Mood and Melody – Interview with Marcus Oakley

Marcus Oakley is a graphic artist making illustrations that sing a sweet song out of Edinburgh, Scotland. A cheerful combination of zig zags, smirking faces, twisted postures, and bold lines make Marcus’ work a lot of fun to hang out with. The more I look at it the more I am reminded of a good spirited neighbour that sits on their porch waiting to wish me a good morning. The artist creates lively subjects that would probably bring in my recycling bin if i forgot to. It could be raining and grey outside but it always feels sunny with a little help from Marcus Oakley’s work. I think you get the tune. 

An artist in more ways than one, Marcus also makes music, (The Sunflower Band) and it’s just as syrupy. Make sure to listen to it while looking through his gallery for the best chance of being transported to that place where the grass is greener and just a little bit unkempt.

In a few words, who is Marcus Oakley?

A Graphic Artist based in Edinburgh Scotland.

I’m originally from Norfolk, a coastal county in England’s south-east, My work is inspired by many things – both retrospective and contemporary.

They include folky, harmonic and melodic musics of all kinds; the pastoral and folkloric delights of the countryside and the various eccentric beasts and humans that inhabit it; the joys of cycling; the stimulations of tea; the dizzy geometries of architecture and design – and overall the wonders of making stuff.



What/who do you think influenced you to start drawing? 

I’m not really sure? / What I do know is that I simply enjoy the physicality of drawing and connecting one line with another and the journey of trying to visualize something that often started in my imagination.

Thick lines, thin lines, zig zag, curved, straight, fast, slow, wonky, abstract and pictorial they all have there own special mood and melody.

How would you describe your work to someone with their eyes closed? 

I don’t know if I could.


Do you think your day to day surroundings influence your creative output? (People, places, sound, etc) 

Many / many things inspire and influence my work. My surroundings & interests often filter down into my work sometimes directly or indirectly. Some of those interests are: Walking / Cycling / Camping / Reading / Nature / Landscape / Architecture / Baking Bread / History / 1970’s Films / Ceramics / Melodic Music / Art & Design

Some of your work is in black and white and in other work you use bold bright colours. How do you decide between the two? 

Most of the work I do will start off as black and white / Its then purely through visual curiosity I turn them into colour versions.


Are there any projects you’re working on? 

I’m currently working on a children’s science book and making new works towards a solo exhibition which I will also be performing live with my music project ‘The Sunflower Band’.

To your eye, what makes good art?

Honesty / Even if I don’t like the art I can still appreciate the honesty of the art and the artists intentions.



Interview by Lauren L. Smith
In collaboration with SPIT GALLERY