Mark Pritchard’s loose lined illustrations and tightly composed paintings are created in a way that makes you pay attention and take more time to appreciate the things that he’s painted and what they mean to him.
The subjects of his abstract work can be quite complex to understand at first glance but his artwork is just one dimension of his creativity. Over the years on his skateboard he’s also put down some next level tricks and lines. So, alongside a series of his art we had to ask him more about his skating. He has rolled in a lot of different scenes which we reckon is maybe one of the reasons why he sees a lot of everyday objects and topics from different angles so easily.
Get a closer look at his artwork and his unique perspective on art and skateboarding by reading his interview to discover how he got his first board, his processes behind producing his paintings, the people, places and spots that motivate his skating, connecting Shaun Currie and Rich Smith, his experiences skating in Bristol and Sheffield, designing board graphics for Fifty Fifty and also find out his favourite artists, skaters, paintings, videos, spots and more.
What’s your full name?
Mark Oliver Bandele Pritchard
Where did you grow up?
I was born and bred in Bristol, but I’ve been in and out of the city many times.
This was due to my parents changing jobs, and I would be spending time with family, leaving for studying. I’ve enjoyed the change; but always came home back to Bristol.
At what point did you first see skateboarding?
I recall seeing my first skateboard when I was leaving Nigeria. When arriving back to England, my friend Marc and I used to play the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Demo disk all day when I’d go visit him. I’d go around my childhood friend Alex’s house, we’d play Nintendo 64 then share his board going down the hills, but he eventually moved to a different estate.
Around the same time I made friends with Michael and Lel, who were other skaters in the area. We’d play the Dreamcast, rant about Pokemon and skate his board.
Eventually I nagged my parents to get me a set up – it was a Robot Wars Complete from Toys “R” Us.
Sick. So how did you get into painting?
Since I was a kid I’ve always created things. Paper aeroplanes, scribblin’, building empires or Dungeons on the PC, technically I was just playing but I learned my attention works better when creating something. My brother most likely had been an early influence, as he’s very talented when it comes to drawing.
It wasn’t painting which initially got me into design, but it was more web design, photography composition, typography and going to college in general.
I did an IT course there but it was through doing that I found I really enjoyed layouts and typography, then I picked up an AS in Graphic Design and here I am.
Where did you first learn to skate and who was in your crew?
I first learned to skate in the estates where I grew up really with Mike, Lel and Alex but, I’d seen a group of skaters would go to Dr. Bells, Fishponds where I’d go on to meet Finbar, Pickles, Liam and Raf. Then later my homies Joe, Tom, Sam who were in their own CKY skater stunt’ish kinda crew.
My school homies such as TJ, George, Nyame, Anthony, as our school was based in the centre of town we’d sometimes Nosegrab or just ride off the ledges at Lloyds after school.
I then moved to Emerson’s Green, aged about 16 where I met Rich Smith, Bill, Chi-Ho, Pelzar and Ashton even though he lived in Wells.
Big shout to Spin, Arnott, Tom Gibbs, Carter – I’m very thankful for all the times we shared, and laughs we had had even to this day.
How did you define your style on the canvas?
Hard to say as it’s still a working progress.
I think my style came from a series of experiments that I learned during my own time, alongside college. In time you improve your technique, but apply the time to do it more your own way.
I no longer have a ‘proper’ studio, so I’ve consolidated the way I work into small sketchbooks, papers and a small paint set so I can work from anywhere.
Push & Smile
Ok, cool. You’ve mentioned abstraction as an influence but what is it about abstract art that inspires your work?
I just fucking love abstraction – I like all forms of art, but really enjoy the simple abstracts of how the creator had thought of a simple idea.
But as a simple way of putting it, I understand and adore the process of drafting. I go through the work thousands of times and focus on the inner design issues.
I have such a particular way of how I want my work to look, but it only really comes clear in the last stages of development and – it’s the design and my strive for personal satisfaction after having explored alternatives where I’m in a place where I’m happy with the work; but sometimes I am not. So, I’ll continue and try again.
How do you decide a new subject to paint?
I just like to experiment with simple strokes with the idea in mind, cross over with more shapes, creating this positive-negative space balance,
I’m always questioning whether I need to remove more to make it simple, what colours clash, are these the correct weight of lines or shapes and what is the meaning behind the colours?
I want to have a body of a diverse range of work but it’s so hard to come out of my comfort zones.
