You may have spotted illustrator Marcus Reed’s beautiful illustrations adorning the WeTransfer splash pages as you upload your files from the office. The muted tones in his colour palette and vintage feel to his character design left me wanting to ask more questions about his career thus far. Turns out he has featured in the 2011 Pictoplasma exhibition at La Gaite Lyriqué in Paris and exhibited at the 2012 Stratford Fringe Festival...
What’s your story? How did you get to where you are today? Born and raised in Newcastle (with a few places in between Münchengladbach, York) The start of my career path was at a printers, training as an artworker/plate maker in Newcastle. Fortunately for me a bit of a recession kicked in and I decided to return to college to train in Graphic Design, gaining a BTEC National in Graphic Design then an HND in Advertising (Illustration). I decided to head for the bright lights of Old London Town and landed a junior job at Saatchi's, after four great years there, learning the storyboard trade, I turned freelance, where I've been at for the last 12 years.
Which is your favourite illustrated project so far? I'd have to say, my latest project really, Animal Alphabet. It was great fun to do, especially as the concept was, initially, to work as flash cards for young children, to help them learn letter forms and animals in an engaging and memorable way. As most self-initiated projects are. It gave me a good opportunity to kind of sculpt and define my style, quite testing at times and a challenge to get some of the animals to fit the letter form. It was quite enjoyable and hopefully will also help children appreciate good design, which I hope comes across in the illustrations.
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? Like any 10 year old boy growing up in Newcastle at the time... a Footballer! I had trials at West Bromwich Albion & Carlisle United a few years later. But soon realised I was never going to make the grade. So decided to concentrate on my other great love... Being creative.
Which uni did you go to and what did you study? I studied at Newcastle College, it had the best Advertising course in the country at the time.
What’s been the proudest moment of your career to date? There's been a few high's and low's, but probably getting my first job in London, as a junior at Saatchi & Saatchi... That was the make or break point in my career, getting that initial foot in the door. It was hard, but well worth the effort.
Which project has been your career highlight? I'd say my Adidas City Series project, as it's opened a lot of window's of opportunity for me, including Adidas. And being an Adidas collector (50+ pairs to date) I'll always have a soft spot for that particular project. Also, I've been approached by a publisher to create a coffee table book this year, with a retrospective of my work. That will be quite special too.
Do you love or loathe social media? I bloody love it at the minute! HaHa... I've had some great feedback recently and again, have had some good opportunities come about from social media alone ;-)
Which tools do you use to create stuff? Fine liner, sketchbook, mac and tablet. In that exact and precise order.
How did the WeTransfer *Splash Page* opportunity come about? I was approached by WeTransfer, who had seen my Animal Alphabet and they very kindly offered me three weeks free space on their UK, US and German sites. Which was fantastic, I think they have a really good ethic, as they like to encourage new talent as well as the big corporate spenders... and this week, they've given me global coverage. Which was very nice of them.
Where do you find inspiration for your colour palette? Inspiration can come from anywhere really, it's about looking around and taking in your environment. I keep a lot of photography books, mostly old americana style, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld. I think the muted tones and vintage feel influence's me quite a bit.
What’s your favourite music to work to? I like to mix it up, Northern Soul or Stone Roses probably gets the most air time, it's quite easy to work to.... or 'The Jam' if I'm up against it. But anything goes really.
Where has your work been exhibited and what did you do to celebrate when you found out? I've exhibited at the Stratford Fringe Festival and Pictoplasma at La Gâit Lyriqué in Paris. To celebrate, I took my missus to Paris on Boxing Day to see it.
Pub or club? Pub, my clubbing days have gone. Still have fond memories of the Haçienda in Manchester though.
Favourite pair of shoes? My vintage Adidas Olympia's. West German made, so you can imagine how old they are.
What do you spread on your toast in the morning? Lard ;)