Welcome to the vibrant world of Simon Benko. Inspired by a vast range of hobbies and interests, I am a storyteller at heart with a passion for fostering community. In my life, primary roles have included those in marketing, writing, and leadership. Each of these, however, has always been driven by cultivating relationships. I am thankful enough to have had the opportunity to travel across God's beautiful world, meet inspiring individuals, and experience a range of diversified cultures in areas local, national, and international.
In 2021, I partnered with my brother Donovan Benko to create the social media platform Tap Network. Following our initial investment, our company received a multimillion dollar evaluation. Supporting our team through marketing and content creation, the threads of storytelling are at the forefront of everything that I strive to offer.
My primary strength is displayed via interpersonal communication and networking. My network consists of more than 200 influencers with followers that each exceed one million followers, social media executives and managers from a majority of leading companies and institutions, and the world's top innovators, c-level executives, presidents, and creators.
Santa Monica Pier, 2021
Marvel Studios, 2018
From the humble beginnings of 2014, I became determined that I would one day join the Marvel Studios story. The following year, I created "Benko Entertainment" as a means to connect and collaborate with professionals worldwide.
Since the beginning of this dream, I have built a vast network of friends and acquaintances within Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, and the Walt Disney Company.
Born into a generational family of collectors, I have come to foster one of the world's largest and rarest collections of Marvel Studios poster and art print ephemera. In 2018, I had the opportunity to visit the Marvel Studios headquarter in Burbank. I have since had the opportunity of attending a number of premiere and events- including the Avengers Endgame premiere screening in London, attending the afterparty with the directors.
In 2018, Whitworth Pinecones was an anonymous university project I created during the first months as a student.
Through photographing pinecones across campus and personifying their unique stories through Instagram, the pinecones served as an allegory for the lives of the students that left their imprint on Whitworth. In 2019, my project was invited to an internationally traveling art showcase with millions of followers worldwide. From this, Mister Pinecone was born and Whitworth Pinecones was honored as one of the top three highlights from the event.
During 2020, I hosted a campus wide event to support the student and community in the wake of Covid-19. Spraypainting thousands of colorful pinecones that I hid around the university, every night at 3am, the event was aimed at revitalizing community and engaging students in positive outdoor activities. Personally hosted and funded through my own efforts, I offered more than a thousand in prizes to engage my fellow student community.
ABROAD ACROSS TANZANIA AFRICA
In 2022, I had the honors of traveling abroad with my University in Tanzania, Africa. Beginning in January, we traveled across the country to study and become immersed into the culture, politics, and environmental management. A significant part of our trip included intensive Swahili courses at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) and internships across the city of Arusha. My work was at Shanga Foundation where I was the digital design and marketing specialist.
As part of my University's Honors Program, I interned with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum during my Fall 2019 semester. The most visited museum in the United States and one of the most visited museums in the world, the experience was one that I am beyond grateful for.
Perhaps among the most memorable of moments would include the visit from the President of Italy, working with the Italian Intelligence Agency, Secret Service, and our staff to facilitate the event.
During my internship, I pitched a collaborative documentary project between Smithsonian and Marvel Studios, greenlit by both teams. My internship had received an extension, with plans to return Summer 2020, producing content in Washington DC and pending approval for interviews on-set of Marvel Studios' current projects. Due to the global implications of Covid-19, this has since been indefinitely postponed.
National Neon Sign Museum, 2020
Anti-Dan Zone, 2021
Whitworth University, 2021
B HOT B SIMON
The story, as it was, had been that prior to the outbreak of Coronavirus, I rarely listened to song outside of jazz and classical orchestra. Following drawn out periods of isolation, I discovered an affinity towards 70's music. On my 21st birthday, the creative genius Lydia Kramer spawned the iconic phrase "B HOT B SIMON" that inspired a playlist series, and the rest is history. Currently available on Spotify, "B Hot B Simon" is a curated selection of music ranging across decades and genres.
Prior to the creation of Whitworth Pinecones, I was not a photographer. It wouldn't be until the ramifications that were imposed by global isolation of Coronavirus, however, that I purchased my first camera and began my journey into photography. By nature, I am a storyteller, and that has been the primary motivation in my own personal story. I use my camera and photography as a way to build community and create connections to the world around me. For as much as my camera has become a hobby, it is a tool of developing communication and fostering community.
Whitworth University, 2021
Oregon Coast, 2020
You see that hair? It doesn't get any better than that. Perhaps one of the most stunning shots I have posed, I channeled my inner model with this photoshoot. Though some might say that this photo looks nothing like me, I couldn't disagree more, there is clearly no photoshop. This photo is, indisputable, me.
I have backgrounds in acting, theatre, and public speaking. Performances I have been involved with include "Pippin: The Musical" where our cast was awarded for outstanding performance by chorus, National History Day "Native Americans Fish-Ins Movement" solo performance where I was a national finalist in Washington DC, and having been selected to speak before key figures from my city on supporting suicide prevention.
Prairie High School, 2018
At first glance, you might think this looks like the candid capture of a man warming his hands in 20° weather.
And, well, it is...
But this is also the look of a man who will unquestionably join you for long walks on the beach, watch the sun set beneath the ocean waves, and spend the night watching the same Hallmark film for the 12th time.