Interview with Morbid Planet.

Welcome fellow readers to A Morbid Minute, an exploration into the unknown where you get a brief glimpse of people who will definitely satisfy your morbid curiosity! 

This week, Morbid Planet sits down with Mark Armstrong, an amazing artist who uses Adobe Photoshop to create fantastic pop culture portraits. Without further ado, Mr. Mark Armstrong…

Erin Chapman: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into creating such unique works of art? 

Mark Armstrong: My mother has a story that she loves to tell about me at an early age, I crept downstairs, emptied the fridge, and made a picture out of the contents! As far as I can remember I have always drawn or doodled, as a kid I loved Marvel Comics and 2000AD, these gave me the inspiration to start using a dip pen and ink to draw fantasy art and comic strips like my biggest influencers of Brian Bolland and John Buscema. 

I studied at Blackpool and Fylde College gaining a BA Hons in Scientific and Natural Illustration. I started with traditional media, watercolour, acrylic, gouache, inks, etc. The art I created then was extremely detailed, and at one point I was using a paintbrush which had a couple of hairs in it so I could perfect the painting. I changed media and started using 2D and 3D digital software, as there was no employment in the illuststation industry using traditional methods, since then I have never looked back and have been perfecting my digital skill set ever since.

EC: How long have you been doing this? 

MA: I have been using digital software to create 2D artwork and 3D animation for over 20 years. During that time a lot of software has come and gone, so my skill set changes every year or so. My digital portraiture has been a more recent project and I have been doing this for approximately 4 years, getting better every year.

EC: Can you tell us a little about your process? What inspires you and how long does each piece take? 

MA: My favourite themes are usually from iconic movies or actors or pop culture references. My work is extremely detailed and 4000 pixels square which equates to an large image to paint. In which I capture details of skin, eyes and features of my subjects. Each artwork can take approximately 30-60 hours to create. I draw and paint digital artwork using Adobe Photoshop, sometimes using Maya, and ZBrush. 

Colour and lighting are very important to the process as this can make or break a piece. Sometimes my work can start out as a grey scale almost a chiaroscuro style of art going from light into darkness. The beauty about digital art is the way the colours can overlay and form new and interesting effects or colours. Sometimes I will use visual reference, to paint an image that is well known in pop culture and give it my own spin. Or sometimes I try to create a piece that is totally unique, that is what can really drive me, as well as cause insomnia. It’s the satisfaction of nailing it down, getting right and making the artwork pop into a fantastic piece in which it evokes a response from the viewer whether in awe or wonder or love.

I take my inspiration from various visual genre’s such as Horror, science-fiction, and animated movies. 

EC: Since you started this journey, what has been your most memorable moment? 

MA: The fact the people love and want my artwork, more recently I was commissioned by Dominic Pace from the Disney TV series, The Mandalorian for a digital portrait of his character a Bounty Hunter called “Gekko”

EC: What is a fun fact that many people don’t know about you? 

MA: It’s got to be that I don’t wear long trousers. I’ve worn shorts now for at least 7 years – even through the Beast from the East winter!

EC: Do you sell your art? Where can our readers find your art online and with social media? 

MA: Yes – Lockdown gave me the chance to start my own online shop. – it is going well and customers are loving the artwork. I get a lot responses from customers who have seen artwork my Facebook page and on my Instagram account.

EC: What’s next for you? 

MA: Continue to expand my repertoire of artworks, I do try to make complete sets of four or six pieces of work. Also trying new techniques and ideas, as my brain dosen’t sleep it kinda goes to a flicker on a dimmer switch. Currently, I am researching merchandise like T-shirts and caps, etc. I have a couple of examples at the moment and they look fab, I’m really impressed with the finished results.  

In time for Halloween, I have used my artwork and I have created a classic horror fest collection of bespoke Halloween cards. The full set comprises of 10 horror portraits digitally enhanced in Halloween colours with a complimentary pumpkin orange envelope.

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