Ben O'Brien -- aka Ben The Illustrator -- and design blog Thunder Chunky have come together to create The Renmen Project, which will sell artwork from leading illustrators and designers to raise money for the Unicef Haiti Earthquake Children's Appeal.

'Renmen' means love in Haitian, and the project's logo features the Hisplaniolan Trogon, the national bird of Haiti.


We sat down with Ben to discover more about the project.

DA: Why did you decide to create the Renmen Project?

BOB: "I guess for the obvious reason, just to do something, just to try and raise some money for the cause.

"Some time ago I had the idea to draw one picture over and over again, and sell the whole series off as a charity thing, but I never quite found the right cause. This year so far has been an emotional one for me, on the 8th my wonderful wife gave birth to a little boy, Elwood -- our first child. I felt blessed to have what I have, then four days later a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.

"I know now more than ever that nothing is as precious as life itself, and so decided to forfeit some of my work time in favour of doing something pro-active, something useful, for the Haitian families that really could do with a little love and care right now."

DA: Who's involved so far?

BOB: "My first idea was simply to do the drawings, sell them on our own online store, make some cash, and be done with it. But it felt like it had some potential, like perhaps it could be bigger, so I called on my friends at Thunder Chunky and they leapt at the chance.

"Jon, Stephen and Mike [from Thunder Chunky] have been amazing over the short period of time we've brought it together, really thrown themselves into it, so essentially it's the four of us managing it all. Together we have built a website and online store, but more than that we have created a project which will be working with various artists and designers to produce artwork to be sold especially for the charity, Unicef's Haiti Earthquake Children's Appeal.

"We already have some other wonderful artists on-board. The only ones I can name right now are Jeremyville, Pete Fowler and Sam Gilbey."


DA: What's the concept behind your first sketch?

BOB: I had a few restrictions, due to the fact that I was going to re-produce the image 100 times. It had to be simple and it had to be fairly accurate each time. So I went with my own hand-drawn font (a clumsy version of my favourite font, Cooper Black) for the ease of reproduction, but to add a little symbolism I also drew a Hispaniolan Trogon, although in my own style.


DA: How can Digital Arts readers get involved?

BOB: "There's quite a few ways. We appreciate any support we can get, so blogging about the project, tweeting, emailing the links around, any word-spreading is wonderful. We're all set up on Facebook and Twitter,
so please do join us and say hi. [Ben can be found on Twitter at @BenAndFi, Thunder Chunky at @thunderchunkyuk.]

"Secondly, we're always looking out for more artists and designers to contribute pieces to sell, at the moment we're working with a select few invited artists, but we also have projects coming up for a much wider spread of creatives, so if you're keen to get involved, check out the website and get in touch.

"Finally, save up some pennies and buy something from the store. In time we'll have products for all price brackets, the first sale is my own 100 drawings, each signed and numbered, each one selling for £10. So for £10 you get a sweet piece of art, and that £10 could then go to Unicef to provide a basic clean water kit for a family in Haiti."

DA: How long will it run for?

BOB: "At the moment we're planning on it running all year, through to the end of 2010. Perhaps we'll have one big finale next Christmas, or perhaps we'll keep on working at it into 2011."