Irish-born and Melbourne-based illustrator Mark Conlan established himself through his storybook-like, whimsical and colorful drawings. Even though he only recently made the switch from being a UI (user interface) designer to illustration. He calls it his best move yet, and we couldn’t agree more. Mark collaborated with 9 year old Faris from Senggigi on Lombok Island in Indonesia to create an amazing T-shirt for our Face This Collection 2019. We asked Mark all about it!
Mark Conlan is working from his bright and airy home studio for magazines and brands like The Guardian, The New York Times and Airbnb. There is a lot of emotion in his character-based and storybook-like style which he sketches in his notebook first to only later finish them with Photoshop and some custom brushes for that special texture. Mark is inspired easily by small things around him. Like a new colour palette he discovered, another illustration from some illustrator he admires, the weather or a piece of music he has been listening to.
Mark Conlan x Face This
Mark Conlan works for many big companies, but also wants to contribute his art to a good cause every now and then. To give just from the heart! So we are very pleased and grateful that this artist decided to create a Face This T-shirt for us. He collaborated with 9 year old Faris from Lombok for our 2019 collection. We asked Faris what things he loves to do, and he said going to the beach and swim in the clear water. So we put a school bench on the beach and asked him to make a drawing about the life on the beach. This is the drawing that Mark used as the base and inspiration for the T-shirt.
Face This: What motivated you to collaborate with Face This?
Mark Conlan: ˝What motivated me to collaborate with Face This, is to get involved with a sense of community and give back to charity. I think we’re all rushing around trying to chase these big kind of corporate jobs a lot of the time, but I think sometimes it’s nice to just slow down. And give something back from your heart. To contribute my art and skills towards something good. I liked working with Face This also because they combine art, also for the children there, in the places that got hit by the earthquakes and can use the extra help. Getting an artwork from this boy put a smile on my face and hopefully my art will put a smile on his! ˝
This is the drawing Faris made, on his favourite spot on the beach
FT: You received the drawing and then how did you proceed?
Mark Conlan: ˝The drawing that I received from Faris was very interesting. You could see what he loved to do with his friends and where he loves to be. Swimming in the sea and playing on the beach and having fun. The spark of inspiration and creativity in my work is a lot about the human connection to nature. It was really fun drawing those elements and bringing that feeling into my piece of art. I brought in the nature of Lombok, the mountains, the beach and these trees that Faris drew. The birds in the sky and the little guys having fun in the water. For me it was important to recreate that fun and really bring that out! ˝
FT: Did you ever before worked in that way?
Mark Conlan: ˝This is a new experience and it’s really interesting to see a child`s perspective through their drawing. There is no judgement in there, they do not think too much about things like adults do. They are just free and draw with that freedom. They draw things just as they see them. And that is really refreshing to work with. It helped me to slow down and see things in new ways as well. He illustrated the elements: sea, beach, sky, birds, swimming. There wasn’t too much going on, so in a way the drawing was very simple and my art quite like that too. My art is very simple, but got a lot of meaning behind it. ˝
Faris loves to draw
FT: You made the switch to illustrator not too long ago, how is that for you?
Mark Conlan: ˝The most fun about being an artist is that I put myself in the artwork, as I am. I like that people feel something through the illustrations. Either it gives a visual message or it makes people smile and have a bit of fun! ˝
FT: Do you work mostly alone?
Mark Conlan: ˝I do collaborate as well, for example for animation and that is so much fun as I see my work coming to life. By working with others you get to see a whole different dimension to your work then you would when you would be just working by yourself. I think artist coming together and collaborating is a fantastic thing. No matter what discipline they are working in. I think we can all share our wealth of knowledge as artists and creators and make the world a bit of a better place! I see this Face This T-shirt also as a collaboration piece. So to be conscious of all the elements that Faris used and bring them in. It was really the two of us working together. ˝
FT: What is your view on creativity?
Mark Conlan: ˝There is a misconception that creativity can be childlike. But to be honest, I think you have to have quite a bit of maturity as well to create art. We have to have life skills and life experience to be able to draw so that people can truly feel and experience the art. To push art beyond the childlike sense. On the other hand its helpful to have a childlike mind where you have a natural curiosity and freedom, and at the same time have the adult life experience. That combination pushes the experience of art to a next level. A lot of adults hold themselves back from releasing their creativity because they are too worried what others are going to think. So then the childlike mind is needed, to not let judgement get in the way and just have fun with the process.˝
Mark Conlan to Faris: “Your artwork is pretty cool!”
FT: Do you like to say anything to Faris?
Mark Conlan: ˝Your artwork is pretty cool! It was so nice to get your views on life. Life is pretty cool at your age, so keep enjoying and keep creating art. Keep having fun and keep smiling. ˝