Mark, hello! We’ve been big fans of your work since discovering your paintings and sculptures a few years ago at Modern Times. I believe you grew up in the countryside of New Zealand which sounds very romantic. Can you please tell us a bit about your childhood years and whether a young Mark imagined a future career as an artist?
Hello! Thank you. I wouldn’t say the countryside but in the suburbs of a small city surrounded by farmland at the bottom of New Zealand. Pretty close to lots of amazing nature though and isolated coastal areas. It's a few hours away from tourist hotspots like Queenstown and Wanaka. I remember making paintings a lot at home after school. My friends and I were into skateboarding and snowboarding, so I think that played a big part in getting into artwork and graphics associated with that particular culture. I think I saw myself working for companies doing design and art department type work more so than being an artist but drawing and painting have always been there.
As designers, we’re fascinated by process. Can you talk us through the various stages of development in creating your artwork, from an initial idea to the finished piece? I imagine there’s a real balance between technical ability and storytelling or intuition.
Lately, I’ve been collecting up images of architectural elements from around the city to strip back and then build upon again. I add paper cut-outs of figures to these almost like a paper collage to get an idea of how a painting may look. I'm interested in the balance between this more considered or planned collecting of material and then having a more free flowing way of working once it's combined.
I’m so drawn to the characters and scenes that appear in your work. They are so familiar yet slightly disorienting, and surreal. Are you inspired by real people and places, or are they completely imaginary?
The figures are generally out of my head and come out of just playing around with drawings and contrasting different forms. They aren’t intended to be anyone in particular. But the architectural aspects are mainly from the photos I’ve been taking around the city, just simplified and flattened. I'm looking to find a meeting point between an imagined world and the repurposing of ordinary or everyday scenes.
I imagine that being an artist can be a lonely career at times. How does the community around you play a role in keeping you inspired, and how do you balance your time in the studio with the other aspects of your life?
It can be, especially if you are working toward an exhibition and everything else seems to get pushed aside. But I’m realising that spending time outside the studio is beneficial in enabling more ideas to surface. Lots of my friends are artists too so I can talk to them about helpful ways of working and find common ground about the worries that seem to go alongside putting things out into the world.
Are you an early riser, or a night owl? When do you feel most creative and are there any rituals that help with your creative process?
I’m more of an early riser these days. Going for a morning walk is a good way to set yourself up for a day of creative work. I usually have to do something like that before I get to the studio. I started running recently, I think that’s been helpful for staying positive about what I'm making.