British painter Martin Darkside works out of a studio in Bradford in an old school he went to as a kid and what now is his creative sanctuary. The building is old and full of creepy winding corridors, discarded pieces of furniture and junk that give the place an eerie feeling, a perfect place to create dark art.
Martin's work is surreal, inspired by fantasy horror and tattoo art. His tattooed pin up girls are simply stunning and the paintings themselves go from small highly detailed pieces to huge canvases that take up half a room.
I interviewed Martin about his work, what he calls Pretty Piece of Flesh and he shared what inspires his painting, how his love for tattoos form a big part of his work and also how the creative process works. It's time to meet Martin Darkside.
Where did the inspiration first come from when you began the tattooed pin up girl paintings?
"My inspiration really came from my love for tattoos. I have always loved tattoos ever since I was a kid and when I was looking for a new direction to take my work in, I blended the two things I enjoy the most- horror and tattoos. I wanted to create something creepy and at the same time still have beauty at its core, so that's where the name 'Pretty Piece of Flesh' came from and my work grew from there."
Did you go for a particular tattoo style when doing the pin up paintings?
"The style of tattoos I go for in the work really depends on the subject matter in the piece, so if I'm doing a Geisha girl I will do Japanese influenced tattoos. But it is all down to what story or theme the work is about."
How do you start forming compositions before painting to canvas?
"The first thing before I do anything is get an idea in my head and do a ton of research, looking for reference images for models etc, then I start drawing it out and developing the idea and once that's done I then transfer the drawing to canvas."
What themes have you covered in your work?
"Well when I first started painting I was mainly into doing fantasy art, but over the years that moved into horror, then tattoo pinups. Over the past two years I've started to drift away from those styles and I now do Dark art and dark-surrealism. I feel all the work I've done up to this point has been developing into this style."
What has been your favourite theme to work with so far?
"Well, I have had many themes, but over the last year with my work moving into Dark-surrealism I would say it is my favourite."
Do you have particular artists that influence your work?
"I don't really have influences, but I have artists who inspire me to be a better artist, and that list is long as there are so many great artists out there."
What is the next step for Martin Darkside?
"The next step is already underway with my new series 'Nuntiis' which will be my main work for the next year. In this series I'm looking at the realms of the messengers from the other side of the veil... the ones who we never see but are always there influencing our lives."