I would like to do more life drawing, maybe experiment with card again but know I’d get locked into my conceptualising and redaction methodology,
How long does it take you to complete one of your paintings?
Commissions, I try to do in a week with working full time, painting before work, on lunch break, and after.
My weeks always change with priorities, I’d say 80% of the time is purely conceptualising, 10% of the time is the final draft and the last 10% producing the final piece.
I do revisit old work, yet it’s hard not to avoid being surrounded by it in my studio.
What is it about asymmetry and the aesthetic of imperfection that draws you in?
I just liked doing faces for a while as it came from a sense of expression. If I was sad, arguments with people, creative frustration, fall outs with lovers, day and night dreams, conversations, are somehow represented in the faces and forms I’d previously drawn. I may not draw faces as much, but feel the same influences are apparent, but in a colourful and more abstract way.
Out of all the paintings that you’ve made so far, which one has been your favourite to finally produce?
The Abstract Instrumental.
I think that was an example of something I poured a lot of emotion and energy into it, so I think it stands to be one of my favourite pieces which I may consider developing at a later date.
I would love to paint it as a wall mural, yet I can dream for now. I also did a study of bikes while I was in Weimar, but took 10 years to actually develop the ideas, finish and stick them all together. I would like to exhibit the 5 drawings at some point, but it’s a nice feeling preserving the work and waiting for the opportunity to do so.
Interesting. So how did you meet Shaun Currie?
I met Shaun Currie at Devonshire Green Skatepark. We properly didn’t start hanging out until my 2nd year as Chris Wood, Sharman, Dom and Matt Grant who were known as the Uni crew, with other recruits such as Joe Paget and Ghostman shortly followed.
He’d usually be filming with Matt Hirst and James Cruickshank so we’d just bump into him at different spots before we became proper homies.
Where did you go to skate in Sheffield the most back then?
Dev, Dev and mostly Dev? So many spots came and went in Sheffield!
Slimside, Tesco DIY, City Hall, Eccy Road Car Park, Sheffield Train Station flatground. I love flatground!
Summer sessions at Dev used to be the best times and was always a hype to see who’d appear to mash up the park; still happens to this day, just like Hasan’s BS Flip the Driveway, gwad dawm!
Yeah, that was banging. So, who were the skaters in Sheffield that you skated with?
Brow and Ronny Calow, Shaun, Chris Wood, Burrel, Matt Grant, John, Nathan, Brhrost Man,Tandem Mandem, Gordo, Henry ‘Dave’, Gary, Timmeh, POH, Black Wallets Crew, Grant, C-Money ‘Zach’, Fisher, Dan G, Jeromeo, Set, Archie, Izaac, Harry, Morgan, Aubury, Evan, Albert, Joe and King Rasheed.
At what point did you realise that you had to connect Shaun and Rich from Skate Cafe and how did that first meeting go down at the time?
First time they met we were all studying organics pretty hard, spent winters watching skate DVDs and YouTube clips.
Blowing up on Instagram wasn’t a thing at the time, hitting up this nightclub Corp – was a nice place for an introduction and I’m still glad to have made their two worlds collide.
What’s your favourite Shaun Currie clip of all time?
Shaun’s fucking Nollie Flip Line at City Hall – was too much hype, never seen him do that trick – let alone the end of the line.
I had just finished work at HSBC and saw a huge gang of homies watching Shaun do this Ollie up Gap to Front Lip, then the Nollie Flip.
Everyone went on a hype, never screamed so hard and had been so hyped, bring it back Shaun’oski!
We’ll have to check that out. What’s your favourite spot to skate in Bristol?
Lloyds, the Church of Finance. As I grew up skating it, I have a bucket’s worth of memories which I’ll hold in my heart for all my life.
From meeting Kareem Campbell, seeing Layth Sami’s Switch Tre down to Lloyds before knowing him, Dirty Nath’s Inward Heel, I still skate there as much as I can. Even the flat is wicked, even if it’s bricked, still goes though!
The space is so nice, central and big it’s ideal even just to chill – definitely would recommend it.
Rad. Your Frontside Bigspin down Lloyds was dope. Had you done that one before and how did the one you filmed with Rich Smith go down and what was going through your mind on the Half Cab Flip after?
Man – so the first time I did it, I had come back from Weimar 2012 moving into temporary accommodation ,shout out to Josh, Sophie and Harriet, before moving into the Sharrow Palace.
