An interview with Marcus Reed

Fashion / November 10, 2016
by Jenn Bryson

scotts: Tell us about the book

MR: Essentially, it’s an illustrated journey that got me to here: the memories, the moments, the influences, as well as the inspirations that all contribute to who I’ve become just as much as what I do. It’s the lifetime of involvement in the UK subculture scenes in one form or another which seems to be the lynchpin to the aesthetics of my style and content. Taken from a wealth of inspiration – music, fashion and film being the central suspects. The beauty of it all is that they intermingle. None are mutually exclusive. The scenes constantly evolved; merging, reaching out for the next stage of ‘one upmanship’ – exciting, often exhilarating, fresh and vibrant. Definitely some the best days of my life were during those times.


When is it coming out?

MR: It’s available now from and limited copies my online store The publishing house New Heroes & Pioneers  has it of course as well.


What’s in it?

MR:  10 Chapters of Illustrated UK Subculture that has influenced me: Mods, Skins, through to Casual, Hip Hop and Contemporary culture.


What inspired it?

MR: I often get asked why I do what I do or where my ideas come from, so I thought it would be nice to reflect on that and source all those little creative sparks from the past that influenced what I illustrate. It’s almost a semi-autobiographical nostalgic journey through subculture in the UK, but illustrated in a minimalist modern way.


Will there be any never seen before material in there?

MR: Almost all, there are over 200 illustrations in the book, probably a good 90% is new material. Some are already available as prints or have been aired on social media, but a lot is exclusive to the book.


Where can people get their hands on it?


We are close to closing on a distribution deal in the UK so stay tuned for that. However- we can mention it is available at Original Casual or Tonic in the UK now among others.


What was your first ‘big break’?

MR: It would have to be getting a junior illustrator’s job at Saatchi’s. I spent 4 great years there learning from some amazing artists before going freelance. I’ve worked with some great agencies over the years, in regards to what style I do now, my first big illustration break was supposed to be Adidas, but that’s another story….


You’ve worked with some big names – how did you get in with the likes of Harrods and Major League Baseball?

MR: They both came via two personal projects really. I was finding my way with the current minimalist style- which was my European City Series, first aired around 2011. An American company who licensed MLB merchandise, spotted it via Behance of all places and approached me to do a 30 stadium series. This happened when I was in talks with Adidas too. Harrods came about via my Animal Alphabet. I had great worldwide coverage on that (as well as an award). Luckily for me, the creative head at Harrod’s loved it and wanted me to do the 2015 Christmas Campaign- a big job and a great client to work for.


What’s the most interesting project you’ve been involved with?

MR: I enjoy nearly all the projects I work on, I’m really lucky as every job is different. It could be illustration one week, animation another, storyboards, design… it really is a great career, competitive and hard work but very rewarding. Harrods was a highlight because it covered everything: in-store, press, animation, the lot. So you’re working with lots of interesting people in the creative industry and learning new disciplines. Collaborations are always good fun, Original Casuals, Sock Council to name a couple.


Where’s the best place your work’s taken you?

MR: My work tends to travel much further than I do haha! The beauty of working remotely is that you can work for anybody, anywhere, power of the internet I suppose. But I’ve been to some great places, mixing work and pleasure, they tend to go hand in hand. Wherever I am going, I’ll usually arrange to pop in and see some industry friends, existing and potentially new clients. Berlin, NYC, Stockholm, Paris have all been great. I currently have some work showcasing at Beijing Design Week. I would’ve loved to have gone over for that. Hopefully next time.


Have there been any standout publications / books / exhibitions your work’s been a part of that you’ve been particularly proud of?

MR: Saturday’s Kids is way up there, a lifetime’s achievement, career wise. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do really, my own illustrated book. Working with Mundial Magazine is great, be it press, events or online, always something good going on there. Any coverage is always nice, Proper Mag, more recently another. Exhibiting at The AOI Awards in the grandeur of Somerset House London was fantastic, it also went on tour for a year too. Illustrated 15 at The Old Truman Brewery was another great event, exhibiting at Pictoplasma – La Gait Lyrique Gallery in Paris was cool. Any features or exhibitions are always good, it’s a nice feeling that people like to share or come and see your work.


Do you have a favourite piece / project?

MR: I enjoy all projects I work on to be honest, be it commercial or personal. Personally, Animal Alphabet is a favourite, partly because it was so well received, but also, it was a real challenge to get the letters to work in an illustrated form. It’s gratifying to get such fantastic feedback from your peers, clients, judges and the general public alike. It was a fulfilling achievement. I also love adding to my ‘Lyrics’ series. Songs are always very personal, so to able to interpret that visually, is a bonus too.


What’s the best achievement in your career so far?

MR: This book, most definitely, it’s always been top of the list since college. There’s all the little mile stones as well, first job, first commission, first exhibition, first award…. but I think just being able to hold your own in a very competitive industry or to have even a relatively successful career in any creative discipline is an achievement in itself. Bloody hard work though, a lifetime of dedication and practise is the only way to do that. Low lights, one or two…. regrets? None whatsoever!


What projects are on the horizon?

MR: The beauty of this job, is that you never know what’s around the corner. That’s why I love illustration. There’s a few long term collaborations on the cards as well as some potential new ones based in fashion, exciting stuff. A couple of personal projects I’d like to pursue next year: illustration and animation. I also want to do more projects on bigger a scale, so maybe something can happen with that next year. Who knows, might even be another book!


Do you get much time to illustrate for yourself? If so, what subjects do you prefer?

MR: It’s getting more difficult these days, trying to fit family time in too, but I’m always in to my sketchbooks, constantly. That’s where the sparks come from. But it’s also an outlet to try new stuff or savour the feeling of pen on paper, working almost entirely digitally these days, you never quite get that enjoyment of using real pen or pencil. I still draw a lot of stylised little ink characters, slightly cartoony, they’re fun to do. And I always keep my hand in on drawing people. The most important discipline for any artist- keeping on top of a sketchbook.


What else do you get up to in your spare time?

MR: Home life aside, clothes shopping, sports and gigs predominantly. I love a good exhibition or gallery, browsing in bookshops another, just generally being out and about, taking things in. I think a lot of people miss out on what’s going around them in the rush to get from A to B. Slow down! There’s loads to see! And I love being on the stove, it’s a whole new creative outlet….. Cooking With Casuals, innit 😉


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