“To me, the word is the strongest form of art. The graphics are just a vehicle to carry out the words. I would have liked to be a poet. Whenever I do a poster, I try to include a quote, because the words will live forever.” - Tom Benton
Benton combined his love of poetry, quotes and design to create dozens of conceptual works of art. The visual images and words work in tandem to make a point and leave ample room for the viewer to reflect on the composition. His choice of words were as beautifully crafted as the art, and they perfectly complemented each other.
Benton was well read and particularly fond of T.S. Elliot, Shakespeare, Robinson Jeffers, and the Japanese writers Izumi Shikibu, Minamoto No Morotada, and Ki No Tsurayaki. His close friend, Joe Henry, was a frequent collaborator, and he would also quote from such diverse sources as Grateful Dead lyrics and the Bible.
Artist and friend Ian Cion said he remembers certain poems specifically because of Benton’s art. “He helped make poetry matter to me, and art to matter to me,” Cion said. “Later, as we became friends, he helped me believe that it mattered that I cared about these things, and tended to them.”