Introducing: Mark Davies

Today we have the very special honour of spending some time with talented Mixed Media Artist, Mark Davies. We are excited to get to know the man behind the artist, his inspirations, and motivations behind his incredible work. Read on to discover more about the man behind the art in his very own words...

Mixed Media Art

Mixed Media Art is essentially when an artist uses more than one medium to create a piece of art, this varies depending on the skillset of that particular artist. With regards to my skillset, I use a digital base layer which is then printed on to a canvas. This is then worked over and enhanced with oils, acrylics, gilding waxes, paints, micro glitters and even rose petals and feathers which have been distorted and burnt to take on a totally different look and feel. It becomes very engaging, its extremely tactile and something to absorb when viewing the overall piece. Unfortunately, there is still some stigma attached to using Photoshop within art, some continue to believe it’s a bit gimmicky and there is a lot of negativity surrounding the use of airbrushing which is small feature of photoshop work.

There are some who don’t take this art form seriously, but the idea within my discipline is to create something in Photoshop that doesn’t look like its been put together within the program, that’s the fundamental challenge!

One aspect that can be hard to gauge is knowing when a piece of work is finished, there is always a temptation to keep going, to add one more layer to the canvas. However, with practice and experience you learn when to stop. The last thing you want to do is take away from what else is in the image, you don’t want to lessen the impact of the overall piece.

It’s a real labour of love, I sit down and take notes from the film on how I can formulate a narrative and reason for these cars to appear in my work. Even when writing my notes, I don’t let myself get too regimented, as things start to evolve and progress I let my creative thoughts run free and follow their direction.

Petrol Head Collection
For the “Petrol Heads Collection” Mark would re-watch all of the films and shows in which these cars had appeared.

I also love to add hidden details to my work, my hope is that someone notices a tiny detail a year down the line. Only recently, I received a call from a someone who noticed I had placed ET within their artwork, they hadn’t spotted the presence of the Extra Terrestrial for an entire year! I love that idea of constantly finding something new to look at within an image. I do find that the more involved you get within a piece, the more you realise just how much you love the inspiration behind it.

Movie Culture

The petrol heads work had allowed me to showcase some of the cars from my favourite movies. There is no doubt in my mind that films in the 1980s were a lot more enjoyable, going to see a film was far more of an occasion when you didn’t have huge marketing campaigns or trailers which spoiled the movie ahead.

The cinema was always an experience, it was family time, you were immersed and engrossed alongside your family. It was quality time with one another, it was part of this fantastic upbringing I am privileged to have enjoyed. Nowadays it’s all about sequels, and large marketing campaigns, I can’t help but feel that experience or rather the excitement of the cinema has been lost.

I don’t have a particular favourite movie from that era, but of course I loved Back To The Future and the Goonies, but I genuinely enjoyed the majority of those cult films and they have combined to inspire me in the present day.

The Power of Music

Music is a massively important part of my creative process, I have a particular affinity to the music of the early 2000s, those first few years of the new Millennium heralded the birth of some seriously talented musicians that I still connect with today.

I am a big fan of metal, these artists of the early 2000s were so intense, their music really struck a chord with me. I always return to that era, I was in my early 20s and life just seemed much simpler back then, even the soundtracks of films seemed far more epic in scale, everything seems a lot different now.

Olafur Arnalds is a great composer who I have a lot of respect for, he was responsible for the music of Broadchurch, a show which really grabbed my attention. There is a piece of music from the show, along with lyrics from Arnor Dan which are simply breathtaking. He is a stunning vocalist and the words from this particular song are haunting, they really stay with you.

Music is great for helping keep my thoughts within the narrative of the art I am creating, it can hold me in that place, and keep me on track should my mindset be shifting. It’s not uncommon for me to keep a song on loop for the duration of an entire project, it’s like a comfort blanket, it’s hard to explain but it helps retain my focus and keep the relevant emotions in my head.

I love to speak with people at a show and share the music behind the art, the tracks I was listening to as I developed the picture in front of them. I really do believe that the music and art is entwined, it is a reflection of my emotions and my mindset at that time.

