Marcus Dixon is an artist and designer based out of Newcastle, Australia. He has been making a name for himself in the Australian skate scene creating punchy illustrations with an overtone of tongue-in-cheek humour for companies like Zoo York, Slam Skateboarding Magazine and Pass-Port.
We caught up with Marcus to chat about his new screenprinted flag 'Wildlife', his ties to the Australian skate scene, the creative industry in Newcastle, and to see what the future holds.
SK: Your artwork for this release is fantastic. It reminds me of a parody of the old Australiana tea towels your grandparents probably have. Can you tell us a little about it and how the idea came about?
Marcus Dixon: Yeah that was kind of the idea. I just wanted to put my spin on that sort of Australiana tea towel you would find hanging on your Nan's oven door. At first glance it may seem innocent, but the double take will reveal all the subtle alterations. Not many people know that acid tabs make up 20% of the blue tongue lizards diet.
SK: You’ve done a lot of commission work for skate brands including Zoo York and Pass-Port over the last few years, one of your most recent being Slam Skateboarding magazine’s cover for 25 most influential Aussie skaters. Do you chase work within the skate scene or does it find you organically?
MD: A bit of both I guess. I mean if you just keep producing work and keep putting it out there it is only a matter of time before someone will take notice. Hopefully that someone is in the position to flow you some work. I guess that's just what i've been doing. The Australian skate scene is pretty connected too. It seems that all the companies know what the other companies are doing and everyone supports one and other.
SK: Your illustrations for the Slam cover are amazing. How did that project come about?
MD: I basically just emailed them asking for some work experience. To my surprise, they emailed back offering me the cover design.
SK: You have a classic illustration style and your concepts come across as tongue-in-cheek. How important is humour in your artwork?
MD: It seems to give that little bit of extra kick. Most of the time I will think of a catch phrase, or I will hear something out of context and I will just use that as the basis for a piece. I have a whole list of sayings and phrases in the notepad of my phone or on sheets of paper on my desk. There's more up my sleeve besides a dirty arm.
SK: How would you describe your style?
MD: Straight to the point but with a two drink minimum.
SK: Like myself, you’re from Newcastle. There seems to be more and more quality events happening there. How do you find the local art scene?
MD: Pretty good. There's a few things happening. I think people are starting to realise that the city is more open to creativity than they may have thought.
SK: What role do you think the Renew Newcastle project has played in assisting local creatives?
MD: It has just given them good platforms to pursue careers in creative fields. I think it has been a perfect start to revamping the structure of Newcastle and has even shown people that one store/space executed with passion and open mindfulness is worth more than 3 stories of Westfield junk.
SK: You’re part of multidisciplinary group, Studio 615, along other notable creatives Sam Octigan, Mike Danischewski and others. How has working with such a diverse group influenced your own style?
MD: I like seeing how all the guys work. Insight into other peoples practice is always exciting and refreshing. They are all true work horses and it is hard to keep up. Our styles all differ so much too which I really enjoy. Its easy to pick whose work is whose.
SK: What is your opinion on art collecting?
MD: If I see something that really jumps out at me and it is in my price range, I usually snap it up. I personally don't have a large collection but i cherish what I do have. In my work space I can see a Stevie Gee, Marco Zamora, Mike Giant/Dave Kinsey colab piece and Morning Breath prints, but not to mention a plethora of books, zines, nic-naks and a few skateboards. I will always be collecting. Slowly, but nevertheless, consistently.
SK: Are you working on any projects we should keep our eye out for?
MD: Working on more Pass-Port graphics, plus a few other commissions. A few shows throughout the year too. Also, James Turvey and I are slowly planning a project called Creepazoid but nothing can really be revealed as of yet. All fun stuff.
~ Interview by Aaron Craig