Blog: Artist Focus | Studio Interview | Mark Davies
To coincide with the release of the much anticipated 'Lost In Hollywood 3' collection today, we have a fantastic studio interview with Mark which gives a real insight into his processes, influences and inspirations.
How did you come to be an artist?
From a much earlier age throughout my years in education learning my craft I had always strived to create art with meaning, from the bizarre to the beautiful where regardless of subject or media the resultant image would always make you think and seek out the concept hidden within. I was never one to have much self-confidence outside of my love for art but through drawing and painting I felt like I had something to say.
I moved towards a career in graphic arts and design before setting up an agency in 2005. There then followed an incredibly intense period where my art had to take a back seat, but I was increasingly aware that I needed some form of escapism. I became a published artist in 2014 and learnt a hell of a lot before taking the decision to operate full time and independently in the Summer of 2018. I work closely with a cracking local production company and built on existing gallery relationships whilst forming new ones in a direct capacity.
Describe your work in three words
There is a massive contrast in the subject and intensity of my work but if I had to choose three words to best describe my art, they would be emotive, surreal and immersive.
What draws you to creating collage/mixed-media based work?
Throughout education it was always fine art that I specialised in, often highly conceptual and quite dark, some really dark looking back! I remember my former art and design teacher and mentor telling me to buy an iMac and experiment to build a portfolio with a view to starting a career within graphics and that was my first memory of mixed-media art. Scanning in an old coloured pencil drawing as well as bits of tree bark, fabrics and inks I made a mess, made mistakes but loved the intensity and interaction of the layers.
Today, the digital element is incredibly intense and somewhat clinical to achieve an authentic and real quality so to be able to then break free and get the paints and brushes out is a great release and reinforces where you started from.
Does the area in which you live, influence your work? And / or other areas
For the past 10 years or so my studio is a brick barn with floor to ceiling windows looking out into the beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside. Without a doubt it provides inspiration for my work through giving me a place of calm and at times isolation to help me truly focus on my art which can often be emotionally challenging and draining.
With my studio being so close to home it has served as a place of retreat to help compute certain issues and challenges before finding an outlet to express these through my work. Whether it is a break from the screen or fresh air from the spray paints, to be able to push open the door and walk down to the lake and just sit is really special.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I am never one to look to create something controversial for reaction sake, the devil would always be hidden well within the detail. I draw inspiration from life experience, be it past or present but ones that stir up a genuine emotion and that can be better expressed through my art. This can either be something that causes hurt and anger through to really positive emotions through the need to search back to childhood memories. The above is best epitomised by the intense multi-layered narratives that drive my ‘Storyteller’ works to the much lighter nostalgia-fuelled ‘Lost in Hollywood’ collections. So much of my work has been created with someone close to me playing a key character and acting as my inspiration for creating the piece from the start. When you make that decision to throw so much emotion and thought into a piece and inject into it something very close to your heart and for it then to be so well received the feeling is one of immense pride and with it a genuine sense of accomplishment and often a sense of healing.
Do you listen to any favourite music, radio or podcasts while working in the studio?
Music is bloody everything to me and my art. My work is all about the narrative and I’ve always been drawn to dissecting song lyrics. There is a vast contrast in my works and the music that I listen to. I will often listen to a single piece of music on loop for days whilst I create a piece as it holds my emotion, captures my imagination and maintains my focus, acting like a form of comfort blanket.
Lyrics and song titles have featured in my work from day one, be it pre-planned or totally random. Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and vocalist Arnor Dan remain a constant for their beautiful, haunting music whilst the energy from bands such as Slipknot and System of a Down capture a completely different emotion and often provide the fuel for something that ends up much gentler and more fragile than you would think.
If you could invite three artists or art influencers (living or deceased) to dinner who would they be?
Ok so for this I am going for artists that cover art, music and film. First up would be Salvador Dali for the chance to get an insight into his mind. Next to him would be Corey Taylor, the lead singer from Slipknot and Stone Sour. He writes stunning lyrics and looks like he loves a drink! Finally, Samuel L Jackson as his character Jules from Pulp Fiction. Imagine those eyes staring at you across the table as you bring out the burgers, chips and mayo!
What drew you to exhibit at the Watergate Street Gallery – do you have a criteria for choosing the galleries where you would like to show your work?
The key is for a gallery to take time out to acknowledge the role that the narrative plays in my work. When they then invest time in relaying that to their clients and build a pool of collectors who really get it is great and very much appreciated. Location is also important, not just the potential for exposure but to ensure that the gallery is not too close to another who already stocks my art.
Watergate have supported me as an artist from the early days and have really transformed this since I became an independent artist and I am so pleased that they have seen the sales and how their collector base has grown. They have always embraced the meaning behind each piece, been proactive in promoting new collections and also consistently invested in gallery stock for their gallery space that is full of character within a cracking location. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on this throughout 2020 and beyond.
What are you most excited about artistically in 2020?
2019 was my first full year as an independent artist and worked to a plan created in the second half of 2018. The reaction and the success that came from that plan was genuinely incredible. ‘MD Studios’ was formed as a brand to be the platform for growth and new opportunities through my ‘2020 vision’ plan. The primary focus always has been the UK but there are some cracking projects that are starting to be worked on overseas as we continue to build the brand and the awareness.
A substantial development at the start of 2020 was the forming of an Alliance Management Team that has already totally transformed the operations and allowing me to truly focus on my artwork, giving me space to think, time to plan and to really enjoy my art without any stress. The results will be there for all to see when my ‘Lost in Hollywood 3’ collection drops.
Please click here to see the new 'Lost in Hollywood 3' collection!