Sefton Speaks: Marcus Aitken

Sefton is proud to present emerging artist Marcus Aitken for the Sefton Journal. Recently named as Saatchi Arts top 20 emerging artists to watch in 2020, Marcus is a contemporary artist and painter from South London who uses a combination of layering, distressing and blending to present a multifaceted surface to his work. 

Having shown in both solo and group exhibitions internationally, he has a background in design and developed his artistic style creating cutting edge abstract works with vibrant and exciting sculptural elements. 

Sefton caught up with him to get the low down on his work. Marcus was going to host a month-long installation at the store with an evening event, however, unfortunately due to corona virus this will be postponed until further notice.

Throughout 2020, Sefton will be hosting a range of events that support young creatives in London. As an independent store, it prides itself on being a creative hub within the community, opening the doors to those pushing boundaries and establishing themselves within the industry. 

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Who is Marcus Aitken in your own words?
A painting addict who’s unbounded energy creates equal amounts of happiness and frustration.

How did you first get involved in art + painting in particular?
I’ve always had some sort of creative project going on since I was a young boy. I remember I spent my summer holidays painting pop art portraits of my friends and then selling them on to their parents – this was a great footing to my future career. When I finished my art degree I set up a jewellery company off the back of my sculpture work at the time. I quickly realised that the element I loved most was the creativity of the pieces I was making, so I decided I would focus all of my energy into just this – painting allowed for total freedom with no restrictions. I’ve not looked back since.

What is it about the creative industry that you love?
Having worked in the creative industry from various angles such as gallery manager, art consultant and now artist, I think it can be equally a difficult and amazing industry to be part of. As any creative will tell you that there are a lot challenges that come with being your own brand, however I have been lucky enough to find and be offered many unique opportunities to collaborate on, like with Sefton, for instance. The possibilities as an artist are endless, which can be daunting at times, but there’s never a dull moment.

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Where do you turn to for inspiration for your work?
That’s a BIG question – everything. I think its hard not to be influenced by our surroundings, especially when we all have an unlimited visual resource in the palm of our hands all of the time – which can also end up clouding my focus at times. I try to go art exhibitions every few weeks whether it be small exhibitions by emerging artists or the well-known artists in the household name galleries. In these mad recent times we are living through no one can do this anymore, which is where social media has really had its benefit for me. Both offline and online, it’s really useful to see what is trending and why and its rare that I come away with not feeling inspired, even if the work isn’t to my taste – there is always something to take away.
How would you describe your relationship with art and fashion? how has it evolved over the years?
My art has definitely evolved over the years and it has taken me some years to land on having a recognisable style to stand out from the crowd – I’m not sure I can say the same for my fashion! Generally my fashion is quite functional although I do like to “zhuzh it up” with a neck bandana or even a bolo tie on occasion.  
How do you think art influences fashion and vice versa? 
I think all creative industries borrow, steal and influence one another. For me, as well as checking out art exhibitions for inspirations, going to a fashion store can be equally as inspiring as it informs me of what colour combinations are currently in trend and what the big names are trying to push. Its very connected as I think to be a successful creative you always need to be reacting to current trends, even if it’s a statement to go the other way.

Describe your personal style
Classic, with a few querky extras…im also a sucker for a patterned shirt.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned since the beginning of your career?
Make as many friends as you can in your industry. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I have had simply through fellow artists or collectors recommending me. It’s so important to be part of a community and engage in it. Similarly I have recommended and introduced countless people for various opportunities and creative jobs. What goes around, comes around.

What does a typical day in the life of Marcus Aitken look like? 
Wake up, go via B&Q to pick up painting & framing supplies and then hit the studio! I try to treat my time in the studio like a 9-5, however I often paint into the night dependant on if I’m having a “good art day”. I occasionally have very frustrating days in the studio where I might make a brush mark that will send me down a spiral of uncertainty about what I’ve just done and think that maybe I should just destroy the whole thing! Or I’ll love it and keep working on it until I finish in the early hours and have a seriously productive day. Its very touch and go, but that’s one of the reasons I love what I do – everything is unknown and you never know how things are going to pan out – there’s never a boring day in the studio. 

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