Man of mystery in the art world, Mr. Marbles has been creating art for an indeterminate amount of time. His collages seek to make people smile, think and take action; sometimes simultaneously. Jaded by the decreasing values of society, Mr. Marbles utilises surrealism in his work to draw attention to the absurdity and mundanity of modern living. His work has been displayed in several galleries around the world - each as shit as the one before it, and his works, which fetch up to £60 at auction, hang in the living rooms and boudoirs of Brad Pitt, Diane Louise Jordan and Kris Akabusi.
1. How did you get the idea to make collages?
By absolute fluke. I originally painted and was an illustrator. I got into printing a few years ago and found that cut outs complemented my silkscreen prints. I experimented with collage more and more and it just clicked. I find collage to be the perfect medium to convey what I am trying to say. I’ve only really been creating collages for just over a year, but find it a cogent method for getting what I want to say across.
2. On average, how long does it take to complete a piece?
It varies from piece to piece. Some I spend days working on; sourcing material, cutting out, working on layout patterns, editing and so forth, and others I throw together on a whim. Ironically, the quicker, more minimalist stuff I do is usually the stuff I’m usually happiest with. There have been times I’ve spent hours on something really intricate and elaborate only to lose my head with it and throw it against a wall or set it on fire.
3. Do you do other work or are you 100% focused on making and selling art?
At the moment I have a day job. It’s such a thief of time. I’ve never really got on with authority and the generic working environment bores me to tears. It’s not for me, man. Never has been. I think if you’re creative indeed you’ll never settle in the world of work. You need to make and create; you’re blessed with a level of madness that means you can’t be fulfilled unless you do so, and you need to put everything into it and leave nothing behind.
I’ve created art since I can remember and fell out of it in my early twenties for a few years. I had people banging on about getting a ‘proper job’ and all that guff. I got to a point in my mid-twenties, which is when I believe you first know who you are, when I thought ‘fuck this’. The conventional, American Dream life is for some but not me. I’m not into the whole identi-kit way of living; salary, mortgage, car I can’t afford, and that whole keeping up with the Jones’ shite. I’ve no aspiration to fly up the career ladder in a profession I hate, and be surrounded by absolute queggs until the day I retire or die. That’s no fuckin’ way to spend a life, is it?
I went traveling with my wife, came back and took a job to pay the bills. It doesn’t fulfil me, so one day she sat me down and said what would make me happy professionally. Genuinely the only thing I can see myself doing for a living is creating. My wife is an incredible pragmatist so she said ‘how you going to do this, then?’ We cleared the spare room in our rented house, I set up my studio space and went about creating art and building up my design work. I hope to go freelance in the new year with my design work to pay the bills and keep creating art to under the Mr. Marbles name.
4. What do you do when you are not creating art?
Collecting records and listening to as much music as I can possibly get my grubby little hands on. I’ve a pretty eclectic taste and my studio doubles up as my record room. I also enjoy film, collecting tweed jackets, drinking heavily and spending money I don’t have on mid century furniture I don’t need - usually whilst drunk.
5. Who or what inspires you?
Professionally, people like Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton, as they took the medium of collage into a different stratosphere. They utilised it to create a powerful message as well as making it look cool as Steve McQueen’s fridge. It’s easy to cite them, though, but I am most inspired by anyone who has turned their creativity into a fulltime job, which I what I aim to do and what I will do. People like Peter O’Toole and Anthony Zinonos for example; people who have rejected the conventional way of living their lives and followed their passion and become successful in their individual artistic fields. They were put on this floating rock to make art and that’s what they’re doing.
I also really admire Michael Gillette as, for me, he doesn’t quite fit any mould as an artist. He isn’t constrained by one particular medium and does as he pleases in order to get his message across. Everything he does always looks absolutely tip-top. Although I’m probably seen as a collage artist, I like to dabble about and utilise different mediums to get the best from my work - whether it be painting alongside collage or using cutouts over screen prints.
