Cristina Bencina is an artist & illustrator living in Aurora, Colorado. Born on Long Island, New York, she studied illustration and received her BFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her artwork has been selected and featured in various annuals and exhibitions such as Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, American Illustration, and The Society of Illustrators in New York City.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: +88 (0) 101 0000 000
Fax: +88 (0) 202 0000 001

Frequently Asked Questions


Are you represented by an agent?

I currently am not represented by an agent. However, I am open to exploring any new opportunities. If you’d like to work together and think we would make a good fit, send me an email.

What are your influences and inspirations?

Nature, animals, plants, natural history, vintage illustrations, mythology, Japanese woodblock prints, patterns.

I think your art has been stolen. How can I notify you?

Send me an email along with any information you have. I appreciate it.

What are your prices?

Please email to discuss your ideas with me directly as so I can provide an accurate estimate.

Do you design logos?

No, what you are looking for is a graphic designer. Illustration is a completely different field.

I am a company, may I license your artwork?

At this time, I currently am not licensing the artwork you see on my site. However, this is something I will be interested in exploring at a later point. Right now, I am looking for commission based work. Thank you for your interest.

I have an idea for a project, could you replicate this artist's style?

I get this question a lot. I think there’s a general misunderstanding. My portfolio is a representation of my own style, the work that I am capable of and the work I’m interested in doing. I do not “copy” other artists or replicate styles that aren’t my own. If the work I have in my portfolio does not fit your personal vision, then I am not the right artist for your project.

Can I use one of your pieces as a tattoo?

I highly encourage everyone to seek out a professional illustrator with experience in tattoo art and get something personalized. Tattoo artists know what looks good on people’s bodies, what style works, and how to execute it well. I would also imagine they went into tattoo design to put their own creativity and spin into it. They are artists too. It’s probably a cool experience to work personally with a tattoo artist to make something meaningful together. I have no experience in tattoos and I do not do personal commissions for a tattoo.


If you really insist on something I’ve made in the past- I do sell a tattoo pass for $100. A tattoo pass is my certificate of approval to use my creative property. I think it’s fair. Art is my job and my artwork is my property and no one is entitled to things others have made. If you are in love with an image I made and want it permanently inked on your skin, please compensate me, whose time, effort, and passion, went into creating that image.

By Students, Aspiring Artists, Curiousity

Where did you study?

I studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. There, I received my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Illustration. I spent two years in the graphic design program and switched majors to the illustration program in the latter. SVA did not allow a double major. Fortunately for me, I got to experience many classes the illustration program did not have, such as traditional printmaking, aquatint, silkscreening, etc. which is where my interest in block printing came from.

Do you have to go to art school?

No, I don’t think you do. I have never been asked about my school when I get contacted for work. You can be successful without it.


Although, I must say, I think if I hadn’t of gone to art school, I would have been in a completely different place in my life, especially with my art. It exposed me to many new ways of creative thinking and techniques. This is my personal train of thought, but I don’t think the internet is an adequate replacement. For me, nothing beats an in person experience.

Do you recommend moving to a big city to pursue art?

I grew up on Long Island, New York. I was super fortunate that I was only a 45 minute train ride away from, my opinion, one of the greatest cities there is. I loved it so much. I commuted back and forth on the LIRR to class everyday at the School of Visual Arts for my bachelor’s degree. I visited the museums often, went to art fairs. I drew on location and got to sketch in dozens of neighborhoods. My experience being in and in proximity of such a city was incredibly inspiring and has left an impact on me and my work. It’s definitely competitive. You meet the best of the best and the whole experience of being a small fish in a big pond hits hard. Honestly, it’s truly exhilarating. So do I recommend it? Sure. But I don’t know you – I don’t know your personality. I don’t know your financial situation. I knew many friends, living in Long Island, that hated Manhattan. It’s dirty, humid, rainy, rude, and smells like piss and cigarettes. So again, ask yourself what kind of person you are before coming to NYC. It’s a shocker, I think, for some personality types, especially those who are not used to attitudes of the Northeast.


Do you need to be near a city? I don’t think you need to be physically anywhere to be successful nowadays, especially with the internet and freelancing. Sure, there’s events, galleries, schools, museums – which are all inspiring and great, but all of that is supplemental.

If you gave advice to a young artist, what would it be?

I have a few things:


– Experiment in as many mediums as you possibly can.


– The internet and social media is great for finding new art you enjoy, but there’s something to be said I think about truly finding out what you enjoy and what makes your work uniquely you by spending some alone time and by tuning out. I feel like this generation really needs to hear this, you can make it as an illustrator without social media presence.


