ART: Marc Scheff Draws Inspiration from Family, Friends
MASTERING THE ART OF ILLUSTRATION: Q&A WITH MARC SCHEFF
I met Marc Scheff earlier this year during a May Day rally at Union Square, where he was giving away a generous amount of his work to passers-by. Most people stopped in their tracks to check out the intricately detailed illustrations on display, and I wanted to learn more about this modest Brooklyn-based artist. “I did not grow up on illustration like a lot of my friends, I discovered it later in the game,” he reveals. ” … The thought of a career in art was all but laughable. Then I went back to art school and my inspiration has come fast and hard.” Scheff discusses his creative process in the following interview with Tania Fuentez Media.
TFM: How would describe your style and technique? Where did that come from and how do you nurture the creativity? What’s motivating you lately?
Marc: I would describe my current style as whimsical in tone, executed through flowing, detailed linework with a painterly finish. I have recently returned to more drawing which is something I have always loved. It may sound funny, but now that I am drawing more in my paintings I think I have found a voice that is mine and it feels like a breakthrough that was right in front me for years. I have studied under a number of really great painters, and in learning their techniques the real challenge was unlearning all of it to do what was in my heart. I want to get the emotional quality of Rebecca Guay with the whimsical realism of Jon Foster and the compositional mystery of Sterling Hundley and so much more. I would love to make that painting, and the challenge was how to make it and have it be mine. Now that I have a process I love, I know that my path is inspired by all my heroes, and will still be my own.
In terms of where my style came from, it has come fairly recently. I did not grow up on illustration like a lot of my friends, I discovered it later in the game. I did a lot of art, and had “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” (natch) but in school I studied computer science and went on to the tech boom in 1999 in San Francisco. The thought of a career in art was all but laughable. Then I went back to art school and my inspiration has come fast and hard, really in the past three years since my eyes were opened at the Illustration Master Class in 2009. All that is to say, I have so many heroes now, many of them are my friends and peers.
TFM: Any areas you’d like to improve upon or experiment with some new mediums?
Marc: I have been dying to get back to oils. I think we all say that. I have the chance to do so later this summer and plan on making some originals then. I think I am in a place where I am able to communicate with a consistent voice and would like to take that momentum to oils, even as I continue to work digitally.
TFM: Greatest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career? How did it help or hinder your growth personally?
Marc: I face the same challenge every year: how to make this work. I had a kid, that was challenging. Getting married, getting dogs, getting anything that took any time away from my art was a challenge. Making enough money, asking for what I’m worth, all challenges that I faced and face every day. Still, these obstacles have been opportunities too and have fed my career growth. My wife inspires me, my son fills me with joy, my dogs … my dogs can be a little needy but they’re dogs so they’re awesome! The challenge I face is to find the inspiration in the perspiration and move forward. So I had to learn to work smarter, stay organized, and prioritize. The realization that I had to and could say no to a client was as scary as it was refreshing. But saying yes to the right jobs, and putting my family first is the only way to survive as a freelancer that I know of. These challenges have been a real growth opportunity for me.
TFM: Any new projects lined up for the summer? Where can fans of your artwork most likely find you?
Marc: Right now I’m working on some new personal pieces and projects. My writing partner and I funded a kids’ book last year and are putting the finishing touches on it now. I already mentioned this, but I will be creating a few oil paintings, as well. I am active on Twitter, Facebook, and Dribbble these days. My Twitter feed is all stuff that inspires me, Facebook is stuff I’m working on, and Dribbble is my sneak-peek zone. I occasionally give free art and prints out on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
TFM: Best place to get the creative juices flowing? Walk me through that process.
Marc: So many! I love in-person get-togethers. I go to a few conferences a year and love to see my friends there, and make new friends. I host potlucks and BBQ’s at my house for local illustrators, and the social buzz with other artists always helps. Of course I love the Illustration Master Class, a weeklong workshop that packs more inspiration into the hour after breakfast than you’ll have all year. Other than that, my favorite method is to just draw. If I’m stuck, I get up from my desk, grab whatever material is available and draw what I see. Sometimes that’s my computer, my chair, my son, or my dogs. When I was stuck on a recent assignment I literally just drew the first thing I could think of. It didn’t seem to relate at the time but it ended up in my final painting. That was lucky, but there really is magic to putting down one line after another. Getting moving is all it takes some days.
March Scheff: http://www.marcscheff.com/
Marc Scheff on Dribble: http://www.dribbble.com/marcscheff
Marc Scheff Livestream illustration: http://www.livestream.com/marcscheff