Graduating in 1996 from Camberwell College of Arts with a degree in fine art and graphic design, illustrator Marcus Oakley soon found himself in the studio of Paul Smith as a t-shirt and textile designer. Working across menswear, womenswear and children’s clothing, he designed “literally hundreds and hundreds” of items. Feeling that he had got everything out of the job that he could, in 2000 Marcus left and became a full-time illustrator. Since then, he has gone on to become one of the leading figures in his contemporary style of drawing. Showcasing a naive style that toys with colour and composition, Marcus’s work is charming, adaptable and accessible.
Looking at his most recent work, his refined style appears even more simplified in form than before. Abstract blocks of colour and rough shapes have a sketchbook aesthetic that is pleasing in its restraint. “These new works were made specifically for my current exhibition Room Time in Edinburgh Central Library,” says Marcus. “The Central Library has a fantastic art and design section and amongst its 1930s bookshelves are long, horizontal, fabric exhibition spaces. These spaces in many ways dictated and constrained my work in a positive way.”
Taking inspiration from features of our daily rituals such as crockery, plants, furnishings and food, this new series investigates the ways in which our creative process is affected by our everyday surroundings and how we find ourselves daydreaming brilliant ideas whilst doing mundane things like making tea or listening to music. The bold colours and simple shapes of the illustrations enhance the reading space, bringing added vibrancy to the rows of books lining the walls and shelves of the library.
Made using a mix of paper, crayons, watercolours, wood and household emulsion, Marcus says he finds it enjoyable to work with a range of different materials and he encourages constant experimentation with his linework: “It’s important for me to move forward. I’m constantly looking for the melody and harmony in the line, constructing, forming, and manipulating. I’m continuously learning how a line has the potential to be anything and to be interpreted into anything. 2D, 3D or even sonically.”
Room Time is open at Edinburgh Central Library from 3 April – 29 April.
- Ioanna Sakellaraki explores Greece’s last professional mourners and their rituals around death
- Catalog Press is questioning what a book can be (and maybe it's made of cheese)
- Floriane Rousselot's digital platform Typelab supports and champions the work of young designers
- Photographer Theo Cottle tries to “keep an element of truth” in everything he shoots
- “Stay simple and playful”: Arnaud Aubry talks to us about making his fun and charming work
- Théophile Bartz on his fantastically hypnotic illustrations
- Led By Donkeys is crowdfunding £50,000 for “honest” No Deal Brexit ad campaign
- Taschen’s recent release celebrates “the greatest cat photographer of the 20th Century”
- Introducing the It’s Nice That Graduates of 2019!
- Suzy Chan’s portfolio boasts original graphic design, animation, typography and so much more
- Stefanie Tam’s graphic design grounds conceptual thinking in compelling visuals
- The Advertising Standards Authority has banned its first ads for “harmful” gender stereotyping