Marcus Aitken: 'My work champions playfulness, expression and freedom'

Marcus Aitken is a painter and multi-media artist based in South London.


What are the inspiration and concerns behind your art practice?

I have always been really interested in the process of making art, it helps me understand why other artists decide to take certain routes during the creation phase. Being process led, my work champions playfulness, expression and freedom on the canvas. My work is not about a specific subject, but more an exploration of materials and shapes. I love to play with the juxtaposition of hard graphical lines and symmetry against the free-flowing of ink pools that I layer onto the canvas. I guess this has come from having a design degree paired with my fine art practice.


What is your work process like? How do you create your paintings? For example you seem to have an interest in creating multi-layered work.

My process can vary between works, but for each piece I generally like to create a number of layers and textures to create unique points of intrigue in each painting. For example for some of my bigger works, I will always start with them on the ground facing up and will begin adding different shades of light colour with inks and acrylics. Once I have built up this base layer, I start reworking into the canvas with thicker materials like oil paint to create a sense of depth and drama within the work and breaking up these soft tones with stong graphic lines and bold colours.


Can you tell us about the artists that inspire you?

My favourite artist has always been Paul McCarthy. Throughout his career he has created an enormous body of work in a number of different mediums. He is never afraid to try something new and and often creates works that are completely nuts - which I love. I would recommend watching his 1995 performance piece entitled “painter” on youtube, its mad and brilliant. I also really love Ralph Steadmans' illustrations for similar reasons. I think he is as interesting as the work he creates, especially the gonzo works he did in collaboration with Hunter S.Thompson. My works are completely different from both artists, but I guess the inspiration I take away from them both is the freedom they both possess in creating works and not holding back on pursuing any wild ideas.


You came to painting after exploring other practices such as design and jewellery-making. How does that previous experience feed into your current practice?

Although my work can be seen as very abstract, I will never shake my training as a designer and I think elements of structure and layout are present in all of my works. My Jewellery design first came about from my sculptural work that I was creating in my final year at university which in turn then inspired the sculptural elements that can be seen in some of my more recent canvas works. I think all of my creative ventures have been different but very connected at the same time, so could be seen as one body of work I guess.


What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice? Keep working and stay creative. I think it sounds like an obvious thing to say, but I have so many friends who are brilliant artists, but have let their creative pursuits drift away. It happens to everyone at some stage, including me, so I want to make sure that I keep inspired and keep up the momentum. Currently I am working on a few new commissions and am looking into creating my next series of works in the coming months. I use my Instagram as a blog, so follow me on there to keep up with my progress!


More information about Marcus can be found at and Marcus is currently working on various commissions for private clients.