Aileen Bennett spends her days illustrating, designing, painting, writing, giving presentations, and creating stuff. She lives in that gap that often exists between business and the arts, finding inspiration in both areas. She writes the BE YOU column for The Advocate (and has done for 10 years), a place where she gets to feature people and tell the world a little more about them, something she loves to do. Aileen also is a specialist in Pitch Coaching training people to pitch their products and ideas in a few minutes. She has worked with everyone from local accelerators to large international companies. At one time she was a full-time professional speaker and won the title of “Top Humorous Speaker in the UK and Ireland” (TMI). She still does creative and teamwork training and gives speeches about branding and creativity.
Her local art credits include: The ’Illustrated Cafe’ that took over the cafe area of the Acadiana Center for the Arts last year, providing an interactive experience for visitors and introducing new people to the world of the arts; Working with Gina Aswell on a dance/art piece (she was the artist obviously) called ‘Every Place We Ever Lived’ about the stories that make us who we are; illustrating a children’s book about dogs (and a few cats).
She recently moved into a painting studio downtown and is finding new inspiration all around her. She is currently working on her third book, she describes it as a very small book with great possibilities. Aileen continues to juggle rebranding, marketing, writing, painting and illustrating – they all feed each other and the variety keeps her creative. Happily married to a Cajun, when she isn’t traveling she works from a white studio with the assistance of a white dog called Blue. She has an insatiable curiosity, bulletproof enthusiasm, and a slight obsession with surfing.
Who makes up your art circle?
Sometimes I feel like it’s all the creatives in the whole world, and other times I sit alone wondering where I went wrong.
I have a group of local creatives who keep me inspired by doing their own work to a standard that keeps me in awe. A lot of other creatives are out there doing the independent thing, both local and around the planet. We are lucky to have the internet and access to so many people but there is nothing like a coffee and a real conversation.
How do you expand your art circle?
Every new project brings the opportunity to connect to new people, or to learn about new things. Although I’ve been designing my whole life, the art world is still fairly new to me and I’m both learning how things are and questioning why that is. I mostly believe that like attracts like and people appear at the right time.
What value do you see in having a creative community?
It’s essential. Vital. Imperative. Even if you don’t have real people, being able to walk around a gallery or watch a dance piece is lifeblood. Real people are even better. Conversations are magical. Coffee shops are where ideas go to have sex.
How does your artistic approach contribute to your community?
We all rise together. It sounds simple but it’s true, I’m a supporter, an encourager, a mentor. If I want to live in a place where creatives thrive, I have to play my part to make that happen.