"I always loved colors and getting a design degree helped me to understand and combine them well. I also love vintage stuff. The older, the rustier, the more ripped off, the better. I think things get a fantastic texture when they weather."
There are times when you walk away from discussions with creative people feeling refreshed, invigorated, and chomping at the bit to go make something this very second. My recent chat with San Diego-based artist Elo Marc was exactly like that. His insights below got to the heart of some larger narratives surrounding contemporary collage artwork, but also dissected the nitty-gritty experiences of living in mega-cities and going against the design-school-machine-grain. Elo Marc’s work is currently taking off all over the world, it’s hitting it big in design and fashion houses in Europe right now, and understated fashion label Mastruka has just released a range of Elo Marc’s work. I hope you can feel these moments, or parts of our discussion that convey the impressive energy Elo Marc brings to the Redbubble community.
Beth Caird: Many of your images seem to be anachronistic in that they are out of time, or something is out of place. Can you tell us about this relationship your artwork has with time, and disrupting it?
Elo Marc: Well, lets start saying that I have always been playing with collages since I was a kid. I mean, real physical glue and paper collages. The inspiration of my work comes from passages of my childhood (especially in the retro series). Maybe that is where the anachronistic impression comes from. I always loved colors and getting a design degree helped me to understand and combine them well. I also love vintage stuff. The older, the rustier, the more ripped off, the better. I think things get a fantastic texture when they weather. Today, with the technology and all, I switched to digital collages. Although they seem easier, I spend hours creating one piece, it takes me about 18+ hours to finish them and I also make sure the composition has a great balance to it. And on top of everything else, I have to be inspired. I have a lot of unfinished art but I love everything that is out there. Today, I work with collections. I have a retro collection, public figures, saints, and seven deadly sins. I have some other ideas as well , so stay tuned!
Beth: Can you talk about your transition during, or after design school that lead you to collage? And in as much detail as you can, please do tell me about your interest or passion for collage? What is it about mixed media works that so appeals to you?
Elo: Oh boy! I was brainwashed while in design school pretty much. I got the wrong impression that I would be designing beautiful logos and packing and having lots of time to concept a logo. The reality is a jungle! You take clients who walk through the door, you have to have 3 logo concepts in 1 hour and work around stupid names clients come up with sometimes. I would never forget what one of my teachers from NY told us when were were about to graduate “ The design world is boring and repetitive. If you want to be creative, you better get a fine art major.” I still work as a full-time designer at elodesigns.com and I’m an editor at inprint-mag.com. My art has been very successful now. But unfortunately, I can’t only live off of it. Creating art is a way to take me away from the repetitive, and bring out the creative in me. I love mixing stuff and exploring endless possibilities.
Beth: I see your collage as an inventive and inspiring way to marry iconography to create new meanings. Can you tell me a bit about how you make choices to use certain famous or well-known images in your collages?
Elo: You may be talking about my Public Figures Collection which was been one of my most famous and successful one. I even got a collection of 12 looks this year made by Mastruka fashion design and they have been all over Europe as we speak. As for the images, you can see, they all have their faces covered. But even though they do, you know who they are. I usually use people who have a symbolic meaning to our society, and of course each art has a history behind it. The Marilyn for instance, I put her and JFK behind it. based on the rumors they had an affair while he was President. I also included a real love letter she sent to him in that piece. It’s all in there. But I usually don’t explain my works, I let viewers find out. The rest is history!
Beth: So speaking of history, what was the best thing you learned at design school? What was that like? What would you tell other RB artists wanting to get started in fine art?
Elo: I’ve leaned how to combine colors and understand balance within a composition. Those things help me a lot when it comes to creation. I would say read, watch videos, read blogs, follow artists who inspire you, research, learn history, and the most important of all, find your own identity (this seems to be the most difficult though).
Beth: This may be simplistic and I apologies if it is — how do you think your artwork fits in with the over-saturation of images we are bombarded with each day in advertising and media outlets? Do you position your artwork as critical of the clashing of thousands of images we see each day? I remember reading an article that talked about living in New York City means opening yourself up to seeing up to 5,000 advertisements on average each day. I am honestly interested in your relationship to mass-image production that has come to define our experiences of mega-cities.
Elo: I think my artwork speaks for itself. There are plenty of famous and non-famous collage artists out there. Sometimes we end up being similar in style just looking at each others works. I think mine stands out because I create collections. Something none of them have done. I also use colors and over-saturated colors, while most keep on the weathered tones. Today we are bombarded with images and websites and most artists can fade very easily. I’m not worried about that anymore. I already had my fair share of rejection. After all these years, I know where I can go and sell and where my art will be forgotten.
Beth: Perhaps there’s something in that… the connection between mass-produced images and being forgotten?
Elo: I don’t like the idea of mass-production of an art or any art. It makes people get tired of it easily. It’s like a song, when it comes out you get all exited about it but after you listen to it too many times, you can’t stand it anymore. Today, most artists are thinking about mass-production but they forget that the most expensive pieces of art out there were never mass produced. Once the creator is dead, there will be so many of the same and so many people who own them that they won’t have any value. I love mega cities and I love their colors and textures. But sometimes everything gets visually polluted. But I would love to see my art on a billboard someday. Digital or physical one.
Beth: Lastly – you’re trapped on Alcatraz and can only get three art supplies sent to you. What three art tools do you need to make art?
Elo: Hum… I’ll tell you what, I used to go camping with my family in the middle of nowhere when I was a kid. And we had to adapt and create everything. If I was in Alcatraz. I would probably make my own supplies. Glue from rice or four, paint from plants, condiments or seeds, paper from wasted paper and graffiti from burnt wood. So, I would not ask for anything. I would make/ create something. The art tools I need are : Glue, magazines, paper, scissors and a computer.
Thank you to Elo for taking the time out to speak to us about such interesting work. You can check out more of his work here to support it further.