I’m Michael Bencik, an illustrator and graphic artist who has been working in Philadelphia for the past 20 years. I recently uprooted my life and moved to a small village in Ireland, where I am discovering all the joys of being a working artist and a stay-at-home dad.
My first job in 1996 was at Tyco Toys in Mt. Laurel, NJ. I designed exciting kids toys like Fingernail Fun and Princess Potions. A year after I started, Mattel acquired Tyco. During the transition, I went to Mattel Headquarters in Los Angeles, and presented the toy concepts to Mattel executives. Mattel then laid off most of the original Tyco staff—an eye-opening experience for me.
After my job at Tyco ended I decided to stay in Philadelphia because I fell in love with the city. I started a freelance illustration business and have done a variety of projects including: large murals, museum exhibitions, packaging design, curriculum design, children’s books, and comic books. Some of my clients included Schuengelschwartz, Bäcker Peter, LamitDepot, Silent Devil Comics, Tyco Toys, Mattel, Saban, Letter Pals, Shooters Post Production, and Universo Magico.
In 1999 I took a job as the in-house illustrator for Dream Chasers Enterprises. I designed a reading program that was sold at Toys ‘R’ Us. Eventually the product was refined into a literacy program. I designed and illustrated three different series of short stories, more than 100 in all. I also illustrated and designed all the auxiliary materials like mailboxes, clings, activity sheets, and trading cards.
In 2003 I started working as the in-house graphic designer at Children’s Literacy Initiative. I later left the company as an employee, but, I continued working there as a consultant. I was the lead designer and illustrator on CLI’s Blueprint curriculum, which is still used today.
When I took the job at Dream Chasers Enterprises, I never realized that I would be working in literacy for the next 14 years. It feels good to know that I have been helping kids to learn and enjoy reading.
In addition to my illustration and artwork, I also am involved house restoration and property management. I bought my first Victorian house in 2003, and spent the next 9 months restoring the 110-year-old structure to its original beauty. This was the beginning of a bit of a restoration addiction. I have since bought and restored 7 turn-of-the-century houses. My management company, Bencik Enterprises, serves more than 40 tenants.
In 2013 I took a year off of day-to-day property management to travel and sketch. I traveled to 11 countries in Southeast Asia. I absorbed the people and culture while documenting it in my sketchbook and blog. I created a web comic of my adventures that I drew on an iPad 4. In 2015, I had my own art show showcasing my ink drawings from the trip.
I recently moved to Ireland with my wife and daughter. I hired someone to manage the day-to-day rental operations. I continue to pursue my art from abroad. You can now find me sketching old castles, countryside, and locals. I am currently working on a children’s book. Ultimately everything still comes down to the story for me.
Take some time to check out my artwork and enjoy my books—and click subscribe to get email updates about when I put up new content and hold special contests.
Thanks for stopping by!