You may have noticed a comic called The Lift in SPIN (see page 16) which features hilarious takes on life in a ski resort. But did you know who created them?
Artist and long-time Sun Peaks local Ben Morris is the mastermind behind the comic. Morris is also the owner of Red Tree Designs and first penned comics for the local newspaper in the mid-2000s which ran for a few seasons. Last fall Morris decided to bring them back with a new look.
“Since trying a new art-based direction with Red Tree Designs in 2015, I decided to start a new digital comic, The Lift, exclusively for the new Sun Peaks Independent News… It focuses mainly on day-to-day life and events around the Sun Peaks area,” he said.
Morris, who was always interested in art and design, was encouraged by his family to pursue the arts from a young age.
“In high school I did well in art class and made many drawings and murals for my friends who also thought I should pursue an art career,” said Morris.
In 2002, Morris began teaching himself design industry techniques. Morris and his business partner at the time created Evil Line, a custom art design and hand-made clothing company.
“It was a great learning experience where we had fun and some good success,” he said.
Morris started his own company, Red Tree Designs, in 2007, which inspired him to train professionally. He enrolled in the Digital Art and Design program at Thompson Rivers University in 2007 and graduated in 2010 all while starting a family and working.
“I had to make some difficult decisions as how to best provide a good living and pursue a design career in a very competitive field. Since then I have balanced working full-time in mining and still producing art products in my spare time. I now focus mainly on my own art and have been slowly backing out of commercial-based graphic design,” said Morris.
Despite that direction, Morris is still very active within the Sun Peaks community. Along with his comic, he provides acrylic wall murals for homes and businesses. His illustrative artwork can be purchased at Alpine Images Photography.
“It allows me a new artistic freedom and relieves me of the pressure of refilling empty wall space when a piece sells,” he said.
Morris is also the director of marketing for the Bluebird Day Fund and lends his digital skills to the not-for-profit society. The fund, founded in memory of Sun Peaks local Bryn Taylor who passed away in 2006, provides athletic and recreational programs for individuals to pursue winter sports.
Morris has been an active member since 2011 and designs their posters, branding and advertising while managing their website. He also designed a custom Endeavour snowboard in 2008 to raise money for the foundation. Fifty boards with his design were sold for $500 each, with some raffled off for hundreds of dollars more.
“It was definitely a huge boost to our fundraising” he said noting the original artwork can be seen at Bottoms Bar & Grill in the village.
Currently, Morris is working on a new summer art series for Alpine Images and a new website for Red Tree Designs.
“Stay tuned to Red Tree Designs on Facebook for what comes next.”