Advice to Aspiring MMA Artists

Believe in your talent, nurture your own style and strive to be different rather than creating work designed to copy or fit in just to make money. You must surround yourself with the right people, it’s such a visual practice, and you can get it wrong, the worst thing you can do is become your own number one fan. You have to listen, whilst at the same time staying true to your vison. It will be hollow and see through if you’re trying to copy from mainstream works. I will only take on a subject if I have a genuine connection with the source material which will allow me to transform it into something authentic. Your art will always stand out for being true, you will gain a following for being real and creating your own recognisable style.

Deliverance Cinderella Art - Mark Davies
Carve out your own style and stay true to it

Always remember why you got into art, make sure the right people are giving you encouragement and support, be able to accept constructive criticism, but always have confidence in yourself. After all, art is a subjective matter, you will receive plenty of knockbacks, but keep working away; there are great people out there who will help you. Having a commercial understanding is important, you have to be mindful of time constraints and the wider world. The thrill of starting from nothing with no reputation, sales or contacts is incredible, it’s a buzz and a truly rewarding career. You have to keep building, keep learning, keep studying, and see where it takes you. Be open to meandering, go where your heart desires, follow the inspiration wherever it takes you. If you can inspire others with what you do and earn an income, even better.

Storytelling Through Art

Being independent means I can choose my own concepts to follow, it’s important for me to have that freedom and connection with people. I want to keep creating something with an engaging story behind it, I always insist there should be a narrative within my work to make sure it resonates with those who take the time to view my work.

The narrative really depends on where you are in life, it reflects your current mindset, when something happens in my life I process my emotions through my work.

Feedback

I believe Gallery Shows are a marvelous platform to share ideas and connect with one another! You get to discuss your interpretation of art with other people. For example, what one individual may see in a picture can make you think wow! I didn’t read it like that but yes, I totally get it and see where you are coming from, art is all about the discussion. I hear from people who have connected with my work and it inspires me, it’s amazing to know its valued and has spoken to someone. It’s not always about the numbers, it’s about connecting with individuals across the spectrum.

When you put something out there, you’re putting yourself on the line. I still get that fear when a new piece of work is released, you’ve thrown everything in to it and then it’s out there to be scrutinized and pulled apart.

Career

I also run a successful graphics business, essentially im juggling two full time jobs and I refuse to rush or compromise on either project. Now I’m independent I have new responsibilities such as liasing with galleries and it’s so important to keep networking, but the skills I learned from business stand me in good stead for the new challenges.

Art is where I’m most happy, I give 100% to my clients in graphics, but art is always where my heart lies. I am grateful for my time in graphics as it has given me a much greater commercial understanding.

Being independent is a time-consuming occupation, there are moments when you realise that you are missing some quality time with your daughter, but art has given me this fantastic platform of providing for my family. The great thing about being independent is the fact that I can see my family more. Last Christmas I managed to shut off completely from art and throw myself into family time. This is the great thing about being independent, it reinforces my decision to go out alone and pursue my art.

Childhood Heroes

The heroes I had were the people I saw every day, they were the family members I respected. When I look back now my heroes really reflect what I said earlier about the fantastic upbringing I am privileged to have had, that family unit and support I enjoyed, the encouragement and nurturing of those closest to me. I just respected my parents massively, and even more so now.

My grandad was a veteran of the War, whilst my grandma came from Belgium which was deeply affected by the events of WW2. My grandad is still with us, sadly we lost grandma last year, but ill never forget the stories of what they went through. The sacrifices they made and the resolve they had. It was a different world back then, but I have a genuine respect for them. They remain my heroes today.

Starting Young

I have always enjoyed drawing, my parents really encouraged me to follow this natural talent and I was always good at it. But its only when you begin school and it starts getting recognised by exam results that you think ok… I have a skill here. I was never that confident growing up, but I could be confident through my art and the world’s I created, it was a way for me to express myself. Even at Sixth Form, I would stand in my garage whilst others were at the pub and I would be drafting the most intense and surreal paintings, it gave me a huge buzz, it increased my confidence, and it’s when I’m at my happiest. My skillset was always drawing and painting, the more traditional arts, which is why I do consider myself a Mixed Media Artist.

