Meet the Artist
In Conversation with artist Mark Manley
- Written by Vanessa Champion Vanessa Champion
Mark Manley is a prolific artist and successful published illustrator. His work also covers theatre, portraits, children's books and tattoos! He is a consummate artist, and his passion and interest in his profession is really quite infectious!
Tell us a bit more about yourself. How long have you been drawing and creating and what got you started and why?
I don't remember a time when I didn't draw. I have always always loved drawing and painting - before I could even walk I was using my crayons to decorate the wall of the toy cupboard! I have never stopped drawing, although after studying BTech HND in Illustration and failing to find my niche as an artist my output slowed right down for a long time. But over the past few years I've rediscovered my drive, and with the advent of twitter I gained a lot of "followers" of my work. My new website, plus social media like Tumblr and Twitter have allowed me to reach a wider audience, and I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing people and gain opportunities to draw new things through them. I'm forever grateful to Paul Magrs, George Mann, Obverse Books and all of my theatrical friends for the opportunities they've given me to grow as an artist.
I love variety, I love keeping myself fresh. I like to ensure that each project I tackle is different from the last, while at the same time allowing myself to develop technically with my skill set and visually with my own style. My influences are equally diverse. I loved Rupert Bear growing up and am proud to have his artist, John Harrold, as my friend and mentor. I am also influenced by classic illustrators like Rackham and Dulac, painters such as Waterhouse, Mucha and the Pre-Raphaelites. I love Rockwell and Leyendecker. I love comic book artists like Mignola, Byrne and Cho and comic pioneers MacKay and Raymond. I try to keep up to date and am always looking for inspiration so my influences fluctuate.
Which media or subjects do you love creating the most?
It really varies. I tend to get inspired by one thing and love it to death until something else inspires me. I've REALLY loved working on the Iris Wildthyme covers and all my theatrical drawings in Marker pens and pencil. I'm keen to pursue and stretch that style, but I also want to do some more graphic linework as well as get painting again. The Strathmore Toned Gray paper is going to really help with the more graphic, line and tone work I want to do.
What are you working on at the moment?
I always have several projects happening at once. I have some sample pages for a lovely children's book to do, plus a couple of theatre inspired pieces including visuals for a brand new musical project which is very exciting. I've recently designed a tattoo for musical theatre star Mark Evans (currently playing Elder Price in the US tour of Book of Mormon) and have been asked to do a few more for other people. [sounds fab! ed]
We love the Story Teller book cover, can you tell us more about that?
Storyteller is a tribute book to a lovely chap called Matt who sadly died. You can get more details on the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/storytellerbook?fref=ts
The drawing (is on recycled card, A4 size, mostly marker pen and pencil but with a little acrylic for the blue sky) is a portrait of Matt. I do have a short story in the book too- it's called "Honey in the Horn" and is my own take on a fairy tale. The titles in the book are all taken from an old collection of stories that someone found in a second hand bookshop. There are some amazing authors in the collection. I've also contributed covers to other books by Obverse Books, especially two Iris Wildthyme books, and these are available direct from Obverse's website (http://obversebooks.co.uk/ or via Amazon. Obverse also published a collection of short detective stories which contains my writing debut "Exit Stage Left."
If your studio burnt down what would you rescue and why?
Well I work from home so all my worldly goods would be in there too! I really am not sure...some precious family mementos probably, as well as my portfolios of work of course!
Bit of fun, if you were a Strathmore paper which would you be?
I'd have to say the toned paper because I go to the gym to get toned! ha ha :-)