Marc, have you always wanted to be an artist?
Absolutely!…although it took me around 20 years to do it. After studying fine art and painting, my first job was as an advertising copywriter. From this start, I then became an art director – working on a lot of TV and press advertising campaigns in the UK, Europe and the US.
Painting remained primarily a hobby, until around 6 years ago when I finally took the plunge and became a full-time artist.
I also moved from London to Bath, which is a very inspiring place for an artist to be based.
How did your work in advertising influence your work?
That’s a really good question.
Working on the creative side of the advertising business, the objective was often centred around communicating an idea through visual means – effectively using images in the absence of words, and photography or illustration had to contain many layers of meaning or references.
I like to think my art works on a similar level.
Depending on how a viewer sees the work, the painting could be about colour, a sense of place or an emotion.
When I paint, I always think about the viewer foremost, and judge my success on how well the person looking at my work responds to the ideas I have tried to communicate.
Many artists claim to paint for themselves – for me it’s the opposite.
I’m also very influenced by interior design colour trends. Most of my work is bought by individual collectors rather than corporations, and so making sure my work feels contemporary is very important to me.
How would you describe your creative process?
It’s very spontaneous. I tend to work quite quickly, and not to labour a piece.
Whether I’m working on landscapes or cityscapes, I tend to spend weekends researching new locations and scenes, looking for new viewpoints, compositions and subjects.
I take and collate, hundreds of photographs every year – always looking for a different ‘angle’.
I’m also very ‘seasonal’ in my output, which gives me a constantly evolving colour palette throughout the year.
Although I don’t tend to work ‘plein air’ due to the average size of my canvases, I do also do a lot of sketch work outdoors. Along with the photographs, these are all catalogued and stored back in my studio.
Your artistic style is quite unique – how do you achieve the effects you create, and what tools do you use?
I describe my work as contemporary impressionism – impressionist in that the effects of light form the basis of my compositions and colour palates. As mentioned above, I work quite quickly and spontaneously, keeping the colours clean and defined, and the marks direct and confident.
I use a variety of painting tools and techniques that are quite unusual, such as strips of balsa wood, sponges, splatter brushes and sometimes even Lego bricks to create surfaces and textures that are geared towards a more modernist asthetic.
It’s rare that I use traditional paint brushes in my work (aside from mixing the paints)
Whenever I’m in toyshops, DIY shops, cookery shops etc I’m always on the lookout for items or implements that might make for an unusual or unique painting tool.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Inspiration came come from anywhere.
Like many artists I spend a lot of time in galleries looking at other people’s work – whether they’re famous artists or less so.
I’m also reading a lot of artist biographies at the moment. It’s really interesting reading about how other artists approached and developed their careers, and how they overcame (or not!) the challenges they faced.
Being a full-time artist can be quite ‘unstructured’ as careers go, so the experiences of others can be a really useful guide.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s actually quite scheduled.
I get up quite early, take the dog for a walk, and have a think about the upcoming day’s work.
Generally I’m then ready to start painting around 8am, and work quite intensely through to midday.
Over lunch I’ll answer emails, and do a little admin, before heading back to the studio and working till around 3pm – then it’s back to the emails.
Evenings are spent with friends – with restaurants, cinemas or gigs being favourite locations.
Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?
There would be so many…so I thought I would give you a Top 5:
- JMW Turner – the greatest ever painter of light
- David Hockney – fantastic colour and form
- Kurt Jackson – an excellent modern UK expressionist painter
- Berthe Morisot – truly expressive and brush strokes
- Vincent Van Gogh – a master at using colour to communicate emotion
Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?
I listen to all sorts of music when I’m working. Classical music or jazz is great background music with no distracting lyrics.
Aside from that – it’s the radio – which is always useful as I don’t have to keep stopping work to change CDs.
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
Well, it’s quite a topical and debatable subject these days, but I think my one piece of advice would be to avoid too much social media self-promotion and concentrate entirely on your craft. It seems to me that many artists appear to spend more time on Instagram and Facebook than they do in front of their easels.
I totally understand the importance of ‘building one’s brand’…but ultimately it’s the quality of your work that will sustain a career.
What does the future look like for you?
Hopefully, to be able to continue doing what I’m doing and striving to always be a better painter.
I don’t see this as a career that one ever retires from, so I’m looking forward to many years of artistic endeavours to come…
View Marc’s gallery here.