Unfold design is a multi-disciplinary design company incorporating the work of illustrator Benjamin Johnston.

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For the full portfolio please see the Portfolio page


Benjamin works full-time as a registered architect, however drawing and illustrating for children have always been his passion.  Through his involvement in Children’s book illustration and as a father of two, Benjamin has developed an interest in widening his outreach to children through both writing and school presentations.

The opportunity of seeing life again through children’s eyes is a major influence in the creation of his work.

As a Children’s book illustrator, Benjamin has illustrated the first books in two separate series of stories: the “Skool Rox” series, written by Barton Williams and the “Engibear” series, written by Engineer and Author Andrew King.

The detail and intricateness of the illustrations for “Engibear’s Dream” have captivated a wide audience – from ages 3 to 80! A follow-up book, “Engibear’s Bridge” was published in August 2014 and book No.3, “Engilina’s Trains” in 2017.  Andrew King and Benjamin have also completed a 4th Engineering book – although this is separate to the Engibears series.  The book is called “Young Engineers” and it was published in 2019.

Recently, Benjamin has been working on a new illustrated picture book called “Ling Li’s Lantern” written by Steve Heron and published by Midnight Sun (2020), plus a two book series called “Eddy Popcorn” written by Dee White and published by Omnibus/Scholastic (2020).

Benjamin works in a collaborative role with the authors and editors to develop not just the illustrations but also the “brand” for the series, assisting with integrating both the concept and text with the pictures (followed by the grunt work of producing the illustrations themselves).

Other than illustration, Benjamin tries to set time aside to write as well.  To date he has written one book titled “Solveig’s shadow” (seeking a willing publisher) and is working on a Young Adult novela loosely based on the themes of Globalisation.  He also produced an e-book that collated his Climate-change themed illustrations undertaken during inktober2019.  This is available on the Downloads page.

Benjamin is a member of SCBWI (Society of children’s books writers and illustrators) and has had his work showcased in the Bologna Illustrators Gallery 2014 through SCBWI International.

Under the name “Unfold Design”, Benjamin has also explored many other design fields from graphic design through to furniture and object design. Benjamin has been a finalist in the Sydney Morning Herald “Young Designer of the Year” competition three times and was awarded the “Lifestyle Channel Design Award” in 2004.

Benjamin’s illustration abilities cover a wide range of styles and media, allowing an entirely flexible and brief-driven approach to both Commercial illustration but also Children’s book illustration.  Benjamin was a finalist in a book cover design competition run by Murdoch Book and he has been commissioned for a number of commercial illustration projects. Benjamin’s varied artistic influences have created the opportunity for undertaking a wide spectrum of illustration styles.  As an architect, technical drawing and “non-fiction” illustration comes naturally, but a year and some more of study (life drawing and etching) at Julian Ashton Art School in the Rocks, Sydney, have encouraged for a more free-flowing expression.  The two sides are constantly at war!

Logo design and mascot/character design are a particular specialty, taking the theme for a company or enterprise and creating a recognizable symbol or mascot to become an on-going marketing tool.

As a brief-driven illustrator, Benjamin is keen to ensure that all illustrations work as hard as possible to get the intended message across, be that for a commercial project or for a children’s book creation.


“Ling Li’s Lantern” Written by Steve Heron. Published by MidnightSun. 2020

“Eddy Popcorn’s Guide to Parent Training” Written by Dee White. Published by Omnibus/Scholastic. 2020

“Young Engineers” Written by Andrew King. Published by Little Steps. 2019

“Hopping around the Christmas tree”  Published by Scholastic. 2018

“Engilina’s Trains.” Written by Andrew King. Published by Little Steps. 2017

“Engibear’s Bridge.” Written by Andrew King. Published by Little Steps. 2014

“Mike the Spike” Written by Stella Tarakson.  Published by New Frontier Publishing. 2014

“Ferret on the Loose.” Written by Heather Gallagher.  Published by New Frontier Publishing. 2013

“Engibear’s Dream.” Written by Andrew King.  Published by Little Steps. 2012

“Angry Mangry”. Written by Barton Williams.  Published by Little Steps.  2011


“Hogging Harriet” Written by Barton Williams.  Date TBC



  • Stanmore Public School, 2017
  • Abbottsleigh Literary Festival, 2016 (three workshops)
  • Greenacre Public School, 2016
  • Strathfield North Public School, 2015
  • Cromer Public School, 2015
  • Gardners Road Public School, 2015
  • CBCA West Sydney – Book Week workshop 2015
  • CBCA “Big Book Day Out”, 2014



Book illustration competitions / prizes:

Shortlist – WAYRBA 2015 (Western Australian Young Readers Award), 2015 for Engibear’s Dream

Finalist – SCBWI Bologna Illustrator’s Gallery (BIG), 2014

President’s Prize – AEEA (Australian Engineering Excellence Awards) 2012 for Engibear’s Dream.  For services to the Engineering community, 2012

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Graphic Design competitions:

Finalist – Murdoch Books “Girl with the dragon tattoo” competition, 2012

Runner-up – Earthsharing logo design competition, 2005

Finalist – Gowings/Bonds T-shirt design competition, 2005

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Industrial Design competitions:

Finalist – Lockwood design competition, 2006

Runner up – Lifestyle Channel Design Award – “Innerspace”, 2005

Winner – Lifestyle Channel Design Award – “Tatamiorigami”, 2004

Special Jury Prize – Sydney Morning Herald “Young Designer of the Year” Award – “Tatamiorigami”, 2003

Finalist – Sydney Morning Herald “Young Designer of the Year” Award – “Dining Red”, 2002

Finalist – Sydney Morning Herald “Young Designer of the Year” Award – “Just add water”, 1999

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