I had just about enough money left over to get a Megabus to Bristol as Shaun said he was going down for a Lloyds Jam.
We stayed at a homies, got uber organic before skating down a busy as fuck Glos Road to the jam.
Unaware I was actually going to skate it, I had always wanted to do the trick, but saw the homies skating it, gave it a go and there we went.
I came 3rd as it was an NBD and I got some cash for it, which I was beyond hyped with as I had enough money to get back to the north, and the rest went on sodding rent.
There’s that whole ethic of – if it’s done in a comp it doesn’t count, which I didn’t really consider, but when it was mentioned I couldn’t get it out of my head.
I had slightly snapped my board the day before I did it again. I was gutted, but had to give it a send off.
After watching Dying to Live on repeat at Fifty Fifty while working the Sunday shift, I said to Rich let’s give it another go and managed to get it done!
But doing a Half Cab Flip, would be a dream but that’s Korahn Gayle AKA Kay Weezy’s Vapour’s Trophy, he’s such a CEO of the Bank.
At most I’d try a Fakie Ollie or Half Cab but it would still be petrifying.
You studied and now produce 3D Motion Graphics but what motivated you to keep creating those?
I had always been under the impression I’d never get into it but some projects required such applications and I was happy to learn about them, let alone develop the ideas.
I love title credits in films, the marrying of visuals, type and music, I just love it.
My masters required us to choose a specialism in the 2nd year and I thought ‘well all visuals will most likely end up moving, so why not learn how to make things move.
So motion can be my career and painting can be my passion. So much is done on computer, I feel design can be copied, duplicated for the user’s interests, but with painting it can be more authentic to how I want to develop my work
Have you skated much outside of the UK?
I’ve only skated in Germany, France, Spain and Croatia.
But honestly, my favourite skate away memory was most likely my time in Thuringia, which is between Jena and Erfurt when I studied in Weimar. Everyone was extremely hospitable, I loved the skateparks there and everyone was just so nice. I do miss all those guys, but hope we can all go for a cruise again.
Do you make any other kinds of artwork that we may never have seen?
Maybe just more life drawing as I know it’ll open up more ideas for more paintings, scenic and just day to day drawings, need to do this way more.
Most of my favourite artists are screen printers, I don’t have access to facilities to paint to that positive-negative aesthetic. I did a series of murals but I really want to redo them in London. Possibly sculpture and metal bending would be great to translate the linear faces, that’ll be wicked.
I think I’ll get into paper cutting again at some point having it really formed some ways that I’ve painted before.
A Day Into the Night
Look forward to it. What was the first skate graphic you saw that made you realise that?
I think playing the THPS games was an introduction into board graphics. But graphic wise, I’d say it would be people like Evan Hecox, or all the Girl stuff. The art direction and style which Crailtap had in the early 2000’s was really inspirational, Fourstar was absolute essence to me.
I’d spend hours on dial up ,internet, going on the Nixon site, Alphanumeric and even the 411vm site – getting access to your favourite skater content was extremely difficult in some cases and waiting for a 411 or a Puzzle issue wasn’t cutting it for me!
My next-door neighbour was a friend of Danny Wainwright and it was him who convinced my friend Rowan (RIP) and I, to go to a demo at Hengrove, where I met Danny for the first time.
I knew he was a local legend, and I had seen him skate in Day in the City 2, which was one of my first skate videos but also learnt he had a creative side which I fanned out on as I grew up.
What’s your favourite skateboard graphic of all-time?
I just loved the old Girl 2000 Graphics. I thought Koston’s Old Man board graphic was so sick, yet only came to realise it was from the Charlie Chaplin skit in Mouse.
I’ve always loved Fifty Fifty logo boards as it seemed all the ‘town kids’ had all the different colours and series so I couldn’t help but like them too.
The best one was Syd’s Purple and Black Logo 8.5 board, bring it back blood!
Which artists in skateboarding do you look up at the moment?
Hard choice really, think as we all get older, it’s nice to grow up with skaters who are also creative – everyone is killing it.
Many photographers, people who are working in film, painters and mark makers such as
Why do you think creativity in skateboarding is important?
Well everyone has a way of expressing themselves.
It’s interesting to see how skateboarding has changed so much since I started, even the time before me.
People have been so creative in the modern way of skateboarding, as people’s tastes and trends changed, so does the image, perception and also intentions too.
It’s a form of expression, so it is art, which I find more comfortable in, playing records, tending to my plants and the leisurely cycle.
