Monday, June 22, 2009

The Melbourne Dossier: Ben Zen

Today we have a new Melbourne Dossier, featuring Ben from Ben Zen Illustrations. Ben's blog is one of my favorites, full of the loveliest drawings you ever will see, that I visit very regularly, so it is very exciting that he agreed to tell us about Melbourne...

How long have you lived in Melbourne?

I only moved to Melbourne about a year ago from country NSW, so I'm still fairly new!

What do you do with yourself?

I work full time as a Graphic Designer but I also like to hide away in my bedroom and draw pictures which I publish to my blog. Sometimes I also do little drawings on stickers and put them around in the streets.

image from Ben's blog

Best place in Melbourne to...

...have a coffee?

We're pretty spoilt for choice here in Melbourne when it comes to coffee. I don't think I've ever had a bad coffee here, but every now and then you come across one that really stands out... I love Arcadia in Gertrude St, Fitzroy and Seven Seeds in Berkeley St, Carlton. They're a couple of my favorite places, not only for the coffee, but the atmosphere.

...have breakfast?

I had a pretty fine breakfast at Seven Seeds on the weekend. You also can't go past breakfast at Brunetti's in Faraday Street, Carlton. Their pastries and cakes are amazing, it's like a Melbourne institution, so it's a great place to try if you're after a unique Melbourne experience.

image from Seven Seeds people?

If you're creative, there's so many things to get involved in. If you love sketching you should come along to Sketchcrawl, Dr Sketchys or Sketch City. Most of the little galleries in the City/Fitzroy areas have openings for each new exhibition, so they're also great to go along to.

...see/hear/experience some art or culture?

There always seems to be something on, so if you just wander in the city for long enough you're sure to come across something exciting. There always seems to be something on at Federation Square. Fitzroy is a great area to explore too. Some worthwhile places to check out are the Lamington Drive Gallery, Gorker Gallery and Rose St Artist Markets. But basically, don't be afraid to wander up the side-streets, because you never know what you'll come across!

Perfect way to spend a Melbourne day?

Hmm... maybe a sleep in, followed by brunch somewhere, then a wander around the city. Maybe a tram ride to Brunswick street that afternoon for a bit of a stroll and gallery crawl, then finish the day off having a few beers and some tapas at a little bar hidden up a laneway somewhere in the city.

Hop tip/must see for someone new or visiting Melbourne?

Don't just stay in the city. Take the tram out to some areas like St Kilda Beach, Brunswick St, Lygon St etc and go exploring. They're the places that are unique to Melbourne.

image by Appljax

Who are some Melbourne locals that interest and inspire you?

Basically any artist who is doing their thing and getting their work out there. There's so many great artists and illustrators in Melbourne, such as Andrea Innocent, Kat McLeod, Ghost Patrol and Miso.

Tell us a Melbourne hidden gem?

A friend and I discovered this great little restaurant on Nicholson St, North Carlton called Little Zephyr Kitchen, which serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. I've taken friends visiting from Sydney there a couple of times because I think it's got a very Melbourne feel to it, and they have the most amazing Gnocchi.

Favorite Melbourne blogs or websites?

Three thousand. A great guide to everything happening in Melbourne, such as bands, exhibitions etc. You can subscribe to their newsletter and every Thursday you'll get an email with everything that's coming up for the week ahead.

Only in Melbourne can you _____________________??

Have a bit of everything at your fingertips, and find something new each time you head into the city. It's so cultural here and I love it!

image from Ben's blog

A big thanks to Ben for playing along! Go check out his blog to see more of his work :)


  1. I had a look at the little Zephyr kitchen and it looks amazing. We will have to check it out as soon as possible.

  2. It is.... a friend and I just stumbled across it really randomly one night. their gnocchi is amazing, and they do great pizzas too.

    By the way, thanks for letting me take part in your blog :)