Interview with marcus aitken
Marcus Aitken is one of London's most promising young artists. Named as one of Saatchi Art's Top 20 Emerging Artists to watch in 2020, his signature style uses brighter tones, often on on industrial plywood, and a combination of layering, distressing and blending to present a multifaceted surface to his work. Living and working in South London, Aitken uses his background in design to develop cutting edge abstract works with vibrant and exciting sculptural elements. He has shown in exhibitions internationally and had this work featured by various publications.
To begin with, how would you describe your art to someone who had not seen it before?
Fast and slow gestural movements and moments captured in paint.
Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?
Everywhere…I find it hard not to be constantly influenced by my surroundings to be honest. At the moment, like many people, I’m spending far too much time on my phone during the lockdown, so I would say there is a fair amount of my feed that ends up in my paintings unconsciously one way or another. A constant for me though is music, as this has always set the pace for how I go about my work.
How has your practise changed over time?
A lot. When I graduated from uni, I was making large set design sculptures from mannequin parts and second hand furniture, from this I started a jewellery company called Sacrum, I decided jewellery wasn’t for me so went back to my old haunt of painting…since then I’ve not stopped and now I don’t think I could stop, I’m totally addicted to it.
What piece of yours are you most proud of?
I don’t think there is one specific piece that stands on top as I’m proud of all the works that are seen in the public eye (there are plenty of terrible works that are hidden away in the depths of my studio, never to be seen). If I had to choose, maybe Over+Over as it was one that just came together without too many inner mind battles.
You were named one of Saatchi Art’s Top 20 Emerging Artists to Watch in 2020 – do you think that has had much of an impact on opportunities presenting themselves to you?
Definitely as off the back of it, I immediately saw an increase in my sales and following which has enabled me to grow to bigger and better things. I think 2021 is going to be a good year.
You have a virtual solo exhibition opening today with Soft Punk Magazine that allows the audience to move around the room and even a virtual reality element for those who have the capability – what initiated this project and was it always going to be virtual?
This project has actually been about a year in the making, as with everything, COVID changed the timescales. I stumbled across Soft Punk scrolling on Instagram and a conversation sparked from there which led to Jacob, the editor coming to visit my studio (which was a shed in my brothers garden then). The exhibition was going to be in person but with all the difficulties of COVID, we decided that we would host it online as then it would also be more accessible to anyone who wanted to see it, wherever they are in the world.
A few more questions, to conclude…
What is your dream project?
When I’m not painting, I’m drumming in my band Fabricators, so I guess a dream project for me would be to combine my art practice with music in a live performance creating a huge piece of Installation art as one big experience.
Is there anything that you would change about the art world?
Well, its not very accessible is it…I guess that’s the obvious answer, but it’s true – get rid of ‘Art speak’ for one and two teach graduates the economics of how things work in the world of art, as speaking from personal experience I had no clue where to start or what to do when I left uni, so like many of my friends I worked in bars, frozen yogurt shops, retail etc for years until I started putting the pieces together and understood how to make things happen. It’s a vital part to being an artist, as you can be super talented, but if no one knows about you, then you are invisible.
What do you do when you are not painting?
I carve tiny sculptures of all the people who have mocked me over the years and then set them on fire whenever there is a full moon…nah, just kidding that would be a great answer though...I just do all the normal stuff people do but mostly play and listen to music.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not an artist?
Lastly, what is the best piece of advice you have received?
Don’t be a dick.