Ben Cantwell

US Marine Corps

Ben Cantwell was born in Seattle in 1991 and grew up and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2012, he enlisted in the Marines and was assigned the MOS of 0311, Rifleman, at the age of 20. He served with the Magnificent Bastards of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, Echo Company. After 2 deployments to the Pacific, serving as a Corporal and Squad leader, Cantwell separated from the Marines in 2016. While attending college, EMT school, and traveling; he rediscovered a childhood passion for the arts that had been on the backburner throughout his service.

After creating some watercolor paintings, he began receiving requests for commission, shirts featuring art and prints of existing work. He currently works as a Firefighter in California and his art can be found tattooed on someone's skin, thumb-tacked on the walls of barracks rooms, and framed in studies of veterans and public service workers across the country.

"It doesn't matter if you're a post 9/11 Veteran, a Vietnam Veteran, or someone who serves your community on the streets of America. I'm creating art for all of us. Difficult times often leave us in dark places; personally, I use art as a lantern to explore these shadows. I'm trying to create a conversation that helps us explore and understand these shared past experiences. Art as a tool to overcome obstacles of the past, celebrate life, and empower action through service."

More of his work and story can be found on his website or his Instagram