Finally, it‘s Friday – time for another DragAdventure! Actually, for us, this is very much a fri-yay, because we are very excited to welcome back one of our most beloved series aka #FeaturedArtistFriday! Every week, we bring you an interview with one of the talented, amazing artists out there! Tonight’s interview guest is certainly one of the names that have been all over social media lately because of his artwork – you most certainly have seen his painting inspired by the It‘s A Sin series or, if you‘re a Drag fan, you might even be wearing his merch right now! Grab a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable and read our interview with Luke Marsh as we talk about getting started in the artists‘ universe, finding inspiration and of course, a bit of post-pandemic fun!
DragAdventures: Hi Luke! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, we are very happy to have you on the site! First off, let’s get to know each other: pretty much everyone we know is already making plans for June 21st, when we might all get another chance to be ‘free’ again from this big old annoying virus that kept many of us locked inside the house for the past year or so…How do you imagine your perfect first day “post-pandemic”?
Luke Marsh: Hey! Thanks for having me. The basic gay answer of the century, but think I speak for a lot of us when I say the thing I’m most excited for post-pandemic, is to hear Chromatica on club speakers. We’ve had little snippets of freedom in between our abundance of lockdowns but we won’t have seen a dance floor for 16 months by then, so if I can get to one I will! Obviously, it’s always a good thing to be cautious, but if all goes well I think we deserve to celebrate.
DragAdventures: From the future, let’s travel all the way back to when you first picked up a pencil (or a digital drawing board!): Do you remember the first illustration you did that made you realize ‘this is what I want to be doing? Is there a special person that got you into drawing and creating?
LM: I don’t think there was ever really a definitive point where I decided that it was what I wanted to do. I do think I started to take it a bit more seriously once I started to gather a little bit of a following, but the need to draw and create is something that has luckily always come quite naturally to me, and I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of making art is with my Grandad when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old. He would draw things for me and I would color them in (#collab), I know he was really good at drawing but I don’t know where else I get it from!
DragAdventures: Thinking back to ‘younger Luke’, do you have any advice for people just starting out in the creative field who might get insecure about their potential and talent, especially in times where social media seems like such a contest all the time?
LM: Yes, don’t compare! I think one of the most damaging things you can do for your self-confidence and creativity. Digital art is now so much more accessible to get into than it has been due to apps like Procreate, which on one hand is great but put social media into the mix and it certainly can feel like a competition if you’re trying to get your work noticed.
I often have to remind myself, it’s not fair to compare myself to others because every artist is at a different stage on a very long journey, everyone at some point started from the same spot.
In my experience, the Instagram artist community is so welcoming and supportive of each other. If there’s an artist’s work that you love, reach out and tell them. Give the support to other artists that you’d wish to receive yourself.
And the last thing, stop worrying about the number of likes you can get, it’s not indicative of how good your art is. Make the art you want to make and any following you get from it is a bonus.
DragAdventures: Of course, social media is also a fabulous way of discovering amazingly talented, passionate people one otherwise might not have had the chance to connect with! Your Instagram feed is a treasure chest of different illustration styles that are different but still tie together super nicely – is there any style you love doing in particular or do you prefer to mix it up from piece to piece?
LM: I’m glad you think they tie together! I do sometimes worry when I post something where I’ve tried to change things up a bit. I definitely feel like I have my “go-to”, but I still want to always be able to try new things. It helps you to find your style and just keeps things exciting, for me and hopefully for my following too. I did a few album cover redesigns last year, I really enjoyed doing those so will probably try to do more of those this year.
DragAdventures: Our team first was introduced to your work through the incredibly moving piece you created during the release of the poignant series ‘It’s a Sin’, leading to various cast members and Russell T Davies sharing. What inspired you to make that piece and what did you think of the show?
LM: Well, ‘It’s a Sin’ was just incredible, wasn’t it? I did a lot of ugly crying, I think we all did. I actually started work on the poster just before it aired. I’m not sure I anticipated just how hugely successful it would become at that time, but I knew it would be a really important moment for our community, just purely as it was a story that has longed to be told on a mainstream level. The AIDS crisis was seemingly just swept under the rug and it gives a huge amount of exposure to how gays were treated at that time, not even all that long ago. That on its own was inspiring to me, but It also just really fed me visually and emotionally. I love Russell T Davies’ work and it gave me a lot of creative fuel to work with.
DragAdventures: How do you go from the first inspiration for artwork to the finished product? Do you kind of have an idea of how you want the finished product to turn out from the start or do you rather “go with the flow”? And, do you have any special part that can’t be missing from the process, e.g. a special playlist you listen to or a ritual you always do when you create art?
LM: I never actually noticed why I did this but since you asked – I will obsessively listen to music if it’s the subject or inspiration of the work. When creating the ‘It’s A Sin’ artwork I listened to a lot of Pet Shop Boys and 80’s inspired playlists. I think maybe it arouses my brain and gets my creative juices flowing.
With posters and original artworks, I do like to pre-compose or plan a little bit beforehand so I can better visualise how I want things to look, but with portraits I tend to just go straight in and let them form on their own.
DragAdventures: Who would you still absolutely love to design merch for that you haven’t yet had the chance to work for? If you had to come up with a merch item for your favorite queen, what would it be and what would be on it?
LM: From this year’s Drag Race – I am absolutely obsessed with Gottmik. Their drag aesthetic is right up my alley and I think they’ve given some of the best looks Drag Race has ever seen. One of my favourites was their anal beads inspired look, maybe we could do a line of those?
DragAdventures: We must admit, one of our favorites besides the It’s a Sin piece is your Trixie and Katya illustration, which is also now available on Merch Mother for all Trixya fans to get their hands on – how did it feel to have two of the biggest drag queens commission your art and what goes through your head when you see people walking around with your designs on their clothes?
LM: It’s incredibly gratifying to be approached by anyone from Drag Race but to get to design merch for 2 of the biggest names in drag, it’s a little bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. I’ve seen people online wearing them but obviously, due to the pandemic I haven’t had much chance to see people wearing them out and about in public, but I think when I do I’ll probably squeal like a pig.
DragAdventures: Speaking of RPDR, this season of Rupaul’s Drag Race UK has been one for the books so far! Are you watching it and what are your thoughts on this season? Who are you rooting for to take the crown?
LM: Bimini for the Wimini. They’ve just been absolutely killing it, haven’t they? I’d be really happy if Tayce won too, it’ll be really close but I do think Bimini might just manage to snatch it.
I think there were some big boots to fill after RPDRUK Season 1, it had so much heart and I don’t think many of them really knew how to be on Drag Race, whereas this time it felt like the queens were a lot more prepared. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the previous season but I was wrong, it’s turned out to be one of the best seasons of Drag Race ever!
DragAdventures: Since we always try to be positive and optimistic (although it has been hard this last year, we’re not going to lie), we always like to end with a question about future projects and exciting plans that our featured artist might want to share with us – any chance of sharing some sneak peeks for 2021 with us?
LM: I’m hoping to manifest that ‘Gottmik x Luke Marsh’ anal bead collection, so stay tuned for that. Right now my main aim for this year is to create more original artworks. I enjoy making work inspired by pop and queer culture but I’d also like to build on my own original body of work. More digital illustration but I’d also love to go back to traditional painting and drawing. I have a few merch collabs in the works, so hopefully more of those this year too!
Be sure to follow Luke on all social media below:
All your purchasing merch needs available on Merch Mother