Illustrator Ben O’Brien (aka Ben the Illustrator) is all about "bringing smiles" and a "positive, creative outlook" with his work, and after concerns over world leaders "turning their back on love" over the last year, he set out to redress the situation.

Ben’s saving grace is Coup – a charity initiative selling a selection of limited edition T-shirt prints to raise money for charities. The charities will be chosen by commissioned artists ranging from typographers to street artists. 

Every two weeks Ben will announce a new T-shirt design online, which will be available for just two weeks to purchase with only one t-shirt being available at any one time. The tees are screen-printed in the UK by Everpress, and distributed internationally.

Ben’s main goal is simple - to spread positivity and raise money.

"It's my own rally against the hate in the world, the leaders have started to hate, so now we have to stage a Coup and redress the balance," he explains. 

Last year Ben brought a T-shirt in aid of JK Rowling’s charity Lumos around the time of conceiving Coup, and this sparked the idea to use T-shirts as the format for his initiative.

"T-shirts can be gifts or just a treat for yourself, they can have a slogan or a great piece of art, they can be political, fun or uber-cool. Also, I'm a lifelong T-shirt collector and this way I get to buy myself T-shirts by all the best artists," he says. 

Coup has recently launched, and only Andy J Pizza’s design is available to purchase so far (as seen below).

Andy J Pizza is a commercial artists living and working in Ohio, US, working for Google, Converse, Oreo and Sony among other brands. You might know him from the Creative Pep Talk podcast. Funds from his Don’t Look Down t-shirt design will aid American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who work to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the US. 

You can buy the T-shirt from Everpress for £20

And keep on the lookout, as you can expect to see print designs from TADO, Jam Factory, Sawdust and a design by four artists who participated in the Washington Women’s March among others.

A sneak peak of prints to come

Ben is still curating a list of artists for the rest of the year. His main guiding factor is deciding who will design a beautiful T-shirt. Artists have no brief, and just one guideline: "just bring the love and keep it positive".

"Some have chosen to take a theme relating to their chosen charity, and some have just gone straight for the creative approach and enjoyed making some pure art with a good message," he says.

"I also have a list of artists who don't necessarily suit T-shirts, but we're hoping to do prints and other products putting their skills to the best use."

Chosen charities include Unicef, Make A Wish and the Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

Although Ben hopes Coup will move beyond T-shirts and into products and events, he realises the first victory is to, well, sell a lot of T-shirts.

"Tweeting about charities or creating positive artwork will only be worthwhile if it leads to great products being seen by super customers." 

And if you’re wondering if Ben will be designing himself, he says he prefers to be the curator of this initiative, rather than an illustrator. 

"I have aspirations of building this into so much more in the future, how I could curate and sell t-shirts and art products for charity full-time, I suppose as a charity entrepreneur, which is a completely separate part of me to the commercial artist I am now."

Ben has worked in the areas of editorial, advertising, fashion, murals, surface patterns and interiors. He aims to take a clean, fresh view of the world, adding pop and fuelling emotions.