Milligram Studio have collaborated with Melbourne-based, award-winning illustrator and artist, Marc Martin to create a stunning limited edition notebook set and unique canvas artwork, Kaleidoscope Jungle.
Marc is the author and illustrator of award-winning books including A Forest, Max, The Curious Explorer’s Illustrated Guide to Exotic Animals A-Z, A River and Lots. Marc is known for his rich colour palettes and dense landscapes.
We chat to Marc to understand a little bit more about his inspiration and where it all began…
You’ve created several gorgeous illustrated books — can you share the story of your very first book, A Forest, and how this came to be? We believe it was originally self-funded?
Yes, my first book A Forest was self-published. At the time I was working as a graphic designer but I wanted to do something that was bit more creative and personal, so I started writing and illustrating A Forest on the side.
At first I didn’t really think of it as a picture book — I approached it as more of an artist’s book. It wasn’t until I put the whole thing together that I thought ‘this would work as a picture book!’ So I printed a few hundred copies and distributed them to bookstores, and eventually somebody at Penguin Books saw them and asked me if I wanted to published a hardcover version.
Your illustrations often have a whimsical quality — do you have any particular influences?
I have lots of influences. I think my design background gave me an appreciation for people like Ray and Charles Eames, Charley Harper, Bruno Munari and other designers from the ’60s, but these days I’ve branched out a lot with my influences. I really enjoy the paintings of David Hockney, Peter Doig, Fred Williams and Adrian Genie, as well as folk artists and other illustrators.
Your creation for Milligram Studio is based in nature — are you a lover of outdoor adventures?
Yeah, I enjoy getting outdoors and exploring the world. Most people live in urban areas where there’s no connection to the local environment, so it’s important to get out and about and remind ourselves that we’re part of the natural world.
Are there other creatives, locally or internationally, who you particularly admire?
There’s probably too many to all name, but locally I really admire the work of David Booth (Ghostpatrol) and Carla Mcrae. They’re two Melbourne creatives who make beautiful murals and artwork that’s vibrant, playful and meaningful. Internationally I always enjoy the work of fellow illustrators Laura Carlin, Jon Klassen and Carson Ellis, and I’ve recently discovered the work of Japanese artist Miroco Machiko.
Do you have any go-to stationery tools or brands?
Well I’m a sucker for a good notebook, and I’m really enjoying the A5 Milligram Studio Everyday notebook — it’s the perfect size to keep in your bag and jot down quick notes. I also just started using a MiGoals diary, which has really helped me focus on some goals I want to achieve this year.
What was your creative process in developing the art print and notebooks for Milligram Studio?
As with most projects, I stated off doing a rough black and white pencil sketch of the print design. I’ll usually have vague idea of what I want to do before I start drawing, so it’s just a matter of getting it on the page and refining the idea a bit.
I didn’t have anything in mind in terms of colour schemes, so I spent a lot of time experimenting with different colour combinations and textural effects. I knew I wanted something that was really striking and colourful, but wasn’t sure how to achieve that.
It wasn’t until I played with some watercolour paints and let them mix together that I stumbled upon a colour scheme that worked. I then applied that technique to all the plants in the illustration to achieve that kaleidoscopic effect that really makes them pop off the page.
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators or artists?
Just keep working hard, don’t worry about what other people are doing, and don’t be afraid to take some risks in your career!