It all starts with a sketch. Mark Conlan never goes anywhere without his Moleskine notebook. Each of his illustrations starts with a simple sketch. Pencils and markers on a simple sheet of paper help him spark an idea. From there, he draws digitally, bringing to life a plethora of pigments and a touch of the fantastic. Conlan grew up in Dublin, Ireland, redrawing the British cartoons Beano and Dandy. Spending his days working and running around Melbourne, Austraila, Conlan creates the following color-filled and amusing illustrations, and so much more!
Conlan’s inspiration stems from nature, plants, and animals. He has dozens of sketchbooks, each of which is chock-full of different themes and crazy work. But he keeps most of these private drawings for himself.
When he was little, people would save scraps of paper and pieces of cardboard for Conlan to draw on. He always had a blank canvas.
Nowadays, Conlan works in digital illustration. He infuses these drawings with plenty of texture so that they feel hand drawn. In his sketches, he’s been using new Posca Paint Markers. The saturated ink allows him to invoke extra dimension and personality in his work.
Conlan’s days are a combination of work and exercise. He and his puppy, Pickle, walk together to the studio. With Pickle by his side, Conlan tries to work normal nine-to-five hours, but they flex given his workload.
Conlan spends his nights making food and chilling with a movie or television show. Sometimes he sketches while watching TV.
Conlan recently moved into a new studio, and it’s shaping up to be exactly what he always wanted. The space is clean, full of light, and he has easy access to his art-making tools. For his digital drawings, Conlan uses a Wacom Cintiq tablet or an iPad Pro.
Do you believe in ghosts?
“Not really, but it would be great to think spirits of the past are still here for us.”
Do you believe in aliens?
“There have to be! I could talk about this all day. We are only a grain of sand in the massive universe.”
What’s the last dream you remember?
“I often dream that I am driving a car, but there is something in the way of my vision, like I’m trying to drive blind. It always turns out that I am in the back seat of the car with a steering wheel trying to drive on busy streets. Sounds stressful, right?”
What is your favorite virtue?
“It has to be honesty. Be honest and true to yourself, as well as others. Honesty gives the right life balance.”
For now, Conlan’s present state of mind is happiness and optimism. As a piece of advice for his younger self, he offers:
"Be patient. What is meant to be is meant to be. Work hard, be kind, and the universe will provide what you need.”
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