Interview with Mark Tumber, the artist.
So this month I decided to interview Mark Tumber, the artist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in art?
I’m a 43 year old, freelance illustrator/artist from Canada. I graduated from the Fine Arts Honours program at York University in Toronto. I also picked up my B.Ed there, as well. I’m married with 2 step daughters and a house full of pets.
Everyday for the past 20 years, I’ve done something creative, either through ‘photo-realistic’ art production or art education. In that time span, I’ve drawn over 1,000 commissions for both private and corporate clients. Subject matter has included just about everything …. greeting card designs, editorial work, family portraits, memorials, pet portraits and residential portraits. I’ve also drawn over 300 originals, which I’ve marketed at various art shows … some as limited edition prints, some as open prints. These subjects have included local wildlife (within Ontario), waterfowl, songbirds, historical landmarks (within the Georgian Bay & Muskoka areas), legends of rock music, sport legends and other media-related imagery. I also teach teens and adults how to draw via occasional teaching with our local school board’s art departments and my own summer workshops that delve into portraiture and wildlife rendering. Details on these classes, as well as my on-line classes are on my website.
I originally got into art because it seemed to be the only thing I truly excelled at, as a child. I’m blessed to have parents that really encouraged my art throughout my ‘growing up’ years.
What is your preferred medium and why?
My preferred medium is graphite. I find when working with pencils, I can maximize the photo-realistic detail that I seek. A wet medium leaves things to chance. I want complete dominion over my medium and graphite gives me that tight detail. I use 2B, B, HB & H leads for everything in the foreground and softer leads for the midground and backgrounds’ atmospheric perspective. I layer the leads in the same manner a painter would their paints, using a stomp to blend and move the graphite. When working in colour, I use Faber-Castell pencil crayons. If drawing a much larger piece, I will favour conte or vine charcoal.
I saw that your illustrations are quite vast. Do you love producing horror illustrations?
I’ve drawn every imaginable subject over the last 20 years and of course that includes images in the horrific genre. Back in the 90s, I drew a lot of conceptual pieces that showcased gender relations … particularly the flawed ones. Many of these had both an element of horror and humour. Examples could involve imagery like a pregnant corpse, trees made out of body parts or children crucified on their mothers’ backs. Many of these I sold at gallery showings around the Toronto area. I’m now living in a more rural area, 2 hours north of the big city and the tolerance for such artwork is quite different here. As such, I found that I stopped creating such work and started doing more conventional artwork. At the beginning of 2013, I decided to create and market 3 larger images with direct & indirect elements of horror. To date, these are 3 of the most enjoyable artworks I’ve ever drawn. First was a 19″x25″ celebration of the history of horror film, entitled ‘The Damned’. This showcases 26 characters and scenes from what I personally find as brilliant horror films and story-telling. This original took over 160 hours of actual drawing time. Then I drew a 16″x20″ celebration of both ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Game Of Thrones’. These depicted both characters and environments from each series. Each of these originals clocked in at over 120 hours of work. All 3 artworks are being marketed as limited edition prints. We’ll get into that in a little bit, though.
I love to draw … period. So horror is just as enjoyable for me to render as a tender/loving portrayal or a comical representation. The act of mapping out perfect proportions, filling them with a wide array of value and then laying elaborate textures on top is what I like to draw. Whether it be a puppy’s sweet face or a zombie’s rotting flesh … it makes no difference.
What is your favourite horror movie and why?
My favourite horror film is a tough question. All of mine are shown in ‘The Damned’, but each has its place for differing reasons. Some had original story arcs or great make-up/visuals and others had a gorgeous cast (i.e.: Adrienne Barbeau). Currently, I think my fav is ‘Quarantine’ and the original that spawned it, ‘REC’. I love the believable drama and interplay of the characters in the first half of both films. Then when the shift occurs and the characters are losing control of their surroundings, I actually found myself completely engrossed in the story. Really how often does this occur? Hardly ever. You actually feel true empathy for the characters and get enthralled in the non-stop terrifying visuals. The final minutes when we see Tristana Medeiros are the best I’ve ever seen!
How do horror movies inspire you as an artist?
Horror films ‘inspire’ my art in the same manner any subject does …. via my love of capturing proportion, base value & texture. The textures involved in rendering horror are so widespread (blood splatters, scarred flesh, alien bodies or stained clothing) that they can challenge an artist. Each requires a different blending of leads and forces you to find the group of patterned lines to best depict it. Fun stuff, indeed!
Can you remember one of the first things you drew? What makes it memorable?