How do you develop the ideas from your sketches into paintings?
I fill sketchbooks with ideas, concepts, thoughts and continue to process the idea. I refer to memories of times of happiness, pain or loss, but by trying to develop the concept over time to remove further away from the initial feeling as I avoid making myself vulnerable; safeguarding I suppose.
What got you into DJing?
Think it’s clear to say everyone likes music, but never thought to the extent I’d be playing it out.I love record covers as I consider them to be pieces of art themselves.
John and I were asked to DJ at this pub in Sheffield for a music festival weekend. I only played an hour, but we got paid!
Then we turned it more into a monthly music and skate video night as we wanted to play our own tunes and put on skate premieres or throw up edits. Christian also joined the squad, alongside Josh but wanted to have an image and a concept behind it so I thought 30 Stax, – 30-45 mins for each DJ to play, Stax being records, making a big nod to Isaac Hayes.
This also allows me to also create the poster designs for wherever we’d be playing at; another creative fix. Shout outs to Gareth, Darren, TJ for all the moments played since coming back home.
Colours express emotions, the seasons or even times of the day. But when you use colour in your work, what is it that you have in mind?
Your bang on the money there, those are the simple elements to my work. I usually go off my energy or emotions at the time, but it’s broken down as the painting progresses
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions that you would like to announce?
Not until next year, I had an exhibition due to take place in September but cancelled that as my head, finding capacity to paint is becoming a struggle recently. I’ll be putting out more mixes and music event updates on the 30Stax Instagram page, as we took a break from it but we’re back.
The piece that you made for us back in 2018, reminds us of the face of a clock. It was rad. What was your process behind creating that.
I remember the previous logo had 3 circles, kind of like eyes, so I did my own spin on it, referring to colours to the old ident. I think I’d definitely do something slightly different today though.
Your Spillin’ Piece became a board graphic for Fifty Fifty. What was the process of doing that board graphic for them? Was it meant to be for a board or was it chosen after you created it?
Well the design actually came from an inside joke my friend Tarni and I would bring up.
I would sometimes slowly fall asleep with a glass of wine in my hand, nearly tipping over but never spilling. Ended up sketching the idea and developing the painting for her.
Syd, from Fifty Fifty, ended up seeing the graphic and wanted it as a board design, but I didn’t want to give him the same design.
So I did it slightly differently as the purpose was for a board and a t-shirt over it just being a ‘painting’. I have to reproduce copies of paintings as they were first created.
Spillin’ Board Graphic
What’s your favourite drawing that you’ve made and then turned into a painting
Maybe ‘Big Hair’ from my sketchbook or the series of bikes and Fahrrad’s, which I started in 2012, but finished in 2020.
Yellow Fahrrad Bike
Who is your favourite artist of all-time?
Paul Rand – Composition, colour and greatly executed ideas.
Do you have a favourite piece of art of all-time?
Saul Bass’s film poster ‘Such Good Friends’ by Otto Preminger. Everything about this is just the best.
The thin smooth white, italic type cushioned under the ‘perfect’ shaped black leg, alongside the composition of credits at the bottom.
Oh yeah, one more thing – fuck Eli for trying to rip this graphic, was a direct lift from the original graphic.
This popular ripping culture is cash grabbing’, it’s a violent act against visual culture.
What’s your favourite skate video of all-time?
Lost and Found, Vaughan Baker and Colin Kennedy’s section are my favourites.
Who’s your favourite skater of all-time?
Eric Koston possibly before he got a ‘tick’ bite.
Who has your favourite style on a skateboard?
John Fitzgerald or Jake Johnson – to be honest, both for the lanky mandem massive!
Where is your favourite skate spot in Sheffield?
Dev. There isn’t much else.
Do you have any other new plans or announcements you would like to make?
Keep an eye out on the 30Stax Gram as we’re going to at least pop a few nights out there before the end of the year. Definitely want to do another night at the Dame Bar again, big love for letting us play the Deaner Day.
Any shoutouts that you would like to make to people reading this or out there?
Stephen, John, Fi, NSD and the crew at Boomsatsuma
Any last words of advice for artists who are struggling to define their style and want to make art that is unique to them?
Just go for it really, don’t hesitate to try something. Don’t do it for trend sake and take time to play around, to just enjoy it really? Referring to your favourite artists, reading books does help if you’re struggling. You can force yourself to do something, but your energy also has to be there too, a fine balance and hope you find it!