Our latest Featured Artist is Mark Bickley, 42, from Birmingham. From children’s book illustration to comic books and graphic novels, Mark has
experimented with many different styles, but it’s his new realistic style
that has currently received the applause of his peers.
How did you get started as an artist?
I’ve always drawn, from as far back as I can remember. I’ve never really stopped. As a child, I was enthralled by comic books and Star Wars and would draw them a lot, so not much has changed really because I still read comic books and watch Star Wars.
What inspires you to be creative?
I’m inspired by a lot really. It can be anything from music, films, comic books, or I can see an image and feel the need to draw it or interpret it in a different way. I even draw inspiration from other artists and what they’re doing.
I don’t tend to compare myself to other artists but I do admire a lot of artists and what they can do.There’s always going to be artists that you think are better than you: the trick is not to let that get you down, just embrace it, and see if you can figure out how they did it and perhaps try out some of their techniques in your own work.
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process normally starts with a reference. As I tend to draw famous people and people in general it will always be a photo of someone. From there, I might do a few little rough thumbnail sketches if it’s going to be a more complicated piece but apart from that I just dive in and slowly start to lay out the drawing.
What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
My favourite media to work with is Markers. I use ProMarkers and I’ve recently starting using Copic Markers as well. It’s the one thing I took to quite early on. I never used to use colour much. In the early days I tended to just draw in black and white using fine liners, which I still love to do. I use a bit of watercolour here and there but markers are my weapons of choice.
How do you tackle a blank canvas?
I love the process of starting with a blank canvas and then ending up with something you’ve created all by yourself at the end. The journey to finish can sometimes be frustrating but I still enjoy it. A blank canvas doesn’t really bother me because most of the time I know what I want to draw on it, whether I can get it to look the same as the way I see it in my head is a different matter. What I get more anxious about is when I’ve drawn something pretty well and then I have to go and colour it, I always have a slight fear that I’m going to mess it up, but 9 times out of 10 it comes out ok. However, that fear is always there.
What do you find the most challenging about the creative process?
The whole creative process can be challenging depending on what I’m trying to do! I think, personally, time is the biggest challenge to me just because I’ve got lists of things and people that I want to draw but it takes me ages to get through that list. I’ve still got a drawing of Beetlejuice that I started last year that I want to finish. I have a full time job and a 4 year old daughter so I only really get to draw in the evenings and I can be really fussy with my drawings sometimes. If a colour is not quite the right shade I can spend hours layering the colours to find the right tone. It once took me 3 hours just to colour a finger! Oh, and storage. That’s always a challenge!
In which ways do you differentiate your work from that of other artists?
I don’t really worry about what differentiates me from other artists. There’s a lot of artists out there that do similar stuff to what I do, and there’s a lot that are better than me, but I just do what I do. I’m trying to develop a style but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
What are your essential tools?
My essential tools are my ProMarkers and Copic markers. I can’t go into an art shop without buying one. A watercolour sketch pad, I find that works the best with my marker drawings. Micron fine liners, a pencil and an electric eraser. So good, especially for the price.
How would you describe your studio/workspace?
My studio/workspace is basically my lap and the sofa. I just sit there with my sketchbook and draw with the markers to the side of me. If I need to paint I will do it on floor. I have got a table but it’s not very big.
Do you have a favourite art tip that you can share with our readers?
One tip I would share for anyone else that use markers is don’t be quick to throw them away as they’re running out. You can create some really good effects with them, like a worn look to a leather jacket or a stormy sky. Also, also draw anything and everything – it will help you improve as an artist.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
If you’d like to become one of our Featured Artists please email us with some samples of your artwork and a little bit about yourself.