One of the first things I drew was a crayon portrait of my grandfather in his army outfit. I drew it when I was about 6. I’m pretty sure my mother still has it tucked away somewhere. I remember that it shocked quite a few family members and friends with its level of detail.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or maybe a fun story about an experience involving your artwork?
I’ve met and done some interesting work for many well-known people. Years ago, I had a booth at a local art show in its first year, called Waterfest in Midland, Ontario. The artists and organizers were told that a special guest would be attending but no one knew who it would be. I got focused on my work in progress, a portrait of a Great Blue Heron. Suddenly, I hear a commotion and a crowd is coming towards me … led by armed agents with headsets on. Then I had our prime minister, the Honourable Jean Chretien talking to me. He took a real interest in my art and perused my artwork for 10 minutes or so. He was great to talk with … a witty man, who came across as ‘grandfatherly’. After he left, his MP commissioned me to do his portrait, which still hangs in our House Of Commons. That was a very memorable day!!
I’ve also done artwork for actresses Adrienne Barbeau & Stella Stevens, George Chuvalo (heavyweight boxer was given my art for his birthday from his wife), Ric Flair (wrestler was given my art for his 60th from his booking agent) and musician, Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Dio & Foreigner) who had me draw his wife and daughter.
Where can we reach you if we are interested in commissioning you for our own projects?
I can be reached for any type of commission via my websites, www.marktumber.com My price list, further samples and celebrity endorsements can be viewed on the site. Once I have the deposit and the emailed photo(s) with a description of what you are after … I will begin the work. Balance will be due when the work is done …. usually within 3-4 weeks. Personalized artwork is an ideal gift for any loved one!
Mark Tumber, 209 Cherry, St., Box 117, Waubaushene, Ontario, CANADA. L0K 2C0. (705)538-2380.
And finally, I would like to give you this opportunity to share a few horror images and tell us a little about each:
‘THE DAMNED’ (19″x25″, 2013) – This just may be the best artwork that I’ve ever created …. it was definitely, the most time-consuming. I balanced the artwork by strategically positioning the larger head shots, full figured bodies, geometric backgrounds (windows, doors, stairs, etc.) and even the 3 flies. These are all the movies that somehow left an impression with me. I even added my own severed head in the hand of Jason. I have 150 limited edition prints for sale of ‘The Damned’. Each is an authentic hand-pulled print on acid-free, hot-press watercolour stock. Each is 19″x25″, numbered, signed and sells for $150 + shipping. Currently, #s 1-3, 5-8, 11, 13, 21, 23, 69 & 100 have sold. The original is also available for purchase. It is $4,000 + shipping.
‘THE WALKING DEAD’ (16″x20″, 2013) – This was a commission from a client who runs a local Halloween haunted attraction. He told me the characters that he wished to see and supplied me with most of the frames of reference. I added the client as a crawling zombie in the lower RHS. Of course, the original has been sold, but I am selling 50 limited edition prints. Each is 16″x20″, numbered, signed and selling for $100 + shipping. Currently, #s 1-16, 18, 20, 21, 24-27, 29, 30, 33, 49 & 50 have sold.
‘GAME OF THRONES’ (16″x20″, 2013) – I grouped the characters into their ‘houses’, with the honourable Starks at the top. I placed all of the human characters around the central ‘White Walker, to communicate the concept that he lives ‘beyond the Wall’. I love how both him & Khal Drogo are turning to acknowledge the viewer. The original is $2,250 + shipping. I also have 50 limited edition prints available. Each is 16″x20″, numbered, signed and selling for $100 + shipping. Currently, #s 1-3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 13, 19, 21, 27, 28, 37 & 38 have sold.
‘UNTITLED’ (11″x14″, 1998) – I thought it would be visually intriguing to show our life cycle in one form. I drew the zombified head from a woman’s remains that were found in ice. I might have seen the photo in a National Geographic. I then improvised the pregnant female form facing a strong light source and put Freudian looking curtains behind the figure. This is meant to have an ‘open’ message that can be personalized by the audience. Some see a statement on abortion, some see ‘rebirth after death’ and others see the death of a woman’s identity after giving birth. There are no reproductions of this drawing. The original is $375 + shipping.
‘STILL LIFE’ (8″x10″, 2000) – This piece sometimes upsets viewers, which wasn’t my intention. This is a small drawing depicting a dysfunctional woman who has made a series of bad choices. It is both playful and heart breaking …. a shattered still-life. I used the shadows on the wall to help guide the viewing eye to my desired focal points. There are no reproductions of this drawing. The original is only $250 + shipping.
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