Mark Charlton Interview


A conversation between Andy Harper from Arts and Mark Charlton from his Brighton studio in November 2018.

The Brighton scene

What’s the Brighton scene like these days? 

Brighton is a great place to be, it’s a constant inspiration to my work and life in general. It’s a very liberal city, which I think captures a creative atmosphere with many shows and opportunities taking place throughout the year.

An optimistic vision of space travel told from the 1950’s.

How did you get into what you’re doing & find your “thing”

I studied animation at uni and when I graduated I worked on a few projects before setting up my own freelance company where I worked mainly within the music industry producing videos and gig projections, but also worked on the graphics of album designs and promotion. From this I moved into a studio in Hove to self teach myself screenprinting so I could make promotional posters, but this soon developed into very experimental work combining print and paint on different surfaces. I showed a few of these pieces at The Brighton Art Fair in 2013 and kind of got a buzz for making fine art work. I worked hard on techniques to try and find my own visual style before concentrating on the content. I had always been a huge fan of everything mid century so used this time period as a start before coupling it with my love of space.  The two things enabled me to produce pieces that were an optimistic vision of space travel told from the perspective of the 1950’s. I have recently started to change direction slightly and concentrate on a more minimal approach with work reflecting the cold war era and the brutalist architecture that was made.

A constant weathering process

What sort of scale are you working at?
My pieces range in size from about 15x15cm to larger work of around 150x110cm. I think I would probably like in the future to go much larger.

Is there a specific technique you use to achieve the hi-gloss sealed finish to your “graphic series” pieces (without giving away all your trade secrets!)
There’s no real secret, I try to make each piece as flat as possible which involves a constant weathering process but by doing this it helps with the final finish of the piece. I use a couple of different varnishes to finish, which are applied over about 4 very thin layers

If your Graphic series was music I’d say it’s ‘Boards of Canada’.  Do you use music to inspire you / do you find it impacts where you take your practice?
I have such a broad spectrum of music genres I enjoy that it is hard to say that a specific band or style directly influences the work, but I guess music does impact the energy and flow of what I’m making as is very dependent on my mood.

A combination of science fiction and science fact.

I interpret your work as a Sci-Fi inspired take on the future, but written in the past. Is that along the right lines or is there another dialogue here? 
I think my work is a combination of science fiction and science fact. Although I am a big fan, my work is rarely influenced by Sci-Fi directly. It is more a reflection of the design aesthetics of the mid century and a factual knowledge of the solar system and also a concentration on the process. My latest work is if anything about personal contemplation which can reflect the past and the future.

With exponential growth of tech that we are seeing in our lifetime, where do you see art heading in the future?

I think art will become increasingly more interactive with VR and whole areas that are immersive and sensory with visual and audio content that changes to reflect mood.

Can you envisage a time in the future where all art is digital, or will there always be a place for a physical work?
I personally cannot think of time that all physical work will be replaced. I have a constant urge to make physical pieces. The process is wholly important to nature and energy of how something is made and the enjoyment of learning how to make something out of different materials and touching is essential to the uniqueness of art.

Tell me about the collab with Arts?

I have been very lucky to have been approached by Arts and take it as a massive compliment that my art work is represented on a great contemporary platform.

Any other projs on the horizon? 

I’m hoping to spend more time developing my ideas in to truly conceptual body’s of work that would also allow me to go back to my animation roots a little.


Edition #162 The Graphic Series is a stunning selection of five 1/20 limited edition prints available exclusively on Arts