Interview with Michael Marsicano


Knowing how to mix fantasy, surrealism and realistic drawing without making a mess is really a hard trick, but Michael Marsicano is one of this unique illustrators that made a long way to master his style. Working a lot for the editorial and advertisement market, Michael a really introspective and mysterious way to tell stories thru his artworks, today we had the pleasure to have this conversation with him.

You can reach Michael on the following links:





1) First of all I would like to thank you for doing this interview, it's an honor for us to present more about you to our readers. I would like to start asking you about when your interest for illustration and digital art started?

The interest on illustrated happened early on, although I didn't exactly know what illustration was at the time. The initial stuff that started to catch my attention was pretty typical of kids my generation: DC comics, Mad Magazine, Brett Helquist's Scary Stories illustrations- they were easy to absorb and process. It wasn't until I was sitting down and applying to college that I learned that there were programs specializing in this area.

2) Which artists do you use as reference?

Everybody and everything serves as some kind of reference. The key seems to be not focusing to hard on anyone's particular style. However, if i have a problem with technique or anatomy I tend to refer to my peers. See if i can find a hack that will work for what it is that I do. But to pic one who is shaming me into being a better all around illustrator - it'd be Anton Ban Hertbruggen. This kid is maybe 20 years old and his work slays me.

3) Your style is quite influenced by realistic art and surrealism. How did you develop this style and how would you describe it?

Marshall Arisman tells all his students to not get caught up fretting over your own style. In the end, it all comes down to your nervous system. The synapses in your brain dictate how you perceive and interact with the world around you.

Everyone holds a pencil a specific way and therefore creates a unique mark. To this day I recognize similarities in my drawing style from twenty years ago. As content goes I was heavily influenced by heavy metal music. Over the top bands performing dramatic music in a big visual way definitely had a big effect on the kind of work I create.

4) Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece.

Like a lot of illustrators working today I tend to do start and finish most of my pieces digitally. I prefer to sketch in photoshop as it allows for a quicker process. The finished drawing is always done by hand but most of the final coloring is back in photoshop.

Recently, I began the process of trying a new way to work mainly because I feel there are too many illustrators today who follow a similar formula. I want very much to find a unique way of working that relies less on the computer and more on tangible ability. While digital art can be mind-blowing, I get a little bummed out nowadays when I go to galleries and see framed prints on the walls.

5) What would you consider the best moment on your career till now?

Definitely when I was able to quit the day job and work 100% on my own time.

6) How do you describe your daily routine?

I get up with my wife at 6:45 am. She has to commute to the office so it's the least I can do. After breakfast, I try to sit down for a warm-up painting/drawing by 8am. The day officially starts 9am and goes steady (with plenty of podcasts) until around 8pm when she gets home.

I usually fit an hour or so of exercise in so I can avoid being a sedentary slob. Social media plays a big roll in who a modern freelancer is but it can be quite distracting. So I try to limit email checks and twitter posts to once an hour. On days that I'm feeling needy and lazy, I use the Self Control app to keep me focused.

7) Being a multimedia artist, please tell us what's your favorite media to work with? Why?

Lately, I've been doing these 30-45 minute gouache painted portraits every morning. Like I said, I'm trying to find a new way to work and I'm fascinated with this new fast drying wet medium. Years ago I got away from oil painting as it was such a slow process.

I missed just drawing and wanted to learn how to make confident marks and render less. Gouache seems to be a way for me to return to painting while keeping a foot in the looseness of drawing.

8) Tell us five lessons you believe are really important for every ilustrator.

Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out this magic formula of success. As there are plenty of interviews, podcasts and articles profiling illustrators around the world, everybody is going to pontificate on their own tenets of the biz. Speaking from a member of the illustration "middle-class" who's trying to get to that next level:

1- Be an interesting and not-awkward human being. Crowbar-ing your way into conversations does not ingratiate yourself to art directors and successful contemporaries.

2- Social media is not real life. We all put our best face outward and hide away moments of lesser confidence.

3- Being professional and punctual is necessary. But in order be truly successful (and I'm not saying I'm there yet) creating work that is relevant, consistent and unique only to yourself is vital.

9) Tell us five websites that you like to visit.

For inspiration, I scroll through my Twitter and Tumblr feed constantly. Space Ghetto has a fantastic image feed if you like a touch of NSFW. Obviously, props to Illustration Age. Also, Building A Wolf is great.

10) Thanks again for your time, please leave a final message for the ones who are starting out on this kind of business.

To those of you starting off in this business - Stay out! There's already too many of us. Just kidding (not really).

Do your best to keep your head down and be yourself. Don't worry what everyone else is doing. Tastes change constantly but good work can always find it's place.

Written by

Marcos Torres

I'm Marcos Torres, I'm a Graphic Artist from Brasil. You can know more about me at my Website, at my Tumblr or at my Flickr.