Fisk interviews MARC BELL

“Marc Bell Interview” / We Are Fisk / Bijan / December 7, 2009

Marc Bell is a Canadian artist who is situated somewhere between cartoon and fine art. His attention to detail and exploration of forms mixed with a clever sense of humor and a bit of surrealism invite the viewer to get lost in the world each piece of his creates. Bell has self-published several collections of his work, both independent as well as collaborative.In 2006, he edited a compilation of artworks called Nog A Dod: Prehistoric Canadian Psychadoolia which included the works of Bell, Amy Lockhart, Jason Mclean, Dirty Debbie and more. Bell recently published Hot Potatoe: Fine Ahtwerks: 2001-2008; additionally, a touring gallery show under the same name is making it’s way from New York to Nebraska.

Did anything in particular spark your interest in Illustration, Zine Culture, Cartoons, etc? Have you always drawn, or did something get you started later on?

It’s hard to say what it was exactly but I was into Mad Magazine when I was a kid and Richard Scarry. I always drew and created little projects. I created my own version of Mad called “Dumb” Magazine. I watched Pee-Wee’s Playhouse when I was a teenager and somebody in my art class worked at a comics store and he showed me Yummy Fur and that led me to Peter Bagge’s Neat Stuff and I was pretty blown away by these “grown up” comics. This led to turning into a producer of self-published things as oppposed to just being a consumer.

How do you come up with your subject matter? Do you ever run out of ideas, and if so, what do you do when you get stuck?

I think I have drawn so much that it is very natural to me. I do repeat a lot but try to vary this in my approach using different materials and scale. I don’t ever really get “stuck” but sometimes I get frustrated with how busy my stuff ultimately becomes! I am at the point where I would like to switch things up but I am not exactly sure how.

You’ve been known to collaborate often, what do you look to get out of the process? When is it better to work alone? If you could choose anyone to collaborate with, who would it be?

Hmm, I am not sure what I am looking for other than the unexpected to creep in. Either that or a solid unification of two styles together. It’s probably better to work alone when I want to create a body of my own work (sorry, that answer is kind of obvious!) I am not sure if I really have a dream collaborator, I have been very happy to collaborate with the persons I have collaborated with already.

What designers/artists influence you today? What else informs your work? Surroundings? Pop Culture? Something else?

1. Chicago Art (Hairy Who, HC Westermann, Christina Ramberg, Joseph Yoakum, Ray Yoshida etc…)
2. Fellow Nog A Dod’ers
3. Folk/”uneducated” art
4. Aztec/Mayan art
5. Other cartoonists and artists too numerous to mention
6. Random stimuli that I can’t pin down till I experience it

What is your driving force? What is it you want to say with the work you are putting into the world?

You know, I am not really sure. Some might dismiss my work as random or meaningless or “fun” or as an “inside joke” but it is a joke I want to share with the world even if it doesn’t have a specific meaning or interpretation. It might seem pretty chaotic but I see a lot of it as pretty formal in a way.

With all of the design blogs/webistes out there, for us and students all over what would you like to see with FISK?

You know, I am not sure what I would want to see with FISK. I suppose FISK should just focus on things that are interesting to FISK. I have no real advice for FISK. FISK will do what FISK does.

Having published a lot of your work yourself, what advice would you give to any fledgling designers/illustrators trying to get their work out there?

Well, there is a lot of this “design-y” stuff these days. I suppose any advice I would give would be to look at stuff you genuinely like and try to create things that are a combination of stuff you like and stuff you would like to see. To add something relatively “new” rather than just following trends. Nothing is exactly “new” but you probably know that. I almost threw a “having said that” in there but I am trying to learn from Larry David’s teachings, haw (a joke you might get if you watch “curb Your Enthusiasm”).

Dream client or project? Worst client/project experience?

I have just produced a giant book of my art called “Hot Potatoe” with the help of Drawn and Quarterly and that was a realized dream of mine.

A dream client would be one that would take artwork off my hands and make beautifully thorough documention of said work and then pack it up and ship it out to wherever it has to go. I hate documenting and packing art. I have no idea why they would go to this trouble but I would be very pleased about it all.

What’s next for you?

I don’t know. I am thinking of moving to a failed industrial town in Ontario. I am having a bit of trouble working because I don’t have a workspace I like so that is a major concern that will get sorted out soon I hope. My “shui” is currently a little off. A variation on my “Hot Potatoe” show is traveling from NY to Sackville, NB (to the Owens Art Gallery) and there it will be called “Did Yoo See The Exhibition Of The Chunky Floors?”.

Do you wear patterned/designed socks, plain socks or no socks?

I wear socks. Some are patterned but mostly they are plain black, blue or brown.

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