My guest on the blog this week is Brit Punk Artist, Mark Sloper, whose artwork is collected by celebrities such as Sir Elton John, Sting, Boy George and Sex Pistol drummer Paul Cook, to name but a few. Probably most famous for his image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with blue hair, nose ring and tattoo; Mark’s new collection is based on antique flags of the world that played a part in military history. The new launch has been dedicated to the people of Ukraine facing the horrors of war with a warning that history can so easily repeat itself. I caught up with Mark to find out about his new art collection and about his love with punk too…. Hi Mark!
I’m Mark, illuminati, I’m a punk artist that uses fine art techniques. I like to use neon to finish my pieces. I’m Cornish by birth, from a long line of artists, I’m now based in Shepherds Bush, where the almighty Sex Pistols hail from.
After a career as a cameraman, director of photography for bands, documentary maker; what inspired you to become a Brit Punk artist at the age of 45?
I was always good at art – I went to art school in Sheffield, but having grown up skint in a council house, I thought that art would continue my life of nothingness, so I did extra studies in TV and fell into the BBC in my 20s and never really left. When I got to my 40s, I thought is that it?? So I learnt to fly a helicopter and took up art seriously overnight. I overload everything!
You celebrate the punk era & lifestyle – what is it about punk that inspires you?
I got into punk at 12 years old and ran away from home with the then punk band Adam and the Ants. I still wear Westwood clothes, still see bands live and have never changed. I still have a questioning punk attitude which many find aggressive, but we grew up angry. I’ve had to kick down a lot of doors to keep a roof over my head
Your latest art collection is based on antique flags of the world that played a part in military history. What is the history and inspiration behind this collection?
I didn’t have parents as a kid, my grandad dragged me up. He incessantly rattled on about the war, jumping out of planes and killing the enemy with his bare hands. He was a champion bare knuckle prize fighter and a huge bear of a man. He would get out all his flags on royal occasions and the damp smell and raggedy feel of them has stayed with me. In my new flag collection, I’ve sourced flags from the Dunkirk rescue, French partisan freedom fighter flags, Italian fascist flags, WW1 German trench flags and some Victorian suffragettes flags. A whole load of history brought back to life.
You are probably most famous for the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with a nose ring, blue hair and a tattoo! But do you have a particular favourite image that you have created?
I love “queen in residence”. I have one at home, they’re really special 1900s royal palace flags that are up when queenie is at home.
Your paintings are collected by many famous celebrities, and I am sure you have met many famous celebrities through your work as a cameraman, band photographer and documentary maker. Have you ever been starstruck or in awe of a celebrity? If so, who?
Frank Sinatra. I spent a week backstage with him at the Albert Hall. He said I was a stupid punk and over the week tried to change me into a worldly gentleman. Didn’t work!
Do you paint in situ or do you take photos and illustrate from there?
Everything is from my imagination.
There are obviously topics that you can paint very well but is there anything that you find really difficult to depict?
Nope, there’s a technique to cover all aspects of art, however, you won’t find me painting animals, landscapes or the flipping sea!
Have you always wanted to be an artist or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?
Its always been in the back of my mind, but you need a lifetime of experience to get out what’s in your head, to translate it into art.
When you are not painting, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love Soho, I love good restaurants and great wines. I’m lucky to have a beach shack in Spain so you’ll find me there a lot. I’m a mad keen biker so I love tearing around on my Triumph.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I’m head to toe in Vivienne Westwood and have been since I was 12! I also wear Lewis Leathers jackets and for special occasions I wear bespoke Mark Powell suits – he calls me the punk soho mp
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Yes, Mark Powell on Carnaby St, and Lewis Leathers on Goodge Street.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Anything from Westwood new collections, the clothes fit me perfectly and make me look smart.
Boots or Shoes?
Always boots, just bought a third pair of Grensons, really comfy and hardwearing. Everything I own doesn’t last long as it gets covered in paint.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc
Brill to talk to you Mark – my personal favourite is the Sid Vicious painting ( the one I used as the Pinterest photo). 😊
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mark Sloper.