Australian artist, illustrator and bookmaker, Marc Martin, has a flair for capturing the fleeting moments often overlooked in day-to-day life. Follow him on Instagram and you’ll be invited to a charming insight into urban life in Melbourne; from roaming dogs stopping to quench their thirst from puddles and children playing on the street, busy parks and quiet backstreets, he has the talent to capture unforgettable moments. Often blending between real and imagined, Marc’s delicate renderings are both distinctly earnest and delightfully playful.
Marc, tell us about yourself. How did you begin your career as an artist?
I initially studied graphic design at university and ended up working for various design studios. While some of the projects were quite interesting, as a whole I didn’t feel particularly fulfilled, so I started doing a little bit of drawing and illustration on the side. I’d work my design job during the day, and then come home and work on illustration projects. Eventually, the illustration work grew into something that I could make a living from, and I haven’t looked back since. These days my practice is a mix of commercial work, picture books, exhibitions and other personal projects.
“Eventually, the illustration work grew into something that I could make a living from, and I haven’t looked back since.”
What inspires your work?
This is always changing for me. I used to be influenced by a lot of illustrators and designers, but now I’m probably more interested in fine art than anything else – David Hockney, Peter Doig, Fred Williams and Adrian Ghenie are a few painters I like. Studying graphic design also gave me an appreciation for modernist art and design, so Ray and Charles Eames, Bruno Munari, Saul Bass and Charley Harper are some of my favourite designers.
Can you tell us more about your individual style?
I’m not really sure what my style is, but I do enjoy drawing things from nature. Sometimes I’ll draw jungles and animals, but more recently I’ve also been drawing urban landscapes (although there’s always lots of plants in them). In terms of mediums, I really like using watercolours because they’re a little bit unpredictable and you can get interesting variations in colour and depth from a single dab of paint, so no two things will ever look alike on the page.
Tell us about your experience with Instagram…
I think I started posting things about three years ago, but it was just daggy travel photos at first. It wasn’t until I was working on my picture book, A River, that people really started to follow me a bit more. I really love the social aspect to Instagram, as you get to chat with some really terrific artists and see so much incredible work. The downside to seeing all that amazing work is it can make you feel quite anxious about your own abilities, so it’s important not to get too caught up in it.
“I really love the social aspect to Instagram, as you get to chat with some really terrific artists and see so much incredible work.”
What’s your approach to posting images?
I try and post something most days if I can, but apart from that there’s no real strategy. I think over time I’ve loosened up a bit with the regularity of posting too — trying to post something every single day can be tiring, so I just try and post whenever I can now, and usually not on weekends because I’m not working on those days.
Most of the time I’ll end up posting something at the end of the day, just because that’s what I’ve been working on at the time, but there’s no scheduling of posts. If you scroll through my Instagram you can definitely see when I’m working on a big project as most of the posts at that time will be dominated by that work in progress.
Have you had any interesting surprises along the way?
I’ve met some really amazing artists through Instagram whose work I really admire. It’s a great forum to exchange ideas and offer encouragement. There have definitely been some great collaborations that have happened through Instagram too — I’m designing a few notebook covers for a stationery company I’m particularly excited about. You’ll have to watch my feed for more details!
Who do you admire?
There’s too many to name! Right now I’m really enjoying the work of Japanese artist Miroco Machiko. I just love how textural and colourful her work is – it’s very reminiscent of 70s folk art mixed with elements of Klimt, but it feels more contemporary and unique.
We noticed that plants make a regular appearance in your work. What do you love about them — do you have a favourite?
I’ve always been interested in the natural world and how we as human beings relate to it. I think we have a tendency to disassociate ourselves from nature, so I try and make a conscious effort to join the dots between nature an humanity in my work — thus all the plants! I don’t have a particular favourite plant, although I will say that Monstera’s leaves have a nice shape to them!
“I think we have a tendency to disassociate ourselves from nature, so I try and make a conscious effort to join the dots between nature an humanity in my work — thus all the plants!”