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Today we're interviewing Mark Sheard (aka @Sheardo), a Melbourne-based animation director and pinup artist. He began his professional career at the age of 17 on the Aussie children's TV series "Lil' Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers". Mark was also the original illustrator of the much loved kids toy "Mighty Beanz", creating over 300 unique characters and nominated for international toy of the year in 2003. Currently Mark is working on the animated series "Kitty is Not a Cat" for BES and has just released his first comic book "Flower of Rhode" - check it out!.
With over 20 years professional experience and three kids under 7, Mark is busier than ever, but still makes time to create stunning Pinup artwork. He first started doing low-brow art works for Kustom Lane Gallery in Hawthorn, but realised his heart was made for the classic Pinup girls next door. Mark now devotes his spare time to putting a smile on Pinups all over the world one portrait at a time.
Right now he's busy working on Pinuptober for 2019, his version of inktober, where he uses a series of 31 different prompts and a Pinup inspiration to produce a new piece each day. Aside from the annual Pinuptober challenge, Mark often has competitions using the handle #drawmesheardo where Pinups get a chance to be drawn by him! Check him out on instagram and Facebook to see more of his fabulous work.
When did your passion for fine art begin?
I have always drawn. For as long as I could remember. But it wasn't until late high school when I started to really create my own art. Back then it was all fantasy femmes and monsters. I loved Pinup art as well, had a Gil Elvgreen book that I used to admire, but those skills were still way beyond my means. I used to carry a sketchbook where ever I went and any spare moment I would get to drawing.
What has influenced your style the most?
Being an animator by trade means a lot of my work has this cartoony feel to it. Once upon a time it used to bug me, when I tried to make a serious work and people called it cartoony. Now I've learned to accept it. It's a part of me. Now I embrace it and work it to my advantage. Currently I'm being influenced by colour and trying to develop my skills in that area. Piece by pice I hope to get better at it. I really love the works of Cory Loftis and Bill Presing. But if your looking for classic pinup art you can't go past line work of Don Flowers and Bill Wenzel.
What medium do you prefer?
I love drawing in ink and watercolours the most. But it is very time consuming and can be messy (especially if you try to rush things). It's also very dangerous. And by that I mean for the art. The more you do, the more you could loose if you accidentally let a drop of ink fall from your brush at the wrong moment. Splat! Right on the face I just finished!!! ARGH! And believe me, it's happened more than I'd like to remember. So a lot of the time now I work digitally on an ipad pro with an app called Procreate. But I still love the ink the most. There is something about it that can't be reproduced on a computer.
When did you realise you could do this as a real adult job?!
I'm not sure it is a real job. Ha! I was always told I'd make no money as an artist. And I remember back in year 10 saying to myself. Poor or not, this is what I'll be doing my whole life. I accepted it and then went to work. I was lucky enough to get into the animation industry when it was still pencil on paper, because that taught me how to draw fast and gave me an appreciation to bold line work. Then everyone moved on to computers and CG animation, while I hung out and continued to draw. I wouldn't call it a lost art, but most of the people I work with wouldn't consider working in ink or watercolour. It's too hard for them. There's no undo button.
Did you undertake any formal study?
I started when I was 17, so no. I left high school to work as a trainee on Lil Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers back in 1997. I've been industry trained my whole life. Although currently I'm doing my Masters in Animation at RMIT because 20 years industry experience doesn't mean jack to the government. So to secure my higher ed teaching chances for the future I'm back at school. But it's a lot of fun and give me the time to explore and develop in ways you can't do under a clients thumb.
What project are you most proud of?
Usually it's the last drawing I've just done. I love drawing pinups and I put every effort in each one to make it the best I have done. But if I had to pick a couple it would be the Sabrina Kelley pic (above) I did a few years back now, as I spent more time than I normally would. Just to make it perfect. I really love the Ballarat Beat design I did for Lana-Rose Fashion too. I put a lot of effort into that one and snuck a caricature of me and my family into the people in the crowd. You can see my wife and I on the far right and my three kids in there throughout the crowd. I also have a fondness for a few of my ink and watercolour pinup pieces. Especially the pinup diversity group illustration I did for Pinup Life magazine. It was a lot of work to fit so many pinup portraits into the one illustration. I am currently in development of a new one. It's going to be the biggest drawing highlight of my career.
Why did you start drawing Pinups?
I've always loved drawing pinups. But once Instagram became a thing I then had a plethora of amazing people to inspire me on a daily basis. Now there's no shortage of inspiration out there. And when I started drawing specific people, the buzz I got from them recognising themselves was amazing. It's hard to know if you're doing a good job or if people are just flattered to be tagged, so occasionally I will just post someone untagged and see if anyone can tell who it is. I've had a few people recognised by just drawing their eyes, which is just far out. And now every year in October I do my own Pinuptober competition where I draw some lucky followers of mine every day which is great fun, but a lot of work.
How do you come up with your drawing prompts?
For Pinuptober I create a prompt list based on what I think would be fun to draw. But I try to leave it open for interpretation. As you never know what you might feel like on the day. A part of Pinuptober is matching a follower with a theme I've chosen and then making a work of art that fits. So some times I have a short list of Pinups that just don't suit the days theme and that's the luck of the draw. I think this year I will be getting the Instagram community to help me make the prompt list. It'd be interesting to see what theme you would all like to see me tackle.
What do you enjoy most about being involved with the Pinup community?
It has been so amazing meeting all these new and wonderful people. Everyone had been so kind and inviting. I really love how open and accepting everyone in the community is. Recently I have been invited to judge a few Pinup competitions too which has been so thrilling to be a part of. I have had the best time going out to those events, and annual events like OzComic Con etc.
If you've enjoyed the gorgeous images here of Mark's work, why not check out his website where you and buy prints of his work, enamel pins, comics, sketch books and commission illustrations!
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Cha cha Cheeky's and her pup, drawn by Mark Sheard - Pinup of the Month winner for April 2019.