Marcus Oakley

Graphic Artist Marcus Oakley has worked on a broad range of projects over the years; everything from book illustrations to products to textile design and packaging. He talks us through his typical workday since moving to Scotland 5 years ago—it includes a lot of drawing and just as much tea consumption; we hear about his must-read design books, including Olle Eksell's Corporate Design Programs, and he shares his 'wonky music' Soundcloud link — take a listen!

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

In 1996 I graduated from Camberwell College of Arts with a degree in Fine Art & Graphic design. I studied many aspects of Art and Design. Including Type Setting & Letter Press, Typography, Silkscreening, Video Art, Book Making, Conceptual Art, Painting, Illustration & Graphic design.

After graduation, I thought it would be a good idea to work in a design studio. I was fortunate after two months of graduating and three rigorous interviews to be offered a position as a T-shirt & Textile designer for the British fashion Brand Paul Smith.

It was a fascinating company to work for and I learned so much about working in the creative industries. After three years of literally designing hundreds & hundreds of t-shirt and textile designs, I decided to leave and pursue a career as a Graphic Artist and to spend more time on my personal art practice.

Since 2000 I have worked on a broad range of projects including book illustration, products, textile design, and packaging.

I’m really interested in the fuzzy and foggy overlap of illustration in Art and Design, continuously learning that drawing has the potential to be anything and interpreted into anything. Constantly Thinking and more thinking, daydreaming and imaginative Drifting / Making and more making/ drawing and even more drawing.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Breakfast of tea and muesli, swimming, drawing, tea, drawing, baking bread, tea, drawing, a little gardening, drawing, and more tea.

If I have any time between all that tea and drawing I will try and squeeze in making some wonky music. Have a listen- www.soundcloud.com/the-sunflower-band

Design work by Marcus Oakley The Design Kids interviews Marcus Oakley work-2

What are your top must-read design books, blogs or podcasts and why?

  1. Olle Eksell / Corporate Design Programs / 1967: This book is long out of print, and rather rare to buy, I have a facsimile of it and came across it when I was lecturing at Arts University Bournemouth. Within this small book are many inspiring sections on design, layout, logos, shapes, packaging, signs, posters, and exhibitions. I often re-read this paragraph from the book:

'Picture - our most common means of communication: The point of a picture is, of course, that it should tell us something important or interesting so that our attention is attracted one way or another. Pictures should change and improve our abilities and environment by constantly expressing new ideas, communicating new ways of thinking so that barriers and prejudices disappear or by illuminating certain facts so that we can act upon them; or also by recording and storing events so that we can profitably draw upon the past. Pictures can also condition us to expect things to have a certain appearance but on the other hand facilitate communication by custom.'

  1. Bruno Munari / Design as Art / 1966: Another inspiring book with short essays about the artistic possibilities of design.

  2. 99%: If you haven’t come across 99% Invisible before, I can highly recommend it for it’s in-depth and entertaining podcasts on all things related to architecture and design.

Are you involved in any teaching and if so how it shapes your practice?

For 19 years I have mentored, taught and run workshops. Since moving up to Scotland from London 5 years ago I have been working for a fantastic Art’s organization based in Edinburgh called Artlink. Set up in 1984 Artlink’s aim is to increase creative opportunities those who experience disadvantage or disability in the East of Scotland.

The work can be challenging at times but also life-affirming, I have seen so much awesome, amazing, genuine and honest artwork.

Design work by Marcus Oakley The Design Kids interviews Marcus Oakley work-4
Design work by Marcus Oakley The Design Kids interviews Marcus Oakley work-4

Keep on keeping on, explore, look around the corners, question, deconstruct and resemble.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Keep on keeping on, explore, look around the corners, question, deconstruct and resemble.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

I don’t have specific plans, just to carry on living a creative life, working, thinking, making, drawing and teaching.

Design work by Marcus Oakley The Design Kids interviews Marcus Oakley work-6
Design work by Marcus Oakley The Design Kids interviews Marcus Oakley work-6

Where to find Marcus Oakley online.

Website: marcusoakley.com

Instagram: @marcus_oakley

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