In conversation with – Mark L’Argent

Mark L’Argent

How would you describe your creative practice?

A tricky balance of compromise and necessity, between the commercial and the creative, they form a symbiotic relationship, as I’m not able to do one, without the other, therefore when I’m working creatively and the phone rings, I have to switch to commercial interests. Fortunately, with both creative and commercial aspects existing within the same broad spectrum of lettering arts, I am able to use the creativity of the commercial job to feed into or formulate ideas for my purely creative work during the working process, and vice versa, so thankfully, the symbiosis doesn’t only exist at a practical level but a creative one too.

What is the most asked question about your work?

‘Do you have to have good handwriting, and a steady hand’? No and Yes, but no more steady than for any of the other things we do with our hands creatively or otherwise. In respect of good handwriting, no is the short answer, because hand-lettering is more akin to a graphic art discipline, requiring training, skill and methodology to maintain a high standard. It is a longer essay, but in short, Hand-writing differs however, in that it can be neat, tidy and meticulous, but it is significantly dissimilar to the distinctive ‘art’ and practice of hand-lettering, and the owner of even the most terrible hand-writing can create beautiful script.

Who or What inspires you?

As a Lettering Artist, for me it’s all about the words, in more ways than one – hand-lettering grabbed me at an early age, one of my first memories is seeing a mass of delicate copperplate lettering that had been executed with a biro. Creative/free writing, poetry, lyrics call it what you will, came 8 years later at 13, I wrote prolifically, and whereas I have been writing for the past 25 years I’ve never combined my own creative writing with my lettering art, effectively hand-writing my creative-writing.

Traditionally, lettering-art more generally takes the route of interpreting the words of others, be that poetry, prose, quotations, seminal texts etc. So this exhibition ‘Journeys’ is a turning point for me after tentative steps trying out my written compositions as my art work, this exhibition sees for the first time, the majority of my art featuring my creative compositions.

And dispensing with the idea of the customary ‘planning, placement, and organisation’ of letters and illustrative decoration to something more organic, unplanned, and unorganised, (rather than disorganised), to something that is immediate, unfettered by preconceived ideas of design or style, but evocative of the moment, spontaneously written and conceived at the time of writing, using a monochromatic palette of colours and minimal but sometimes significant decoration.

There are various threads that inspire me, artistically, inevitably the medieval manuscript is up there, not for its superlative illumination, but the ever changing script styles that evolved over hundreds of years. For colour and form my go to is graphic art, going back to Lautrec and Mucha, William Morris, Art Nouveau, perhaps further, through contemporarily to Glaser, Fletcher and others.

With creative writing – language inspires me, how it looks, what it does, how sounds change, yet are written the same, though thoroughly thought through challenges all language conventions and pronunciations. Also the sound of language, alliteration and rhythm, what words look like written, their ambiguities, how acre rearranged becomes care, listen-silent creative-reactive.

I’m also inspired by music, by the words, rhythms of language and music of singer songwriters. For after all, what are ‘songs’, but modern popular poetry speaking of life’s travails and triumphs. I am absorbed by music most of my waking hours, yet the only time there needs to be silence is when I am creating, and in a whole nother space.

Two pieces of inspiration, one that hovers way above my generalities, but unfailingly informs them too – watch how Valentina Lisitsa lives and breathes the music she is creating…

Then, the poetic talents of Tim Booth
Here on the ground, We’re reckless and hopeless
Damned by the slip of a pen
Rambling poets, Manic with vision
We are the drivers yet we feel driven
Moths in the moonlight, Fooled by a flashlight
Caught in a jam jar, Gasping for air

What are the benefits of being part of The Gallimaufry Collective?

The benefits are many and varied, some perhaps not immediately quantifiable but are an osmosis of the shared experience, whereas other advantages are more tangible; the sharing of practises and expertise in different areas and disciplines of art. Observing each other’s approaches and output, and giving constructive support via group evaluations of the works created, offering feedback, encouragement, focus, and dreaded deadlines are all more enjoyable and doable, shared than in isolation.

Written by

Mark L’Argent

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