Born in Luton, Mark studied technical and scientific illustration for four years. After graduation he became a member of the Society of Illustrators, Artists and Designers (SIAD). Since then, he has had a full and demanding 33 year career as a full-time artist and illustrator, producing work for numerous national and international publishers, advertising agencies and galleries. He is the founder of CGI-company, Mission 3D.
“I love books. Real books, as tactile objects that you can feel the weight of in your hands, leaf through, and into which you can simply disappear. Of course, like most booklovers, the excitement of a new novel, especially of a favourite author, is always an occasion to be savoured. But I find the books I treasure most become old friends. I love to revisit them, and celebrate down the years their graceful journey as they age – so often to marvel at their maturity, and sometimes to stand back with wonder as my youthful friend has become a classic! I love the feel of these my inanimate friends, who live with me and in me so vividly. Their stories, their feel, their warmth and their comfortable familiarity, – it is all these qualities that inspire me to paint them.
Most of the books I’ve painted are very old and have had many owners, yet their fine condition suggests a much pampered life in careful hands. Others have not been so lucky. With creaking spines, dog-eared and with fading colour, they may be battle-scarred, but they are still as precious. Many of the books I paint are now quite rare and sourcing them has required great patience, while others, I’ve simply stumbled upon, languishing unnoticed and un-remembered on dusty shelves in second-hand book shops. But, good design is timeless and as precious as what is contained in the treasure between the covers. These books, I am deeply convinced, deserve to be noticed.
While wanting to honour and pay tribute to the original jacket designers and their unquestionable talents, my paintings are portraits of some very old, well-loved books, the way they are now. Novels, poetry, history and a range of subjects all attract my interest. It may not be possible to judge a book by its cover each and every time, but a great engraving or a modern jacket certainly promises much.
The paintings themselves are much larger than life with every tear, crease and blemish, carefully and accurately recorded. You see my aim is not just to reproduce the original cover artwork like a poster. It is to paint the whole book as a real, three-dimensional object with all its imperfections – the evidence of life – so that when mounted and sensitively lit, the illusion is created of a real, giant 3D book. It really is a living thing.”