Marc Allante talks about quitting his corporate job to pursue his love of art, how he creates his incredible creations and his upcoming solo show in LA...
3dtotal: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
I am self-taught traditional medium artist based in Hong Kong. I predominantly paint wildlife in oil, ink and watercolor. I was extremely lucky, in that, five years ago, my art went to the front page of Reddit and went completely viral online which kick-started my art career. I spent many years afterwards doing art part time whilst working a desk job but two years ago made the decision to quit my corporate career and pursue art full time! Thankfully it's been the best decision I have ever made!
3dt: Who has had the biggest influence on you and your art?
My family was a huge influence. Although I am self-taught, my mother was in fashion design, my uncle was an animator and my grandmother was an ikebana artist (the art of Japanese floral arrangement). Thankfully it meant that I grew in quite a creative atmosphere and was encouraged to practice and develop my art. They have always been hugely encouraging and supportive.
The artwork that initially went viral on Reddit
3dt: How did you develop your distinct, colorful style?
Funnily enough I only painted and sketched in black and white and monotone probably up until my early twenties. I think I was in a bit of a darker place personally. However, art was always this cathartic experience for me and made me genuinely happy so I decided I wanted to express myself in a brighter and more vibrant style to reflect that change in mindset. Hong Kong flats are tiny so I had to work in very confined vertical spaces which led to the whole dripping and washed out style of my paintings - as Bob Ross would say "happy accidents”.
3dt: What tools and techniques do you use to create your art?
I use a mix of traditional European painting techniques with Japanese Sumi-e and Chinese calligraphy techniques. I prefer using traditional Chinese sable brushes although for oil work, I will use harder natural brushes to get finer details. I work with several layers of washes, starting with ink and watercolor which I gradually build on with layers of oil for strong contrasts.
One of my older popular watercolor and ink paintings
3dt: Of all your projects, which have been the most enjoyable, and which have been the most challenging?
I was recently offered the chance to exhibit for my first solo show in Los Angeles this November which I think has been at the times the most enjoyable and the most stressful experience of my career! I was not given too much notice to prepare and I decided for the first time to work on canvas and with oils. I haven't had many weekends or time to myself for the last four months trying to get it all done! But I am so happy with the new paintings and the response so far has been terrific so I am very glad I pushed myself into new territory creatively and personally.
3dt: Is there any advice you could give to someone who wants to make a living from art?
I think the most important thing to consider is that while it's so important to continue to develop your creative and technical skill, it's probably equally (if not more important) to put the time in to manage the administrative and business aspects of your art. Making sure you maintain a strong social media presence, a consistent sense of branding, networking on and offline and being able to set yourself deadlines and a good workflow goes a very, very long way to maintaining a creative career in the long run. I try to also diversify my income and will work on prints, limited editions, commissions, commercial work, influencer posts and basically anything to keep myself busy as it's very easy to procrastinate when you are on your own time.
A new oil painting on canvas
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
Generally, I am happy knowing that my art is brightening up a home. I would love to continue to learn and develop my skills but in the long run I hope I can do a little bit of good through my art. Most of my exhibitions focus on endangered wildlife and I try to support conservation charities with a percentage of profits from each show. I was also lucky enough to be given a scholarship throughout school and university and I guess if I am lucky enough in the future to do well, I would love to be able to help other students in the same way.
3dt: What new skills, software or techniques would you like to learn in the future?
I have an Oculus Rift and slowly experimenting with Quill
. It feels more like sculpture than painting but I am having a lot of fun learning the ins and outs and trying new things. I think VR is an interesting space for artists and creators I would like to dip into it a little more! I am also completely utterly useless at Illustrator
and have lost out on a few projects because of that so I would like to take the time to do a course on Illustrator.
3dt: If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be doing?
I am a bit of gamer at heart. I think a lot of my early childhood drawings were monsters and RPG heroes in the hope of being in game design one day. If everything goes south, maybe it's something I will try in the future!
Limited Edition Print from my LA show
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next? Got any projects on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?
The LA show goes from Nov 3 – 24th at the Avenue Des Arts gallery so it's all hands-on deck for that at the moment. Once the show is done and after a bit of break I would like to do a big show back at home in Hong Kong so hopefully I'll be starting on a lot of cool new pieces once I'm back in December! I usually do quite a few live feeds and post progress on my Instagram @marcallanteart if you do want to follow along the ride.
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