I created some random pieces during those early development years at school, I wish I still had them to share! There is one memory in particular which I recall fondly, it always makes me smile. I was carrying a 7 foot tall crucifix down the street on my way to upper school… I certainly got some looks from confused passers-by, especially when the wind got up. It was a 3D version of a much smaller drawing I had created. It had been so well received that I went and developed it further, looking back now it was probably the moment which kick-started my career, it was pretty much a life-sized render of Christ and the Crucifix. I now want to return to this type of art, get back to using the brush and utilise my other skills.

Framing Your Art

Working with eFrame has allowed me the freedom to make the transition to an independent artist seamless.

When creating an original piece of work it has to be extra special, you have to take it as far as you can. The frame is a crucial component of the finished art, it is an extension of the picture. Choosing the right frame can really enhance the artwork within, and when you’re striving to create the perfect image, you need to have the perfect frame. That’s the really great thing about eFrame, I can always rely on the team to create something truly bespoke, you’re really proactive and suggest frames that I could never dream off, you’re the experts and I trust you entirely.

It has allowed me to be confident in the entire process and safe in the knowledge that the areas such as printing, framing and logistics are handled with the same attention to detail that I strive for in my work. Scaling my gallery accounts and production levels is a breeze too. It’s a huge relief to have this looked after by such a competent team who are always there for me. I would never put anything out that isn’t 100% and its great to know that eFrame care just as much as I do about this dedication to quality.

Everything eFrame do is highly personal, you really go above and beyond in helping me fulfill my orders. The entire process is a joy, nothing is ever a problem for the team, you’re so proactive and it just works. The scale and quality of the eFrame operation is incredible, this was a crucial consideration for me when I already had established links with a good number of galleries both in the UK and overseas.

People can spend a significant amount of money on a piece of art, I couldn’t put anything out to the public that isn’t right as my reputation is extremely important, it’s my livelihood and having eFrame alongside me gives me that freedom to focus on what’s most important, the artwork and design. All the negatives encountered prior to eFrame have been rectified by the service you provide. It doesn’t feel like I’m outsourcing to a supplier, it feels like I’ve gained a hell of a lot more team members. I know eFrame will always be there for me regardless of any query, the quality of production and craftsmanship is mind blowing, it is my responsibility to know that frame is not going to fall apart, everything is just perfect with the set up I have now, I couldn’t be any happier.

Interests Away from the Studio

I am a keen runner, I took part in the marathon last year, but most interestingly I did the Jurassic Coast Challenge. I have spoken about how I experienced a connection with the drama Broadchurch, and they filmed the show on this coastline. Unfortunately, I pulled my tendon whilst I could see the coastline in sight, I managed to get there but it I believe this was because of doing both the marathon and Jurassic challenge in a relatively short space of time.

I will be doing the Jurassic challenge again this year, but I’ve opted to give my place in the marathon to a friend as the connection I have with the Jurassic Coastline is special, its where my grandparents are from and I love that part of the world.

I also enjoy watching football, my family and I would travel to Luton games and hunt for autographs during my childhood. I still follow Luton but I am a Leeds United supporter… I remember being gifted this iconic Leeds United scarf from my dad, it triggered my love for the club along with the family connections I have up north. Its great being able to go up to Leeds, watch the football and reconnect with these emotions from my childhood and shut off from work, it gives me time to recharge and relax.

The Future

I’ve planned out the year which is really important as an artist, it’s all about timing. The Spring, Autumn and Winter collections are now thought out, but there will always be ad-hoc pieces that crop up throughout the year, a reaction to something that happens.

Stop Feeding the Birds - Mark Davies
Mark created “Stop Feeding the Birds” in recognition of the remake of Mary Poppins

My recent works have been quite dark, therefore I’m going to try and focus on more uplifting types of content. My emotions and work reflect my current mindset, I want to focus on themes that are much lighter and uplifting without selling out, I wouldn’t be comfortable with that and people see through it. I will continue to mix up my current style with the more intense pieces. I also want to add more painting details to my work as I touched upon earlier, I would like the brush to overtake the digital aspects in 2019. I would also like to continue working on my progress in the States, building upon my breakthrough over there. The last half of 2018 was extremely exciting, so I am looking forward to 2019 and beyond.