Mark Payne's Biography
Hi I am an Australian born in Melbourne back in the days before fabulous restaurants, great theatre and the beginnings of multiculturalism. It was so bland and ultra mundane and I knew I must one day go beyond its cream brick periphery.
Then one day I started drawing cartoons from comics to break through mind numbing monotony and realised I had hit a reef of gold! After entering a cartoon into a regional Art show and actually winning my first prize (a flight over the town), it twigged that this could be a passport to a less routine existence.
Humour combined with a deft hand at drawing designed to entertain people seemed a good way into the future. Eventually an academic career started with a Diploma in Graphic Design and Film and Television at Swinburne College of Art, in Victoria, Australia. My career path from that point moved forward into various exploratory paths.
Working within 'sweat shop' art studios as an Art Director in Australia left me dissatisfied until I was given the opportunity to work for a major British Children's television series, 'Jigsaw' for the B.B.C. London. From this time the children's publishing and television market in the U.K. and Australia opened its doors to me.
Whilst busily working away in this area, my alter ego secretly operated as a professional cartoonist working for magazines, television, publishing and advertising based in London and Bristol England. In those days you could not be all things to everyone!
I 'ping ponged' for a number of years between the U.K. and Australia working freelance for various well known publishers of children's books, including Macmillan and Penguin Australia. I have illustrated for the 'Winners' series of the Australian Children's Television Foundation, and have been awarded for my work in the co-creation of television animations for The International Year of Peace.
A long held passion for environmental and wildlife care led me to write and illustrate the riotous 'Bill Bottlebrush and The Squatters' which went into hard cover and paper back through Macmillan Publishing. Packing my bags I resumed my career overseas, in the exotic world of romantic Budapest creating for German television a series of cartoon animations one which received a prize at Cannes Film festival.
My love for children's illustration and cartooning combined with the need for fresh air and wide open spaces has brought me to the beautiful Spa region of Daylesford Hepburn Springs.
Over the last twenty five years I have also explored other areas of the visual Art world which has given me representation in Australia, Santa Fe New Mexico U.S.A. and the U.K.
I am represented by The Sandra Morris Illustration Agency in New Zealand and The David Lewis Illustration Agency in London England.
I am still amazed how one little cartoon inspired a life direction that has spanned over so many years.
- Mark Payne, October 2008
Crossroads Hotel by Mark Payne
An Interview with Mark Payne - cartoonist & illustrator
How many years have you spent perfecting your art?
(and/or do you think you've perfected it yet?)
That could be an incriminating question to answer! Over three decades and I expect to continue doing so for a long time to come. Perfection is a state of mind and not an actuality.
How do you see the significance of the artist in today's world?
As a cartoonist essential. Artists have inspired revolutions, truly shaped the world and are very rarely rewarded in their life times for their contribution to society. An artist operates from the outer edge of society, in various degrees, which gives them enough distance to observe, reflect back through creativity what insiders of society often cannot see. They are visual mirrors to society offering prismatic perspectives from which we all function. Phew !!
What made you decide to turn your art into a profession?
Fear. The fear of being trapped in an office doing menial and uninspiring work for a company. Certainly not for the money! Not withstanding there are many wonderful careers that don't require you to lose your self respect. It was certainly a challenge, I guess that is what I wanted really.
In what ways have you found becoming an established artist to be a challenge?
It is a highly competitive world with more artists than there is work. There are few jobs that you can be employed in full time and given the benefits that others in employment just take for granted. Most artists are self employed freelancers. Keeping personal relationships secure through steady income whilst working unsociable hours is a tricky tightrope act.
Is there any advice you would offer to aspiring cartoon and caricature artists?
Yes ... please don't do it, you will put me out of work!! The only real education that matters, is a keen eye for observation and a reflective mind to turn what you see into something others can value and appreciate. Belief in what you create and seeking the means to bring it to the world doesn't come with a handbook. Be mercurial, inspirational and present your work well, like you really mean business. That should do it.
Are there any personal traits or abilities that you feel help you in creating your art?
What makes up a cartoonist? It helps to start developing a philosophy on life (or several). You can draw a cartoon that represents public outrage but not with a sledge hammer approach. Be oblique, think laterally, how many ways can I say what needs to be said. Practice moving your facial muscles to assist in capturing the right expression in a drawing, try to see life through the eyes of a cartoon without being arrested or placed on medication.
How do you get most of your work?
Begging helps, pleading sometimes works, mostly it is about promoting yourself ceaselessly. So you become the product. You have to sell yourself through publications, websites, door to door (although that is not so popular these days). When you get the work, do a killer job and the word is out!
If you had the opportunity to start over, would you do anything differently?
That opportunity won't come ... but perhaps I would have established a business that gave cartoonists a single face. An International cartoon company.
In what ways do you think the "Digital Age" has made life easier and/or harder for artists?
The jury is out. But when they return from their lunch break they would most likely say: 'Yes it is a great new tool for artists to access but it is not essential to creating the right outcome for every brief.'
Do you think that artists are all essentially "crazy"?
There is a fine line that runs between eccentricity and insanity. It is great fun keeping them guessing.
What things in life matter most to you?
Feeling valued. Making others feel the same. Respecting Mother Earth ... Gaia.
Do you think the world "as we know it" will survive into the future, and why or why not?
No definitely not. It is constantly changing and moving closer to a time of great challenge. In my heart I know that we are meant to be living out this journey to fulfill a collective and individual karma. Lets get it right folks!
Where would you like to be ... in say, five or ten years from now?
Taking in yet another stunning sunset with my beloved by my side. Spend more time in nature or hang out in The Greek Islands ... or both! Being alive is my accomplishment (So Far!)
A Parting Message to Readers
Yes, laugh a lot. Employ a cartoonist.
(editor chuckles and nods in quiet agreement :-)
back to top Visit Mark's web site at: http://www.markpaynecreative.com