A liv­ing through book il­lus­tra­tion

Napier Courier - - NEWS - BY BRENDA VOWDEN brenda.vowden@hbto­day.co.nz

For­mer Napier res­i­dent Mar­ley Mcleay, now liv­ing in Nel­son, is mak­ing a name for him­self in the world of book il­lus­trat­ing. I caught up with Mar­ley to find out more about what led up to il­lus­trat­ing his lat­est two books — Carter and Friends and The Lit­tle Rain­drop.

■ What are some of your ear­li­est rec­ol­lec­tions of draw­ing/in­ter­est in art?

When I was at West­shore school, I con­sider it a point of chem­istry. A friend of mine at the time, who I con­sid­ered an above av­er­age ta­lent with draw­ing, had this knack of cap­tur­ing a unique feel­ing with his draw­ings . He did an art­work that made my heart sing. The draw­ing was of a space rocket ready to launch and be­hind it was the moon. It was the way he used lead from a pen­cil on top of blue felt tip which gave the im­pres­sion the moon was a beau­ti­ful shiny disc. I asked if he could draw me a copy.

■ Where did those in­spi­ra­tions come from?

I had an in­ter­est in theTV se­ries Star Trek since the early to mid 1980s. That space­ship Ste­vie drew sort of chimed in to my love of sci­ence fic­tion.

■ Did you al­ways have a sense of your abil­ity/ta­lent?

I think so, yes. Try as I might, I was never a sports star but I could im­press with my art.

■ Did you study art at school/ ter­tiary?

Art or draw­ing has al­ways been my main in­ter­est at all lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion. Af­ter high school I stud­ied at East­ern In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and then at Nel­son Marl­bor­ough In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, just to keep tabs on what tech­nol­ogy can bring.

■ How has your style changed over the years?

I had 22 years of build­ing my style be­fore own­ing my first com­puter and ex­per­i­ment­ing with the dig­i­tal plat­form. I de­vel­oped a very sur­real style, rather in­spired by the works of H.R Giger and Sylvia Sid­dell. I had al­ways tuned into cre­at­ing art­works that brought through all forms of emo­tions. Once I found ap­pro­pri­ate web­sites that taught tech­nique, it’s mostly been dig­i­tal work for the past 17 years. My drive is dif­fer­ent now, I am quite con­tent with my achieve­ments. I’m not solely fo­cused on the fact that each piece must be of a cer­tain stan­dard of tech­ni­cal pro­fi­ciency. I am en­joy­ing what a small re­lax­ing work can bring emo­tion­ally. My favourite pieces are still in­spired by dreams and vi­sions.

■ Have you had em­ploy­ment as an artist be­fore you be­came an il­lus­tra­tor?

That is an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion — pos­si­bly not. The main form of in­come has been il­lus­tra­tion work through chil­dren’s books and a lit­tle bit of graphic de­sign. I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self the artist do­ing il­lus­tra­tive work.

■ Have you held ex­hi­bi­tions? Yes, in 2003 with a friend. It was called ‘Vs’ — a me­taphor for our two dis­tinct artis­tic styles and se­condly as part of a stu­dent col­lec­tive in my fi­nal year study­ing at NMIT a decade later.

■ How did you get into il­lus­trat­ing?

I came across a web­site ded­i­cated to ‘the best sci-fi and fan­tasy art’ — Epi­logue.net. I learned ev­ery­thing from tech­nique to busi­ness eti­quette, just by in­ter­act­ing with pro­fes­sion­als. The first com­mis­sion for my il­lus­tra­tions hap­pened to be through mu­tual friends.

■ Tell me about the books you’ve il­lus­trated?

The premise of Carter and Friends was to tell a story of the im­por­tance of look­ing af­ter na­ture through­out the na­tive forests of Lake Ro­toiti, from the eyes of a child be­ing guided by and his wee friend Carter, a Mal­tese ter­rier, a very know­ing young pup. The Lit­tle Rain­drop is an ed­u­ca­tional story of the process of weather, and the jour­ney of a wee rain­drop as it goes through the cy­cle of evap­o­ra­tion, pre­cip­i­ta­tion and snow. The one I am work­ing on cur­rently is un­der a non dis­clo­sure agree­ment, but per­haps I can say it in­volves the res­cu­ing of a species of New Zealand bird, but awe­somely it has a good blend of sci­ence fic­tion. It just hap­pens to be the sub­jects that are grav­i­tat­ing to­ward me.

■ What is the process you go through when il­lus­trat­ing a book?

There is a process of read­ing the script and scrib­bling thumb­nails to gen­er­ate a vis­ual mo­men­tum or world build. At this mo­ment the cur­rent project I am work­ing is to a list of il­lus­tra­tions re­quired by the au­thor, which ac­tu­ally makes the jour­ney quite easy, rather than leav­ing ev­ery­thing to me. I then have a three tier process of im­prov­ing upon the thumb­nail with a com­po­si­tional study which is sent to the au­thor. If this gets the okay, I’ll fi­nalise the line work and add colour and then it is just a mat­ter of pre­sent­ing the work and hop­ing it meets re­quire­ments.

■ Do you col­lab­o­rate with the au­thor much?

Yes very much so. Feed­back is im­por­tant. I’ve learned the hard way about be­ing too in­volved with an art­work and try­ing to rem­edy some­thing that isn’t work­ing for the au­thor. Try as I might, I can miss the brief­ing, but with the best of in­ten­tions of course.

■ How does this com­pare to past work?

Struc­ture ver­sus non struc­ture. Just a bit more ex­pec­ta­tion to tell a story with the art­work.

■ Goals for your fu­ture?

I’d love to work for Weta Work­shop. I’ve come to meet var­i­ous peo­ple who work there. I en­tered their con­cept art com­pe­ti­tion last year and fin­ished fourth over­all, and I be­lieve en­trants had their art dis­played in South Ko­rea — one of the great­est hon­ours.

■ How’s the art scene in Nel­son?

Not as flam­boy­ant as it used to be — I won­der if it is an eco­nomic re­al­ity? It’s been a while since I lived in Napier but I thought the di­ver­sity in sub­ject mat­ter was more in­ter­est­ing. It’s mostly just land­scapes in gal­leries here. A friend of mine does a won­der­ful job of try­ing to net­work lo­cal cre­atives to meet each other, there is cer­tainly a ‘want’ to pro­duce art in the re­gion.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion or to check out Mar­ley’s art­work visit him on Face­book The Art Of Mar­ley Mcleay, email @theartof­mar­leym­cleay or on In­sta­gram @theartof­mar­leym­cleay

Mar­ley Mcleay has fin­ished il­lus­trat­ing his lat­est books Carter and Friends The Lit­tle Rain­drop.

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