Interview with Marley Mcleay

16 03 2011

Image (c) Marley Mcleay

Marley, as an artist living in New Zealand, do you find that there are any advantages and disadvantages to living “on the other side of the world”?

Good Question, there are many facets to this and so many things have popped in mind so ill try to be coherent, hehe

The art scene in New Zealand has a better infrastructure overall now than when i was growing up. The Government in the past ten years has placed a lot more emphasis into developing talent across a whole range of artistic endeavors from performance to visual art to music. (I am especially appreciative of New Zealand music now, it really is starting to stand on its own two feet).

Alternatively, this also has coincided with the “Internet” and/or the “Electronic Age” kicking into peoples psyches so there has also been a connection to the “outside” world and bringing the best the world has to offer (artistically especially) into ones living room.

I think to an extent our geographical location (or isolation) has been very beneficial in my experience. I was 22 before the Internet etered my life. By this stage i had my lifes experiences(which includes a diploma in visual arts), influences and ethics and very much an identity set well in place before being introduced to the world standard of Fantasy Art via the Net, I think this is a good thing.

What are your tools of choice when doing art?

Well growing up it was certainly Pencils and Blue Biro’s (ball point pens). Although i never grasped the concept of painting in layers and having the patience for paint to dry so i avoided Oils and Acrylics like the plague. Interestingly enough When i was introduced to Photoshop back in the 60s….*cough* sorry i mean back in 1999 i was in love. Photoshop allowed me to experiment safely without having to worry about pigment bleeding or mud. These days primarily Photoshop 7 and a Wacom Graphire 4.

Your images have a blend of sci-fi, fantasy and surrealism. What were your artistic inspirations?

Right from the get go STAR TREK haha. at the age of 4 i remember seeing a trailer for “Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock”. It had the glimpse of the Enterprise, everything from its organic circular shapes to the colours of the red impulse engines to the blue deflector array underneath, it was virtually a warm fuzzy feeling in the chest when i first gazed upon it.

My lovely mum had also a lot of Isaac Asimov novels with illustrations from Chris Foss on the covers with seemingly gigantic larger than life spacecraft and landscapes.

As a teen, video games such as the “Mortal Kombat” series were heavily influential. Full of rich and very ambient environments with equally impressive moody soundtracks. Mortal Kombats 2 and 3 were a favourite of mine for many years.



While your art has always been stunning, lately it shows more dynamism and higher visual impact. How did your style evolve into what it is today?

WOW thank you very much for the compliment, thats great. As a child it was almost exclusively science fiction scenes and battles. As a teen going through high school, I started to take in other influences from friends and of course artists recommended by tutors.. I now was into Max Ernst, Maurits Escher and a New Zealand artist by the name of Silvia Siddel. Her work is just gorgeous, at about this time my art went quite surreal.

When the internet entered my life, I started to take note that Photoshop really was an amazing illustrative program. I previously used the tool to manipulate photos and such to create surrealistic landscapes.

Seeing works by artists such as Socar Myles, Gary Tonge and Linda Bergkvist steered me more towards the art i grew up with again, with tinges of my surrealistic influences left.

The colors in your images are amazing, very nontraditional! How do you come with those combinations?

Image (c) Marley Mcleay

You know, Initially I had no Rhyme nor Reason for the colours i choose, I just selected them because they looked cool. It actually felt incorrect until people starting commenting on how well i deal with colour, which to me was perplexing haha. I guess you could say the majority of the time its all Intuitive and over time gaining experience and memorizing which works with what. I was taught the rules of the colour wheel many a time but that knowledge for some reason never sunk in, I’d always forget and or loose patience with them.

Besides your colors, I love how strong your compositions are. What are the rules you follow to develop good compositions?

Gosh very good question. Really the only written rules i try to follow is the rule of thirds and the various point perspectives. When doing landscapes, I like to use 2 point perspective most times, sometimes using a third point to exagerate forced angles for architecture for eg. But while placement of objects is still random, I use the rule of thirds to line up the dominant objects or subject matter (i.e Spaceship or Character). I find it easier to guide the eye and capture the type of angles i am after..A few times i have actually used lines of intersection in a triangular formation, but i never really developed an intuition for that.



Would you like to make a living as an artist?

That was the dream for many years, and matte painting was at the top of my list. But lately i now wish for other things to happen in my life and perhaps allow the odd commission from time to time. The thought of slaving away in front of a computer for literally hours on end day in day out has become less attractive, especially in recent times, i am not a fan of seeing dark circles under my eyes, i think i look terrible with them hahaha.

Image (c) Marley Mcleay

Do the storms in your homeland inspire some of your pieces?

Storms and weather in general has been the other big passion in my life, i just jump for joy when a thunderstorm comes for a visit, If ever i should win lotto, i shall be booked on a plane and chasing storms in America. In an artistic sense not so much storms but beautiful cloud formations in general are very influential. From a visual standpoint, movies such as “The Ten Commandments”, “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan” and “Flash Gordon” (1980) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Never Ending Story” all utilize the “Cloud Tank” to create atmospheric effects, Typically these are the movies i remember most from my youth.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Mary Poppins hahaha. No, “Trek” by a country mile for me. Trek was not only visiually more engaging for me but i was also in love with the musicians that contributed to the series. Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner for instance. More left of field than the now traditional sound of John Williams


Avatar visuals?

And AVATAR Sound ;). What can i say, aside from feeling slightly nauseous in the first 10 minutes (it was my first 3d movie), It had been a looong time since i was lost in a fantasy world like i was with this movie. Easier on the eye than the Star Wars prequels, which is jam packed full of visual noise and nonsense. It was immersive, colourful and inspiring and of course had a grand sense of scale to everything. I felt the virtigo of being atop “Hometree” and the loss when it was felled. Great movie and stunning on Blu-Ray i might add.

Where can the readers find your art?

I say to everybody, just google my name and the galleries that i am on appear. I have appeared in 2 issues of Imagine FX one in the readers gallery in issue 8 (has a portrait of a beautiful alien female on the cover by John Kearney) and one other issue i am not sure of which is quite helpful isn’t it?.

More recently i was invited to showcase my art in the web magazine entitled “Visual Arts Illustrated” I believe i am in the current issue for June 2010, it is released bi monthly.

Image (c) Marley Mcleay




Chris Malidore 

I always look forward to Marley’s work, the spacious scenes and brilliant colors instantly suck you in to whatever world he’s just created. I find myself often pondering about what sort of culture he’s just created with his image… and for me that’s a powerful mood setter. Top this all off with a friendly and enjoyable approach and you get one of my favorite people to speak with. I offer many thanks to Marley for his creations and eagerly look forward to more.



Rita Ria

Marley’s work is just wonderful and so very unique. His choice of color always makes me in awe. Esp. his two latest works just puts me in outer space, in completely different but beautiful worlds. His imagination and artistic skills are fabulous. Knowing his work for some years now, made me see his massive improvement and I hope I can see many more new artwork from him, which I can enjoy.



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