“I get asked a lot if my work’s science-fiction based,” says this month’s cover artist Mark Charlton. “It is and it isn’t. I love science fiction, 2001: A Space Odyssey, things like that, but that’s not necessarily what inspires my work. It’s more to do with man’s enthusiasm to go out into the galaxy. I absolutely adore mid-century design and that whole era of science and mankind coming together. There was a famous comic in the 50s and 60s called The Eagle, which was very much aimed at getting young boys into engineering, and they had articles in there about mankind living on the moon in, like, 50 years’ time. It was just an idea, but I get excited about that idea, about a 50s perspective on man jetting off into space, so my work sort of stems from that feeling.”
Mark’s background is actually in animation, rather than print design. For years he worked as a freelance animator, creating music videos and projections, before taking a change of direction. “I’d always wanted to try screen printing, so I bought some bits off eBay and learnt from videos on YouTube. I then started experimenting with screen printing onto different materials – onto wood and mixed media pieces – and that was the really early beginnings of trying to find my style. Now I have stacks of different paper sources in my studio and over time they age and discolour, so I have a whole bank of this material, which produces these really lovely textures.
“When you see my pieces up close, you can see that they’re quite decayed and weathered. I like to destroy what I’ve made, and I find the inner beauty within the destruction of it. I build the composition up over several weeks. In order to see the previous layers I have to really weather the piece, so I might sand it through and use heat guns and all sorts of things. This might actually destroy a piece of work, but I find there’s a spontaneity in that. I make my pieces over several months, so they’re constantly changing composition and tone and colour, but I get a real kick out of having lived with a piece of work and taken it as far as I can. I can’t make something within half an hour.
“The future of my work has slowly moved from exploring Space to an examination of brutalist architecture. The nuclear age, as it were, the Cold War. I’m looking at concrete structures and bunkers and buildings that all came through the 1950s and 60s. So it’s the same sort of period, I’m just taking it from Space back down to Earth.”