– You are transitioning from a hobby to a business. Be honest and recognize what is sell able and what is not. Recognize good art vs bad. Learn the difference between what is personal to you and what people can actually use in products and goods. Learn what is a marketable portfolio. Don’t be a sellout– draw for yourself first always and let people come to you. But it’s important to recognize specific niches in where your work can realistically be used on a good or for a service.


– An introvert can compete with an extrovert, just be ready to work twice as hard and let your work speak for you.


– “I hate drawing  __” or “I can’t draw  __” is only but a state of mind.

Why did you become an artist?

When I was younger I always knew I would be doing something creative, but what kind of art that was, I had no clue. I experimented in different kinds of art, from 3d modeling, graphic design, to concept art, then finally illustration.


There are so many niches of art, it’s overwhelming to decide on something, especially when you are young and inexperienced. I was seventeen years old when I started art school. If you were to ask myself then what illustration was, I would have said maybe an oil painting of a bowl of fruit. The thought of making art for books, or packaging, etc, it never occurred to me. I had a big passion in video games at the time, so I thought concept art was my calling. But I realized I just didn’t have a natural inclination for it. It required quick, impressionistic loose paintings. I was never satisfied by concept art because it felt unfinished to me. I was always very detail oriented. A teacher of mine at SVA, Jillian Tamaki, noticed this, and asked me if I had ever considered book illustration. Since then, I found that this field really clicked with how I work and have enjoyed it since.


One of the things I love most about being an illustrator is bring people’s ideas to life. Creating imagery that helps sell a product brings me a lot of personal satisfaction.

Can you share your process?

I typically brainstorm in my sketchbook. My sketchbook is filled with messy thumbnails. For me, the most important thing in a sketch is to define the shapes, create an interesting silhouette, and get a solid composition. My sketches are small, maybe about a half inch to an inch in size.


Next, I gather up all my reference images and collage them into a big file.


From there, I scan in the thumbnail and bring it into photoshop. I play with patterns, strokes, colors, etc. The end result is a more refined rough idea that will be my guideline for the final. Sometimes it’s extremely close to the final. Sometimes I leave it black and white, and let the painting dictate the colors as I create.


Next, I lower the opacity and trace over this sketch. This is where I pretty much “wing it.” I try to find a balance of fixing minor things, such as anatomical errors, and keeping the original ‘soul” of the first sketch. It’s very easy to make the piece too stiff or realistic here, so I try to stay loose with my line art. Reference is good, but I avoid trying to copy to strictly from it. Keeping character in my work is really important to me.


After the lineart has been created, I start to incorporate patterns. I marquee textures I’ve created by hand and paste them in like a collage. All my textures are hand done. Either done digitally or cut and pasted from textures I hand made traditionally.


I work traditionally as well, but only for gallery shows or personal work. All my commissions are done digitally. It’s boils down to a matter of time. I can make pictures extremely fast on the computer, and when you’re creating a piece for a client, time is money. I like to take time with traditional mediums and find it relaxing. It’s also painful to sit long hours, so I take breaks often, which would be just too much time wasted for client work.


For traditional work, I love working with india ink on claybord. After laying down ink, I etch the surface, similar to a scratchboard technique.

How do you find your style?

The golden question. As a student and new artist out of school, I remember being really frustrated with my work. I graduated art school with no distinctive style. Or at least it felt that way. I felt like I spent a few years making work that “wasn’t me.” Even now, if I pick up one of my old sketchbooks, I see how much I was influenced by all these artists I admired. The problem was, I admired them so much, my work started to look too much like their work! I turned into some sort of half academia, half chameleon type of artist that didn’t have one cohesive look.


The time where I started to feel like I finally am making things that are “me” was when I disconnected completely. I unfollowed everyone on all my social media accounts. I deleted every social media app on my phone. I actually went ahead and blocked every art site on my computer. The only art I would look at, if I did, was my own or something in museums or books. I did this for about a year. It helped a lot. It forced me to create things without outside influence. I ended up experimenting more. I ended up reconnecting with techniques I used to enjoy before outside influences and trends. I lost fear of making mistakes and winged it. I stopped thinking “what would other people like” before I started a piece. I found my own solutions without outside help or tutorials. I noticed patterns in my work. It was really an introspective time for me, and found it beneficial to my work. I had a good long look at only myself and my work, and from there my “style” started to blossom. I say “style” but I much prefer the phrase “personal voice.” After many drawings, your art kind of becomes like your handwriting. Do you question your handwriting as an adult? Why do I write a specific letter like that? Probably not.

What are your favorite art books?

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang (A great book on the basics of composition, color, shape)


Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines (Fantastic for the business side for illustrators)


Steal like an Artist, Show Your Work, Keep Going by Austin Kleon (Literally my art bible, a great trilogy, especially for artists who feel like they need encouragement or guidance, this trilogy is short and sweet)