On a personal level, my wife inspires me daily. She’s the one who told me ‘you’re good at this and you need to do it. Fuck the money, we’ll manage. The most important thing is you do it, get it out there and make yourself and people happy. Don’t waste it.’ She tells me this daily, especially when doubt creeps into my noggin. My brother is the same, although he’s not as attractive as my wife. He told me right from the beginning to get my arse into gear and continues to support me, and I value his opinion highly. Several friends, who shall remain nameless, also keep me focussed, and validate what I’m doing through praise, encouragement, and criticism.
6. Do you think it's important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
Does it fuck. At a young age, I was told to put any thoughts of being an artist out of my head. It’s not a proper job and you’ll die in poverty. As such, I went to do a degree I had no interest in and have subsequently no wish to ever pursue a job in that field. Whilst I reckon going to Art School would have been beneficial to me on a purely social side, I firmly believe that if you are good at something, the qualification is only a bit of paper. Some of the greats had no formal education, and some of the most overrated wankers in the art world are Art School graduates. ‘Get onto my final show. I stuck a nail into a tin of beans. It’s supposed to represent the suffering of man.’ Then some clueless gimp pays him £10 grand for it just because he went to Goldsmiths. Nah, mate.
A formal education is fine for some, but I’m firmly of the belief that you should just get on and do it rather than sit and learn all about it. Read up on people you dig in your own time, and seek inspiration wherever you find it, but most of all you must create; don’t waste time listening to someone else opinion - form your own.
7. What is your dream art project?
Painting Cameron Diaz in the nude would be pretty cool. If any of her people are reading this and she has expressed an interest in being painted in the kip, then holler. I’ve not painted for a year or so, but I’d be willing to dust my brushes off were this particular commission to fall in my lap.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring/emerging artists?
Any artists reading this need to realise they are incredibly lucky. They are blessed with a talent that adds so much to this mortal realm. We live in a fuckin’ horrible, immoral society that only values a monetary economy and capital gain as a measure for success. People’s worth is measured in how much they earn, and they are defined by their jobs which they most likely hate. You’re not part of that scene so embrace being different. Your life is much richer so create as much as you can and get it out there. If it’s shit it’s still better than a blank bit of paper. You have the ability to make people smile, think and take action. That’s a gift and you need to follow it through. Don’t listen to the jamooks who tell you to get a proper job, save for a deposit on a house and be miserable like them. Make art, get it out there and your life will be fulfilled.
9. How do you get clients?
I find violence and intimidation are incredibly powerful tools in getting people to buy your work. Of course, I’m joking. But it’s worth keeping in mind.
It may sound cliché but in a world that is increasingly dependent on online networking, you can’t underestimate the importance of getting yourself out there. Social media is great for reaching a wider community, and getting instant gratification, but let people see who you are and what you do. Talk to people, if they twig with what you do it’s great. If they don’t then they don’t deserve what you do. It’s wasted on them. Let them go and buy a print of Audrey Hepburn puffing on a cigarette from IKEA. Wankers.
Do art fairs and price your work fairly. Are you in it to make as much money as you can or to reach as many people as you can? Without sounding pious I’d rather have something of mine hanging in someone’s house and making them smile than have a stack of prints taking up space at home. In short, I’d rather sell 100 prints at £30 each than 1 piece for £3,000.
10. What's next for you?
I’ve a little nipper due in January so my wife is on at me to print him up some designs for his baby grows! Professionally, build up my design work as that’s what will pay the bills and give me the ability to fuck the day job off.
I’ve just finished a collaboration with Canadian collage artist Sarah Judge which we will be looking into running some prints off later in the year. Ideally, I’d like to get a show of some sort, but let’s see.
I keep checking my email daily from Cameron Diaz’s people as well. Nowt yet but tomorrow is another day, innit?
Get in touch with Mr. Marbles if you are interested in putting on a show featuring his work.
Interview by Glodeane Brown
All photos provided by the artist.