1. Hey Mark! Thank you for your time! First things first! Tell us a little about yourself, who are you? where are you from? what makes you tick?

I'm Mark Conlan, an illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. I am from Dublin, Ireland. I have been working as an illustrator for a year and a half now and I absolutlely love every second of it. I'm all about creativity, tattoos, and finding fantastic new plants for my studio. When I am not working, I love keeping fit, catching up with friends, getting outdoors and planning my next tattoo.

2. How did you first get into illustration? what made you think that you are definitely an illustrator?

I have recently just made the move to being a full time illustrator. I began studying animation and then I moved in graphic design. After moving to Melbourne in June 2015, I began working in several freelance design positions across several agencies. I soon realized this wasn't for me, it just didn't excite me anymore. I always had a massive passion for illustration, but I never really knew how to go about it and if even there was a career in it. I thought I could make it work if I worked really hard and developed a lot more as an artist. Since then I haven't looked back, it's the best move I have ever made.

3. How would you describe your style of illustration?

I guess I would have to describe my style as whimsical, you will usually find loads of little happy characters interacting with their environment. Lots of bright color infused with conceptual concepts.

4. What did you study?

I studied Classical and computer animation in Dublin, Ireland. It's such a great course. It's in the Irish school of animation. I would recommend it to anyone that has any interest in animation.

5. What have you been doing since you graduated?

After I graduated I headed for London. While in London I worked across several design agencies focusing on web design, ui, ux and bran design. I spent 6 years in London before doing some travelling and moving to Melbourne, Australia. Like I said, I worked across various design agencies as a freelancer when I arrieved here. I quickly realized it wasn't for me anymore. My passion and curiosity for illustration had taken over.

6. What publishers and companies have you worked with so far?

I have been recently working on some very exciting projects. I had the opportunity to work with Toyota for their Olympic Campaign.I have recently been working on various editorial projects with clients including the Telegraph, The Guaridan, and the Bank of Melbourne. I have aslo been busy working on illustrating the assets for animations. Most recently I just finished a project for an ING direct campagin in conjunction with the Guardian. Thta was a fun piece to work on. I can't say I have worked with many publishers yet. This is definitely one of my goals for the year. I would love to work on a book at some stage. Who wouldn't? I guess.

7.  You have an online shopping service for your work right? tell us about that.

Yes I recently opened a little online store, which is an extension of my site. I only  sell prints. I have various different prints available. I am super stoked with the quality of them though. I recently found a local printer here in Melbourne, Hound and Bone Printers, their attention to quality is second to none. All the prints are limited edition giclee prints. There has been such a great reaction from everybody since I opened the shop.

8. Do you have side projects or new ideas that are working on?

I always have something new on the go, I love sketching, so I always have a notebook everywhere with me. I try to take some time everyday to get my thoughts into the notebook. From there I always have a new idea on the go. Lately I don't have as much time to flesh these ideas out but I'll always find the time to get some done a week. Personally I think just keeping the sketchbook and evolving my ideas there really helps me develop as an artist.

9. We have shared one of your process video on the page please take us through your design process a little bit more. Where do you start?

Like I mentioned earlier, I always keep a notebook with me. This way I can easily jot down an idea if it comes to mind. This is how I start any project, I usually begin with loads of really rough illustrations. They may not be very specific but more general. Once as I have a good range I am happy with I the begin refining some more. Once as I am with the sketches I get these sent off for client approval. From there, I develop a colour palette and produce some colour developments. These are just really rough versions of the final illustration,just so I can get a good overall feel of the comosition and how the colours fit in there. When this is right, I begin working up the full illustration. I work digitally mainly, So this is all achieved through photoshop.

 

10. What tools do you use for your work? Do you make your own brushes or the PS brushes just do the work fo you?

I mainly use the Kyle Webster brushes. If you are not familiar with them, do yourself a favour and gopurchase the Megapack. Its so affordable too! Ihave a few other brushes in my collection, thathave evolved from other brushes and a few that Ihave made myself. My main objective with a brushis to texture, I love brushes that you can subtlybuild up textures. In terms of Hardware, I use aWacom Cintiq27qhd which is fantastic, its got somuch real estate to work with lots of gesture.

11. How is your personality refected in your work?

I would like to think of myself as quite an outgoing, friendly, happy person and defnitely think this isdirectly refected in my work. I think my colours arethat which represent me best, there is a goodselection, they're bright and friendly but they arealways willing to adjust.

12. When illustrating, do you sometimes get blocked for ideas? Ifso, how do you overcome that? What’s the trick?

Yeah this happens all the time. I too have questioned this before and I have received somegreat advice from my peers. I guess, everyone hasdifferent ways managing this but what works bestfor me, is to get away from what it is you’re trying toachieve. Go for a walk, go out for lunch, watchsomething new etc etc. The ideas will come whenthey are not forced. Sometimes what i fnd reallyuseful is going back over old notebooks, its greatfor some old but new inspiration.

13. Are there particular illustrators or designer that have infuenced you?

Yeah defnitely, I am constantly inspired by so many artists on a daily basis. There are probablytoo many at the moment to name them all.Instagram is such a valuable tool to have as thereare so many amazing artists which I am so lucky tofollow who post new and inspiring work everyday. Iam going to name just a few in case you arelooking for some new inspiration. I am a big fan ofLisk Feng, Raul Soria and Monge Quentin.

14. What is the best piece of advice that you have ever given to someone?And what’s the best/worst piece ofadvice that you have ever received?

I was once asked by another illustrator how can they succeed and create work like I do.  I gave them some advice (not that I have much myself)  about getting their work out there and some  words on my process and most importantly to just bethemselves. I later found some work from this artistand it was extremely similar to mine. I got in touchagain and asked them why would they want tocreate work so similar to mine when they could bethemselves and be individual. I think this is soimportant nowadays, it is what helps you as anartist stand out from the crowd. Now don't get mewrong, we all get inspiration from each others workbut try interpret that inspiration into your own voice.I think the best piece of advice I was ever givenwas to work hard at no matter what you do.

15. Is there anything that bothers you in this industry?

What bothers me most is Plagiarism, recently I found another artist took a piece of mine andsimply added a beard on to the character. Its justso frustrating that someone thinks its ok to takeanother artists work and claim credit for it.

16. Where do you see yourself going or where do you like to be right now?

I’m still so new to being an illustrator, I really haven’t had that much experience just yet. Although I amvery content with my progress so far but I wouldlove to keep developing my style as I continue towork on exciting projects and collaborations. Iwould love to work with a publisher and collaborateon a book too.

17. Your 1# art tip or word of wisdom?

Keep a notebook everywhere you go. If you don't draw, try incorporating it into your routineeveryday. You will be amazed how much you willdevelop. I also find it a nice way to switch off before bed, almost like meditation.


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