Marinel Sheu, an Albanian illustrator based in Dublin, goes about the day via a rather strict routine. Having previously worked only during the night time, he has now switched it up to 9-9, waking up early and channelling the 9am until 9pm routine for six days a week – of course remembering to take it easy, too.
Although an intense working day, he’s clearly doing something right. Marinel’s portfolio is filled with the gleaming colour palette of an evening’s sunset, cinematic scenes and detailed characters. For the past two years, Marinel has been travelling around Europe, which he admits has “helped with the energy or the vibes of [his] artworks.” He continues: “Every time I came back from a holiday, I was very inspired and I added something from my trip to the artwork. I usually get influenced from everything that surrounds me; it can be a song, a movie or even a picture.” Upon first glance, his illustrations look as if they’ve been plucked out from a Californian scene in the midst of its finest golden hour. Then you start to notice the details – the green landscapes, European-style transport, and scenes that could in fact come from anywhere.
Raised in a small country in the south eastern part of Europe in Albania, Marinel turned towards his computer – which he received at the age of 14 – as his only escape. “I remember going and buying the PC and thinking about how I’m just going to stay at home and try to learn Photoshop and other softwares,” he says. “By the time I turned 15, I learned how to do logos, photo manipulation and illustrations.” Consequently, he started to earn money from his endeavours – whether it was album covers or posters, the process changed his entire perspective about art, its value, and how he could then invest in his craft. A digital native at heart, his process now begins with sketches, then Photoshop and Illustrator in most cases, and he plans to dabble with Pro Create in the near future.
The work produced tends to navigate around a particular moment or feeling, especially one that the audience can relate to. “I see loads of lo-fi accounts on YouTube that use my artworks, and with that being said I can tell that my works tell a story or speak to someone,” he says. “I always try to tell a story or capture a moment so that the audience can relate to my art, even though personally I am focused on the vibes that the piece will give to someone.” He continues to explain how he pays attention to every fine detail in order to ring true his found style – “even though I have studied many styles before arriving at this point.” He adds: “I love the fact that my art can sometimes help people and that people can relate to it.”
Indeed, a common theme running throughout is that of the pink-hued sunset. The reason for this is simple – every time he’s at home working on something, it’s this part of the day that “gets” him the most. “Sometimes I can be working all day and then I might go out for a walk just to catch the sunset,” he says. “It’s a very valuable thing for me to get to see the sunset – I think lots of people can reflect on sunsets and be grateful for what they have in this world.”
Conclusively, Marinel interprets his gloaming work as that which alleviates any stress or hardship. “That’s probably the reason why so many people find peace in my pieces, because they just want the calmness in their busy and problematic life,” he says. “Even for myself sometimes, I feel like my art is an escape from all the problems in my personal life.”