We all need cheering up, this recession has gone on for far too long. Well, The Foodie Bugle cannot bring about economic miracles but what we do like doing is showcasing talented artisans and crafts people who work in and around the food and drink industry. We chanced upon Gloucestershire artist Marcus Walters’ illustrations and designs and were hooked from the start. The use of brilliant colour, bold imagery and celebratory messages certainly hit the zeitgeist. We could all do with this art work on our walls, in restaurants and in food packaging, to escape from harsh reality into its childlike, figurative world of cream cakes, village fairs and biscuit dunking. So we set out to find out more about the creator of this world, and here is what he told us.
Question: Marcus, when did you start drawing? When you were very young, a little boy at school, were you good at drawing and art?
Answer: I always had an interest in art from a young age and was always drawing, I still am. I feel privileged that I can make a living from illustrating and designing. Perhaps all that ‘practice’ as a young boy is paying off.
Question: So where do you think your flair comes from?
Answer: There has always been a graphic nature to my work, I like to create the maximum impact with the minimum flourish.
Question: Were your parents, or anyone in your family, talented artists?
Answer: My father has always had a keen interest in art and he would take us to galleries when in London. One of my earliest memories was visiting the Tate Gallery in London where we bumped into (Pop artist) Peter Blake. I am still a big fan of his work.
Question: When you went to Central St. Martin’s to study did you already have a clear path in mind in terms of which media to work in, what your signature look was going to be?
Answer: I studied graphic design specifically so that I could be diverse in my output. For me design is about communication and application, whether to sell a product or present an idea. I enjoyed experimenting in art school and blurring boundaries of art and design, a notion I still hold dear.
Question: What was it like to study at Central St. Martin’s? What was the food like there? Did you eat out locally, or was money too scarce in your student days to allow you much choice?
Answer: At Central Saint Martins you definitely got out what you put in. The graphic design course was quite forward thinking and experimental, which was a bit daunting but also very exciting. The college was in Covent Garden right in the middle of central London (the building is now an H&M shop) so a great place to be. We had a small cafe in the building selling coffee and tea and I remember the cream cheese bagels. Eating out was generally expensive but there was no shortage of cheap eats; the Italian Pizza chain Sbarro was two doors down, I ate noodles in china town and also in The Stockpot, a small restaurant in Soho selling cheap, hot classic dishes.
Question: When you left college was it very hard to make a living at first in your field? How did you manage to find work and how did you come to set up your business, New Future Graphic?
Answer: I was lucky to get a job right out of college at a young women’s magazine called Company. It’s a slightly younger version of Cosmopolitan and was certainly a world away from college in terms of design and lifestyle, plus I was the only guy working there. Then after a few years working for various magazines I set up a design studio to get back to doing the more diverse style of design and projects I always set out to do. New Future Graphics has now been going for over eight years.
Question: Your work is so bright, joyful and thoughtful. Where do your ideas and inspirations come from?
Answer: I guess I have always had an optimistic outlook and love of colour which is a running theme in my work. As a designer I am communicating for a client or product or service, but as an artist or illustrator I am communication an idea, emotion or narrative.
In terms of inspiration it can come from everything big and small – from my surroundings in the countryside or the city to a sweet wrapper or matchbox. I always gravitate towards print material from the last century; books, magazines, posters and packaging. It’s not just the style of design in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s but also the quality of print such as old lithographic, screen printing and letterpress. I am just about old enough to have started designing before the computer was king and pride myself in having the knowledge to create designs and artwork without even touching the computer. For me the computer is just another tool, sometimes a short cut – I still like getting my hands dirty!
Question: Which other artists have inspired you in your life?
Answer: There are so many brilliant artists around I don’t know where to begin! I often find it overwhelming to look at other people’s work because it’s often so amazing! Influences over the years have been the children’s books of Richard Scarry, Dr Sueus and Jean Adamsons’ “Topsy and Tim”, the Pop art movement which I studied in school and more recently friends work such as Marcus Oakley, Kate Gibb and Rob Ryan… The list could go on and on.
Question: How does the process evolve from the moment you meet a new client to the moment the project is finished? Do you go through many different stages of producing samples for the client to choose from?
Answer: The process can be a very straight forward process (for me!). As soon as I get a brief I try to visualize it and sketch the work out in my layout books. Once an idea is approved the process is to get the idea from my head and book into a piece of artwork, one which does the job for which it is intended. In commercial terms this is the most important aspect although artistic integrity also comes into play.
Questions: Food is clearly a significant part of your work. Is food also a big part of your life? Do you grow your own food in Gloucestershire, visit farmers’ markets, eat at good local pubs, know any good delicatessens, butchers, bakers?
Answer: I had never realized the connection with food in my work, but looking back you are right! I never considered food to be a major part of my life but in recent years I guess it is. I am an able cook but I married a great cook who has introduced me to lots of different foods over the years. Since moving to the countryside a few years ago I have been growing my own vegetables and experimenting with cooking accordingly. I am also chief bread and pasta maker at our house and am even going on a bread making course in a few weeks.
I am also lucky enough to live in a town that is spoilt for choice for great food shops such as Hobbs Bakery, Williams Food delicatessen as well as the local farmers markets and an array of restaurants. Luckily I haven’t got larger with all this good food in easy reach which I put down to the sweeping hills we have to climb on a daily basis.
Question: What are your hopes for 2012? Who would you like to collaborate with or work for?
Answer: This year I would like to devote more time to develop my own artwork, and have a few collaborative projects and exhibitions already scheduled. I have also been working on some children’s books so it would be great to get them finished and published. As a designer I like the notion of my illustration being accessible and mass market, so working with large worldwide companies is appealing. One of my dream projects would be to work on a whole range of packaging, again appealing to my mass market sensibilities. And I would love to travel more, the sights, sounds and tastes of different countries are always inspiring.
Marcus Walters Illustration & Design Website : http://www.marcuswalters.com
Marcus Walters’ online shop: http://www.marcuswalters.bigcartel.com/
Follow Marcus on Twitter: @mrmarcuswalters