keeping it in his wallet, he later returned it to Ben when he graduated from college..pngPoster from the Leven Thumps Series..png



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